When I think of games, the first word that comes to mind is fun. As a child, our lives are full of games – games that every other child knows from the traditions of our culture to the games we make up as we play with our friends. Other than the games involving imagination in my living room, such as building a fort with blankets and couch cushions, I remember growing up with the game consoles Intellivision, Atari and the original Nintendo. I actually played a lot of video games as a young child, but since graduating high school in the late nineties, I haven’t been immersed in the gaming world much. This includes all of the apps that have come out for smartphones.
For this week’s assignment, I chose to research digital gaming because whether digital or not, games are a great way to engage students in the classroom. I found a few articles in regards to digital gaming, but I spent a lot of my time exploring games on my smartphone. I felt that I couldn’t use digital gaming effectively in the classroom unless I had experience myself using them. I found an app “My Monsters” where you add monsters to an island by acquiring coins and diamonds. Monsters are kept happy by feeding them, and can be bred to create new monsters. Individual monsters repeat a short melody or rhythm, and when combined create an ensemble of singing monsters.
During my graduate studies in music education, I was introduced to the Kodaly method. This is an approach to music education which involves the use of singing in the classroom, much of which includes singing games. Singing games are used in order for children to internalize musical elements such as pitch and rhythm over a period of time. Children are able to experience pitch and rhythm through these games without knowing it, because they are focused on participating in the game and having fun. With the repetition of singing games, students are able to connect with musical elements when they are older because they have internalized things such as loud vs. soft, crescendo vs. decrescendo as well as simple and complex rhythms. In my experience teaching general music for four years, I was able to see the Kodaly method make a positive impact for students from kindergarten through first grade internalize rhythms such as quarter note and eighth note. As I played My Monsters, I realized the app could be used in the same way singing games are used in the Kodaly method for older grade levels.
After my research on digital gaming and exploring different apps involving musical concepts, I created a lesson plan that can be used in a middle school general music classroom here: My Monsters Tech Trend Lesson Plan.