Every year the 4th and 5th graders play the recorder as a part of their applied instrument curriculum. I begin by teaching them the basics of the instrument such as, how to hold it, how to make a good tone and what holes to cover to produce the right notes. After that, they are in charge of their own learning.
I use a program called Recorder Karate for the collaborative and independent portion of this unit. In this program students play a variety of songs in order of levels of difficulty. As a class, they practice in pairs in order to provide coaching strategies for each other to improve their playing ability on the instrument. Their partners change throughout the program as certain students move on to different songs than their original partner, so they are able to pair up with partners that are on the same level as them.
My favorite part of the program is that students are working at their own pace. If they are ready to test, they come up to me at the music stand and I listen to them individually while the rest of the class is able to continue practicing. As we all know, students progress at different paces in all subject areas and I love that this program allows them to do so and provides the time for them to really learn a skill before moving on to a more difficult challenge.