Image Map

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

International Music Festival in a Hybrid World

The last few years I have been doing a school-wide informance I've called the International Music Festival every May. Each grade presents two songs or dances from a culture they've been studying for over a month in music class and shares them with the rest of the school. It is by far the best part of the school year for me- everyone huddled in the gym, students excitedly watching the other grades, nervously waiting their turns. There's dancing, singing, and instruments galore. This year so much of that is impossible: no gathering, no singing, no instruments, no dancing- at least not the way we've done it before! But I think I've found a way to still give my students, and the school community, a meaningful experience that makes the most of the hybrid model we're in. 

My basic plan is this: each grade will make a recording of one performance from the culture they're studying. We're very limited in what we can do, but I've found something for each grade, whether it's a cup game or a dance we can do in place or an instrumental performance with found sound. The in-person learners I can record live in class. The distance learners I'll either record on zoom in class or have them make individual videos on flipgrid, depending on what they're doing, and then I'll put them all together to make one video per grade. On the day of the festival, we'll have the entire school together on zoom and I'll share those videos on my screen so we can all watch together.

It was important to me to maintain some element of performance, because one of the elements of the festival I think is important is the sharing of their learning, and the opportunity to see everyone else's performances. But the real value of the whole experience is in the learning itself: the weeks we spend in class going in-depth to experience one particular culture and become more familiar with their music. The opportunity to develop the skill of cross-cultural understanding is the most important reason I do this every year. I'm shifting gears in that regard and leaning into the advantages we have in our current hybrid model to foster cultural understanding when we can't have the same shared experiences we normally would.

Last spring, when we were only posting asynchronous assignments with no live instruction, I put together YouTube playlists with videos showing a wide range of musical styles, dances, and other non-musical aspects of each cultures- food, geography, history, etc- and assigned students to watch a certain number of videos they selected from the playlist and report back on what they learned in a flipgrid video. I'm going to incorporate that same assignment again this year on their asynchronous day, but take some time to discuss what they learned together as a class the next day. 

The most exciting change I'm making this year is to take advantage of the opportunity to finally bring in the broader school community! I've been trying ever since I started the International Music Festival to find a way to allow families and community members to come, and even participate, but I've never been able to work out the logistics because our space is so limited. This year, I'm inviting families to submit short flipgrid videos sharing something from their cultural background: a dance, a song, a recipe, or even a tutorial on how to speak their native language. Families will have a few weeks to submit their videos, and then on the day of the festival I'll publish the videos for everyone to see. At the end of the zoom where we watch each grade level's performance, I'll share the link to the flipgrid so everyone can go and watch all of the videos on their own and learn about each other's cultures!

There is a lot we can't do this year, but there are also a lot of new opportunities this situation presents, and I'm hopeful that, while it will be different and there are definitely things I'll miss, it will still be an impactful learning experience for everyone involved. If you're looking for other ideas for pandemic teaching, you can see all of my posts on this page:

If you want to see some examples of the units I teach in each grade level, you can see those lesson plans and resources, as well as some general thoughts on how to do this appropriately, in this post:

No comments :

Post a Comment