Tuesday, December 12, 2017

They DO sound better.

Just a quick note that the students DO sound better and the program IS better than it was when I first started. I think that sometimes I look so closely at the day-to-day rehearsals that I forget the underlying trend that is continuing to rise. I want them to sound good - not just better - but they don't sound as bad as they did three years ago. Progress.

Jaded: Reflection and Vision

I am feeling a little bit tired of not having a good group. I'm using the word "good" objectively, in the sense that my groups do not perform accurately or with expression. Individually, they do not show enough improvement. Basically, I'm getting tired of teaching a group of students that doesn't want to be taught. However, my personal morals dictate that I should make the best of the situation and try to do everything I can to make things better.

So right now I'm feeling jaded about almost everything. Let me break it down:


Kindergarten/pre-school: This is probably the group that I was feeling the best about about a month ago. I was going through their lesson book with great success and making their education meaningful. Then I had to start preparing them for a performance, and everything has been downhill. It also doesn't help that I started preparing every other group for performances, which took time away from preparing for Kindergarten. I still feel like I can turn things around in January once we get back to the lesson book.

First and Second Grade: We were making good progress until they were forced to rush for the Veteran's Day program. This group still can't sing in tune in unison. That's what we were working on. I don't like having them perform when they're missing notes because it makes them comfortable with being wrong. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting them to nail every single pitch perfectly, but I do expect all 100% of them to at least get close to most of the pitches, and right now some of them are still stuck in chest voice and need more practice. But when I'm focusing on rehearsing parts for the play or songs for performance, there isn't time for practicing the basics. Again, this group will be better to work with once January arrives.

Third and Fourth Grade: I'm really pretty discouraged at having to teach an extra class this semester which has taken away time from Third and Fourth grade music. Last year, Reed and I had a good system going where the students were actually getting an extra 15 minutes per class to work on the recorder every day. This year, not only do they have no extra time, but they actually have 5 minutes less because they have to leave early so I can get ready for kindergarten PE. They also arrive 5 minutes late, so I only see them for 20 minutes twice a week. That's a huge problem. Accepting that, this group has been making progress. They actually made great progress while preparing for the Veteran's Day program. The last month has felt absolutely rushed and ungainful. I've also had to sacrifice musical teaching to rehearse the play, and even that seems like it will be objectively bad. They should be more than 1/4 of the way through the recorder book, but they're still on page one because there's been no time to practice the recorder without ignoring singing. I just don't have enough time with this group, and they really need the extra time because they have to be ready for fifth grade band by the end of the year.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Choir: This was easily the best group earlier in the year. The students were great to work with and made lots of progress. In the first month, they had a moment where I was able to envision them being a good choir, even a great one. However, it seems like we've hit a plateau and are back to singing like an inexperienced group of kids. This is partially my fault, and I'm learning to be a better choir teacher. I think what happened is that I heard them perform really well at the fall concert and then picked more difficult music for them to do at the winter concert, which has proved to be too much of a challenge and they no longer sound like a good choir with the harder music.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Band: This group is probably my most discouraging. Once we started working on our Christmas music, it seems like all progress has stopped. Students who struggle with playing a 2 measure phrase a month ago still haven't learned it. Others seem like they are literally getting worse, where they were able to play and understand certain concepts earlier and now they are getting notes mixed up and forgetting slide positions. The sixth graders are coasting because they can play all of the music easily, but they're not trying to get any better. The fifth graders who are behind are either extremely frustrated or just don't care. Only about half of them show the potential of being able to survive in the JHHS band next year.

JHHS Choir: This group is currently the one where I'm feeling good about their progress. At the beginning of the year, there was no way that they could do four part music, and now they are really getting the hang of it. I think that it's due to four students who are unofficial section leaders, ones that can hold their own part, and the rest of the section is joining with them. Anyway, the rest of the group is still too quiet, and I'm still learning how to be a good choir teacher, which is probably holding them back.

JHHS Band: I felt good about this group up until the beginning of November. We had about two weeks of good rehearsals with the new music, and then it seems like I only get to see them once a week as a full group. I missed 14 whole days with them at the end of November. They just aren't getting better at their parts, and now they've got to perform a piece that sounds bad. This is the group that stresses me out the most, because it's the one that I know how to teach the best. But because I only see them twice a week, I have to rely on them to actually practice what I'm teaching, and they don't practice. We also have some if not most of the junior high students leaving after the semester, so I'm going to have to totally redo the instrumentation. It's really a nightmare for me. I feel like the only way to get this group any better is to focus on teaching the 3rd and 4th graders how to read notation by playing the recorder, and then they'll be ready to work harder in 5th and 6th band, so that by the time they're in 7th grade, they're not totally lost when they play in the JHHS band. That and fixing the JH schedule so they can't leave half-way through the year.

Of course, there are ways to make things better. Here's my plan for improvement:

Kindergarten/Preschool: I really want to stick with the lesson book. They should be zooming through the Kindergarten book and into the 1st grade book as soon as possible. My goal is to really learn their lesson book so that next year it will be even better. I also want to start using conversational solfege techniques - especially having them echo rhythmic and tonal patterns on nonsense syllables. This sets them up for first grade when I start using 

First and Second Grade: The same idea applies with this group. I want them to zoom through the 2nd grade book and into the 3rd grade book as soon as possible. At the same time, I really want to focus on accurate singing. That includes singing technique (especially head/chest voice coordination and breath support) and pitch/rhythmic accuracy. How about displaying the music on the board? I know that it would take some practice at first, but wouldn't it be invaluable for the students to see the music as they sing? That would train them how to read notation without any explanation. I'd do it for the Kindergarten group, but most of them are still learning how to read ENGLISH, let alone music. It'd just be too hard for them. They should start echoing conversational patterns using the correct syllables and begin decoding patterns later in the year. The goal is to get them comfortable with using the syllables correctly and begin identifying correct/incorrect so that when they get to third grade, they are better at sight-reading notation.

Third and Fourth Grade: The biggest thing here is getting more time with these students. It worked so well to have 45 minutes with them because we were able to spend the regular 25 minutes on getting through the lesson book and the remaining 20 minutes on getting through the recorder book. Once I have that time back, I think it will be much better.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Choir: I think the best thing to do with this group is stick with easier music. They did a really good job, objectively, singing easier music earlier this year. I really want to implant that sound in their heads of what a good group sounds like, so that by the time they get to 7th grade, they sing with a good sound. They also do really well with sight-singing, and I want to keep working on sight-singing in unison with this group. Eventually, I would like to move unison and sight-singing down to the third and fourth grade level (using books like Get America Singing), perhaps during the extra time split between recorder and choir singing, and then have the fifth and sixth grade groups singing more advanced music, especially two part and three part music.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Band: Okay, where do I start with this group? The vision is to have them done with the 2nd year band book by the end of 6th grade. The question is, how do I get them to that point? Maybe I need to look at the books and enforce playing tests to make sure the students are on track. I could use that system instead of the weekly practice slip system, which frankly, isn't working. Honestly, I don't care how many minutes they practice. If they are on track, they might as well practice just enough to pass their playing test. If they're behind, then they need to come in and work with me as often as possible until they are back on track. Maybe that means requiring students who fail a playing test to come in on Fridays or after school or during recess. So then what do we do during class time? The first year students really should be learning completely different things than the second year students. It would really work better to have the students for 45 minutes at a time, maybe have half of them come in the advanced class and the other half in the beginning class, and while I'm working with one half they could either be spending time with Mr. Reeve or in another elective like Art. Really, putting them opposite of art would be the best option, or maybe technology. It just bugs me that each year, I have to start at the very beginning, even with second year students. And then we have to go so slow so that the beginners don't get frustrated. It's just a balance of frustration - go too slow for too many days and the advanced students get frustrated, go too fast for too many days and the beginners get frustrated. So really, my vision is that I would have separate classes to work on skills that are really only applicable to one year at a time, at least for the first part of the year.

> Interruption: Why I need two separate classes.

It's easy enough for me to teach a group of trumpet players how to play because I'm only having to give one instruction for each step. If I have a group of trumpet players AND trombone players, that's a lot harder because not only do they sound two different notes an octave apart, but they also read different music and also play with different techniques. So now I have to give somewhere between two to five instructions for each step, where earlier it was just one. Add French Horn, baritone, and tuba into the mix, and again it increases the difficulty.

But so far, these instruments are all similar because they use a brass mouthpiece and are played by buzzing your lips. Now, add in something like the clarinet, the alto saxophone, and the tenor saxophone. All of a sudden, I have to give a completely different set of instructions to these instruments because they make noise by blowing into a mouthpiece with a vibrating reed instead of buzzing their lips. They also read different music and have to use eight fingers and a thumb for their different notes instead of just three or a slide. Also add in a flute, which doesn't use a reed or buzzing lips, but plays by blowing across an open hole in the mouthpiece. There is also the oboe and the bassoon, which do not use a mouthpiece at all and instead have two reeds that vibrate against each other to make a sound. Now that one instruction that I was able to give to a group of trumpets has turned into about twenty instructions for the same amount of progress across the whole group.

Finally, add in the percussion players. They do not use air at all to play their instrument, but instead have sticks and mallets and have to play a variety of instruments including the bells and snare drum. That means that instead of just learning one instrument like the trumpet, they have to learn two or three at the very beginning just to make the same amount of progress. The non-pitched percussion don't even have notes, so spending time working on notes with the rest of the group is a waste of time for the percussionist. Instead, they have to learn advanced rhythms at a quicker rate than the rest of the group and have a whole set of rudiments to learn - and that's just for the snare drum. There are different techniques that they need to learn for each instrument, including but not limited to the triangle, crash cymbals, suspended cymbals, bass drum, tom-toms, shakers, maracas, castanets, wood blocks - and that is listing only the most common ones. They also have to learn the pitched percussion instruments like the marimba, vibraphone, and glockenspiel. Now that single instruction that I had to give to the trumpet players has turned into about 30 instructions just to get one class to play one note.

The final challenge is this: all of these students are at different ability levels. They will all differ in how much they understand each instruction, and how well they are able to execute it on their different instruments. They also differ in the amount of interest and self-motivation they have and in how much time they will spend practicing these ideas on their own time. Some students will need it explained more than once, and their neighbors will lose interest if you explain it twice. Now take all of these challenges, combine them together at the beginning of September, and then put on a show at the end of December where every parent and community member is invited to come and watch.

My extra challenge is that my first year students and second year students are all combined in the same class. While there is one limited benefit - asking older students to tutor younger ones, which does not always work out - there is double the number of challenges. The biggest challenge is that the older students have to play music that is too easy and the younger students have to play music that is too hard - there is no middle ground. The most productive solution is to split the class into two groups and have one group at a time play, but then I have to simultaneously teach one group and babysit the other. The best solution would be to have two separate classes.

JHHS Choir: I think that I will be losing some students at the midterm, but I am hoping to keep the best ones. Choir is different from band because there are at most only four parts that need to be covered, while band has upwards of 20 different parts. The benefit of having a larger group is sound and security, but having a smaller group is manageable. I want to continue developing the "section leaders" who have been important to performing four part music accurately. I also want to pick good music for this group and continue to develop everyone's voice in order to have more than one person per section who is capable of reading the music.

JHHS Band: My vision for this group is to have them performing real music, not just the educational pieces that are written for easy band or beginning band or developing band. In order to do that, I need to have good instrumentation and students who know how to play. My hope is that these students will continue to get better each year, especially focusing on getting them rehearsal-ready by the end of the sixth grade. I want them to be a group that sounds good on whatever they play, not just the easy pieces.



















Monday, October 30, 2017

My Priority Today

Today is a normal Monday. I did not work on Sunday to plan for the upcoming week, so now I am scrambling to get things together not just for this week, but for today as well.

My main priority is the same as it always is: To plan my lessons for today. Those lessons are based on long-term goals that don't change often, but the materials and activities change each day.

This week I will need to begin picking plays for Christmas. Rather than choose them hastily and begin working on them without preparation, I will continue to work out of my regular curriculum book today and aim for starting the plays next week.

There is also a Veteran's Day program coming up soon. The fifth and sixth graders will need to learn the songs for it and the third and fourth grade as well. The other groups are not participating directly this year.

The JHHS Band and Choir will need to continue rehearsing their pieces for the Christmas Program.

Time to stop theorizing and get to work on planning lessons.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What is a Concert Reflection?

More specifically, what is the educational objective of having the students write a reflection after a concert performance?

First, is it even worth writing a reflection, or is it a waste of time? I've tried both ways. My students get a free period the day after a concert. At first, we would listen to the recording and have a brief discussion before they were given their free time, but recently we have just been ignoring the concert reflection and going straight for the free time. Why? Because the students didn't seem to get anything out of it. There were one or two students who would keep the conversation going, but the rest of them just sat there and waited until it was over. The answers were usually thoughtless when I picked on a student to try and get them involved. 'Uhmm, it was good?' or 'We should have practiced it, (Practiced what?) The music.' Those are pretty common. So why bother if the students aren't getting anything out of it? Might as well teach them to enjoy music and skip over it.

However, the problem isn't with concert reflections or free periods, it is a question of how the reflections are conducted. Do the students have to write something? Do they have to be a part of a conversation? Do they have to answer specific questions or just answer generally? Are they giving facts or opinions? Maybe the reason why most students want to skip the concert reflection is because they aren't really getting anything out of it, and they see it as a waste of time. But if they could benefit from it, and know that they are benefiting from it, wouldn't they be more likely to participate? More of them would, at the very least. And skipping the concert reflection ignores a huge, important aspect of being a musician - that is, musicians reflect on their performances to identify strengths and weaknesses. As a professional soloist, I would be listening to my recorded performances for areas that were comfortably good and for areas that needed attention. Obviously, not only is this important for a musician to do, but it is also an important life skill to learn - that of self-reflection.

So now, what is the educational objective of having the students reflect on a performance?

The main objective is for students to identify strengths and weaknesses. An audio recording allows students to focus specifically on the sound of the performance, while a video recording gives a more complete idea of the performance. The important thing to remember about identifying is that facts are more important than opinions. It's okay to say, "that sounded good," unless you don't provide any facts to back up that statement. "That sounded good" and "That sounded bad" is meaningless by itself. It only serves to make someone feel good or feel bad about their performance which is not very helpful in almost every situation. So, in order to identify a strength or a weakness, one has to answer the question "WHY does it sound good or bad?" Be careful of words like: good, great, better, best, well, awesome, rad, perfect, sweet; and their opposites: bad, worse, worst, horrible, awful, nasty, gross, and terrible. These are all opinions. If a student uses one of these words, they also have to explain the facts that brought them to that conclusion.

Put this into practice, and it looks like this: "Okay class, what were some of our strengths at the concert?" Jimmy answers, "We sounded great!" Teacher responds, "What makes you say that? What did we do that sounded great?" Jimmy then says, "We played our instruments really good." Teacher asks, "Why do you say that? What was really good about our playing?" Jimmy hesitates, and then says "It was good." Teacher says, "What made it good?" Then Jimmy says, "I don't know. Call on someone else." What happened here is that the student opened up with an opinion which may have been totally valid, or maybe it was just garbage to begin with. When the teacher pressed for the facts, the student was unable to explain them. Again, this could have been for two reasons. One (the better option) is that the student really doesn't know how to explain why they came to that conclusion, and the second (the worse option) is that they really don't care enough to have an opinion and they just spouted out the first string of words that came to mind. (Maybe they are used to doing this in other situations and it just carried over into the music classroom.) If it's the first option, then use it as an opportunity to teach the class how to talk about music. Put words into the student's mouth and ask specific questions like, "Was it easy to hear the melody over the rest of the group?" Even if they say 'yes' just to get off the hook, they are still learning to talk about music intellectually.

The secondary objective related to identifying strengths and weaknesses is to figure out the reason behind them. What did we do during the rehearsals leading up to the concert that made us stronger? What did we neglect to do that made us weaker? This is important to point out because it makes the students responsible for doing well or doing poorly. For example, if one of the strengths was balance, how did we achieve that? Was it because we pointed out the melody so often during rehearsals? Was it because we actually changed the written dynamics? Was it because we focused on listening during the actual performance? Those are things that are important to point out because then the students will do them more in preparation for the next concert. Another example, if one of the weaknesses was inaccuracy in rhythms, what did we neglect to do that resulted in that problem? Did we lose track of the beat? Did we never really learn how the rhythm was supposed to go in the first place? What could we do differently to turn rhythm from a weakness into a strength for the next concert?


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Fundamental Idea for Great Rehearsals

The fundamental idea for great rehearsals is this: always rehearse the highest priority areas first.

What is a high priority area? Think about your last rehearsal with the group. What was the most offensive mistake that they made? Where was the ugliest part of the song? Where did they fall apart the worst? Whatever the answer is, that is the highest priority.

Every rehearsal should address the high priority areas first. Start at a specific measure with the entire group. Play or sing it once through to illuminate the problem area. Then reach into your rehearsal tool box and find the most efficient way to solve the problem. Maybe that's playing it slower. Maybe it's singing it on a neutral vowel. Maybe it's going one note at a time. Maybe it's working with sections or individuals. But whatever you do, make sure that you are working on the worst areas of the song first, and as they continue to improve, repeat that section over and over so they learn how it is supposed to sound.

But what about all of that score study that I did? Should I just ignore the problems that I found while I was looking at the score? The answer: yes. And no. Score study is essential for many reasons. For one, you won't know what the song is supposed to sound like if you don't study it first. For another, you will be able to guess where the problems might happen and look for the best solution. Do you think there might be a rhythmic problem? What's the best way to fix it? Do you think there might be a balance problem? What's the best way to fix it? Those are all questions that you should know the answer to if you want to have great rehearsals. However, the fundamental idea of rehearsals is not to work on the problems that you think might occur before they happen. The fundamental idea of great rehearsals is to fix the most glaring problems first. Start with this in mind, and you will see your rehearsals (and your ensembles) improve.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The IWYY Model: Teaching Songs to Elementary Singers

IWYY stands for "I, We, Y'all, You." It is the best teaching model to use when elementary students are learning to sing a short song because it provides an aural image, promotes successful singing in a group, and provides an opportunity for students to sing alone or in a small group. It is simple to understand and implement in almost any music lesson.

The basic structure of the IWYY model is to repeat a short song four or more times with different expectations each time, represented by the words "I, We, Y'all, You."

1. Sing for the class, not with the class; focused listening.

The first time a song is presented, the teacher should sing it for the class alone ("I sing"). The students are expected to listen to the song carefully and critically. Usually it is easier for them to focus on listening to the words at first, but you can challenge them to listen for a specific tonal or rhythmic pattern as well. Sometimes I check for understanding by having the students fill in the missing word at the end of a phrase, or raising their hand when they hear a specific word, rhythm, or tonal pattern, or by counting the number of times a word occurs, or by asking text comprehension questions. The song can be sung with an accompaniment or without, and the teacher can ask the students to keep a steady beat or mirror actions during the song.

2. Sing with the class, focusing on pitch/contour or beat/rhythm.

Once the students have heard the song, they are invited to join in singing it with the teacher ("We sing"). Students and teacher sing the song together so that the students can follow along with the teacher in case they are lost or unsure of what to sing. Singing as a large group with the teacher provides timid students with a safe atmosphere for singing - they can hide their voices behind the teacher's voice. While some people argue that this is detrimental to the student's progress, I believe that timid singing is better than no singing at all, which furthermore is much better than embarrassed singing. Often times at this stage I will show the melodic contour of a song with my hands and even ask the students to mirror me. Showing melodic contour is different than showing the solfege hand signals. It is appropriate to use the solfege if that is the focus of the activity, but it is simpler to use a hand gesture that looks like a "cut" motion (all fingers extended, palms flat towards the floor) for each note at different heights in the space in front of me. Simpler is better because students focus on getting their voices to the right pitch instead of making the right shapes with their hands and fingers. Another important concept that can be practiced in this stage is the rhythm of the words. Teacher and students can clap each word as it is sung. If the occasion calls for it, I might repeat "We sing" a second time and play an accompaniment on the guitar or piano, or perhaps focus on some other element of the music such as the beat, timbre, dynamics, style, or expression.

3. Listen to the class sing for you, then rehearse or give feedback.

The third step in the IWYY model is for the students to sing as a group ("Y'all sing"). without the teacher. This step is designed to do two things: one is to challenge the students and the other is to provide an opportunity for the teacher to listen critically to the group. Students will find out that they don't really know the song as well as they thought when they have to sing it alone. It is eye-opening for them to fall apart in the middle of a song. They start to realize that music is not such an easy subject and that they need to focus and give an effort in order to succeed. The teacher should be listening for parts where the students fall apart or make big mistakes, and then formulate a plan to rehearse those parts before the students even get to the end of the song. That might mean a little bit of direct instruction and then trying again, or it might mean going back to the first or second step of the whole process. The teacher should not exclude pitch accuracy from their assessment! In my opinion, 99.999% of children have the ability to sing in tune. A quick review of head voice, breath support, and pitch matching might be necessary to get the students on the right notes. It is very important that a teacher should address this issue! Even if just one student is singing in a speaking voice, the teacher should identify the problem and give the entire class another chance to succeed. Accepting the wrong, low pitches once will always make the problem harder to fix on subsequent days. The level of accuracy in general might depend on your educational objectives for the song, but I would argue that everyone should be at least 70% correct before moving on to the next stage. Anything less will hurt struggling students in the long run. That being said, there are times when it is best to focus on participation rather than accuracy. Maybe you are a new teacher in the district and the students are just getting used to you. Maybe there is a new student and it would be harmful to put them in the spotlight on their first day. Maybe it's a class of kindergartners who have never sang before! The final decision of whether or not to focus on participation or accuracy rests with the teacher.

4. Select students to sing alone or in small groups for the class.

The last step of all is to choose individual students or pairs to sing for the group ("You sing"). This step is so important to include. Here is a chance for students to not only hear what their own voice sounds like, but also helps them to build confidence for singing in front of other people. By asking for volunteers to sing alone, you give them a chance to do something that is required of every musician - to make music without anybody's help. It is vitally important to give every student this opportunity often so that they become independent musicians before going into junior high and high school band and choir. Also, at the lower elementary levels, there is very little pressure to be perfect, so this is a great time to get them comfortable with giving their best shot even if they make a mistake. You can also use duets or small groups to work towards the same goal, or even just to give more students the opportunity to perform. I have used duets where I pick one student who will be able to help the other student, who otherwise wouldn't have been able to sing it on their own. This last step can also be used to ask a star student to demonstrate the proper sound for the rest of the class. Overall, it is an important tool in your music teacher tool box.

When I first started teaching music, I would usually sing all of the songs with the students. They were able to perform well when I was helping them, but they didn't build the skills needed to be successful in more complicated performances like part singing or playing an instrument in band. When I started using the IWYY system, I noticed the difference right away, and I hope to see a big difference in these students when they are old enough to join the band and the choir.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Practice Slips in Elementary Band: Finding a Balance

This has been a topic of debate for as long as I can remember: how much should students be required to practice?

First, let me say that I have tried three different methods in my 6 years of teaching. The first method I tried was to send home "practice assignments" each week - every student would get a personalized practice slip for what they needed to practice each week. The second method was in response to being totally overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to keep up with that: I did not require students to turn in any form of practice slips. The third method is common among band teachers, and I remember my band teachers using it in elementary and junior high: requiring students to practice a certain amount of time each week. Some schools require an hour and a half or more, some require thirty minutes or less. I require my students to practice for 45 minutes a week.

Now, how much should a first or second year band student be required to practice? Let's look at the method that doesn't work before comparing the other two.

At one point in my teaching career, I decided to forgo practice requirements completely. The students complained about having to practice, and even the parents were complaining about the students having to practice! I was completely buried with other concerns, so I thought to myself that this was one battle I would  be willing to lose. When I told the students that they didn't have to practice at home anymore, two things happened. First, the students celebrated because they hated doing it and it meant they had less homework each week. I watched as instruments were left at the school day after day, week after week, weekend after weekend. The second thing that happened is that the students stopped getting better at their instruments. The only time that they played them was together in class, which means that they never played them alone and probably never heard their own sound apart from the rest of the group. Sure, we worked through songs in band class, but it was usually one or two of the more talented students that carried the rest of the group. Some of the students couldn't play a song by themselves even at the end of the year. So, getting rid of practice requirements made life easier for everyone, but it also made the band much worse, and it meant that educational goals weren't being met. My opinion: having no practice requirements is the worst option available.

Between the two remaining options, each one has clear benefits over the other. The main benefit of sending home individualized practice sheets each week is that the students have obvious goals and will know what they need to spend the most time practicing. The main benefit of requiring a flat-rate amount of time per week is freedom from the logistical nightmare of creating individual practice slips for every student, every week. I think that the best place to start is the flat-rate method for that reason, but I also see the benefit of trying to work towards the more student-centered individualized plans.