Researching a musical instrument

Sherri Johns
6th grade/Music & Language Arts

Links to Files Associated with This Lesson 

  1. Brochure Project(xls)

Content Area Objectives Addressed:

1.      Learns about different musical instruments

2.      Effectively gathers and uses information for research purposes

Technology Objectives Addressed:

1.      Learning about and using search engines

2.      Using Publisher to make a brochure

Activity Description

            What was the process that your students went through to complete this lesson?

First I introduced several instruments to my students. One of our local Jr. High Schools brought their Jazz Band to our school for a performance. After the performance, they let our 6th graders stay after and have a hands-on session. They got to try out the instruments. Then I had our orchestra teacher give my students a demonstration of the string instruments. She also let them have some hands-on time allowing them to try some of the instruments out. And lastly, I had our principal, who plays the accordion, come in and play for them. He also told them a little bit about the accordion. After these introductions, my students went to the computer lab and looked through three different sites I had found that introduced them to even more instruments including several different cultural ones. Their assignment that day was to choose three instruments that they would be interested in doing more research on. Then I pulled their names out of a jar and had them tell me what instrument they wanted to research. Everyone had to have a different instrument.

Next, we had lessons on researching. Our school librarian taught them how to use the computerized card catalog to find books about their instrument. I reviewed with them search engines and how to do an internet search so they could find information from the internet. I also did a lesson on Microsoft Publisher teaching them how to make a brochure. They each made a brochure about themselves for practice.

Finally, I gave them time in the library and computer lab to do their researching. They were instructed to use 5x7 index cards to record and organize the information they found. Then they used this information to make a brochure in Microsoft Publisher.

How did you monitor student progress?

Teacher observation.

            Was there a template or an example that students were expected to follow?

We did use the wizard in Microsoft Publisher, but I also showed them some commercial brochures so that they could see what a brochure should look like. I emphasized that they were colorful and completely filled with no blank sections.

How much time did you dedicate to this project?

Total—10 hours    1 hr. on planning

                                    30 min. each on 3 observations

                                    1 hour looking through different sites about instruments

                                    30 min. each on 3 mini lessons

                                    1 hour making a brochure about themselves

                                    2 hours researching

                                    1-2 hours making brochure about instrument

            How was the final product presented?

The students shared their brochures with the class, and then they were hung in the hall. I also plan on giving a copy of each to our orchestra teacher because she showed a real interest.

            Who was the audience for the final product?

The classroom students were the audience.

Learning Issues

What prior knowledge was required on the part of the students in order for them to be successful in this project? (include curriculum and technology knowledge)

The students had to:

            be familiar with the internet and how to do a search

            know how to take notes while researching

be familiar with Microsoft programs ( this made it very easy to teach them Publisher)

            know how to insert a picture into a document

Resource Management

            What was the student to computer ratio?

During the library searching it was 5 students to one computer. The rest of the time it was 1 student to one computer.

            How did you schedule your students’ computer time?

I scheduled our computer lab whenever it was free so that each student could have their own computer to do internet searches and create their brochure.

What was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by students?

Computers in our library and classroom. Our computer lab. I also used the Smart Board in my classroom for my lessons.

How would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service teachers.)

Write grants, participate in programs that offer technology as incentives, and I have even been able to get some technology from local business donations.

Rate the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they needed—high, medium, low

The level of access for the computer use is high. I did have to juggle my schedule some to be able to get in the computer lab when it was available. I am used to this because I use technology quite a bit so have to do this quite often.

Rate the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically for computer and other technology use—high, medium, low

The level of supervision required was low. In fact, I was very excited about how quickly they picked up on Publisher just because they were so familiar with the other Microsoft programs.


            What hardware was required for your project?

Computer, Smart Board, Projector, Digital Camera (we took pictures of them and they inserted them into their brochure about themselves)

            What software was required for your project?

Microsoft Publisher

            Anything else?

5x7 index cards for them to organize their information on.


            What kind of assessment did you use for this project? (Include a copy if you can.)

They were given an assignment sheet at the beginning of the project and they had to complete each expectation. At the completion of their project, they turned in the assignment sheet, their index cards, and the finished brochure.

            What categories did you assess? (I.e.: content, screen design, depth/breadth, etc.)

I assessed the quality of the students brochure and whether or not they had completed all the expectations from their assignment sheet.


How does the product that you submitted compare with other students’ products for this same project?

The products that I submitted were very comparable to the rest of the class. I was pleasingly surprised with this lesson because I really did not have any high, medium, or low brochures turned in. They were all of about the same quality, and in my opinion that quality was high. All of my students did a very good job on this assignment.

            What did you like best about this project?

My favorite part was watching my students’ excitement. They really enjoyed this assignment. They did very nice jobs on their research as well as their brochures. It was a very easy lesson to manage because they were really involved and enjoying it.

            What did the students like best about this project?

I think my students’ favorite part was actually creating their brochures. They really got into that more than I thought they would.

            Rank the level of student involvement in this project—high, medium, low

The level of student involvement was very high. After the mini-lessons to teach them everything they needed to do, they just took off and went crazy on their own.

            Rank the level of student interest in this project—high, medium, low

The level of student interest was very high. They really enjoyed this project and were very excited to see their finished brochure.

            Would you teach this lesson again?

Yes, I would definitely teach this again. In fact, I think in the future I will have them make a couple of brochures throughout the year about different things because they enjoyed it so much.