Action research is the process of refining ones teaching through a critical look at their practices. Action research involves systematically thinking through a specific question in order to discover a solution to an educational problem. In applying the process to my situation, I focused on trying to understand why students are not gaining a true appreciation for music of all types/styles.
Reflecting back upon the past school year, I concluded that appreciation can only come through the creation process and that the creation process is mutually connected to their understanding of musical theory. Consequently, I decided that 8th grade music for the 2011-2012 school year will be focused on teaching through composition. To accomplish this, the class will be taught primarily through project-based learning and Web 2.0 tools.
For instance, their first project will be to create an introduction video, presenting who they are. We will begin by composing 30 seconds of music in Sony’s Acid Music Studio. The music must convey a mood which properly captures who they are. Following this students will go to Animoto.com and combine their music with pictures of themselves, creating a 30 second slide show introducing themselves.
Additional projects will include recording themselves either singing or playing an instrument; displaying music in ABA form; composing in Major and minor; and utilizing non-traditional sounds. The final projects will all be displayed on their personal blog. The overall effectiveness of this shift in my teaching will then be evaluated and assessed in two ways: 1) Over the course of the year an observation may be derived through an advancement of thought and understanding found in their weekly music journals; and 2) the quality of their final project demonstrating the music composition process from start to finish. Distinctions between the 2011 and the 2012 8th grade class should be apparent.