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  • PreK Education

    The last couple of weeks, I've been teaching my PreK students (ages 3-5) how to play and identify melodies on a small set of bells (some call it a xylophone), with the range of C>E (a tenth). My observation is that the kids do not know which letters are near each other in the alphabet.

    When I asked the teacher today about the issue I've been experiencing, she told me they are not teaching a linear alphabet any more. They are teaching phonemic letters rather than the linear alphabet. That explains why I'm having difficulties teaching the students the musical alphabet (A>G)!!! I don't know how long they've been teaching this way.

    While I question the method they're using, I cannot question the results. Our students regularly score at grade level or between 1-2 grade levels ABOVE their actual grade level on nationally normed testing.

    Has anyone ever run into this, and what are your general reactions to this method of teaching? It reminds me of "inventive spelling," championed in the 1980s-1990s. We still have adults who have no clue how to spell anything. Unfortunately, neither can their children.😂 To me, it's like NOT teaching the students to count numbers.

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

  • #2
    As a teacher, I am still strongly in favor of learning how to read through phonics and the traditional alphabet. Students have been learning this way for as long as anyone can remember. They tried the "look say" method years ago and it was an absolute failure as it turned out tons of students who could not read well. I still think phonics will always be the best way to learn to read. When you mention that scores are on level or above, I feel like it does not have a huge amount of significance because I believe that they have lowered the expectations over the years so that students are actually not as smart as they used to be. To see this, take a look at an 8th grade final exam from back in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Most high school seniors and college students probably couldn't pass it. Take a look at this link:

    https://thinklab.typepad.com/think_l...ade_exami.html

    I couldn't begin to answer half these questions but this was the exam for students in the 8th grade in Kansas. I realize that the content of this particular exam may be more reflective of the culture, but one can't deny that these kids had to be pretty sharp to pass such an exam. Kids and college students today would not even come remotely close to being to answer these.

    I work in a world where we have made so many innumerable accommodations for learning issues to the point where we have made kids lazy. We have had to adjust our assessments to the point where kids are given ridiculously easy tests with multiple choice questions that present absolutely no challenge to them.

    Just some food for thought....
    Craig

    Hammond L143 with Leslie 760

    Comment


    • #3
      I might be dating myself but when I went to school, for reading we used the Dick and Jane books. We learned a lot from those readers. I recently asked a teacher if they are still using those books and she said they were not but she wishes they were. She said with the books they are using now, the students are having a much harder time learning to read. I looked at that exam, I would have failed it.

      Comment


      • myorgan
        myorgan commented
        Editing a comment
        You're not dating yourself. I learned to read with Dick & Jane, and remember those books fondly.

        Because that test was intended primarily for an agrarian society in a specific state, there are parts that require knowledge of a working farm (i.e. measuring using rods, hectares and acres, a "heavy" ton vs. a standard ton, etc.). Because I grew up on a farm where we used many of these things, I would have possibly passed most of the test, but there are parts I would have struggled with. Of course, essay tests are quite subjective in grading, and therefore, open to interpretation.

        Michael

      • you795a
        you795a commented
        Editing a comment
        I actually have a reprinted set of the Dick and Jane books. I wanted to get originals but the price was too high.

    • #4
      Over here, learning letters and the alphabet usually doesn't start before the age of 5.
      I majored in early years music education (many many years ago) and have used a variety of approaches for this age group.
      Since we call the "b" not b but "h" and the "b flat" is "b", knowing the alphabet only works for F major :->
      The good thing is that in schools they seem to have come off the "write as you speak" mode that had produced creative spelling but didn't really help.

      Comment


      • #5
        I would imagine Germany would also have the "sharp S" (ß) and other characters as well like the Umlaut ( ¨ ). I should have clarified that I was talking about the English language. Sorry.

        Oddly enough, I was proctoring a reading test for a 1st grade student today (& several others), and when the letters were presented, they were posted according to the alphabetical order most of the English-speaking world has come to know in two rows of 13 letters in each row. I would imagine the test developer would have a rebellion on their hands if they changed the order of the letters on the test.

        I know when I was assisting a Japanese teacher teach her language, and she presented the Romanji digraphs which combine to form the majority of the written Japanese language–I believe the Japanese characters were Hiragana (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana).

        Michael

        P.S. I'm sure there is probably good justification for the way they're teaching, but so far I haven't heard them.
        Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
        • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
        • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
        • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

        Comment


        • #6
          Why bother with the letters at all? My daughter's music class starts with the solfege and introduces letter names after the kids are 6 (when sharps and flats and other theory items are introduced). Also, while my daughter knows her alphabet, she is just starting to learn that letters make up words and that is confusing and hard for her. I think her learning that letters also represent notes would be even more confusing at this stage.
          Sam
          Home: Allen ADC-4500 Church: Allen MDS-5
          Files: Allen Tone Card (TC) Database, TC Info, TC Converter, TC Mixer, ADC TC SF2, and MOS TC SF2, ADC TC Cad/Rvt, MOS TC Cad/Rvt, Organ Database, Music Library, etc. PM for unlinked files.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Sam,

            I wonder how many times those who learn solfege use it past the learning stage?

            Michael

          • samibe
            samibe commented
            Editing a comment
            Ultimately, I feel that it is a means to an end. The point is to understand that the dots on the page correspond to certain pitches and that buttons, positions, or fingerings on different instruments also create those certain pitches. Having a name for the pitches is a good way to bridge the relationship between page and instrument regardless of the particular names used. I didn't learn solfege as a kid but I started formal music lessons at 8 and already knew how to read. Thus, I didn't get confused with using letters as pitch names. I do know solfege now and I think it's a great way to start learning music.

        • #7
          I've had great sessions with kids doing solfege, and it's also wonderful to use with adults. Usually there are a few kids in each group who are interested in what the letters on the xylophone bars mean. Some will proudly read them. I usually concentrated on other aspects of the music and didn't spend much time having them read anything as this comes at a later stage.
          But, I seem to keep saying this, so much depends on the individuals you're working with and you need a large repertoire of ideas and methods and then try and find what's right for your group.

          myorgan I knew you were talking about English. I just couldn't resist mentioning the sometimes confusing fact that our b is your b flat. We don't need Umlauts to name the notes, though :->

          Comment


          • musikfan
            musikfan commented
            Editing a comment
            Your comment about solfege reminded me of my days inTexas as a music educator. Texas has probably some of the very best choirs that I have ever heard in my career. They start the kids on solfege in elementary school, and by the time they are in high school, they are sight reading music with solfege AND the hand symbols. They have these competitions where the kids go and their choirs get adjudicated for their ability to sight read a piece of music with only 5 minutes to look over it and prep for it. It's unbelievable to watch them perform. All of that to say that solfege is the best way to teach people to read music. I used Kodaly in elementary school, and it is probably one of the best methods to teach young children to sing as well.

        • #8
          I'm a little bemused that the alphabet song is not longer taught. (But they're a little young for the Sound of Music.)
          -- I'm Lamar -- Allen TC-4 Classic project, 1899 Kimball project
          -- Rodgers W5000, Juno DS-61/88, FA-06 - Conn 643 - Hammond M3, E112, L-102
          -- Public domain hymn search: https://songselect.ccli.com/search/r...t=publicdomain

          Comment


          • Silken Path
            Silken Path commented
            Editing a comment
            Well, "Conjunction Junction" is definitely NOT to the tune of Tuxedo Junction. I don't know what tune that is.

          • sandstone42
            sandstone42 commented
            Editing a comment
            It's from a series called "Schoolhouse Rock!" that aired on Saturday Morning on ABC. The dog you're thinking about is Goliath from the series "Davey and Goliath," a kids series produced by the ULCA and later by the LCA. Each episode started with some animated state trumpeters playing "A Mighty Fortress."

          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Sorry Lamar. I missed the point of your post the first time, and agree. In a couple of weeks we're having an inservice where the presenter will be providing childhood education theory based on recent brain development studies. What I really want to know is who the parents are who allowed their children to be medically poked and prodded in the interest of science?

            Michael

        • #9
          I'm jumping in here because of my rather late career change...

          After 30 years in non-profit fundraising which followed my years working as a musician, last year I started on the path to be a high school math teacher and appear to be on track to start teaching this coming August.

          As myorgan noted his students' success with the new way of learning the alphabet, teaching and teacher preparation (at least for public schools here in California) have pivoted to training, knowing, and using the best research-proven methods to help students learn. My own K-12 education ending more than four decades ago, I have the unique vantage point in class among fellow teachers-to-be (almost all 20-35 years younger than me) to know what didn't work for me as a student was that students were considered "blank slates" onto which teachers would write their "knowledge".

          With the teacher education I'm receiving and the research I get to read (math and data analysis skills come in handy ; ), it is clear that in the past 10-15 years there has been a profound change in the understanding of teaching and learning. Just now before taking a lunch break, I finished watching an hour-long episode on the dramatic failures in educators', administrators', and the public's understanding of what appear to be basic, commonsense ideas that are taught throughout most K-12 classes. Those failures are rooted in the education tradition of blank slates being written on.

          The following video is from the mid-1990s before the implementation of notable changes in education I mentioned, but it will give you sense of the "new" approach if you've got an hour: https://www.learner.org/series/minds...s/?jwsource=cl

          Here's a shorter 20 minute video that gives an overview of the idea: https://www.learner.org/series/a-pri...e/?jwsource=cl

          I will say that I am fairly certain my current teacher education coursework blended with my own experiences will enable me to help students learn more effectively and likely efficiently than I did.

          Sorry for the length of reply...I didn't have time to write less ; )
          JeffW

          PS I didn't write that I will teach students--I wrote I will help them learn: the focus is student learning and not teachers teaching--a subtle but vastly important difference.

          Comment


          • myorgan
            myorgan commented
            Editing a comment
            Originally posted by JeffW
            PS I didn't write that I will teach students--I wrote I will help them learn: the focus is student learning and not teachers teaching--a subtle but vastly important difference.
            Jeff,

            You've hit the nail on the head. My father used to say, Teaching is the art of aiding education. He never went past high school, but made sure any of his children had the opportunity to get an education. In fact, all 9 of us had the opportunity, then he gave us a house when we got married so we could start life debt-free! Not bad for a potato farmer!

            I probably shouldn't mention this, but I credit my father's philosophy and advice for me receiving my state's Regular Education Teacher of the Year award about a decade ago. It was given by the state chapter of a national special education organization.

            It was for that reason I started this thread. It has been decades since I've been in college, but I'm ALWAYS learning new things about "the art of aiding education." I was a bit annoyed when I discovered the PreK wasn't using alphabetical order to teach the alphabet. I guess they didn't think I needed to know, but as the music teacher, it is VERY important I know what is being taught in the classroom so I can reinforce it!

            Michael
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