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Performing Arts

Task 1: Planning Commentary


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TASK 1: PLANNING COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 9 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within the
brackets. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Pages exceeding the maximum will not be scored.

1. Central Focus
a. Describe the central focus and purpose for the content you will teach in the learning
segment.
[ With collaboration from my cooperating teacher and consideration of the level of each
class period, I determined the central focus of my lessons to be teaching the concept of
compound meter to students who have not yet been exposed to it. The students have prior
knowledge of time signature and its purpose, however they have been limited to
subdivisions of two within each beat. The purpose of my lessons is to alert them to the
technique of subdividing in three within a system that they are familiar. My work with the
lessons was aided by David Newells book Teaching Rhythm (2008) and his accompanying
student workbook The Simple Rhythmatician (2007).
The students, having worked through their method book previously, already understand
reading rhythms, even in the setting of mixed meter. However, Newell uses a slightly
different system to teaching the meaning of time signatures, basing the deciphering of the
bottom number in the time signature on the division of the whole note rather than the note
with the corresponding duration receiving the beat. My goal is to bridge the gap between
what they already know to a slightly different way of thinking about the concept. There is a
theory in music education that structures lesson sequences in a manner that is referred to
as Do, Say, See, having the students perform the task in a physical manner, then an
analytical manner (assigning specific morphemes to the rhythms), and finally associating
what they are already doing and saying to what is written. Newells approach exploits that
concept, and I too intended to plan my lessons accordingly. ]
b. Given the central focus, describe how the standards and learning objectives within your
learning segment address creating, performing, or responding to music/dance/theater by
applying
artistic skills (e.g., self-expression, creativity, exploration/improvisation)
knowledge (e.g., tools/instruments, technical proficiencies, processes, elements,
organizational principles)
contextual understandings (e.g., social, cultural, historical, global, personal reflection)
[ Compound meter is engrained in culture from an early age, from simple childrens songs to the
nature of more sophisticated swing. This sequence of lessons was planned to exploit that
advantage by incorporating the cultural norm of nursery rhymes to establish a groove for the
students to feel. The important part of incorporating the nursery rhymes is to show the students
that they already know how to do what it is that I am asking them to do because they were
exposed to it since childhood.
Students are even encouraged to bring in a nursery rhyme to teach to the class, which gives
them the artistic freedom to choose what they learn and the opportunity to teach their peers. I
also have them evaluate their own skills by a playing assessment where they have to complete
their own rubric, taking into account expression and the general feel of music, especially
considering the fact that compound meter sounds much different than simple meter does.
There are many more knowledge skills to be acquired by this particular lesson plan, primarily
due to the fact that it is an introduction into a specific concept- a concept that brings an
unfamiliar outlook of music to the students attentions. Not only will these lessons expand their

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Performing Arts
Task 1: Planning Commentary
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musical vocabulary, but they will also add to the repertoire of music that the students will be able
read on sight. ]
c. Explain how your plans build on each other to help students in creating, performing, or
responding to music/dance/theater and in making connections to artistic skills,
knowledge, and contextual understandings.
[ This sequence of lessons was inspired and guided by the same book by David Newell,
Teaching Rhythm. From the very start, we will only be working in small increments to add
nursery rhymes to our daily warm-up. This establishes a ground base for student learning so
that we start at the very bottom of Blooms Taxonomy of learning and understanding- the act
of doing, mimicking, repetition, and recitation.
From that point, we add in an exercise that shows students new symbols by relating them to
symbols they already know. Once they draw that connection, hopefully that opens them up
to a new schematic, expanding their understanding to incorporating different relationships
between time signatures. We start comparing the whole note to the dotted whole note, and
then we work downward by duration- half note to dotted half note, then quarter note to
dotted quarter note. By this point, they should understand the relationships between each
type of note.
The next step from this in the lesson sequence is to draw the aural connection to the visual
stimuli. I will begin this process by having the students repeat after me rhythms on a neutral
syllable. Then I will count the same rhythm, giving them the chance to process the count
system we will be using. After familiarizing them with this new concept, I will say a rhythm on
a neutral syllable, and they will repeat it back to me with the counts they should be now
semi-acquainted with. Finally, to draw that last connection to the visual stimulus, when they
count the rhythm back to me, I will project a flashcard with the rhythm written on it, having
them draw their attention to what the rhythm actually looks like.
The final step for the students in the whole lesson sequence is for them to understand what
is happening with the time signature- why is it named the way it is? why is it different? etc.
For this to make sense, I want to get them back to the base of the quarter note being
equivalent to the dotted quarter note. Everything comes back to the eighth note subdivision,
and it is as simple as a quarter note is only divided into two eighth notes, whereas a dotted
quarter note is divided into three. This is where I expect to lose the most students because
they have for so long been taught that only a quarter note can receive the beat and
therefore a beat can only have two subdivisions. However, I also expect that the students I
do not lose will be able to phrase it in a way that other students can understand. From this
point, I will have a playing assessment where they will have the freedom to actually assess
and evaluate their own playing and their own grasp of the concept, bringing them into the
upper tier of Blooms Taxonomy. An extension would be to have them write and perform their
own compound rhythms. ]
2. Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching
For each of the prompts below (2ab), describe what you know about your students with
respect to the central focus of the learning segment.
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different strategies/support
(e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, struggling readers,
underperforming students or those with gaps in academic knowledge, and/or gifted
students).
a. Prior academic learning and prerequisite skills related to the central focusCite
evidence of what students know, what they can do, and what they are still learning
to do.
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Performing Arts
Task 1: Planning Commentary
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[ At this point, the majority of students are well aware of simple meter and can play fairly well
with any note duration that is naturally divided by two. Obviously, some students have better
grasp on the concepts than others- in fact, out of the group of students I will be working with
in these lessons, there are multiple students with low-functioning special needs, students
who read at a first grade level, etc. Sight-reading skills are still developing throughout the
ensemble, but that is an acquired skill rather than an inherent one.
Each of the students with IEPs have similar accommodations to be met. Because most of
them have below average reading levels, they take longer to process instruction- it is clearly
stated on at least two of the IEPs to reword and rephrase information to understanding. In
music education, especially when exploring foreign concepts such as compound meter, that
step is necessary in its own right. Another accommodation listed is to provide multiple
methods of stimuli and more visual stimuli. I planned my lessons to incorporate various
means of learning, however the visual stimuli come later, so I am fully expecting to have to
plan for other ways of wording explanations. ]
b. Personal/cultural/community assets related to the central focusWhat do you know
about your students everyday experiences, cultural backgrounds, practices, and
interests?
[ The demographic of the school lends itself to a fairly cohesive cultural background with the
largest range of diversity being students who come from heavy Polish or Irish backgrounds.
However, because of this, most students have all been exposed to the same resources and
cultural practices to one another. This school produces many well-rounded students, and a
large portion of the student body participates in track and field as well as other sports.
Because of the Polish and Irish backgrounds, Catholicism is prominent in the area and there
is a rather large constituency of students who participate in religion classes at their
respective churches outside of school. ]
3. Supporting Students Performing Arts Learning
Respond to prompts below (3ac). To support your justifications, refer to the instructional
materials and lesson plans you have included as part of Task 1. In addition, use
principles from research and/or theory to support your explanations.
a. Justify how your understanding of your students prior academic learning and personal/
cultural/community assets (from prompts 2ab above) guided your choice or adaptation
of learning tasks and materials. Be explicit about the connections between the learning
tasks and students prior academic learning, assets, and research/theory.
[ My cooperating teacher made me familiar to the methods used to teach the students how
to read and interpret rhythm and meter, and although it was very different to my own
understanding, my lesson plans were designed to accommodate their system. I also wanted
to reach the students through each realm of learning- visual, aural, and kinesthetic, which is
why I have them start with what they all know how to do, then move to being able to
associate the sound to the theory of counting, and finally adding the visible notation/
representation. Jean Piaget advocated for construction within education specifically
emphasizing that cognitive development and deep understanding are the foci {of
educational progression} and {the balance of} two intrinsic polar behaviors, assimilation
and accommodation (Fosnot and Perry, Constructivism: A Psychological Theory of
Learning), and I wanted to highlight that in my lesson plans, but in order to build a schematic
for the students, I first had to deconstruct the one that was already in place. ]
b. Describe and justify why your instructional strategies and planned supports are
appropriate for the whole class, individuals, and/or groups of students with specific
learning needs.

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Performing Arts
Task 1: Planning Commentary
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Consider students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, struggling readers,
underperforming students or those with gaps in academic knowledge, and/or gifted
students.
[ Almost every child is familiar with the concept of nursery rhymes- they are entities
consistent throughout cultures, and they are something a student can relate to on a very
basic level. Because we are learning them by route with many repetitions, each student is
able to participate without being held back by reading levels. In addition, they are a little
whimsical and silly, which lets each student feel included and comfortable before introducing
them to something fairly uncomfortable. ]
c. Describe common student errors, weaknesses, or misunderstandings within your
content focus and how you will address them.
[ As I stated previously, I have a feeling that the most errors that will be made in this lesson
sequence have to do with the connection from what the students already know how to say
and how to do to what they see on the page, mainly because they already have definitions
associated with each symbol. Because of this, my attempt at preventing confusion was to
set equivalents for each note duration for common time to a note duration in 12/8. However,
I do anticipate that when we move to reading rhythms in Funiculi Funicula, it will be a
common error to see an eighth note or an eighth rest and automatically resort to dividing the
beat in two once more. ]
4. Supporting Performing Arts Development Through Language
a. Language Function. Identify one language function essential for students to learn the
performing arts knowledge within your central focus. Listed below are some sample
language functions. You may choose one of these or another more appropriate for your
learning segment.
Analyze

Compare/contrast

Describe

Explain

Express

Identify

Interpret

Perform

Summarize

Synthesize

[ Out of the words above dealing with language acquisition, I think that the most appropriate
word to highlight what the students will need to anticipate is interpretation. Musical notation
is an entire language unto itself, and compound meter is just a different method of coding
that language- a different syntax, if you will. Therefore, confusion comes from the musicians
reception of that particular code. In short, the primary problem will lie in the students ability
to interpret the code in front of him/her. The students can already accomplish the tasks on
either side of interpretation- it is just the process of seeing a rhythm that normally would
sound like one thing, and then having it sound completely different and knowing why that is
and how to read the music so that it sounds the way it is supposed to sound. ]
b. Identify a key learning task from your plans that provides students with opportunities to
practice using the language function. Identify the lesson in which the learning task
occurs. (Give lesson/day number.)
[ The introduction to the visual notation of the music is in Day 5- that is also when the
students begin to interpret the music that they see before them. By this point, we will begin
to move toward the actual musical example that we have, specifically in Funiculi Funicula.
The goal at the start is to give them as much autonomy in figuring out the rhythms as
possible, having everyone sing an example that is either projected or written on the board,
then having them counting the same rhythms to engrain the sound in their memory so that
when they play it, they will know whether or not they are making mistakes. After they have
the basic grasp of a rhythm, we will then apply it to their instruments on a unison pitch. This

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Performing Arts
Task 1: Planning Commentary
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way, everyone has the chance to address rhythmic interpretation by immersion rather than
learning by rote. ]
c. Additional Language Demands. Given the language function and learning task
identified above, describe the following associated language demands (written or oral)
students need to understand and/or use:
Vocabulary and/or symbols
Plus at least one of the following:
Syntax
Discourse
Consider the range of students understandings of the language function and other
demandswhat do students already know, what are they struggling with, and/or what is
new to them?
[ There are several vocabulary terms at work in these lesson plans. The first is what we
mean by the word beat and making sure that all of our definitions of the word beat are
aligned with time rather than a specific duration of note. Directly afterwards, we need to
establish the definition of subdivision because the students are working purely off of
knowledge of how the beat is divided- they need to understand that subdivision is the even
division of a beat. From there, they can discuss meter and time signature.
After vocabulary is in place, we need to establish how to interpret symbols, specifically time
signature. As of now, the students read the bottom number as how a whole note is divided
rather than basing everything off of the eighth note subdivision. Therefore, when an 8 is
listed as the bottom note, the students are inclined to read it as the eighth note gets the beat
rather than there are six eighth notes in a measure. It is a fine nuance between the two
interpretations, however I think if one has developed their musical vocabulary under the
impression that things revolve around the division of two, then there is now a barrier to cross
where music divided in threes is suddenly foreign unless specifically notated. On the
contrary, compound meter has been a prominent factor of musical notation since its
development and therefore is very natural and innate.
Because of these discrepancies, the difference between a student understanding and
feeling completely lost is in the turn of a phrase, which is something that I need to account
for in my lessons so that no one gets lost in the discourse of my explanations. On that count,
it is my job to figure out as many ways to explain compound meter in its most simple form in
order for everyone to understand. ]
d. Language Supports. Refer to your lesson plans and instructional materials as needed
in your response to the prompt below.
Describe the instructional supports (during and/or prior to the learning task) that help
students understand and successfully use the language function and additional
language demands identified in prompts 4ac.
[ Everything we will work on is auditory when it comes to the English language, and the
language we are using is culturally familiar to the students. However, the musical language
is a little more difficult to grasp as well as obscure in its visual representation. Therefore, in
order for students to obtain more exposure to the written notation, I created a worksheet for
them to complete as a homework assignment. It only involves exercises we have done
previously, however instead of being in a group setting with spoken word, it is written on
paper so that the students can begin to associate what they already know to what they are
seeing on their own terms. I also mentioned earlier that I created flashcards to show when
actually teaching them how to associate what they do to what they see. The final and most
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Performing Arts
Task 1: Planning Commentary
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important instructional tool is the music itself, and that is why I created the playing
assessment, so that the students can apply what they see and interpret directly to their
instruments. ]
5. Monitoring Student Learning
In response to the prompts below, refer to the assessments you will submit as part of the
materials for Task 1.
a. Describe how your planned formal and informal assessments will provide direct
evidence of students creating, performing, or responding to music/dance/theater by
applying artistic skills, knowledge, and/or contextual understandings throughout the
learning segment.
[ The students already inherently know how to do in compound meter, and with relation to
the prior knowledge they have, they know how to say it as well. The largest area in
question is whether they know what they already can do and say actually looks like,
therefore, all formal assessments stem from their realm of understanding. First, the
worksheet was designed to review the concepts we specifically addressed in class, however
they are to complete it on their own, applying the knowledge they possess to progressively
harder exercises. The playing assessment evaluates not only their ability to read and
understand the music in front of them, but also the depth of their understanding of
compound meter in their ability to assess themselves based on the rubric given to them.
Informal assessment will occur all throughout the lessons with the congregational recitations
of the nursery rhymes, the repetition of rhythm on a neutral syllable, and the transfer of
hearing a rhythm to assigning counts. Because having them say something is more visibly
apparent to the teacher than having them play something, it should be much easier to place
who is struggling and who is grasping the concepts. I am also fairly confident with this
assembly of students that if they need help, they will ask questions, and with a concept like
this, the more ways I can explain it to them, the more they have a chance at understanding
what everything means. ]
b. Explain how the design or adaptation of your planned assessments allows students with
specific needs to demonstrate their learning.
Consider all students, including students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language
learners, struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students.
[ There are three different types of formal assessment within my lesson plan- written,
playing, and self-evaluation. That alone accounts for three realms of understanding within
Blooms Taxonomy. Even simpler than that, the informal assessments that are built into the
lessons are all based on vocal participation, so as long as I am aware of those who are
going to struggle the most with the concepts I am attempting to teach, I can keep a watchful
eye over their progress, especially considering most of the students who do require
accommodation for special needs are normally quite vocal and seated near the front of the
ensemble. ]

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