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Blog: Friday, November 8th, 2019

Differentiated Music Class

Genius Hour, 20%-time, moon-shot thinking and passion projects are have become popular in education these days. While many teachers like to offer Genius Hour at the classroom level, Abbotsford Middle has an innovative way to reach some of its most vulnerable students by providing a version of 20% time for its exploration teachers. Guided by commitment to be a “...supportive, caring, and inclusive school community”, each term an Explorations teacher is empowered with three blocks a week to seek out a unique group of students who will benefit from differentiated explorations and provide inclusive programming for them.

Our first term has seen music teacher, Alyssa Hutchinson, create a multi-tiered music program that pairs students struggling with mobility with a variety of students who benefit from the opportunity to experience success as leaders. Another Abbotsford Middle commitment is that “learning is purposeful, engaging, collaborative, active, authentic and reflective.” Alyssa’s vision embodies this commitment by providing a judgement-free, inclusive, and low stress environment. Students are offered choice and flexibility that allows their contributions to drive the direction of aesthetics and creativity for each lesson. The result is students rising to the challenge, choosing to show empathy and caring, as well as developing relationships that reach beyond the music they share. As Alyssa points out, “Music should be accessible to everyone; it is the universal language. These classes are the highlight of my week. Students speak their minds, show their true feelings, and have a place to create community. With music, we notate, sing, dance, play, read, draw, and most importantly, connect with one another.”

The best part of all this is that it is only the music side of explorations. Just wait to see what Jennifer Seymour in visual arts, Ryan Dunford in Digital Design and Alex Howie in Woodworking offer up. Each one using their 20% time to teach to their passions and reach out in unique and significant ways to all our students.


Acting Vice-Principal, Abbotsford Middle School