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K-12 Performing Arts

Task 1: Planning Commentary

TASK 1: PLANNING COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 9 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within the
brackets. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Pages exceeding the maximum will not be scored.

1. Central Focus
a. Describe the central focus and purpose of the content you will teach in the learning
segment.
[The central focus of my learning segment is analyzing the progression and historical context of
R&B music. The purpose of this learning segment is to teach students the origin and context in
which R&B was birthed, how it evolved into what it is known as today, as well as how it fits
within the continuum of African American culture. Students will learn characteristics about the
genres that influenced the existence of R&B in chronological order: field and work songs,
spirituals, traditional church music, blues, R&B as it was defined originally in comparison to how
it is defined now. Students will learn how each genre is connected to the next and the impact
that they have on todays R&B music. The purpose is not to dig deeply into each genre that is
being represented, but rather introduce them with the purpose of showing the relevance to R&B
music. I intend to inform my students that the miniature lectures on each genre are mere
introductions for the purposes of exploring the connections they have to one another and where
they belong on the lineage of R&B music. Likewise, I will explain that each genre is worthy of an
entire year or more of exploration to really dig deep into the culture, context, characteristics, and
influences embedded within in that particular tradition of music.]
b. Given the central focus, describe how the standards and learning objectives within your
learning segment address creating, performing, and/or responding to
music/dance/theater by applying

knowledge/skills (e.g., tools/instruments, technical proficiencies, processes,


elements, organizational principles)

contextual understandings (e.g., social, cultural, historical, global, personal reflection)


artistic expression (e.g., interpretation, creativity, exploration/improvisation, individual
choices)
[In my learning segment, I address responding to music through contextual understandings by
applying Standard 6 (listening to, analyzing, and describing music), Standard 7 (Evaluating
music and music performances), and Standard 9 (Understanding music in relation to history and
culture) in lesson plans 1-4. In lesson plan one, I will give an introduction to R&B by sharing
some of the facts and characteristics of R&B music as well as a timeline that includes other
genres that had a major impact and influence on the birth on R&B. Following that, I will give a
miniature, introductory lecture on 1) field and work songs and 2) spirituals. In addition, I will play
musical examples that will give the students the historical context of music from this genre and
provide key characteristics and retentions used in todays R&B music. Through guided
discussion and personal reflection, the students will make connections between this genre and
R&B music, making inferences as to how it might be recognized in todays R&B. Lessons 2-4
will be approached in the same way; they will include a miniature, introductory lecture on the
genre of that day followed by musical examples for historical context and guided discussion to
allow students the opportunity to make relevant connections to R&B music. By doing so, they
will acquire the evidence needed to inform their reasoning and defense for why or why not the
music they consider to be todays R&B is justified as R&B. In lesson 2, the genre of focus will be
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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 1: Planning Commentary

music in the church, the genre of Blues in lesson 3, and in lesson 4, we will discuss how R&B
was defined originally in comparison to how students identify it today. We will discuss the
similarities and differences and utilize their personal reflections to determine if they still feel that
the artists they previously listed, as R&B artists, can be categorized as R&B artists. Following
this wrap up discussion, I will give them their instructions for their unit assessment as well as
allow them time in class to work on it. Therefore, in the second part of lesson 4 as well as
lesson 5, I address their artistic expression by applying Standard 7 (as listed above) and
Standard 4 (Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines). In lesson 5, the
students will be placed in groups of four and asked to compose their own circle song based on
the key characteristics of R&B previously discussed as well as the class demonstration that will
be given in class. By doing so, they will be able to use their creativity as well as their individual
and collective group choices to explore different ways to create a circle song. Each group will
then perform it for the class and each student will assess that groups presentation as well as
their own contribution to the project.]
c. Explain how your plans build on each other to help students to create, perform, and/or
respond to music/dance/theater and in making connections to knowledge/skills,
contextual understandings, and artistic expression.
[The genres in this unit are presented in chronological order and show the evolution of the
African American music continuum, leading to R&B. I start with field and work songs, the music
of slaves who brought their musical traditions to America and represent the beginning of African
American music culture in the United States. Because many slaves contributed to the songs
created in the field, in addition to the fact that they were not yet literate or given the opportunity
to record their musical experience, much of their music was anonymous and not notated. I will
explain that when we start to see scores representative of this music for the first time, it is
because the notation was done by the children and grandchildren of slaves who might have
seen/heard their parents/grandparents singing this music. They, being educated, notated what
they heard; arranged and named Spirituals. From there, I will teach them about the musical
tradition of the church, share how it became symbolic as a place of strength, struggle, and
testimonies, as well as how the music progressed as a result and reflection of the social and
cultural context. I will then explain how artists moved from the sacred music tradition and
branched off into the world of secular music (Jazz and Blues), though most famous musicians
musical upbringing was rooted in the church. We will focus on Blues instead of Jazz because
R&B (Rhythm & Blues) was named after Blues. Finally, I will play musical examples of R&B
music from artists who were originally placed in the category of R&B and those of current R&B
artists. The students will be able to trace the retentions used and evolved throughout each
genre leading to R&B, making connections by comparing and contrasting the similarities and
differences, while utilizing the knowledge gained through their contextual understandings. ]

2. Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching


For each of the prompts below (2ab), describe what you know about your students with
respect to the central focus of the learning segment.
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different strategies/support
(e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, struggling readers,
underperforming students or those with gaps in academic knowledge, and/or gifted
students).

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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 1: Planning Commentary

a. Prior academic learning and prerequisite skills related to the central focusCite
evidence of what students know, what they can do, and what they are still learning
to do.
[During my observation, I was drawn to the students actions during their moments of leisure in
class. I noticed that whenever they would have a moment of free time, some of the students
would play songs on their guitar that they taught themselves, but would not know the names of
the chords they used or musical terms to verbalize the elements used in the songs. I later found
out that the songs they played were by artists whom they justified and considered to be R&B
artists. Based on this, I learned that my students know and understand how to verbally defend
their justification for categorizing their favorite artists as R&B artists. I also learned that they can
internalize rhythm, song format, and perform the intricacies of the songs (i.e. syncopation,
dynamics, ornamentation, improvisation, etc.) they played. However, I also learned that they are
adding to their vocabulary bank of music terms. ]
b. Personal, cultural, and community assets related to the central focusWhat do you
know about your students everyday experiences, cultural and language
backgrounds and practices, and interests?
[While observing, I noticed the students were losing focus in the present lesson, and I wanted to
choose the best approach to allow the lesson to be as productive as possible. I asked questions
with hopes of gleaming from the students cultural music experiences in order to create a
successful teaching and learning experience. I asked them, if given the opportunity, what style
of music they would want to learn about. Majority of the classroom said R&B, but mentioned that
they did not think that would be a possibility because that was not the kind of music they learned
about in school. I wanted to challenge their preconceived notions and assumptions about
school music because through my musical experiences, I learned that musical concepts can
be taught using all kinds of music. Following that question, I asked them which R&B artists they
were interested in. Given their responses, I quickly learned that though I am not too far removed
from their age group, we define the characteristics of R&B and R&B artists differently. This lead
to my decision to educate them on the history of R&B and the context that determined how it
came to be.]
3. Supporting Students Performing Arts Learning
Respond to prompts below (3ac). To support your justifications, refer to the instructional
materials and lesson plans you have included as part of Planning
Task 1. In addition, use principles from research and/or theory to support your
justifications.
a. Justify how your understanding of your students prior academic learning and personal,
cultural, and community assets (from prompts 2ab above) guided your choice or
adaptation of learning tasks and materials. Be explicit about the connections between
the learning tasks and students prior academic learning, their assets, and
research/theory.
[David Ausubels Meaningful Reception Learning Theory suggests that meaningful reception
learning takes place only when ideas and understandings are properly classified hierarchically
by learners in relation to what they already know, thus becoming part of what he calls their
cognitive structure. I chose to incorporate student interest into my planning for this unit because
I believe that by investing into their personal and cultural interests, it shows that their ideas are
valued and therefore more willing to take ownership and bring their cultural and personal
experiences to their education. Likewise, Vygotskians Theory suggests that learning activities
that focus on meaning-centered musical experiences build and expand on what the individual
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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 1: Planning Commentary

knows as the outset, and moves to a new level of development. In other words, when students
know about and are interested in the material being presented to them, they will be encouraged
and all the more eager to contribute to their learning; moving their level of known material to a
new level of development. Therefore, I address this theory by incorporating their interests into
the learning segment. Another theory that I address in my learning segment is Maslows
Motivation Theory. He believed that mans behavior is controlled by both internal and external
factors, that humans have the ability to make choices and exercise free will. Because of this, he
believed that people have certain needs, some more basic and powerful than others, that when
satisfied, determine human behavior. His theory is often discussed in education when
determining how a teacher can provide peak experiences for students. It is believed that when a
teacher provides opportunities for success, the students are motivated to invest. As mentioned
before, I recognized, while observing the students, that they were able to replicate the rhythms
in some of their favorite songs, therefore, their end assessment project incorporated that. That
is intentional for them to experience peak levels of success.
b. Describe and justify why your instructional strategies and planned supports are
appropriate for the whole class, individuals, and/or groups of students with specific
learning needs.
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support (e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students).
[I elected to use different forms of delivery and assessments to cater to the needs of my
students. I decided to lecture as my primary form of delivery because I recognize majority of the
students learn best when concepts and important points are explained to them. However, I
recognized that sometimes sitting and listening to someone talk can become boring, so I chose
to include interactive experiences. The students will be engaged by participating in creating a
group song. I will also utilize YouTube examples for those who might learn better aurally and
visually. I will include discussion questions designed to lead a discussion about the material we
learn for those who learn best by explaining and talking about it. However, I recognize that
speaking in front of people is hard for some people, so I opted to include a worksheet and
listening log sheet for each lesson for each student so that the students who are shy and prefer
to not participate verbally could still show their level of understanding. Each worksheet has fill in
the blank questions that they will answer according to the lecture. I have English-language
learners in the class as well so I am prepared to place them in a group with other students who
are able to translate what I say so that they will fully be able to succeed in the class.]
c. Describe common student errors, weaknesses, or misunderstandings within your
content focus and how you will address them.
[I foresee that a common misunderstanding might be directly comparing R&B music to each
genre instead of understanding that each genre is designed to display the timeline leading to
R&B music. Also, though there are characteristics and retentions from each genre found in R&B
music, it is distinctly different. Another student error that I foresee is within the circle song
project. One of their requirements is to include a call and response. It is common for people to
assume that call and response is the same as echoing what the soloist does, when in actuality,
call and response is set up to be a question or statement that the alternative party responds to.]
4. Supporting Performing Arts Development Through Language

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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 1: Planning Commentary

As you respond to prompts 4ad, consider the range of students language assets and
needswhat do students already know, what are they struggling with, and/or what is new to
them?
a. Language Function. Using information about your students language assets and
needs, identify one language function essential for students to learn the performing arts
knowledge within your central focus. Listed below are some sample language functions.
You may choose one of these or another more appropriate for your learning segment.
Analyze

Compare/contrast

Create

Describe

Evaluate

Explain

Identify

Improvise

Perform

Respond

Summarize
[Compare and Contrast are language functions that are essential for students to learn the
performing arts knowledge within my central focus. This is because the students will look at the
history of where R&B has come from and they will need to be able to compare and contrast the
characteristics presented in the genres that have come before it. In addition, they will need to
know what differentiates R&B as it was originally defined and what R&B is known as today. By
comparing and contrasting, students will be able to utilize their knowledge gained to make
informed decisions on which artists to categorize as R&B artists.]
b. Identify a key learning task from your plans that provides students with opportunities to
practice using the language function. Identify the lesson in which the learning task
occurs. (Give lesson/day number.)
[In lesson 4, the discussion questions are directly designed to bring the unit together. The
students will be asked to compare and contrast characteristics of R&B music to those of each
genre discussed throughout the unit. In addition, they will also be asked to compare and
contrast the characteristics of the artists that they listed and those that I listed. We will listen to
the music of these artists and see if their style of music aligns with what we define as R&B
music.]
c. Additional Language Demands. Given the language function and learning task
identified above, describe the following associated language demands (written or oral)
students need to understand and/or use:

Vocabulary and/or symbols


Plus at least one of the following:
Syntax
Discourse
[Each worksheet has terms that will be highlighted throughout the lecture. The students will use
these are their vocabulary words. We will exercise use of these words through discussion and
conversation about the topic and genre of the day. The words that will be our focus vocabulary
words are syncopation, call and response, and learning by rote. For this unit, we will focus on
discourse. Discussion and conversation will be a huge part of each lesson. Though I have
included the alternative delivery methods for the information being presented in this unit, I
believe that the best way for me to gage my students understanding of the material is through
assessing them in discussion.]

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K-12 Performing Arts


Task 1: Planning Commentary

d. Language Supports. Refer to your lesson plans and instructional materials as needed
in your response to the prompt below.

Identify and describe the instructional supports (during and/or prior to the learning
task) to help students understand, develop, and use the identified language
demands (vocabulary/symbols, function, syntax, discourse).
[I have two Guatemalan students who are English-Language Learners in the classroom. One of
them does not understand Spanish, but the other understands to some extent. He then
translates from Spanish to his Guatemalan friend who does not speak English or Spanish. I plan
to allow them to sit with one another so that they could translate for me and to one another. I
intend to make it my business to interact with them just like I would with everyone else. I believe
that you do not need to understand ones language in order to share mutual feelings and
understandings about music. I plan to allow them to be in a group with one another during the
Circle Song project as well.]
5. Monitoring Student Learning
In response to the prompts below, refer to the assessments you will submit as part of the
materials for Planning Task 1.
a. Describe how your planned formal and informal assessments will provide direct
evidence of students creating, performing, and/or responding to music/dance/theater by
applying knowledge/skills, contextual understandings, and artistic expression
throughout the learning segment.
[My informal assessments throughout the unit will be the guided discussions based on the
discussion questions. I will also monitor their contextual understandings through participation in
impromptu group in-class demonstration/performances. These performances will be in context
of the African American music tradition and align with the genre of focus for the day. ]
b. Explain how the design or adaptation of your planned assessments allows students with
specific needs to demonstrate their learning.
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support (e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students).
[The assessment for my unit is designed to fit the needs of all of my students. As mentioned
previously, my English-Language learners will have an adjusted group catered to meet their
language needs. For the rest of the students, the performance goal is structured, but gives them
room to work within their own ability levels. They will be asked to create a circle song in groups
of 4. Each student will have a responsibility within the group and they will collectively glean from
one anothers strengths and weaknesses to create a song that will be based on the
characteristics of the music we have learned. There are many ways to cater to the needs of the
students within music. For those students who may have trouble reading, I will walk around to
help. However, I have strategically put together the members of each group so that there will be
strong performance students in collaboration with those who have some kind of learning need.
Therefore, there will not be one or two groups of super high achieving students and groups
where the students do not know what to do. They will work together to bring everyone in their
group to the level of expectation needed to fulfill the requirements of this assignment.]

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