So Why?

If you were to visit my classroom this week, you would find my first graders sitting in a circle and singing enthusiastically a song composed by Randy DeLelles, “So Why?”. After the song is over, a student is given an envelope with a number inside. The number tells the student which rhythm pattern he/she should perform. Then, classmates’ hands are raised high as they are eager to identify the rhythm that was played. Normally, I participate in the games with students, but this time you will find me sitting to the side observing and interceding only when necessary.

Most visitors observing the fun and excitement would hardly believe that this is actually a form of assessment. At the end of the school year, the first grade students will be taking a post-assessment that will include quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests. Among other things, the students will be assessed on performing rhythm patterns correctly using a steady beat. They will also be assessed on being able to identify a rhythm pattern they hear being performed. These are both skills that are being applied in the game this week. While the game is giving the students plenty of practice, it is helping me identify where the students are still struggling. `

At this time, I think my students are doing well when it comes to identifying the rhythms patterns they are hearing. My biggest concern is performing eighth notes. Many students are having difficulty performing the eighth notes to a steady beat. Some leave gaps following two eighth notes while others playing the eighth notes at the same speed as quarter notes. As an eighth note divides the beat into two sounds, it must be performed twice as fast as a quarter note.

With only six weeks left before the post-assessment, I now have a clearer idea of my students’ needs. This knowledge will lead to designing lessons that will help the students gain a better grasp on performing with eighth notes. As for the students, they didn’t mind this assessment. For them, it was all fun and games.