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Planning the Semester

Retrieval System
Making a retrieval system is part of every Kodaly level course.  I myself wrote one with over 300 songs from all over the world.  This was a complete waste of time as I ended up using the songs I was shown during that level work.  This year was the FIRST year that I actually sat down and wrote a retrieval system that I am actually using.  It's not until you really teach the Kodaly method that you understand why the retrieval system is so important.  It simply doesn't make any sense to write one before you have used one.  That is my major complaint about American Kodaly level courses.  In Hungary, they simply give you the Hungarian retrieval system.  This makes much more sense to me.  Fortunately, some level courses are offering that the retrieval system be done after level III as a separate project.  While expensive, this is more useful in the long term.

Reinventing the Wheel
Luckily, there are two great resources for a pre-written curriculum map/retrieval system that already exist.  I went to these resources and wrote down the concepts for each grade level and the games, songs, and chants for each of these concepts.  When I was done with that I opened up my folksong books and plugged in the songs I wanted to use from them.  Now, when I need to plan a second grade class, I turn to the second grade curriculum map and see what songs are under what concept and plan my lessons accordingly.  It's so much easier and helps me meet my personal goal of more games in class while continuing to be curriculum centered. 

So, in pictures and words, here is a step-by-step guide to writing an awesome retrieval system/year plan for your year.

Step 1 Read other plans
Lois Choksy and Lamar Robertson have already written detailed curriculum maps, published songs, and taken you step by step through a year of teaching.  Watch ebay, amazon, and other sites to get the Choksy.   I got mine for $5 because it was used, a 95% discount!  Be thrifty!

 The Jill Trinka books, My Little Rooster, Little Black Bull, etc. are also really helpful.  I know teachers who use them exclusively for their repertoire.  Each song is expertly analysed and put into an appropriate grade level.  Her indexes are particularly helpful.

Step 2 Prepare your skill map
I like using The Kodaly Teaching Weave by Jon Rappaport.  It's an inexpensive little book by Pro Canto Press.   This little tome lists the concepts you need to teach in which order, mixing up rhythmic, melodic, and artistic elements in a 1-113 step process that takes you from comparatives to secondary dominant chords!

Analyze where your students are and figure out where you want to take them before the end of the year.  Map out which concepts for which grades, then refer to Choksy and Robertson.  Since you probably don't have students 3-5 times a week, you won't be able to do the official Kodaly curriculum with your students, but you can build a foundation. 

Step 3 Plug in your songs
I like making headings of game, choral, chant, ostinato friendly, etc. so that I can more easily plug the songs into lesson plans and make the plans more fun and dynamic.  Gather songs from the Choksy and Robertson books first, then go through the Trinkas, then.....

By this point, you'll have a healthy list of songs, games, and activities under each concept you want to teach.  The next post is on the lesson planning template into which you plug your songs. 


smileyflowers said…
I believe you have incorrectly attributed the first set of books, "An American Methodology" and "Yearly Plans" to Lois Choksy, when it was actually Ann Eisen and Lamar Robertson.
Suzanne G. said…
I mentioned Choksy and Robertson but not Ann Eisen. Thanks for that input!

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