When I began reading about the effects of mentally organizing knowledge and building connections between subject matter, I immediately thought about cross-curricular teaching in my music classes.  As an arts teacher I feel that music offers an alternate way for students to reach that "aha" moment when knowledge suddenly clicks.  

Connecting an abstract concept to a musical idea while building upon prior knowledge is often the combination students need to get the big picture.  In my current long-term teaching position as an orchestra director, the students listen to a variety of musical styles at the beginning of class each week.  The pieces are culturally diverse; today's listening was of a young hip-hop violinist who lives in the US but was born in Israel (Miri Ben-Ari).  The students read an interesting article about the artist and you could see instant connections to their studies of current events involving Israel and the Middle East. This is an excellent way  to build those clusters of knowledge that, in the long run, play off each other and feed the introduction of new information.  Suddenly there is a personality and artistry attached to a culture, and this new role model performs with the same musical effervescence we are trying to draw from our young musicians.  The combination of seeing her perform, learning her struggles as a young Israeli musician, and hearing her amazing performance with Kanye West creates the "aha" moment that connects a person they can relate to with the Middle East politics they've been reading about.

It doesn't always take music to generate such an association.  As the chapter outlines for us, teachers need to take the time to review first and try to create knowledge organizations that match the task at hand (such as the way a test is  administered).  This takes time at the beginning of each lesson but may be well worth it in the end.

Concept mapping to outline knowledge clusters gives students the advantage of a visual image.  Using Powerpoint to recreate the concept map found in our text was a great way to become familiar with the extensive image editing features available.  These tools are something we will use frequently as instructional designers, since Powerpoint is a popular program to create those slides for various learning management systems.
9/23/2012 09:03:30 am

I love the cross curricular connections that you were able to create in the classroom. It sounds like students were able to be exposed to new knowledge with music, culture, and art. As well as connecting to those students who are kinesthetic, visual, and auditory. I think students would be very motivated to come to your classroom as well as being able to retain information from the various pieces presented about the topic. Great job!


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