Head in the Clouds

Monique Cleveland, Christa Devitt, Kathy Hopkins, Dawn Neuman, Katie Neumann

To create a cloud composition:
1. Students should be able to create cloud characters and after conducting research, write a rap about their assigned cloud with their classroom teachers.
2. Students should be able to use the rap as the chorus and verse section of a longer composition they will create in music class by following a set of guidelines specified by the music teacher.
3. Students should be able to create an accompaniment for each section of the composition using vocal sounds, body sounds, traditional and non-traditional instrumental sounds, and sounds produced by electronic means.
4. Students should be able to vary the use of dance elements to create movement sequences that capture the essence of their cloud characters.
5. Students should be able to select appropriate props to support the performance of the composition.
6. Students will be able to identify the defining characteristics in clouds in Chinese artwork.
7. Students will be able to create a cloud sculpture for their assigned cloud using the elements of art, the principles of design, and recycled materials.
8. Students will be able to conduct and perform their own cloud composition incorporating words, visuals, sound, and movements.
9. Students will be able to capture the planning process and the performance of their composition using iMovie.


Website addresses with information and images about cloud types
Musical excerpts of pieces about clouds

Copies of student raps
Chart paper and markers to create composition maps
A variety of classroom pitched and unpitched percussion instruments
Props like scarves and ribbon streamers
Cloud sculptures mounted on dowels to use as conducting batons

Copies of student raps and student composition maps
A variety of classroom pitched and unpitched percussion instruments
Props like scarves and ribbon streamers and/or PE manipulatives like balls, hula hoops, parachutes, etc.

Wall Paper
Bottle Caps
Fishing Line

Pictures of clouds in Chinese art


Teaching materials and reflection tools to address collaboration and team building


Creation of cloud characters and raps – Classroom teachers
1. Classroom teachers will guide students to create cloud characters to portray the various types of clouds and the weather they produce (engagement before learning.) Musical excerpts will provide inspiration for movement ideas.
2. Classroom teachers will assign a group of students to each type of cloud.
3. Classroom teachers will guide students to conduct research about their assigned cloud and the type of weather it produces.
4. Classroom teachers will guide students to create a rap for each cloud type. The chorus of the rap should have 4 lines with 4 beats each to express the main idea they want to convey about their cloud type. Students should also create a verse with 4 lines made of 4 beats that expresses the details they want to convey about their cloud type.

Creation of the cloud composition – Music teacher
1. Music teacher hears each group perform their raps.
2. Music teacher introduces students to the form of the composition they will be creating by using a composition map. (See composition map at end of lesson plan.)
3. Music teacher models how to use the structure of the composition map with one group. Group members decide how to create the steady beat accompaniment – vocal or body sounds, traditional or non-traditional sounds, or sounds produced electronically.
4. Music teacher invites students in the audience to choose props or instruments for the bridge section to illustrate the cloud being featured and the weather it produces. Music teacher guides all participants through the 32 counts of the bridge, challenging students to show what they have learned about the featured cloud.
5. Music teacher uses cloud sculpture created in art class as a conducting baton to model how to conduct the groups performing the cloud composition.
6. Model group performs the cloud composition with audience participation (music teacher conducts with cloud baton.)

Next session – all small groups plan and rehearse their cloud compositions using the structure of the cloud composition map and a student conductor

Concurrent sessions with Chinese teacher and art teacher
1. Chinese teacher introduces students to clouds in Chinese art and guides students to discover the defining characteristics of this art form
2. Art teacher reviews the elements of art and the principles of design with her 5th grade classes
3. Art teacher shows students recycled objects that can be used to create their sculpture
4. Each group collaborates to create a 3D cloud sculpture for the cloud type assigned to them by incorporating their assigned element of art and principle of design and using recycled objects
5. Each group figures out how to mount the cloud sculpture onto a dowel to create a conducting baton

Concurrent sessions with the PE teacher
The PE teacher works with the students to create their 8 beat movement sequences with their props for each cloud type. These movements will form the Bridge section of each group’s cloud composition.

Final rehearsals with music teacher
Each group rehearses their cloud compositions in music class incorporating all elements – vocal introduction and coda, rap, steady beat accompaniments, patterns with props and movements or with instruments, and cloud sculpture batons

Final performance in the gym with all classroom teachers and specialists
1. Each group presents their cloud composition performance with a student conductor and involves the audience in the introduction, coda, and bridge
2. Technology teacher films each performance

Reflections with the Guidance counselor
1. The guidance counselor presents a lesson about collaboration
2. Students reflect on how they demonstrated collaboration while creating and performing their cloud compositions

Creation of iMovie – Media Specialist and classroom teachers
1. The iMovie will document the process of the creation and performance of the cloud compositions
2. The iMovie will serve as a model for arts integration to be used by other grade levels at our school
3. The iMovie will be shown as part of our STEM night in April

Differentiation Approaches

1. Careful organization of the student teams creating each cloud composition will help address the learning needs of all students. It is important to incorporate diverse types of learners in each group.
2. This project is designed to include all the multiple intelligences and all modalities of learning – visual, aural, and kinesthetic.
3. The structure of the cloud composition contains a chorus section that repeats at several points throughout the composition. This is the section that everyone can be successful at performing. The verse can be more challenging and can be performed by a smaller group.
4. The bridge section is non-verbal and will allow all students to move their bodies with a prop or create sounds with instruments. Each student can contribute in some meaningful way to this section of the composition.
5. The cloud composition structure can be modified to meet the learning needs of all students. It can be abbreviated or elaborated upon. The number of choices for props, instruments, and movements can be streamlined or increased depending on the needs of the students.



Follow Up and Extension Ideas

1. Our plan is to show the iMovie of the process of the creation and performance of the 5th grade cloud compositions to other grade levels as a model. We are planning a school-wide study of weather concepts that will be showcased at the end of the year during STEM night. This evening would feature live performances as well as the showing of an iMovie which would document the integrated arts and STEM approach to the study of weather by all the grade levels.
2. This lesson could easily be adapted to other science concepts throughout the curriculum for all grade levels. The steps of the process we have used to create the cloud compositions could be taught in terms of the Engineering Design Process. Teachers could complete a graphic organizer demonstrating how we followed the Engineering Design Process to create, rehearse, and perform the cloud compositions. Students could then complete their own graphic organizers for inclusion in their STEM notebooks.

Additional Details

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