This unit was planned and implemented at Wanguri Primary School in Darwin, as part of the Arts-POP initiative funded by the Australian Government. The school is located in the suburb Wanguri, in the heart of Larrakia Nation and Saltwater Country. With the approval of Principal Ms Jenny Robinson, the school's music teacher Ms Kathleen Whitson and the classroom teacher Ms Annette Broome developed and implemented this Music package with a Year 6 class of 26 students.
The school and teachers
Ms Whitson described the class as a very diverse student group, and representative of Darwin's highly multicultural demographic. The school is close to military housing and, as such, serves both the established local community and a more temporary population of families posted in Darwin with the military. Darwin also has a growing African community as families migrate to the Northern Territory from a number of African countries. Learning about and performing African drumming rhythms are authentic and practical exercises in intercultural understanding that at the same time teach students the technical aspects of drumming technique, composition and notation.
Already familiar with African djembe drums from earlier terms, the class carried out this sequence of lessons in weeks 1–6 of term 4, 2012. In week 9, the students were required to sing their Year 6 graduation song. By linking their performance of this song to this package, students could compose accompanying rhythms and drum along to the song. Prior knowledge of the djembe allowed for deeper exploration of the notation system and extra time to develop Information and communication technology (ICT) general capabilities, such as recording and sampling applications during the making and responding components of the package. While this previous exposure was useful, it was not a necessary prerequisite to this package.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) content descriptions
Music is the principal art form illustrated in this package with links to Media Arts and the ICT general capability through the recording of performance and compositions and the sampling of djembe sounds. The lessons also incorporated other learning areas at a Year 6 level, such as history and geography (Africa) and science (sound, vibration, pitch, frequency).
The sequence of lessons engaged a variety of student learning styles and preferences. Students are encouraged to engage in hands-on craft, use laptops in a A guided online activity where students use an internet-based search engine of choice to hunt for key facts and trivia related to a topic of study. Normally these activities are assessed via a proforma and may involve small group cooperation, as in the case of this example. search for information about the djembe, physically play and listen to drum parts, and think critically and creatively through original composition ideas and inventing their own unique notation systems. Using peer support, cooperative small group tasks and station-based lesson planning helped provide support for students from non-English speaking backgrounds and students with learning difficulties.
While almost all professional teaching standards can be seen throughout this lesson sequence and package, there are a number that are directly demonstrated. These include planning for and implementing effective teaching and learning; assessing, providing feedback and reporting on student learning; engaging in professional learning; and engaging professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.
To implement this package successfully, teachers should be at a proficient stage of their career progression. They should be able to work collaboratively with music teachers and ICT resource staff.
The unit addresses the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) Professional Standards for Teachers (1-5) by ensuring that teachers know:
- their students and how they learn
- the content and how to teach it
- how to plan and implement effective teaching
- how to encourage learning in a supportive and safe environment
- how to assess student progress.
Teachers may also collaborate with colleagues and/or the community (Standard 7).