Music with a message

This is a cross-curricular lesson incorporating music and citizenship for children aged six to eight. The children were placed into mixed- ability groups and allocated percussion instruments. They were asked to think about the word in the centre of the table (each table had a different one - "celebration", "journey", "loneliness", "festival", "water").

Then each pupil was asked to select an instrument that best represented the word for their group and together compose a simple piece of music, thinking about rhythm, speed and which instruments should play when.

Once each group had composed its piece, the children were asked to think critically about what they heard, giving two positive things and one thing for improvement (this is what we call self-assessment, or two stars and a wish).

The assessment was constructive and children offered many suggestions, saying perhaps this piece was too fast for the word "loneliness" or too many instruments played at the same time.

After each group had performed and been assessed by the other groups they were given some more time to improve their work from the suggestions. Then once again each group performed and was assessed. At the end of the session all of the groups played their composition in a carousel. The aim was to resemble the journey of a child leaving home and travelling across water to a new one - based on the words we'd given each group.

When it came to the assessment, they were caring, ensuring they did not hurt feelings, considerate of each other's effort and creative and critical with their judgments.

The learning objective was to share their opinions on things that matter to them and explain their views. The children exceeded my expectations and I was amazed at how constructive their criticism was and also how each group reflected on it.

Pamela Izerkhef is standards leader and special needs co-ordinator at Britannia Village Primary School in east London.

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