Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Dragon Games for Elementary Music Notation Assessment

Every spring, our music classroom transforms into another world as students embark on an epic adventure that strengthens and tests their musical knowledge and skills – so far this has been an excellent tool for elementary music notation assessment! The theme of the adventure changes each year and serves as an exciting package for the content itself. Last year’s adventure was entitled, “The Dragon Games.” On Day 1, I informed students that every time they stepped into the music room, they would be stepping back in time, to medieval days, into a town that they would create themselves. Students in each class named their town and placed it on a giant map hanging on the wall, so that by the end of the first week, every class had a town “dot” on our fictitious wall map.

The Story:

  • The kingdom of Musicadia has been taken over by an army of dragons – a dragon rules over every town.
  • The dragons plan to put their townspeople through a series of musical games and challenges.
  • Only by defeating the games and challenges set by the dragons can the people of Musicadia restore peace to the kingdom!
  • At the beginning of this series of lessons, every class represents a town-full of people who have been imprisoned by their dragon.

The First Challenge:

The students’ (townspeople’s) first challenge was to escape the dungeon in which they had been “imprisoned.” In order to open the dungeon door, they were required to pass the Ogre guarding their cell. The Ogre presented them with a challenge (pictured) for which students had to decode the message using a standard 5-line treble clef staff:

“To escape the dungeon, you’ll need a key. The key is a bad egg!”
I helped the students discover on their own that the solution was to notate “A B-A-D E-G-G“ on the treble clef staff.

“The guard is hungry. He’ll let you pass for some aged beef.”
By now, the students knew that the solution was to notate “A-G-E-D B-E-E-F” on the staff.

This activity got students notating, inspired their creativity, gave me an assessment opportunity and provided a great display for our Standards-Based Bulletin Board. Great Day 1 of the Dragon Games!

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