I often go back and  forth as to is there inquiry happening in my classroom. Perhaps I wrestle with what the actual meaning of inquiry is. The term inquiry can be defined as: “a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge.”

In my quest this morning to find what inquiry is google directed me to this site:

http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/

The open the article with the quote: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” According to workshop author Joe Exline, it is this last part that is essential. “Inquiry implies involvement that leads to understanding. Furthermore, involvement in learning implies possessing skills and attitudes that permit you to seek resolutions to questions and issues while you construct new knowledge.”

I have been working with several of my classes using instruments called boomwhackers, which is a chromatic set of plastic tubes that are each given different color assignments according to pitch. If you would like to “see” exactly what I am talking about you can watch this youtube video. (It is just a random video I have found of random people, but it gives you an idea none the less. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1W4Q4i9HBI

Lately I have noticed in my practice I have been struggling with “Am I using/demonstrating correct teaching methods in my classroom?” I know that teaching music at it’s most basic level consists of a lot of echoing activities. So, I have recently started using the boomwhackers with the primaries (grades K-2) and teaching simple accompaniment patters via echoing.

The older students I have taken the simple melodic patterns and echo sang them during warm up (warm-up consists of echo-clapping/speaking rhythms/sounds, echo-solfege and rhythm reading cards) I then put the patterns on the board either as solfege syllables or as written notation. I then split the students into 4 groups and gave each set of groups a set of boomwhackers. I would only use a few pitches (Do, Re, and Mi) and (Do, So and La) and asked the students to work on performing the pattern that I placed on the board.

I figured that this would be a simple task and then all the problems began. The boomwhackers have pitch labels on them, but I was using movable Do and this was confusing the kids to be told the dark green boomwhacker is Do, but yet it is labeled So and the Orange boomwhacker is La, but it is labeled Re. So you can imagine the confusion from this. So as I modified the lessons I found that I started reviewing the idea “The bigger the instrument  the lower the pitch, the smaller the instrument the higher the pitch.” and then I ask the kids what color is the largest boomwhacher? What is our lowest pitch that we are using,” and of course I would ask  the reverse of that question. However, I felt that by giving them this information was too direct and that I was not allowing them to figure it out for themselves.  With the next group I conducted this lesson with, I gave them time in their groups with the boomwhackers and the original mission. (Play the pattern on the board.) I would only offer to each group the input as to whether they were correct or not. After about 10 minutes I asked them to stop. I had each group hold up their boomwhacker so we could see who was labeling them Do, Re and Mi. We then discussed the idea of size and pitch and then as a class played the pattern on the board.

I have found that so far the last way I have conducted this process is so far the best balance for young students. It gave them time to explore and trouble shoot as a team, but the recap at the end allowed me to see that everyone had a clear understanding of the concept.

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