Our M and D CIG group came about within the first Arts Educator 2.0 class. As our group sat there, we began to discuss where we were going to go with our inquiry for this year’s class. We discussed how we all were experiencing the same issues: trying to get students motivated enough to give their best effort in all of our art / music classes. So, we began to kick around ideas of what we could use as our inquiry question, which would then be the focus of our work for the remainder of this class. After much discussion, we came up with our inquiry question:

“How can inquiry strategies be incorporated into music and art classes to improve motivation and effort toward students’ practice habits?”

We then discussed that probably a great place to start with knowing how to improve student motivation was to create a survey / questionaire for all of our students. We could then examine the results and see what would seem to stimulate our students’ efforts / motivation in our classrooms. The survey would begin by getting some basic information from our students, just so that we would know what grade each student was in that completed the survey. Then, we continued the survey.  Some sample questions from our survey were:

– “During the rest of this year in class, I want to learn how to…”

– “I would be more motivated in this class if only…”

– “Do you practice / sketch outside of instruction time?”

– “If yes, how often?”

– “If not at all, why?” (and one more sample question)

– “I would put more effort into practicing / sketching if…”

We all contributed questions to our survey, printed them up at our respective schools, and had each / most of our classes take a day and complete them. The results were very interesting!!!!

One answer that seemed to occur regularly on my surveys had to deal with allowing my chorus students to have a voice in selecting music that they would enjoy. So, when we returned to school after the holidays, I pulled out all of our latest “Hal Leonard” catalogs, grabbed the CD’s out from the inner sleeves, and track by track, the students and I listened to samples of the latest choral arrangements. We would then take a vote by a showing of hands as to which arrangements were the students’ favorites. I would still pick selections from their favorites that I believed to be the best in quality, but the students still were happy that they had a hand in picking music that they would be singing for our spring concerts. It makes it so much more enjoyable in class now that the students are not only not complaining about the music that we are working on, but they are also putting much more effort into the songs since they themselves helped me to select them!