3-5, Elementary Music, Lessons

Write the Room: An active instruments review

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Ever since the huge push on teachers having data based instruction, I have felt the pressure of pretests. I am pretty good with grouping students (see here!) based on data from assignments, but I still have a hard time giving kids true pretests– I mean, giving them a test they are basically supposed to fail? How is that fair? Or good for their self esteem?

Most of the time I cheat, and I wait until I have taught for a day before I give them the pretest. That way it gives me a more accurate view of what’s going on, and not everyone fails.

But I also hate giving assessments all. the. time. So I have gotten very creative with ways to do assessments without the kids realizing they are being assessed (you can read all about that here!).

Enter: Write the Room.

I had read about write the room activities, but I was much too terrified to try them (my kids are not the most well behaved…), but I decided to try anyway. I decided to use it as a pretest for instruments of the orchestra– because that is something I knew students had talked about the previous year, so it wasn’t completely new, but I didn’t know how much they remembered.

It was great– I got an accurate picture of who knew their stuff and what areas were the weakest, and they got to move around and talk and not know they were being assessed!

In this article, I will talk about what a write the room activity is, how to set it up, annnnnd how to make this happen if you are at a school full of “bad kids”. (Please notice the quotes around that.)

I do have a TPT product that will facilitate this activity– it’s basically print and go– which you can purchase here. You can do this activity without the product if you have instrument posters as well. But seriously, who doesn’t love a print and go activity?

And if your students are well behaved enough, this would be super fun for a sub. My kids act like they have no sense when there is a sub, so I do not do that.

Annnyway…. Check out this write the room activity!

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

What is a Write the Room Activity?

Write the Room activities are super fun. Basically, you put questions on paper and hang them around the room. Students walk around and write the answers on their paper. It is much more fun than a worksheet though, because they have to get up and move around.

How do I do a Write the Room Activity?

It is so simple to set up a write the room activity! From now on, I am going to talk specifically about an instruments of the orchestra write the room activity, since that is the name of the post.

You will need a few things:

First, put up instrument posters. I used six different posters– I have these that every elementary music class ever seems to have. I posted them around the room, and put a number above each one. I used the numbers out my Write the Room Activity on TPT.

The recording sheet can say whatever you want, but I wanted to assess instrument recognition as well as family recognition. I had students write the name of the instrument they saw and then they circled the family that it was in.

I feel like there should be more steps… but that’s pretty much it.

All you need is to make the recording sheets, or just buy the recording sheets. And that’s it.

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room
Recording sheet from my TPT product. There are a few available, but this is the one I used.

Classroom Management for Write the Room Activities

The first time I heard about this sort of activity, my first thought was, “My students cannot handle that.”

But you know what? Most of them can, when prepped well enough. One of my goals this year was to incorporate more group and partner work and moving out of our seats. All of those things make me very uncomfortable. But the more we do them, the better they are at it.

So here are some quick tips for making this activity a little less chaotic:

  • Set the boundaries. Tell students what they are and are not allowed to do– Where can the go? How fast can they go? Can they touch anything?
  • I told students they could work in a group, with a partner, or by themselves. This meant that they got to pick one of those, but no one was left out of a group.
  • Have something to do afterwards. Some kids will get done sooner than others, and you don’t want them causing problems. I set out one of my Kaboom games (the treble clef one, you can get here, or you can get an instruments of the orchestra kaboom to stay on the same standard) for students to play once they were finished. This gives them incentive to want to finish quickly and also kept them occupied. You could also do a word search or another instrument worksheet out of one of my instrument sub plans.
  • Emphasize how they should treat people. Before we start, we review the rules and talk about each of them. I specifically say that we are not hitting people, pushing people, calling people names, or saying anything rude– even if that person is not your favorite person ever. This may seem overkill, but when we get down to the details, I have a lot less problems.
  • Set a timer. The first time we did this activity, it took 20 minutes. The second time, I set a 5 minute timer, and everyone finished in 5 minutes. It was like magic.
Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

Are you convinced yet? Write the room is a super fun activity– and gives you very important data for when you start differentiating with centers! You could do this with anything– instruments, treble clef, solfege, history, anything that you need students to remember. I plan to do a lot more of these next year, especially at the beginning of the year as a review. (Yes, I am at the point in the year where I am already thinking about next year’s lessons…. When is summer again?)

So go try this out in your classroom– you will not be disappointed!

If you are interesting in saving yourself some time, you can get my write the room activity here. You can literally just print, tape to the walls, and go! My favorite kind of product.

Want to get free resources? Sign up for the FREE resource library– all you do is put your email in, and you have access to all of the resources in the library (including quizzes, powerpoint, beat charts, rhythm cards, lyric sheets, and more!)– and new resources are added monthly! Sign up here!

Have you ever done a write the room activity? What are your tips? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Write the Room: an active instruments of the orchestra review.. or pretest! PLUS tips on how to make this work with your "bad classes" GREAT for elementary music class! Becca's Music Room

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