Recorder Karate Progress — Instruments on the Wall!
As many of you know, I LOVE teaching recorder! The kids get such energy from playing that funny little instrument. They smile and have a ton of fun learning to make sounds and play together. My kids pick up so much, so quickly when we have our recorder unit as we read on the staff, utilize dynamics, conquer breath control, learn posture, improve hand-eye coordination, work on ensemble skills, take homework home and practice, sight-read, and lots more. When you look at how much they grow and learn, it’s hard NOT to love the recorder!
Recorder Karate a great way to inspire students to go home and practice and also helps you, the teacher, track their progress. The kids love Recorder Karate and are SO PROUD when they can pull out their instrument and show everyone which belt they have earned. Tracking growth on a bulletin board helps students take ownership and really encourages them to keep working. And so, this year I needed a new way to display the progress that my students make using the Recorder Karate system from Music K8.
I teach recorder to third, fourth, and fifth grade (about 250 students total) and so I try to have separate places to post their progress on the walls. For several years now I’ve been using “pagodas” on the wall to track third grade growth. Last year fifth graders got to put their names out in the hallway with this bulletin board set up (updates for how I do fifth grade will come in a new blog post in about a week). For fourth grade I made this display set-up with pipe cleaners to track progress. It wasn’t a bad system and it looked pretty cool, but the names kept falling off the wall and the bulletin board I stuck them too didn’t hold staples very well. I knew I needed an update.
Instruments for Inspiration
I wanted to use my other recorder karate progress walls as inspiration for what I did with the fourth grade progress wall. I really wanted to use colored felt rectangles again (get them at Michaels for about 25 cents a piece) because the whole system is cheap and easy to maintain. Each student gets a little card with their name and sticky velcro on the back. Kids get to move their name to the next color when they’ve reached a new level in the karate system.
I wanted a similar system to track progress (making the creation/upkeep easy for me) but needed something that set my fourth grade apart from the third grade. I was also looking for a display method with vertical growth on the wall so that it would fit in the space allotted. Then kids can move their name from one color to the next when they earn a new belt. But how to make that work? In the middle of a lesson with my KDG kiddos inspiration struck! Why not make them instruments! That way the colorful column where the students stick their name could look like a fretboard.
Click the pictures below to enlarge.
Here are some pictures to show how it turned out! I’m pretty happy with the wall so far and the kids love it! It’s also a great teaching moment for the other grades because they can identify the instruments up on the wall and we can have a little chat about the recorder system, acoustic vs. electric guitars, and string instruments in general.
I hope this gives you some inspiration for your own classroom! If you have questions about how this works to track student growth or how I made the display please leave a comment at the end of the post. I’ll be happy to explain any part of the process.