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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Best Strategies for Teaching Composition

Composition / creating is one of those areas we tend to throw in here and there without really thinking about properly sequencing and scaffolding our instruction for our students the way we do for other skills and concepts, but it's so important to be intentional about developing students' composition skills! When we don't, elementary students can get turned off to composition so easily. Here are my top strategies for teaching composition, including how I sequence the skill through the grades as well as my favorite lesson plans for doing so.

Lower elementary

In the younger grades it's all about keeping it short and simple, using manipulatives more than writing, and having them create frequently! Here's how I approach composition with my K-3 students:

Upper elementary / middle school

For older students I find the most important factors are to limit their options, and give context and meaning to their creations. There are so many fantastic composition projects I absolutely love doing with my 4th-6th graders! Read about how I approach composition in general, and about my favorite specific projects I love to use, in this post:

Using technology

If there's one thing I've learned through the pandemic it's new ways to use technology in my teaching! With our students now having one-to-one devices my students have been able to use some wonderful platforms that make composition fun and engaging, and also helps many students understand concepts so much better! Here are some of my favorite platforms to use with all grade levels:

Using manipulatives

Just like different technology platforms can help with student comprehension and engagement, manipulatives of all kinds have the same effect, and they can be used even if you don't have any devices available! I love using different types of manipulatives for different grade levels based on the concepts they are working on- here are my favorites, how I make them or where I find them, and how I use them with my students:


Creating without notating

Of course creating music doesn't have to include notating it in any way shape or form- it's important for students to have the freedom to focus on creating music without worrying about, or being limited by, the process of notating. Here are my favorite lesson activities and strategies for sequencing instruction across lower and upper elementary grade levels to teach students how to create music:

I hope this helps you teach composition and music creating skills more intentionally, and gives you some new lesson ideas to try! If you want to see the composition worksheet templates I use, you can find those in this set. I've found it makes composing and notating so much more accessible for students because they are intentionally created to scaffold from Kindergarten all the way through high school! If you have any other favorite ideas or questions about teaching composition I'd love to hear them in the comments below.

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