A Weekly Routine That Emphasizes New Learning

curriculum pacing pedagogy planning rehearsal tips May 05, 2024
A Weekly Routine That Emphasizes New Learning

By Rob Chilton

The first year of instruction is the foundation on which all potential success is grounded. As educators, we must carefully consider:

In my last article, Roadmap to Success in 8 Easy Steps–The Beginning Year, we discussed what we teach and when we teach it with the use of a curriculum guide to break instructional content into weekly goals. In case you missed it, click the linked text above or the linked image below:

A Weekly Routine That Emphasizes New Learning

Let’s dig deeper into the when and discuss a weekly routine that prioritizes the teaching and learning of new material–something that is crucial in the first year.  Through trial and error, I found the following to be an efficient routine for my beginner classes:

Dust Off the Weekend?

Someone once told me to use the beginning of the week to “dust off the weekend” with a day or two of review.  While this seemed beneficial after long breaks, it didn’t work for me during regular weeks.  It pushed new teaching and learning to the end of the week, thus compressing the time available to complete the new content.  I also observed my students were less receptive to new material at the end of the week.

Learning new material can be challenging, and it’s human nature to resist challenges.  In the classroom, this resistance often manifests itself in the form of students giving less effort.  So, what can be done to ensure everyone is giving their maximum effort while learning new material?

Put the New Material First

I suggest teaching new material at the beginning of the week.  While it’s possible your students'  physical skills have atrophied over the weekend, their minds are likely the clearest they’ll be all week.

At the start of each week, compose a class to-do list and discuss the tasks.  These can be projected on a screen or written on a dry-erase board.

Keep your class to-do list short and concrete, prioritizing your new material.  You don’t need to list every single thing you plan to do, especially those that are routine.  For example, we’ll do warm-up fundamentals every day, but adding those to the list takes focus away from the new material.

Incentivize Max Effort

You can encourage max effort during new instruction at the beginning of the week by providing an incentive to work towards at the end of the week such as pass-offs.  I regularly started the week by telling my students:

As you complete material, check them off your list for all to see!  Doing so allows you to:

  • revisit and reinforce the goals for the week
  • show progression towards completion (and when applicable–the incentive)
  • model efficient work flow habits (which are applicable to the ways they should be completing homework, practicing, and more!)

Zooming in on the Daily

Below are my approximate allotments of time for each day of the week:

Bear in mind, these are flexible.  I went into every class hoping to get things done in a certain time frame while expecting them to take longer–it takes what it takes.

Spreading Out Fundamentals

Be thoughtful about how you spend time on fundamentals.  Some things should be played daily, but it’s not necessary to play your entire warm-up routine every day.  Exercises can be spread throughout the week.  For example, one might do the following split in a beginning flute class during the 23rd week of school:

Literacy: Everyone Gets a 100!

We got the most out of our literacy lessons when we used the entire class period.  This allowed us to do grading and corrections with our students in real time.  Our goal was for every student to get a 100 on their worksheets.

Here a summary of the “everyone gets a 100” method:

  • Step 1–Video Lesson: At the start of class, the students watch the video lesson.
  • Step 2–Worksheet: After the video lesson, we hand out the worksheet.  While the students work, we actively monitor for struggling or off-task students.
  • Step 3–Grading/Corrections: Students bring their completed work to us for checking.  If there are no wrong answers, the assignment is given a 100 and the grade is immediately entered into the gradebook.  If incorrect answers exist, we circle or mark the incorrect answers with a highlighter and the student returns to their seat to do corrections.  Then, they bring their worksheet back for grading once corrections are done.

Physical Skill vs. Musical Knowledge

Because playing or singing is a physical skill, everyone develops their abilities at different rates–mostly proportional to the amount of time spent playing and practicing. However, music literacy can be achieved at a more uniform rate when the musical language is broken down, properly sequenced, and reinforced regularly–like weekly literacy lessons. For us, the “everyone gets a 100” method helped ensure that regardless of a student’s physical development, the literacy was mostly there–primed and ready for whenever they developed physically.

Check out our music literacy program!

Defining Review

For me, review is more than covering old material–it’s an opportunity for refinement.

Typically, we repeat the material covered earlier in the week–just at a higher level.   Sometimes, we go back and play older material.  One of my favorite forms of older review is to play through every child’s pass-off line from lowest to highest.  In a 35-minute review session, we can easily cover the majority of the class!  (More to come on this in the future.)

Final Thoughts

My hope is this blog left you with some food for thought! Having a routine that emphasizes the teaching and learning of new material can help you get all the things done with depth and efficiency–improving student performance and reducing your stress! It also sets a precedent that we come to class to learn… and we always have things to learn!

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About the author:

Rob Chilton is the creator and owner of Readymade Music, LLC and its content. Previously, Chilton was a middle school band director from 2007-2021. His most recent teaching position was the Head Band Director at Killian Middle School in Lewisville, Texas from 2014-2021.

Under his direction, the Killian Honors Band was named the 2018 Texas Music Educators Association CC Honor Band and performed at the annual 2018 TMEA Clinic/Convention. In 2019, the Killian Honors Band was invited to and performed at The Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Additionally, the Killian Honors Band was named a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence National Wind Band Honors Project in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Chilton is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where he had the opportunity to study music education under the tutelage of Lynne Jackson and Brian Merrill. During his years as a middle school band director, Chilton continued his professional growth under the guidance of his primary clinicians, John Benzer and Brian Merrill.

Chilton’s mission for Readymade Music is to promote the overall well-being of music education and support school music teachers by providing solutions to help make teaching music more efficient and inspirational while increasing engagement for 21st century learners.

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