Lesson Justification


    This web-based inquiry project on European Music and Culture is intended to give 4th grade students a deep knowledge about the culture behind the songs that they will be learning for their Christmas program, "December Around the World." 4th grade students will be singing holiday songs that originated in Europe and this project will help them understand the culture, languages, holidays, and geography surrounding their music.
    Bransford, Brown, and Cocking refer to a "misconception regarding "constructivist" theories of knowing: ... that teachers that teachers should never tell students anything directly but, instead, should always allow them to construct knowledge for themselves." (8) They regard this as a misconception because many times, students come into the classroom with misconceptions that will skew their knowledge if they must construct it themselves. The scaffolding of this web-based inquiry project will allow students to construct their own knowledge while being guided to legitimate, relevant information.
    Bransford, Brown, and Cocking also suggest:
To develop competence in an area of inquiry, students must: (a) have a deep foundation of factual knowledge, (b) understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and (c) organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application. (16)
This project about European Music and Culture will give students a deep foundation of factual knowledge by providing them with sources where they can retrieve that information. It will allow them to understand the facts and ideas in context by being assigned one question to answer out of a class set of related questions. It will also allow them to organize their findings for easy retrieval using a Diigo class group and Tagxedo.
    The third pillar of Bransford, Brown, and Cocking's research is that "a 'metacognitive' approach to instruction can help students learn to take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them." (18) In this inquiry project, students will be generating their own questions about the topic of European Music and Culture in a class discussion. The students will have a common goal of answering those questions in order to relate more to their songs for the holiday program. They will also be able to monitor their progress by following the steps on the Student Task Page on this Google Site.
    My goal in facilitating this project is that students will develop a deeper connection to the songs they sing at their 4th grade holiday program. Although some of our time normally spent on rehearsing will be spent in the computer lab instead, I do not suspect that it will put us behind schedule. In fact, it may push us ahead. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking mention that "
organizing information into a conceptual framework allows for greater 'transfer'." (17) Because of this, I am anticipating that we will have to spend less time on details during rehearsals and be able to enjoy the process of learning the music even more.

Works Cited:
Bransford, Brown, Cocking. (2000). How people learn. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

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