back to school (1)

What’s Cool for Back at School?

What’s Cool for Back at School? 

Lynn Osborne shared this lesson in our “Back to School Lesson” contest from last year, and was the first runner up from our entries. In this lesson she shares her process for getting to know what her students like about school and a variety of ways to explore sing, say, dance, and play.

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Opening Warm up: Students enter classroom for warmup; Students stretch and create movements to rhythm of various rap recordings; (NOTE: when playing RAP music in the classroom, always be sure to check it first for appropriate language and subject matter)  


Step 1                                                                                                                                                            

  • S’s in front of SMARTBOARD with new Notebook page opened, with title “What’s Cool for Back At School?”  This is a 4-beat musical phrase as shown below: What’s Cool for Back At School? 

 cool back to school

  • Teacher speaks this phrase several times to a RAP rhythm, clapping a 4-beat RAP steady beat as the phrase is repeated; Simple 4-beat RAP-clap rhythm below:  

 cool back to school

  • S’s echo Teacher several times.
  • Teacher points around class with question eyes until a Student raises a hand and says something “NEW” about being back in school (for instance: “Friends”; “Recess”; Science” etc…)
  • Teacher or a student scribes the ideas onto SMARTBOARD onto the Notebook page and keeps repeating the process, adding new words but always going back to the “What’s Cool …?” chant between ideas. (NOTE: NOT REQUIRED for every student to contribute an idea!)   

Step 2    

  • All Students clap RAP beat and speak chant, then three different words or phrases, then back to chant, then three more words/phrases, until all have been spoken.
  • Next to each word or phrase, students take turns writing out the notation rhythm of the word/phrase, until ALL the ideas have been notated.    
  • For example: Play-ing at re- cess

cool back to school

Step 3  Move/Rhythm Rondo

  • Students in groups of 4-5 choose 4-5 words or phrases
  • Each group creates a body-percussion pattern for their words, and practices it together. Create a circle so that each group follows the last
  • On REFRAIN: Students create movement for the refrain, What’s Cool for Back At School? Chant it several times in unison, everyone using the movement; (Can be locomotor or non-locomotor😉
  • After each REFRAIN: Each group gets a chance to perform their individual word chant with body percussion;  

Step 4  Extensions For Following Lessons  

  • Students set up xylophone instrumentarium in G pentatonic scalecool back to school cool back to school 

IMPROVISE: Using these notes, students choose a word or phrase to play the rhythm; Improvise using these 5 tones and explore possibilities;  

TONIC: Teacher asks each student to end their words/phrases on the “G”, or tonic, “do”;  

MOVEMENT:  Students in each group decide on one specific “cool” thing about being back at school to create pantomime scene for C part of RONDO. Using chosen xylophone(s), have 2-3 students from each group act out the “cool” thing while the 2-3 others create a pentatonic ostinato to accompany their IMPROVISED SCENE. 


A =ALL perform REFRAIN
C= GROUP performs PANTOMIME SCENE with accompaniment 

REFLECTION:  Students discuss this process, what would they do differently, new ideas for next time, more themes.  

Lynn Osborne

Before becoming a full-time music teacher, Lynn worked as a teaching artist with ARTWORKS, based on the Lincoln Center method of teaching Art Aesthetics in schools. It was with ARTWORKS that she began a focus on Arts Integration in schools. Lynn has taught music in public schools for 13 years. She has had both Orff and Kodaly training. Lynn recently retired from teaching General Music at Aspen Community School in Santa Fe NM. She remains passionate about music education, and is currently continuing to teach music part-time to children privately.

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  1. Marcia Working on September 6, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    If you are concerned about rap lyrics, try using an app called “Launch Pad”. You can set up your own rhythmic rapping patterns–or have students choose the sounds. Then rap to the track they (or you) create.

  2. Istvan on September 7, 2018 at 2:14 am

    These lesson plans are amazing! Thank you so much for sharing them.

  3. Wendy Pierce on September 7, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    What a great way to hook students right in to their class and introduce so many aspects that will be reinforced throughout the year!

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