I find this one of the hardest parts of a lesson to get right. We listen to a piece of music, or look at a picture, or watch a video clip, and I ask leading (“open” questions) about it, and the same three hands go up, and the same threw children volunteer their thoughts, and the rest of the class appears to have moved their brains to a different planet, leaving only their bodies behind.
Last week I tried out something new with two different classes; a year 3 and 4 class, and a year 5 and 6 class. It was this;
With the younger children, we were going to create a soundscape starting from a picture of a sunset over the sea, with layers created to represent sky, sandy beach, a coconut palm, the sun and the sea.
I handed out copies of the picture to be shared one-between-three, and gave them time to discuss the picture in their group. I gave them another short amount of time to choose a spokesperson, and to agree upon ONE thing that the group would like to share about the picture. I also said that it would not matter if another group had already made the same comment.
Brilliant – all the children took part in discussing the picture, and ten different children contributed their group’s findings, leading to further class discussion.
I followed the same sort of idea with the older children, this time the subject under consideration was a recording of “Gnomus” from “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky. I gave them a little background, and asked them to think about the mood, and how the instruments created the mood (pitch, tempo, dynamics, texture).
Again, everyone was involved in discussing the music, and all the children appeared to be taking part.
This was a much more effective way of getting a discussion going, and I shall definitely use this process again in future lessons.