Reflections

Reflection for Lesson Plan no. 1[1]

The DET’s ‘Quality Teaching Method’ (2003), is a pedagogical approach that regards intellectual quality, quality learning environments and significance as integral dimensions that have been linked to improved student outcomes (Ladwig and King, 2003). In addition, each of the three dimensions is comprised of six elements which further address and concisely define the role of each dimension within the quality teaching method.

For the purpose of this reflection I will be referring to the elements of deep knowledge, metalanguage and explicit quality criteria, and how these are addressed within my first lesson plan.

Deep Knowledge

Deep knowledge falls under the ‘intellectual quality’ dimension within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’. Deep knowledge is considered to be disciplinary content and “concerns central ideas or concepts of a topic, subject or KLA” (DET, 2003). Therefore, within the context of my lesson plan, deep knowledge could be understood as composition. Within the ‘NSW Stage 4 Music Syllabus’, composition, along with performance and listening, make up the three dominant learning experiences with which all activities, in the stage 4 syllabus, are related back too or fall within.

Students demonstrate deep knowledge through their ability to relate different concepts and ideas together to complete the composition task. In my lesson there are three distinct activities, (1) a listening task; (2) a scoring/notation task and (3) group composition task. In order for students to complete the composition task, they need to apply and relate the concepts learnt in the former two activities, thus displaying deep knowledge. Furthermore, students can demonstrate deep knowledge through their application of musical concepts within their composition. For example, utilising binary form (structure), applying dynamics or entry points of layers (texture).

From a teacher’s perspective, deep knowledge can be understood as the organisation and delivery of essential knowledge for the students (Poona, 2006). The essential knowledge in my lesson is the acquisition of composition and notational skills. Within the lesson I would deliver these skills through listening (audio and Youtube) examples, class discussion, worksheets, group work/peer collaboration and teacher modelling/demonstration.

Metalanguage

Metalanguage also falls under the ‘intellectual quality’ dimension within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’. Poona states that “the specialist terminology of KLA’s and subjects is not in itself metalanguage unless its use is explained in non-specialist terms” (Poona, 2006, p. 1).

The students should have been introduced to such metalanguage as the musical concepts and basic notation such as quavers, crotchets, minims and semibreves (as well as relevant rests). In order to fulfil the necessary requirements needed to complete the listening task and scoring/notation task, students would need to revert to applying some of the above metalanguage to their responses.

The teacher’s role in addressing metalanguage is to ensure that students understand the terminology they are using. Teacher’s can provide commentary on the terminology, as well as offer students hints (when answering questions) and also provoke answers from students in a patient and encouraging fashion. It is integral that students begin building and gaining an understanding of musical metalanguage, as it is essential knowledge for further study.

Explicit Quality Criteria

Explicit quality criteria falls under the ‘quality learning environment’ dimension within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’. Quality learning environments foster high levels of support for learning (DET, 2003). As an element, explicit quality criteria addresses the need for students to be provided with clear and explicit criteria and instructions for the quality of work they are expected to produce.

Within the context of my lesson plan, I have set clear criteria for students, using both worksheets and also spoken instruction. Given that the work is for ‘stage 4’ I would also model and demonstrate strategies for answering the questions on the listening task worksheet. I believe at ‘stage 4’ (and even up to ‘stage 6’), it is integral for teachers to model expected outcomes and answering strategies for students. In doing so, the teacher facilitates the students with a variety of support (written instructions, verbal instructions and demonstrated instructions); hence making explicit criteria for the quality of work they are expected to produce. The aforementioned variety of support also caters for the array of different learners in the class too.

 

Reflection for Lesson Plan no. 2

For the purpose of this reflection I will be referring to the element of high expectations and how this is addressed within my second lesson plan. High expectations falls under the ‘quality learning environment’ dimension within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’. Poona (2006) states that “expectations are high when students at all levels are expected, and try, to master challenging work whether the challenge is intellectual, physical or performance based” (Poona, 2006, p. 2).

In order for high expectations to be met, it is integral that the content being taught engages all the learners within the classroom. The use of interactive ICT is an excellent way of achieving both high expectations and increasing student engagement in a unit, topic or activity. My lesson utilises a software application called ‘O-Generator’. The software provides learners with interactive performance activities that focus specifically on playing percussive rhythmic patterns derived from an array of musical cultures and genres.

Within my lesson, the concept of syncopation is being addressed with a focus on African rhythms. For year 7 learners, such a concept can be quite challenging, both intellectually and practically. There are two components to my lesson; (1) a teacher directed theoretical activity that involves notating and performing syncopated rhythms and (2) an interactive ensemble performance of syncopated African rhythms using the ‘O-Generator’ software. Intellectually, the students meet high expectations through their understanding of contrast between straight and syncopated rhythms, and practically through their ability to play rhythmically in time and as a part of an ensemble. The software is quite instructional, therefore readily allowing the teacher to give individual support to both life skills students and students having trouble.

 

Conclusion

The elements and dimensions embedded within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’ are integral features of good pedagogical practice that can help guide teachers through their professional development against the aspects of the ‘NSW Professional Teaching Standards’. More importantly, the elements and dimensions within the ‘Quality Teaching Method’ aid teachers in providing the best learning opportunities and outcomes for their students. This has been exemplified in both my lesson plans and reflections.

 


[1] The group lesson that I partook in, during week two, was based on teaching a class to sing the ‘scat round’. To further progress this lesson, I have chosen to teach students about unconventional vocal ideas within music using Rahzel and Afra beatbox video, ‘Triumph of a Heart’ by Bjork, ‘Janine I’ by Camille and ‘Opportunity’ by Bobby McFerrin. The vocal techniques used in these three pieces go beyond thinking about the voice as purely an instrument for melody and illustrate the voices timbral and rhythmic potentials.

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