Assignment #13: Bruner Exploring

“Important outcomes of learning include not just the concepts, categories, and problem-solving procedures invented previously by the culture, but also the ability to “invent” these things for oneself.” Quoting Jerome Brunner himself, and taken from, this statement encompasses Bruner’s theory of cognitive learning, especially when it comes to children. Bruner’s theory, heavily influenced by Vygotsky’s thinking, and the idea of scaffolding, consists of 3 stages of representation. This includes the enactive or action-based stage, the iconic or image-based stage, and the symbolic, or language-based stage. What is unique to his theory of modes of representation, is the idea these modes “Are integrated and loosely sequential as they ‘translate’ into each other” (SimplyPsychology). Ultimately, Bruner’s contributions to the education field are golden, as he developed and supported his findings on how the mind is organized, and how it categorizes information.
The first stage, also referred to as the “concrete” stage, involves the “encoding action based information and storing it in our memory” (SimplyPsychology). Many times in this stage of representation, the learner does not have an internal representation of something. One example given to exemplify this stage is the idea of a baby and a rattle. If a baby shakes and hears a rattle make noise, that sound is now associated with that movement. Therefore, a baby might rattle its tiny hands thinking it’ll hear that noise again, even when there is no rattle. Next, the iconic stage, sometimes referred to as the “pictoral stage,” involves “images or other visuals to represent the concrete situation enacted in the first stage” (Wikispaces). In other words, a mental picture is stored in the mind, as visuals are used to help aid stored memory. While the enactive stage is said to occur during 0-1 years, this iconic stages happens during 1-6 years. This stage is also said to involve an “internal representation of external objects visually in the form of a mental image or icon” ( Lastly, the symbolic stage, also referred to as the abstract stage, is the final stage that occurs around 7 years and onwards. When information is stored in the form of a code or symbol, students are generally able to “organize information in their minds by relating concepts together” (Wikispaces). One of the biggest forms of symbolism that we use is language. This being the most “adaptable form of representation,” language and other symbols are very “flexible in that they can be manipulated, ordered, classified, etc.” (SimplyPsychology).

Overall, in Bruner’s eye, “the purpose of education is not to impart knowledge, but instead to facilitate a child’s thinking and problem solving skills which can then be transferred to a range of situations. Specifically, education should also develop symbolic thinking in children…students are active learners who construct their own knowledge.” (SimplyPsychology). Therefore, by adhering to his theory of modes, we may all come to better understand how curriculum should be designed, how subject matter should be represented, and ultimately how to prioritize intellectual development as the main goal of education.


“Bruner’s Stages of Representation.” Bruners-Stages – Bruner’s Stages of Representation,
“Jerome Bruner’s Theory of Development: Discovery Learning, and Representation.”,,
McLeod, Saul. “Saul McLeod.” Learning Theory in Education | Simply Psychology, 1 Jan.

Assignment #11: Song Teaching


Idea statement:  Students will learn how to associate movements with words in a song while singing.

“I can” statements:

-I can appropriately sing and move at the same time.

-I can listen to and repeat a song.

-I can put actions to specific words in the song.

Materials:  “Jump Jim Joe,” Source- Library of Congress AFS 3981 B2

-Students, piano, plan outline, voices

Process Outline:

-Initial question: Listen for words repeated in this song, sing song

-Ask for what words were repeated, and then sing the song again but ask what is done differently, turn to partner to tell what different

-Have class do movements with me, while I sing and they listen, repeat again and have them sing those two words and move while I sing with them.

-Add one more move to the second line, asking for a volunteer what we should associate “twirling around with.”

-Have everyone join in, sing through a couple of times

-Last time, head to the piano and let them do it themselves.

Assessment statement: Students will have comprehended and accomplished the idea statement, by demonstrating there ability to appropriately coordinate actions with words to the song, while simultaneously singing the song, given no additional cues.


Assignment #10: Songs In Their Heads Reading

  1. After reading Patricia Campbell’s “The Rundale School Cafeteria” from her “Songs in their Heads,” my mind kept drawing connections to another chapter of hers that we covered called “The Horace Mann Schoolyard.” The ultimate conclusion drawn from both of these readings is that children are innately musically inclined, and incorporate these abilities in their day to day actions. The clincher- these kids observed in the chapter, along with most children, are unaware of these occurrences! In this section, Campbell provides several examples of musicking that occurred in a cafeteria setting. These musical examples ranged from children playing with their food to create a beat or creating  musical gestures by wiping off the tables with a wet cloth, to children straddling the benches as if it were a drum to play on and humming a song in the lunch line. Whether or not the energy level of the kids was due to the “starch, sugar, and protein that they were consuming,” these children seemed enthralled in their daily activities, and the genuine excitement that comes with the little things (Campbell, 4). A a result, examples of an “I can” statement based off of observing children’s musical skills could be “I can” keep a beat pattern, “I can” sing a song with others, “I can” play an instrument at the same time with other instruments, etc. Given this specific age group, I would take into consideration the level of musicianship that these children hold, and would further foster activities that would not only challenge them, but allow them to create musical experiences! Music is even more powerful when shared with others, and therefore I believe it is essential to make music in all shapes and forms!

2) I was intrigued by both James and Ramona’s responses and conversations about music! Campbell sums it up best with the idea that music takes on a unique a personal meaning for both of these kids, which rings true with every child! I was fascinated to read about how much of an impact that their upbringing had on their musical preference, exposure, and association with music. This ultimately got me thinking about my own musical experience, and how my life has been shaped because of it. I was surprised by how well-versed both children seem with their music. I feel like at that age, my views and opinion of music had not been shaped yet. Nevertheless, it was neat to see how much the world around them impacted their views of music, especially at such a young age. Both James and Ramona talked about music, and shared personal experiences and interests that define what music means to them. If these two were students in my own classroom, I would design learning experiences that adhere not only to their interests, but also that challenge their musical abilities. Both seem well-versed at a young age with musical abilities that I would not want to let diminish, and therefore it would be wise to further expose them to different genres of music, people, etc.

Assignment #9- Children Video’s

Video #1:  The first video is structured as a call and response format. It was easy to depict a single leader singing the call, and the rest of the children giving the response, but I couldn’t depict the single person who was designated as the leader. It almost looked like to me that the person was not in the camera angle. A strong sense of community and unity was conveyed to me by these little children, as their culture and music rituals brought them together as one. Ysaye Barnwell talked highly of this, and how important it is to cherish the sacredness of this. The pitch level of the children’s voices and the chant were sung very high; with that said, the quality of their voices were free and unified in the music! The feelings or affect from the children singing are uplifting, and they sing with genuine enthusiasm and energy!

Video #2: This video was so neat to watch, because you could just feel the genuine emotion resonating in each child! Each child seemed fully engaged in the song as they moved their whole body, and grooved to the beat. When listening to the lyrics of the song, and knowing this group is based out of New York, it is empowering to hear children sing about following big dreams! It seems as if their director, who is also playing the piano, is conducting or leading them mainly with big body motions and gestures. The quality of their voices was so pure and free; the blend amongst these voices is pretty incredible, as they are not worrying about necessarily matching vowels, or shaping the tone of their voices, but rather just singing from the heart. To me, it seemed like they were best in tune with one another during the a cappella sections of the song. At the end, a little boy gets up to do a “happy dance,” and its so fun to see the children find joy in the music they created!

Video #3: After going through each verse, the children seem very confident at the end of each verse, which went something like “all getting ready on halloween night!” The instructor is definitely carrying the tune and beat of the song, but the children are able to stay up with her, as she gives a cue for each new verse. I think it is important to choose songs for children that they will be able to succeed in, and feel confident on. It seems like the key or pitch level has been set in the upper range of the voice, in order for the children to be able to sing all the notes. At the end of this video, one child shares an example of how he connects to Halloween. This happens a lot when children can relate to what they are singing about.

Video #4: The children in this video are likely to enjoy this song because of the catchy tune that is has, along with the variety of instruments being used. I think the children would also be able to sing it well, because of their ability to internalize that strong beat of the strong. Therefore, if I were the teacher and wanted the children to sing this song with me, I would perform a call and response with them. That way they can learn the song by example, and feel confident with the tune.

Video #5: This video of the Phoenix Children’s Chorus showed a huge age range of performers, from what looked like fifth or sixth graders, all the way to seniors in high school. Lead and directed by three different directors to keep time, the sound of this joint choir was very unified, and choral sounding. There were unique qualities, harmonies, and musical choices in this arrangement of the Star-Spangled Banner. I have heard of this group before, and have had several friends who were members of this group all through high school. It is a well respected group in the valley, where music is shared between so many children!

Video #6: Control of this musical experience seemed to decline as the video went on and on. The instructor was all over the place, not only with her control or lack of with the children, but with her timing, conducting and keys. When having the children perform in rounds, not only do they change to singing it in a major key, but she also changes the key each time, which is inconsistent. Her conducting is also not the clearest, and her ability to reign in the group of children and to refocus them seemed to lack. I think by the end, the boys and girls were singing to their own heart’s desire instead of in unity.

Overall, one of the biggest take aways that I have had with children’s singing is the simplicity that is associated with it. Their sounds are pure, and the ability to make music is limitless, as they seem to find joy in the genuine process of singing and creating music! I think singing for them is a fun way to express themselves, and channel in their energy towards a common goal. It is critical to support children’s singing, by fostering an environment in which musical creativity can occur. With that said, structure is beneficial  in the music making process, as it helps channel in the intentions and power of music. What is not good for them is inconsistency, negative connotations associated with music, and dampening the limits to the creative process!

Three primary ideas:

Musical creativity is limitless. This idea, supported by each of the videos listed above, is crucial to remember, as children from all different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences learn and share a language of music that might not be the same as everyone else, and that is okay. More importantly, it is about encouraging children to make music in any way, shape, or form that they can!

Music is an outlet for all. While also exemplified in the videos above, music is rooted in our lives in so many different ways. It is important to help children find the way in which music serves as an outlet or gate to new opportunities and experiences.

Everyone needs music. A human soul thrives on the emotion and expression that music can give to us. Children are innately born with musical abilities that are sometimes surpassed. Therefore, it is important to help children explore their musical inclinations at a young age, where they can flourish and utilize music in their daily lives.


Teaching For Musical Understanding Reading Reflection

I was absolutely intrigued from beginning to end in Jackie Wiggins’s a “Teaching for Musical Understanding,” as it constantly picked my brain and consumed my mind with new ideas and thoughts! Learning is a continuous process through life; furthermore, strengthening and reviving our understanding as a teacher also has no timeline, start to finish. Upon reading this chapter, I felt so enlightened every new page, and had several take aways from all this juicy material! I love how Wiggins discusses the idea of schemas, and the way we process knowledge. I see parallel correlations to the things we have discussed in class, as she mentions how “learning is more likely to take place when students possess a context for understanding new ideas” (Wiggins, 8). Students, especially at a young age are like sponges, in which they absorb and obtain so much information at a constant rate! I believe that children have innate musical abilities that they carry with them, and when we as teachers foster an environment in which they can expand upon these abilities, learning is more likely to take place! She also talks a lot on building on a familiar context of learning, and knowing that it is generally easier for students to “understand a part of something when it is learned in the context of a whole” (Wiggins, 11). We have talked a lot about this in class, in teaching a lesson using whole-part-whole, and the benefits of teaching this way. Students are able to build on known material, and will flourish when they are able to understand and connect to given material. Wiggins also pinpoints the idea of scaffolding, but not just teacher-provided scaffolding, students and peer scaffolding as well. I thought this was such a strong argument to make, as ultimately peers are majors influences on one another. Learning can take place in a classroom when teamwork is at the helm of the teaching. With that said, the idea of “guided participation” is something I feel is crucial in music making. Knowing how interactive music can be, collaborating with students, allowing them to grow in their own zone of proximal development, and then further allowing them to collaborate with their peers will ultimately enhance the amount of learning! This is very apparent as we practice all of these techniques in our own class!


Keeping in mind the idea of the zone of proximal development, are there specific precautions to be taken in order to discover this proximity, and if so, is there a way to expand that key zone for learning? Is there much harm in sometime teaching outside of the zone?

Wiggins suggests that many times students provide scaffolding for one another in the classroom setting. How might teachers foster a learning environment in which this form of learning can take more prevalence, and therefore the teacher can just act as a guide?