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Common Core national standards for MS music classes

Hello everyone,
I have a good friend, a highly experienced and successful MS choral teacher here in Kansas, who is puzzling (fuming?) over her principal's request that she (and all teachers at her middle school) adopt the Common Core standards in her choir classes.  How have you who have made the leap (or been forced) into the national Common Core standards adapted them to your classes?   The principal says that music is a technical subject.  How do you address/implement the Common Core standards?  Thanks in advance for any advice!  
Terry Barham
Adjunct Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance
Replies (5): Threaded | Chronological
on October 10, 2012 6:34am
I think this is an instance where a backwards approach will serve your friend well.  The Common Core Standards are pretty basic, but they can be intimidating because the document is lengthy, wordy, and they're not designed for application with music.  My side comment would be that this principal clearly knows nothing about music. I'm assuming he/she is more concerned with how the legislature/state perceives their school, so they want to look consistent across the board. 
Most teachers already impliment most apsects of the Common Core Standards without thinking about it.  The backwards approach would be to sit down with a hard copy of the standards and a piece of blank paper or a laptop with word.  Find each grade level (standards are broken up into each grade level K-12, I'm assuming this MS is 6 - 8?), go down the list for each standard, and make notes of what is already going on in the classroom that relates to that particular standard.  If there are parts where she can't relate at all, think of a small element she could incorporate into her teaching that would not disurb the flow of her class yet would allow her to "check off" on said standard.  An example would be, in regard to the reading portion of the standards, she could touch on reading the text found in choral music, find a quick activity to have her students analyze it's meaning, and think of some quick evaluative method to determine whether they understand it and measure their understanding. 
On another side note, I share her sentiments exactly.  I hate jumping through these kinds of hoops.  When it's all said and done, she just needs to find a way to take the notes she took, put them into an action plan and attach it to her original curriculum.
Hope this might be of some help.
Andrew Miller
Director of Choral Activites, Bismarck State College
on October 10, 2012 7:23am
Regrettfully we are in the age of data and basics in learning.  Music teachers, whether they want to or not, for the survival of their program, must be willing to join in the efforts of educationg students within their classroom in more than just the music curriculum, but they must also tie into that curriculum the core standards that administration and the government is seeking that all students leave school having obtained.
I agree with Andrew, we do more than we realize.  We just need to sit down and see how what we are doing supports those core standards.  There are little things that we can be doing that will not deter from teaching our own curriculum and validate our programs and that show we are in on the whole education of a child.  A couple of years ago, Clint Pianalto presented at the Fall ACDA Conference in Minnesota.  He provided us with a great resource and actual material that we can use in our classroom that encourages writing, thinking, inferring, and more that I am not able to ramble off.  Two years ago I started a Word Wall where each week I presented a musical term and a brief (middle school level) definition.  I did have to sit down at the beginning of the year and decide what words was I going to put on the wall for the year.  Then each quarter I took a few minutes in each class period to assess the students on their learning by asking them to write out the definitions we had studied that quarter.  On average there were 8 words per quarter.  I gave the same word list to all my 6-8 graders, than last year created a new list, with a couple of repeats, and then this year was going to use musical symbols as the year's list (but I left the classroom and have become Director of Music for my church).  My Principal, Assistant Principal, Communications Department (of which my wife is a member) were singing my praises and lauding my efforts to teach volabulary in my classroom.
Another practice I have always done, dating back to my years of teaching in Iowa and being trained in Writing Across the Curriculum, is to have students do a written evaluation after each performance, following guided questions, and having the requirements that they must use complete sentences (starts with a capital letter, ends with punctuation and must use descriptive words), and write neatly.  Granted it takes about 15 minutes to do this, but gets them expressing thoughts logically and also gives everyone a place to share, especially those who don't like speaking out in class.
I took this from Clint, but for each set of songs we would be preparing for a concert, I would have the students do a trifold.  I am including the link here to Clint's presentation material, which you will be able to learn more about this from that.  But this activity got kids looking at the score and finding information, teaching them to search, transfer information and also learn about the piece in a different way.  Again, it took time, but it assisted with the performance in a very real way.  The were much more engaged with the text because of our discussion about it with this activity.  Clint Pianalto - Middle School Immersion Documents | ACDA of ...
As music teachers/directors we need to embrace the future, and the future is going in a direction that could eliminate the arts, so let's play the game and make it work.  I also believe though, it is making our students have a better experience in our classrooms as well.
Have a great year and keep the spirit for the arts alive!
Tim Cayler
on October 10, 2012 7:48am
After just a brief look at the structure of the Common Core Standards for English Language arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and technical Subjects, I believe you can boil them down to 4 standards that can be equated to Choir like this:
Key Ideas and details = Knowledge
Craft and Structure = Analyze
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas = Application
Range of reading and Level of text Complexity = Performance
The next step for her is to look at her curriculum (if she does not have one, I can share mine if that will help) and start reorganizing the curriculum into these four categories - what Andrew is referring to as the "backwords approach".
Stay away from the math common core of 8 standards.  They are much harder to deal with:
1. Make sense of problems and persevere in
solving them.
2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3. Construct viable arguments and critique
the reasoning of others.
4. Model with mathematics.
5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
6. Attend to precision.
7. Look for and make use of structure.
8. Look for and express regularity in repeated
Applauded by an audience of 1
on October 10, 2012 1:57pm
   That's an excellent and useful observation:  Knowledge, Analysis, Application and Performance! Thanks
on October 10, 2012 8:08am
What a GREAT conversation thread----especially right now!!!
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