This week I thought I'd share my procedure for my listening journals in 4th and 5th grades. Each student receives a journal on the first day of class and I explain the activity and play the first example. Now, by the 3rd week of class, they know to come into the classroom, get their journal and a pencil, and sit in their own personal space ready to listen.
In 4th grade, the students are given 3 options: 1) they may write a paragraph (defined as 3-5 sentences) that summarizes their reaction to, or their feelings about, the piece I have played, 2) they may write a story explaining what they think is happening in the music, or 3) they may draw a picture showing the story of the music. For my 5th graders, I eventually eliminate the picture option, so that they are encouraged to write more and explore their imagination through words and not just pictures.
Last year this worked really well, and it allowed me to differentiate instruction for the students who were not as high in writing. It helps to have the picture option in there for my special education students or second-language learners, because they can share what they are thinking without being stressed about writing a lot.
The music I present to the students varies, honestly depending on my mood that week. I often hear a song on YouTube and share it with my students that week during our 10-15 minute listening activity. The past couple weeks, I've been looking for interesting versions of songs that my kids are listening to on the radio (often songs that I can't play normally in the classroom because they are uncensored) and playing them as listening examples. Here is the one I used last week, a ragtime version of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" (starting at :40 because I had to skip over some minor language):
The students responded very positively to this, especially because they had previously asked me to include "music that we know" in the listening examples. The majority of them actually liked this version better than the radio version!!
I've also found this one, a Doo Wop version of Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop," however I'm still trying to figure out how to censor the material, therefore haven't shared it with my students just yet:
If you have any suggestions of videos or songs like these that you think students might respond to, please feel free to comment and let me know!!