Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Practice

We are trying a new way to keep students playing over the summer.

Yes, playing over the summer is important!  This summer is going to be (literally) a long one, because Minnesota schools don't typically start before Labor Day.  (I have a rant about that start policy almost ready to go.) 

I used to work with school data.  In this district, we give a fall test and a spring test to get a handle on how our kids are going to do on the state test (I have another rant almost ready to go on that as well.)  It was amazing how our students and teachers would make more than two years of progress in a single year in one fall to spring cycle.  Good job everyone!

But, if I took last springs results and compared them to the following fall, you could see the summer taking back the amazing progress.  Minus one year or even two years.  Breaks an vacations are good, summer vacation is too much time off to forget how to do things.  If you are music teacher you know this as well.  Have you heard your group in the fall?

We are going to do something different this year.  We are sending a "SmartMusic Unit" to the kids this summer.  To do this, open your method book in Impact and in the assignments section, click the button labeled "Create Unit." We picked 25-30 exercises that we knew we had covered well during the year to put in this unit.  We are sending them to our students via Impact.

Now, the motivation piece.  We are giving away to our "High Scorer" free tuition to our band camp.  We are expecting to have some perfect scores, so our tie breaker is first one to have them all turned-in.  All students completing 15 of the 30 will earn 10 extra credit points to start next summer.  Students are encouraged to practice with SmartMusic before turning in.  If they don't have SmartMusic at home, they are encouraged to go to a friend's house to work on this.

A couple of thoughts.  We aren't using SmartMusic to teach new concepts.  That should be done in lessons, sectionals or from the podium.  In this case, we are using SmartMusic as way for students to avoid ingraining wrong notes and rhythms on things they should know. Impact is also a very handy way to administer the contest features of our summer practice program.

Summer practice? We think we have a solution at our school and we will keep you posted on how well it works.


Mike Saville said...

I'll look forward to hearing how this one turns out - always nice to hear new ideas for motivation.

Paul said...

Very nice! I love this idea. The motivation part of it is critical.

Greg said...

Good luck - look forward to reading how this works for you.