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Curriculum for class of 50, 5th/6th graders in General Music?

I have inherited a 5th and 6th grade general music program *sigh* this coming academic year.  There are 4 large classes of 50 students each.  I am looking for ideas or curriculum suggestions.  Each class comes to me every other day.  Depending on the week, each class gets 100 or 150 mins of music.  I am worried about the size of the classes and the particular age group learning much in this type of setting; my mind keeps flashing to visions of the entire year being a circus without much learning occuring!  Any help/thoughts would be appreciated!


Trevor W.
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on July 31, 2014 4:15am
Trevor- I sense your frustration at the huge classes assigned to you. ASAP: find out as much as you can about the program last year. What was the program last year? Who assigned the large classes to you? What facilities and teaching materials and instruments do you have?
What are their [whomever "their" is] expectation for the classes?  Several years ago I had a similar experience in a middle school, and it was disasterous. Worst teaching experience I ever had.
on July 31, 2014 9:44am
The classes are so large, because it has to work with a physical education rotation and a pull-out program for students needing additional classroom support.  It's definitely not ideal.  I am able to get into the classroom this coming week, and have 2 weeks to figure out my plan of attack for the school year.  
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on July 31, 2014 5:19am
Music K8 magazine from Plank Road Publishing, Music Express magazine from John Jacobson. Even without instruments, the Orff process works. Check out aosa come. Also, Activate! magazine from Lorenz has great ideas.
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on July 31, 2014 6:07am
Get them singing and turn them into a choir!  This is a great opportunity, but it is important to hook them right away or you will have management issues continually. Look at the Voiceworks books by Peter Hunt published by Oxford.  They are a little pricey, but you only need to buy one book for yourself, and you will have a fantastic resource for creating DIY vocal arrangements.  Also look at Nick Page's Sing With Us Songbook for rote teaching ideas. With such a large group, it will be important to keep them always engaged and on their toes, so examine your pedagogical approach to make sure that you are using the best current ideas for enagement with your students. body Percussion is another great way to get them involved.  Good luck!
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on July 31, 2014 9:54am
I am highly considering the choir classroom option.  Half of class could be structured like an upper level choir, while the second half could be split into a listening activities and projects.  Every period we could begin with sight-reading/rounds as our routine.  Special units could be sprinkled throughout the year.  Thank you for your time and resource suggestions!
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on July 31, 2014 10:30am
You might also find Nick Page's Sing and Shine On very helpful.
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on July 31, 2014 7:14am
I taught jumbo classes for 11 years, 2nd - 5th grade. I was a little scared when I found out about the class sizes, but grew to love it quickly. You need strong management skills, and you need to have virtually no down time. If you keep them busy, they'll be happy and cooperative. If you are slow in transitions, they will be bored and find "other things" to do. 
Remember that it's still general music. You don't need a special curriculum. Teach everything you would teach to a class of 25. It will be fine.
Two things I was not able to do well: 1) Movement and Dance activities, because of space in my small room. If you have a large room, you can still dance. In fact the kids are less self conscious in a larger group. 2) Orff barred instruments were not successful. The wait time between turns at the instruments made it tedious, and I had to be in class monitoring mode instead of instrument coaching mode. No one liked it. I stuck to rhythm instruments with many multiples: hand drums, rhythm sticks, maracas, tambourines, triangles, wood blocks.
Absolutely sing! The non-singers start to sing because everyone else is singing. It sounds great, so the kids want to sing more and more. It was my favorite part of large classes. 
Last year my principal cut my classes down to single class size, which cut my instruction time in half. I truly miss my big classes.
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on July 31, 2014 9:58am
Great insight.  Could you describe your typical discipline policy for this age level and a class that size?  What was a typical day like in your classroom (activities, transitions, downtime)?  I have worked 7-12 choirs in my years prior, so dealing with this age group is completely new to me.  Thanks.
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