Composing Using My Singing Monsters – Part 3

It’s a snow day due to crazy windchill temperatures today. I’ve been procrastinating on this long enough… I am knocking it out!Next step: plan pattern
I used a storyboarding form I found for free on the web for this. The form had 8 empty squares and the kids were to draw a picture of the monster that they were going to press in the MadPad app. Before we started making our plans we listened to a few songs off the radio for form. We discovered that songs that we enjoyed usually had some kind of pattern. We heard ABABAB, AABBAABB and even one ABCAB. I did not require their map to have a certain type of pattern but I did stipulate that it should have some sort of detectable pattern. Completing the map with a pattern was one of the grades I recorded in my gradebook for this unit. There are lines under each empty square so that the students could write optional notes to themselves about how they were going to play the monsters on the MadPad app.


Once I had recorded the grade for their map in my gradebook the students were tasked with making a recording in MadPad that reflected their map. We discussed that it was okay to press the monster pictured multiple times as long as the order of the map was adhered to. About a quarter of my students did not listen to this direction and sent me recordings from MadPad that didn’t even use the same monsters that were on their maps. Very frustrating! I’ll have to do more extensive modeling of following and not following your map next year.

After they had completed their recording and saved it to Pictures on the iPad, I showed the students how to email me their movie. Since emailing to me on the iPads was a new skill I did record points in my gradebook for simply emailing me a file. Yes, I know emailing is not a music skill but it is something we will be doing many times so I need to know if they have mastered it.

Confession time: I extended this unit for an extra 2 music classes because I simply had a lot of students that hadn’t emailed me any files at all. On the first day of the extension I demonstrated the process of emailing me their video again and then let them work. By the end of that day I had only garnered 8 more movies. Again I was frustrated. So I showed the skill again on the 2nd extension day and when I had kid coming up to my desk asking me how to email 5 minutes later I LOST IT! I started saying things like: “Ask a friend to help you, I’m not going over this again.” OK that’s not so bad but 5 minutes before the end of class I started stating the reality of the situation, “If I don’t have a file from you in my email by the end of music class in five minutes you leave me no choice but to give you a zero on the completed video!” This sadly prompted some of my students to send me a video that wasn’t their video. So the next day in music we had BIG discussions on digital cheating and I had to make calls to some parents. Not fun. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I will avoid this problem next year.

After I got the videos in my email box, I watched each one while comparing it to the student’s map. I recorded a grade merely for whether the student’s video followed the map they created. Videos that had followed a map were then uploaded to our channel. You may notice that I didn’t give the students a lot a stipulations for their song. It had to fill at least 8 boxes on the map (they could add more boxes if they wanted) and it had to have some sort of pattern. In my years of teaching I have discovered that if I get too specific (8 boxes of AB pattern) then I get really uninspired work from my students. I don’t want to listen to 90 2nd grade projects that all sound the same. By giving them fewer rules and more open space I get more exciting work from my students because they can insert some of their own unique ideas into the work.

Whew! That was the whole process. Since I see my students about 18 times each quarter, this unit took the whole entire quarter to complete from introducing them to the game to posting movies on SchoolTube. It was a long unit but I enjoyed that the students could have walked away with their own original monster song that was viewable on the web by anyone.

Brenda Muench

music educator tech specialist

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2 Responses

  1. David says:

    I think this was a great idea.

  2. Caleb says:

    Very good idea

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