This morning in our visual art class we were looking at painting, how it can be used in class and a possible lesson linking literacy and art. Diarmuid explained that paint is a readily available resource in primary school but, teachers will often avoid using it as it is an ungovernable material. The paint usually comes in different forms such as liquid, or solid blocks in readymade pallets. Diarmuid suggested limiting the colour variety as it allows children to explore colour making and allows them to think more creatively, for the same reason It is also good to provide coloured paper. Giving them choices and creating a problem-based activity is raising the bar in terms of cognitive development. Diarmuid also described why providing pictures for children to copy puts pressure on them to produce a replica and does not challenge their creative ability. I can understand why this would be the case, many children including my own will say they cannot draw or paint or are not creative and this could be why. The experience of not being able to produce what they see becomes a negative experience which they then try to avoid in future. They are then being denied the chance to develop their creativity and other learning that can benefit from having good creative thinking skills. To demonstrate the value of tapping into to children’s imagination and problem-solving skills Diarmuid set us a task of making our own paint brush as part of today’s activity. From doing this I could see the fun learning and enjoyment children would have doing this. Selecting their materials, using their reasoning skills, and the success in putting something together that is their own. Next a highland landscape scene was described to us and we had to use our paint and our newly made brush to create this scene. This would be a good example of how to use art with literacy. We also made a border around the edge of the paper before beginning to paint. The idea of this is that when finished painting the artwork descriptive words can be written around the edge of the painting. This showed us another way to link art with some literacy learning. Diarmuid also pointed out how the margin could be used as a protective border to avoid the mess of paint over the edges of the paper. I must admit I am not sure how well that would work as when I see children in mid creative flow with paint, I fear nothing will stop them. Time to stop that fear and enjoy the creativity.
My brush and highland landscape painting.
Today our first music input focused on some more ICT within music. There are so many resources available to teachers to help them bring the joy, creativity and learning of music into their classroom. Julie discussed with us about how we could begin a music lesson with our pupils and how warm-ups are a great way to embed the thoughts of rhythm and pitch ready to begin whatever the lesson might be. We were shown some video of examples of warm up exercises done by musicians, those involved with the Benedetti Foundation and Body Percussion by Ollie Turner who was involved in the west end show Stomp. These were so much fun to do and easy to follow, everyone can take part and I could imagine the children’s enthusiasm building ready to begin. I could also envisage how the warm-up could be tailored to different learning levels for example using nursery rhymes for early years. Julie reminded us about primary teachers’ fears about teaching music in their class and how when asked many will say they do not know where to begin. I can understand this. Even with a little musical experience I was worried about what constitutes a proper music lesson that will give a child a positive and fulfilling experience. Thankfully, people like A. Daubney and J. Mills have created resources which help teachers navigate teaching music. We were urged to have a read at some of their work and when I did, I really began to understand the development of our musical knowledge the reasons why music is so fundamental in life, and why and how it should especially be nurtured by a primary school teacher. Daubney (2017) states:
Children need adult role models who are not all ‘professional musicians’. They need you, their primary school teacher, to be part of the musical community in their school, and classroom, taking part, leading learning, and learning from and with the children.
Daubney has even designed the ISM toolkit to help break down the parts of her book which explains how to construct a music lesson and advice on how to deliver it successfully.
ISM | Using this toolkit (ismtrust.org)
Janet Mills (2009) discusses and agrees with points made by Daubney that music can be and is best taught in primary school. “class teachers, given appropriate preparation and support are all capable of teaching music”.
Both these authors have given me insight and inspiration for my teaching practice. I am becoming increasingly confident in my own capabilities and much more aware of my responsibility to nurture all of children’s learning with passion and commitment.
This workshop expanded our learning of how notation can be taught, this time it was pitch notes. I noted:
- There are eight notes in an octave or scale
- There is a treble clef stave with the pitch notes E G B D F and F A C E
- There is a bass clef stave with the pitch notes G B D F A and A C E G
- Middle C is always to the left of the two black keys and is seen between the treble and base clefs when written.
I learned that when teaching early level E, G, A are used and often with chime bars the reason behind this is that younger children will identify with nursery rhymes which often use only these three notes. Moving onto first level the pentatonic scale is used, and the notes C, D, E, G, A. Julie explained that these notes are used because no matter what notes you play together, they do not clash. This seems to resonate with us as even if notes are missing, we are naturally drawn to these notes. In doing this the children get a sense of achievement as it will always sound good. It is only when moving onto second level that we can include the notes F and B which are more likely to clash.
I felt this week I am starting to knit together the importance of teaching the arts as any other subject and the benefits for myself and most importantly my learners. I have been able to try out and learn about many resources at my disposal and they are influencing my thoughts and ideas about how I will teach and integrate the arts. Probably the most important lesson I learned this week is that as a teacher I should be teaching the arts with the same enthusiasm and interest as other subjects as they are every bit as important for a children’s lifelong learning and development as maths and literacy.
Mills, J (6th Aug 2009) Primary teachers and music in Music in the Primary School. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-8
Daubney, A (2017) Music: it’s place in our lives and education in Teaching Primary Music. London: Sage, pp 1-14