Music teacher Jenna Stufkosky takes her ukulele and Tubano drum with her when she visits the classrooms at Todd. The K-2 teacher, who also teaches at Briarcliff Middle School this year, has been visiting the classrooms instead of staying in the music room due to COVID safety guidelines. Although students typically use musical instrument in class, this year, in lieu of instruments, Ms. Stufkosky found ways to enrich the students’ learning of music through movement, creating art and studying literature.
Last Tuesday, Ms. Stufkosky visited Deborah Ciardullo’s class, which was also a cohort of Michelle Kiger’s class. Ms. Stufkosky was in Ms. Ciardullo’s classroom while students in the other cohort and remote students watched her on the screen via Microsoft TEAMS.
She immediately took out her ukulele and sang a welcome song along with the students in the classroom, while the students watching on the screen sang along as well. Each student’s name was mentioned in the song and the students got up to dance and wave to one another and to their peers on the screen. The song was followed by another song that encouraged even more movement, such as jumping, dancing like a chicken and hopping on one foot.
“We have been channeling the students’ energy and love of music through listening and movement activities,” Ms. Stufkosky said.
The focus of the curriculum right now is on identifying a steady beat. To that end, the students have been listening to songs with steady beats such as “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
To add another dimension to the learning, Ms. Stufkosky incorporates literature to the lesson.
“I usually read a book, story or poem that connects our musical theme to the theme of music class. This week, I read the fall-themed poem “Five Little Apples” to the students, as well as taught them different movements to the poem,” she said. “We then discussed different poetry elements, such as rhythm, rhyme, theme and meter, and how the elements of poetry relate to musical dimensions- like steady beat,” she added.
After the poem activity, students participated in a movement game that related to the poem to prepare for musical notation - quarter notes and eighth notes - and also learned about the different elements of nature in fall, such as fall leaves.
“The students decorated their own fall leaves in class with crayons, markers and colored pencils, and we then used their leaves as a prop for the song “Autumn Leaf”,” said Ms. Stufkosky.
When the students heard their own name, they walked to the front of the room and showed their colorful leaves not only the students in the physical classroom, but also to the students in the other room and the students at home via the screen.
“Using props, puppets, stuffed animals, and student-created artwork has become a staple in music class this year to help keep the musical magic alive!” Ms. Stufkosky said.
So far things have gone smoothly for her, and her students are eager to participate in the class activities.
“I am able to facilitate our song and dance activities from whichever room I’m in and all students are able to follow along the games and movements,” she said. “I am also very impressed with the students who are learning from home, and I love seeing them fully participate in music class each day, just as they would if they were in the building.”
Ms. Stufkosky is optimistic about the school year and hopes to enhance the students’ learning of music, as well as world culture.
“Our connection to art, movement and literature in music this year is going to take us into a new level of understanding culture as students will continue to learn musical dimensions through music and dance of cultures around the world,” she said.