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Erin Dixon

Student Teaching
Middle School: Block 1

Technology Project
Abstract and Supporting Materials

For my technology project I worked with the 8th grade girls chorus and lead them

through composing and eventually sight-reading their own sight-reading excerpt. Using

the VCDA standards for sight-reading assessment, we first explored the guidelines in

which their compositions should stay within. Because this class is within level three, we

came to the conclusion that their creation should be mostly stepwise with the exception

of movement in thirds and contain half notes, quarter notes, dotted quarter notes, and

eighth notes. What we did not discuss, however, was the range we should stay within.

Though this didn’t seem to impact their performance at all, it was definitely a little jarring

at first to have to go up so high while trying to remain in time, keep up with hand-signs,

and sing the right syllables. When I do this activity with future classes defining the

range will be made a priority to better support the pace and challenge of the excerpt.

Using the web-based notation software Noteflight and the classroom smartboard,

students came up to the front of the room and added one to two notes at a time to their

group composition. When I first explained what they were doing, students were

definitely hesitant. I heard lots of confused and frustrated comments such as “you want

me to what?! I’m not a composer!!”. They were surprised to find that what I was asking

wasn’t too complicated and became more and more eager to have a chance to add to

the excerpt the class had thus far created. They were a few moments in the activity

where more directional instruction took place, usually along lines referring to stepwise
Erin Dixon
Student Teaching
Middle School: Block 1

motion or movement in thirds. To navigate through this confusion we first drew

attention to the last note written, for example: ‘mi’. After they recollected this, we then

worked to write the next note: “what are our options for moving stepwise...what about in

thirds? Which note is three solfege syllables away from mi? Which note would you like

to pick?” Then after their note was written I would often double check if they wanted to

keep it at its current rhythmic duration or switch it up a bit if they hadn’t already changed

the rhythm.

Though I had planned to allow them to compose multiple eight bar phrases, my

cooperating teacher let me know that we needed to move on so I stopped them at six

and we began sight-reading their composition. After we read it through a few times,

stopping each to discuss what we could have done differently, I made sure to

congratulate them not only on their composition but how well they were able to transfer

the written music into song. The entire activity went incredibly well and I was so proud

of how proud ​they​ were that they were able to accomplish a seemingly complicated task

so gracefully. My cooperating teacher and I are already planning to implement this

activity in all of the other classes, continuing to practice interactive and innovative

learning through technology. I am looking forward to seeing how this class specifically

continues to challenge and grow their musicianship and consistency in notation,

composition, and audiation.

Erin Dixon
Student Teaching
Middle School: Block 1

A3’s Sight-reading Composition