This summer has been a trial run for so many great things that will change the way I live and teach. My wife and I took a chance with a daily workout routine that we weren't to sure about but ended up loving. We loved it so much in fact, that we decided to start all over once we finished the three months it is scheduled for. Exercise has become something we schedule in for the family everyday now ( and boy do we feel it if we miss a day).
At YAMA, the El Sistema inspired Yakima Music en Accion, we piloted a system in which the struggle that takes place when real learning is happening was celebrated. As teachers and parents, we are always quick to tell a child how smart they are or how great the concert went. How often do we recognize students for trying, failing, and trying again?
This video is from Kahn Academy, an online learning site where you can learn just about anything. The site keeps track of all the lessons you have attempted, all of the videos you have watched, and can recommend problems and videos to help you increase your knowledge at your own speed. Whatever that speed is.
At YAMA, students are given an Action Sheet, where the student and Teaching Artists can keep track of their progress. They have what each teacher is looking for when we come by and are checking for position, or intonation, etc.
They see what the building blocks are for a good musician and how those building blocks fit together. There is a heavy emphasis on "the basics" and a level-by-level guide to learning any new piece of music. We help coach our students through these levels so that they learn these vital practice techniques and can use them outside of rehearsal times.
The Action Sheets are very low-tech, a sheet inside a clear sheet protector, and are updated with wet-erase markers. But that visual is such a great motivator for the students and teachers. At YAMA we are lucky to have many teachers at each rehearsal, walking around and checking in on all of our students, which is so helpful when we are trying to assess a students understanding of a concept and giving students direct and timely instructions and feedback.
Let's see what happens when we try to use it with the whole group this year.