After three months of learning across four subject areas and numerous yards of wire, our second graders at Hillbrook were ready to share all that they had experienced and discovered with their families. This year we flipped the performance experience. Students used simple machines to move their characters through circus acts were pre-recorded in our newly remodeled Science Labs, demonstrating their flexibility of use. The children accompanied those projected videos by performing their original musical compositions live for the families.
Beyond learning the aspects of composing, using concepts like: beat, layered rhythms, (ostinato), tempo, timbre (quality of sound), dynamics, and form (structure of music), the children learned how to listen to one another, work successfully in a diverse group of personalities, and play in an ensemble. This work informs their later ensemble work in the spring concert and helps them to listen beyond themselves and play as one musical unit.
Here is a sample of video in the science lab that was filmed prior to the performance and projected. We added audio from the performance to the video to enhance the listening experience. The music was performed live and was not pre-recorded. Look for the students’ use of simple machines such as ramps, levers and pulleys.
This short clip of the performance highlights our ringmasters, the whole class singing “Welcome to the Circus” and one of the small groups’ circus acts.
The students were inspired to do their own live acts using circus arts that they had learned during a field trip at the beginning of the unit, such as poi (juggling), plate spinning, creative hula hooping and clowning around.
In our Science Lab, we had a display of student work across the disciplines and this video of Alexander Calder performing his circus back in Paris in 1955. If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss this opportunity to get a historic glance of his work. Here is a brief walkthrough of the lab on that day.
After the performances, Ms. Engineer led a reflection time with the students where we made a collective mind map of all that we had done during the project. Students thoughtfully shared their feelings, challenges and successes. It was remarkable to hear the social and emotional skills that were realized for them in addition to the academics.