Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Staff Wars: A Music Game from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Today's blogger is Michael Cary. He is in his 10th year as a music teacher with East Noble Community Schools. His duties include K-5 Music and 6th Grade Band at Rome City Elementary School, 7th Grade Band at East Noble Middle School, and Assistant Band Director at East Noble High School. His schools are 1:1 and the students have either an iPad or a laptop. You can connect with him on his website or on Twitter @michaeltcary.

About three years ago, I stumbled upon Staff Wars when I wanted to find a game for my students to use to identify note names in the Treble and Bass Clef. By luck, I found the website Music Interactive and there it was: my love for Star Wars combined with identifying note names in this game. I was able to put it on my laptop and explore right away. This game was incredible to play and challenging for me as a teacher to get a higher score than my last one (sidenote: my highest score is 122). It takes a lot of PRACTICE to get there!

As an experiment, I put this game up on my whiteboard in the classroom and let my 6th grade band students play it as a tournament game and WOW the learning experiences were amazing! Students are naturally competitive, of course, but they wanted to remember their note names because of this game. I saw this as a huge benefit for my band students as well as my younger elementary students when I wanted to start them on reading music.

Our technology staff was asking teachers what software we wanted installed on our student devices for the following school year, and I asked for Staff Wars to be on all the laptops for Grades 5-12. Since then, Staff Wars has gained popularity among other programs everywhere, so we haven’t been able to get it on iPads…yet. If you want to get Staff Wars on your iPads for your music classroom, the app is 99 cents!

What about eLearning? Well…this game has been used for my 6th and 7th grade bands for eLearning assignments each time. We have the students “snip” their best scores (30 notes or more for 6th grade, 50 notes or more for 7th grade) and copy/paste the scores in an e-mail sent to the music staff! It’s a quick and easy assignment (if you’re good at identifying your notes quickly)! Below is the snipping tool in case you’re not sure what it is and an example e-mail of eLearning a student has submitted.

Snipping Tool Menu

Sample email of eLearning

If you want to see a huge benefit in your students’ note reading, get this game on your students’ devices or put it on your laptop and project it onto a whiteboard. Learning like this is so much fun when it involves games. Staff Wars is a great example of this!!

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