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Agh year 10 - haven't a clue what to do

Discussion in 'Music' started by princess_moose, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Just met my new year 10 group. Currently quite a small group but they have not had music for a few years (don't ask) and just seem to want either to sit and chat in a small group or mess around. I don't think any of them really want to do it but at the same time I don't want to get them onto some other subject and end up with no teaching time etc!

    I also have to get them a qualification. BTEC obviously seems the route but they are incredibly low ability and I am just at a loss as to what to do. Hate feeling like this at the start of the year but I am feeling so rubbish about it all :(
     
  2. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Princess
    Have a look at the Musicatschool site - there are good ideas there if you are stuck.Not sure what stage year 10 is, but if they have not had Music tuition recently and are low ability, the interactive learning games may inspire them? Also, a previous poster recommended a fun site for composing which might give some more ideas, or at least give you some breathing space to put together a course.
    Hope that has been of a little help - good luck!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Do you know why they opted for music. Do they play/sing? What music do they like?
    If you went for BTEC they can opt for units which they may find more interesting. Our students like to perform in concerts which they have organised themselves - this may be a way forward. The concert could be low key - lunctime in front of friends perhaps.

     
  4. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Sorry, but this is going to sound awfully critical (but perhaps more critical of the SMT than you).
    Were you not notified of which pupils were opting for music by the end of last term, so that you could plan ahead and start delivering the course from day 1 of the new school year? The long autumn term is always when most progress is made, so it is sad to have got off to such a bad start.
    I can't help feeling that the pupils have picked-up on the indecision and might already be developing a "this is a waste of time" attitude. I hope not. You really do need to sort out the course as quickly as possible. Sorry that I can't help about BTec (it's not something I have ever taught), but I do think that urgent decisions are needed, as starting the course with no clear idea of the ultimate goal is going to be as dispiriting for the pupils as it is for you.


     
  5. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    I was about to type pretty much the same message as florian. You need to going in with a clear direction, so that you can motivate them and let them know what they are working towards.
     
  6. I think it is a little unreasonable to make judgements about someones situation without knowing all of the circumstances. Perhaps we should be focusing on supporting colleagues. It is clear from the post that help, advice and support is needed rather than criticism.
     
  7. I know the feelings you are describing - however I also know that 14 year olds need confident and positive leadership from the first minute. I know I have been guilty of a slow start in GCSE Music in the past, in fact I find the first four weeks of the course very difficult to plan and change them every year. Do I start off blitzing some basic music language and theory, or do I get on with some challenging listening to overturn their preconceptions . . or organise a group performance project.
    However, the one thing I do do is plan these lessons and in particular make a point of getting on with something interesting, challenging and worth while within a few minutes of the students entering the room. I was taught: Get them in, Get on with it, Get on with them.
    What I DON'T do is a long and talky introduction to the course . . . ."and here are your drawers, and here is a handout about the course and here is a folder to put it in". More like "Listen to this and tell me what you think". . . ." Now how could we compare it to this" . . . "I think you mean Pitch rather than 'high and low' their Nathan".
    Come on, if you are not positive, how can you expect the children to be? You CAN do it.
     
  8. If they haven't done music for a few years then you can buy some time with some basics. Why not start with some generic classes, e.g. reading skills, music theory, listening skills, some practical workshops, musical history, composition. You can make this exctiing and interesting for them and this will give you some time to assess their skills and to get on with planning. You might for example take a simple exercise of putting them into ensembles and giving them a reasonably free composition project but with a twist. Maybe have 3 envelopes, one containing adjectives, one containing genres and a third containing a musical 'twist'. They pick a piece of paper out of each envelope (without looking) and have to make up a piece based in it. It could be 'bright', 'disco' with a 5/8 section. Give them the chance to research a bit as part of it (e.g. access to musical examples to help), set them homework to write up their process, decisions and give explanation of the musical stylistics they focused on and why.


    I would also echo some if Florian's concerns and you should be speaking to your HoD/SMT as to why the decision as to what course they are doing has not been made before they arrived in your classroom. It's not a position you-or they-should be in and whatever you do for the next few weeks should be fun but informative to ensure that you keep them on board.


    What skills do they have? What resources to you have to work with?
     
  9. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    It was constructive criticism along the lines of "you need to show decisiveness and positivity as this will feed into your teaching and the reaction of the students".
    Advice and support can come about via constructive criticism. [​IMG]
     
  10. I forgot to add, if you really want to send them a message and you think they'll cope, make them out the pieces in as a lunchtime concert to their peers! I find it sends a good message out to them about your expectations and makes them work that little bit harder on it that way.
     
  11. I forgot to add, if you really want to send them a message and you think they'll cope, make them put the pieces on as a lunchtime concert to their peers! I find it sends a good message out to them about your expectations and makes them work that little bit harder on it that way.
     
  12. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Princess has said that these pupils are low-ability and in my (wide) experience of pupils like these, they need loads of positive encouragement at their level of communication, that is why I suggested the computer approach.
    I'm sorry JennyMus, but I don't think the peers of this class would really appreciate a lunchtime concert. Please correct me if I'm wrong - maybe I've been in ordinary, basic and "adequately resourced" schools too long and sadly no longer see pupils through rose tinted specs.
    Good on you Princess for asking for ideas - the teaching world can sometimes pretend to be perfect and as musicains, we know there is always room for improvement (from teachers as well as our pupils)
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Apologies for being so negative so early on. I have never met or taught these pupils before and I didn't realise how weak and reluctant they were across the board. I am always open to criticism and I know I need to improve on many things, only just starting my 3rd year after all. Will try to post back something a little more comprehensive in a day or so, feel so low at the moment and really stressed. I hate being a one person department, feel like I have too much to do so the basic things I can usually do without a fuss are causing issues :(.

    Sorry :(, all help is greatly appreciated, whichever form it appears :))
     
  14. It's a very long time since I had to <strike>endure </strike>teach year 10s and I suspect that schools are different these days. However, I hold to the idea that students should always be doing more work than teachers in lessons. How about setting them some small group challenges on topics within the BTEC units you might choose as a set of starter activities for the course?
    I don't know if this link I'm putting here will be any use to you but there are lots of ideas for challenging students to learn. There's a lot to wade through but well worth dipping into now and then.
    http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=239461
    As you are entering your 3rd year of teaching then you've got lots to get excited about - apparently, teachers reach their peak, in terms of teaching, in their 3rd year[​IMG].
     
  15. I know what it's like being a one person dept. If you do decide to run btec I can send you some assignments to get you started.
     
  16. BRILLIANT IDEA which I have used TODAY!!!!
     
  17. I applogies for my rather over confident comments - I was wrong to be so positive - I just taught my new year 10s, all of whom I taught last year . . . there are only 12 ove them and they gave me the complete run around! I am horse from shouting at them! I'm just going to shut up and crawl into a corner! Although the idea bout the lunchtime concert in 5 weeks time did have an effect!
     
  18. Excellent news! I find it tends to improve the focus of those more challenging groups :)
     
  19. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Jenny, what do you do if they are so challenging and have not had music classes/lessons for years, so are unable to read music or play any instruments?
    [​IMG]
     
  20. I'm in FE where we have a real mix of experience and skill as we run Level 1 to Level 3 courses. For the very challenging i'd use an array of approaches depending on the group - we can have some very tricky lower level cohorts with little skill. We also have some DJ's and MC's within that but we are very lucky with resources and with teaching staff - in that I have an amazingly diverse team including a phenomenal DJ teacher at my disposal who also works with the MC's.

    Remember that they're doing music for a reason, there's a passion in there somewhere (albeit very hidden in some cases). A bit of free composition time in whatever the format may be (Band/solo's/duet's) and whatever genre they want should show you why they're doing it. Some will need coercing, all will need assistance and with the odd few it'll be like pulling teeth!! I also invite parents to the early gig and make them set up a Facebook group and invite their friends so that they have no choice but to work for it. Death metal isn't my cup of tea but if it gets them up and running then it's fine by me for a starter. Once they're keen you can throw whatever you want at them.

    Make the first project short and give them a bit of free reign on the type of music, even if they do some simple music tech in performance - using chaos pads and other 'toys' along to some samples at least they're up and doing it and achieving - all be it a low level - but for some thats a good starting block.

    If they are REALLY struggling you could also put in some simple sequencing work and let them write some electronic music to 'present' as part of the gig.

    For the lower level band work we also run small group instrumental lessons alongside traditional music studies and songwriting and push them hard - they seem to enjoy it and it tends to bash the wide boy out of them.


    I also insist on them all doing choir - MC's and all. I think the advantage of me being the big scary boss (who's not interested in their issues and can 'kick them off')helps me and them to get on with it and even the most reluctant starts to enjoy it. I also use the strong singers from the upper years to hold them up. We're giving them 2 weeks to get material together for a gig and will them have a large in-house performance and get together which all the groups will participate in. I also try and create a real community within our department. Staff accompanying the odd soloist - and performing themselves occasionally to cover set changes. Giving rehearsal access time across the timetables of different groups in their 'frees' so that they can jam together.

    I don't know what your situation is RE: resources, timetables etc. Obviously with them being full time with me I can do the above and at the same time run all of their other music studies alongside. I appreciate in a school with limited time you'll struggle and that you are under pressure to get through the qual as soon as possible.
     

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