Friday, February 13, 2015

Jump into Jump Bands!

Quick disclaimer before I begin: everything I learned was from Kristin Lukow.  Here's her blog. I want to be her when I grow up!

Don't start like I did:  I'm the kind of person that loves a surprise, but I learned that didn't work for my kids.  I wanted to start without telling my students what they were doing and then when all the puzzle pieces fit together there would be a great big "aha!" moment!  I love when stuff like that happens, but apparently doesn't really go over well for 4th and 5th graders.  
There was a lot of confusion and a lot of complaints.

Instead, I should have started with this video of Mrs. Lukow's kids.This video shows the final product and the possibilities.  It energized my students to want to emulate this and showed a great example of students working together and having fun, not chaos.  


Make sure that students recognize that Jump Bands are not simply jumping, but instead moving to the beat.  There are 4 counts for the jumpers: in-in-out-hop.  I started off very slow with the whole class moving with feet only (no bands): right-together-right-up, then left-together-left-up.  Keeping the students moving to a steady beat and then gradually increasing tempo will really help when the music is  added.

Don't add bands too quickly, but definitely on the first day to keep their attention.  If students cannot perform the steps to a steady beat without the bands, then the bands will only detract from their steady beat even more.  

Teach the terminology very quickly.  Enders are the two people who have the bands on their legs.  Jumpers are the people on the inside.

Have a clear rotation schedule for enders/jumpers in the beginning classes.  Most people will want to be a jumper and being an ender will seem so boring at first.  Plus, enders do the most jumping and will tire out quickly!

Don't put Enders and Jumpers together at the same time. Start with enders standing still with the bands on their legs and let jumpers attempt the bands while they the bands are still.  Start with the steady beat activity then add music.

Let the Enders practice all on their own.  Rotate through so everyone gets a chance to practice being an ender.  Their pattern is: out-out-in-in.  **Note: starting with out-out makes the jumpers start their pattern on the strong beat of the music.  It took time, but eventually my 5th graders were able to feel the difference and would help each other start on the strong beat.

When students are ready to try with both enders and jumpers, don't just let them go and wish for the best!  They still will need teacher guidance for how to make it all fit together.  Start with enders: "One, two, ready, go! Out-out-in-in-out-out-in-in"  Keep the vocal until students are confident.  Then add the jumpers: "One, two, ready, go! In-in-out-hop-in-in-out-hop.  

Have a conversation about how the enders and jumpers fit together.  It took about 3 classes, but now the majority of my 4th and 5th grade students are able to start all on their own.  Talk about both enders moving the same way and that jumpers jump in while the enders are out.

Grade levels:  I'm trying to keep the Jump Bands "special" so I've limited myself to 3rd-5th grade.  I did do a little jump band fun in pre-k and kindergarten just as something fun to get them moving!  It was also great to work on their coordination!

Music: I use Kristin Lukow's Spotify playlist. I trust her judgement in song selection and it's a great variety that my students love! General BPM should be 140-160.  Slower is harder to keep jumping!

Recess: My school is in suburban Pennsylvania so winter means snow and snow means blacktop only recess.  The students hate it.  I decided to bring out my jump bands and a speaker to play music and the students had a great time jumping!  It's their choice to jump or not, but making them available was easy and every so often adds variety to a limited recess time.

Other projects: Jumping is fun and all, and I loved teaching my students advanced formations and tricks, but with my new found love of Orff, I decided that the students should be creating their own routines.  In 4th grade, I guided them through a brainstorm session and we voted on which new configurations we would try.  Then I let one student be the "teacher" and lead the class through his/her idea.  It was a great learning opportunity for both the "teacher" and the rest of the class.  

With the 5th graders, I was completely hands off.  I let them vote if they wanted to work in small groups or as a full class (there's only 13 in the class) and let them try to lobby voters to a particular side.  They decided to work as a full class but of course, they fell to pieces and nothing was accomplished.  There were even petitions of "no participation without representation!"  But it was a learning experience and after a reflection time of what went wrong (by ALL students), the next week they were able to pull together and come up with a pretty cool finished product.

Don't have jump bands?  Check out this DIY to make a set for under $10!

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