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Clarkston Community School District

SMS Band Students Get a Chance to "Be the Teacher"

SMS Band Students Get a Chance to "Be the Teacher"

Last month, sixth grade band members at Sashabaw Middle School were given the unique opportunity to "Be the Teacher" as part of a special Academic Service Learning (ASL) event in which students taught community members how to play their instruments. The project involved 99 students and around 50 guests.

SMS Band Director Natalie Pagel said, "It's always been my belief that knowledge is truly cemented when a student becomes responsible for teaching that information to someone else. It forces them to analyze how they have learned and synthesized information and then break it back down again into something that is easy to process and understand. Our sixth graders spent a lot of time reflecting on their own learning journey this year, beginning with the easiest of tasks like opening a case or soaking a reed. They used this knowledge to draft their own lesson plan and practiced teaching each other the basics of their instrument. We asked 6th graders to think of someone in the community who didn't get to experience music classes like this-- maybe their family couldn't afford an instrument at the time or they were just being pulled in other directions. Many kids chose their parents or grandparents, but we did have some other teachers in the building join us as well as coaches, grandparents, siblings and administrators. I wanted them to connect with their community over music. (We're such a strong athletic community but forget we have such an incredible arts program!) It's important that our students know their skills and talents and passions are valued and respected and I think they really got to see that on Friday, especially when these important adults in their lives were telling them how (unexpectedly) difficult playing an instrument is. And it's important that our community gets to be involved in music! At the end of the lesson, we had our guests volunteer to come up and perform a number out of the book so they could see what it felt like to get up in front of a group and share something new. It was great to see the kids beaming with pride and the guests really enjoyed learning this new skill. Many wanted to continue and I hope they do! Our students were outstanding teachers."

Christine Rogers, Academic Service Learning District Coordinator, said, "This project wonderfully hit all parts of an Academic Service Learning project. It gave students a meaningful reason to learn songs their instrument, so that they could share music with someone outside of their class. It also challenged them to have an understanding that was deep enough to effectively teach someone else. Lastly, it provided community members with an opportunity to experience playing an instrument, something not everyone has had the chance to do. Students learning with purpose and benefiting the community; Academic Service Learning in Clarkston!"

In order to prepare for the Be the Teacher event, students spent a month articulating their knowledge of what makes a successful sound on their instrument and used this to create a lesson plan for the day of the event.

After they were done teaching, students and guests gathered in the Learning Commons to share what they had learned and enjoy some cookies.

Reflecting on the day, one student said, "I really liked the Be The Teacher assignment. It was fun to teach people something new. I think everyone should try music because it's really fun and it's something you will never forget."

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,500 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.

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Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.

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