Here is the link to my video blog for my final week of class. It discusses how I will continue to work on my five minds.
For my Wilkes class, we were required to create an interactive media board for students to peruse and learn about a specific topic. This topic is supposed to help students use their respectful and ethical minds. I decided to create a board on Discovery Education’s Interactive Board Builder. Here is a direct link to my board: Parodies: A Play on Words with Song. As you can see from the title, I chose to cover the topic of parodies. This is a unit I normally teach in eighth grade and I designed this interactive board with them in mind. The ending activity is a simple parody they have to make of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star using a school appropriate topic which they will then present to the class.
Why would a parody be used to reinforce and teach about a respectful and ethical mind? Well, traditional parodies can be a good poke in the ribs, but they toe the line of respectfulness without being derogatory. There is a way to comment on things in society and not be overtly rude. I think students need to learn this skill and understand the true meaning of “tact.” Parodies can be all in good fun, but students have a hard time understanding how to limit the negative impact of their comments. I think a parody is a good way to help students understand this.
Since Weird Al Yankovic is the king of parodies, I decided to use him as a great example. I put his parody of Pharrell William’s “Happy,” titled “Tacky,” on the board and linked to an interview Yankovic did about his rules for making a great parody. I also included a picture of Squidward painted as the Mona Lisa and a screen shot of Sesame Street’s Furry Potter spoof of Harry Potter. Sesame Street is probably the second best creator of parodies- and they are also school appropriate! I’m happy with the outcome of my board and feel that students will be able to go in on their own and review the material themselves. They can print off their assignment and use it to create their song and turn it in when they are done. This board would be used in conjunction with another assignment, most likely bucket drumming, so that about 6-8 students at a time can use 3-4 laptops I might be able to borrow.
Do any of you have a favorite parody? Please share in the comments below.
This week we were asked to comment on a video we watched on Youtube about Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis and their book “Flattening Classrooms.” We were also asked to talk about an idea we have shared, implemented, or discovered, that fosters collaboration and helps develop students’ respectful and ethical minds. The two women who authored the book Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration, One Step at a Time, found a way to achieve this, and that wasn’t even their main goal. Watch the video if you are interested, or check out their blogs: Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. While I am not going to discuss these two women and their incredible work in the field of education, I am going to discuss collaboration in the field of music.
In the world of music, collaboration is the name of the game. Often as a professional musician you are asked to work with musicians from different cultures, different societies, different backgrounds, even those who speak a different language- and yet, we make it work. This has been going on for hundreds of years, long before the idea of flattening classrooms and taking education on a global scale. You either “put up or shut up” with the differences because the next world-class musician was waiting to take your job. In music education, its not so cut-throat, but we do foster collaboration in a variety of ways.
One of the first ways that I have students collaborate together is that lessons and band are based on ability- not age or grade level. It is amazing to see a second grade flute player sit next to a bunch of eighth grade flutes and they all get along and work together. (You would be surprised at how the older students are often afraid of the little kids in our building). Within our district, we have district wide band festivals, (we have 9 elementary/middle schools ), which often brings inner city kids into contact with students who are from, well, out in the boonies, to put it nicely. Outside of our district, we take students to various regional and state festivals. Students end up working with kids from poor areas, and rich areas. Its kind of disheartening to hear about the amazing programs and see what some students and teachers have access to on those trips, and then listen to them complain. While there are opportunities for students to travel internationally with performing groups, I haven’t personally taken any students overseas, and to be honest- I never would. I would much rather use the internet for that task.
While the type of collaboration music educators foster isn’t on the global scale, we can certainly attain local, regional, state and national “flattening of classrooms.” I’m hoping that in the future I can use Skype and Youtube uploads for some collaboration with other students on projects for 7th and 8th grade. I’m pretty sure that I will be teaching 7th and 8th grade general music next year and if I know this in advance (I’m usually told the day before what I am teaching for the upcoming marking period- which doesn’t leave much planning time), I want to try and plan a project with a fellow music teacher in my district. I’m thinking of doing some composition based projects for the students to see what they might come up with. While this isn’t on a global scale, you have to start somewhere.
This week, we were required to create an online flyer using SMORE. If you aren’t familiar with SMORE, its an online website that helps you create flyers for a multitude of uses. You can publish them online, or even print them out. Here is the link for my SMORE Flyer, The 1, 2, 3 Method.
I really liked using this application to create a flyer about this method. It allowed me to go more in depth about the “how” and “why” of this method. Its something that I came up with to teach young children how to play an instrument. My first year I struggled to find a solid method that each student could use, even when language barriers were present. Once I sat down and came up with this process and implemented it, I have stuck with it ever since. Eventually, this method rolled over into other music teacher’s classroom’s in my building, and it is being used in general music classes, choir, band and instrumental lessons. Because this method works so well, and has the research to back it, I think it will be around for awhile. Some of my students going into high school have told me they still use it when learning a new song. Hopefully, other music teachers will stumble across my Flyer on SMORE and be inspired to try it.
By creating this flyer on SMORE, I feel that it gave it a cohesive and integrated feel to have everything in one place. There were links to external websites that gave tips on practicing, and how to get kids to practice more. I tried to pick a variety of links for the various audiences who might stumble across it online. The nice thing is that you are also able to print it out so you could hand them out, hang them up, and send them home with kids.
I love using new tools, especially when they are so seem-less like SMORE. I think I could even have students use this program to create a flyer for a project. Since students seem to like looking at things online, or with my projector- I can easily access this project, link to it from my webpage, and (God Forbid) if I lose my thumb-drive with everything on it- this flyer is stored on SMORE for me. After this project, I really feel that I want to incorporate more opportunities for digital based projects.
The more I think about the use of digital media in the classroom, the more I get upset over the fact I don’t have a classroom. Sure, I have a closet, which I jokingly refer to as my Cloffice (Closet / office). But its very long and narrow- it was meant to store sporting equipment. There is no heat or air conditioning and there are circuit breaker boxes and a large panel for a sound system on the walls. There was no board to write on so I bought a 2′ x 3′ whiteboard. There was no storage so I have cobbled together a mish-mash of various items. Its been hard but I just do not want to do music on a cart anymore. I turned my little office into a classroom and so far it has worked. I’m not sure what I will do though when our class sizes get larger.
As far as incorporating technology, its frustrating at best. I really wish I could provide more for the kids to try but there is only so much money, and so much time. When I read about teachers, like Christopher Russell, who are using iPads in a 1:1 situation in music classes, I get a little jealous. He has the ability to scan in all of his music and share it with the students- students never lose their music (Ratch, 2014). I literally spend 75% of my copy budget on copying music every year. He can also send music files for the students to practice with and listen to. Apparently, students can literally write on their music on their iPad- my students never seem to have a pencil! At another school featured in the same article, students were composing music using Soundation and sharing it on Edmondo (Raths, 2014). Sigh, maybe one day I will be able to convince my district, and the administrators in my building, that I am a teacher worthy of investing their money in.
Raths, D. (2014). 4 Ways Technology Can Make Your Music Lessons Sing:. T.H.E. Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. doi:https://thejournal.com/Articles/2014/12/03/4-Ways-Technology-Can-Make-Your-Music-Lessons-Sing.aspx?Page=1
In the continuation of my course through Wilkes University, Digital Media in the Classroom, we were asked to discuss the issue of creativity in the classroom with our students. Sadly, band and instrumental lessons had already ended for me when this question was asked, so I had to track down some of my students, and I also decided to talk to a fourth grade class as well.
The fourth grade class was one that I was covering on my planning period. I often get assigned to cover classes towards the end of the year. This class has students that I have had for instrumental lessons, in previous general music classes, and I also covered their homeroom for a marking period. I did not, however, teach this class as a general music class in my schedule this year.
I started out by asking the students what they thought creativity was and what it means to be creative. They were pretty spot on in their definitions. Here are some of their answers: “It’s my own idea and no one else has it.” “It’s a different style, something new.” “It helps solve a problem or make something new that no one has ever seen before.” (I’m always surprised at how deeply students think to answer a question sometimes.)
I then started asking the students about a specific project they had worked on for their class- a book report. The teacher had given the students a choice about how to complete their project- a written report, a cereal box, a poster, or an online flyer. Each project required online research, reading a specific book in their Lexile range, and putting a review together. The students felt it was a lot of work, but they ultimately liked being able to choose how to use their creativity. The students said they all love to use the computer because they felt they were “doing something, not just sitting there.” They expressed how getting to use their laptops allowed them to be involved and not fall asleep (engaged is what we would call it).
I then asked the students what they liked about this teacher’s room and rules, and what they might change. For good behavior, he rewards students with PRIDE tickets; they can use these tickets to buy things at a classroom store. Apparently he also likes to tell jokes and puns that get the point across in a lesson. He also uses a SMARTboard, a projector and an ELMO in his classroom for teaching- the kids love all three. They especially loved that he was a male teacher since most of the teachers in our building are women. Some of the students wished they could get him to be more on time for their other classes and also to add more items to the store. They also wished that all of the laptops worked and that the headphones were better. Some also wished for better storage in the room.
Lastly, I asked the fourth graders about using technology to be creative, or just as a tool in general. They all agreed it was easy to use, took less time for them to complete a project (which I don’t agree with), and they also love learning how to use a new tool. I also asked them who had access to a computer or laptop at home and 17 out of 23 do. The other 6 have access to the internet through a smartphone, tablet, Xbox or PS3/4. I also asked them if they prefer laptops or a desktop computer and they overwhelmingly said laptops for their portability.
When I spoke to a few eighth graders that I had in band and lessons about creativity and technology, they had some opinions. First they all said I should be granted a classroom, (which I agree with). If I had a classroom, I could then have a SMARTboard for general music and be able to keep things like my projector and speakers set up so that I don’t have to waste time setting them up in each class. They also wanted to know why we couldn’t have laptops and electronic keyboards, even guitars, for teaching the curriculum that most schools do for general music. I explained that its all about space and money. They immediately started complaining about PSSA’s, sports and regular classroom teachers (those are all sore subjects for music teachers and music students).
After begrudgingly moving their conversation back to creativity, they all agreed that music is one of the best subjects for it- especially Jazz. They wished they could have more time with me, have a jazz band and take classes on music theory, history and improvisation with me. These are all courses I would love to offer, but there is only so much time, and so much money. They discussed the fact that some of the techniques I’ve taught them about learning music, they have applied to completing projects. Basically, its about breaking everything down step by step after envisioning their end goal. They wished that they could have done more projects online, or with computers, but they realize that the math, science and language arts classes took priority scheduling in the computer labs and the laptop carts.
By the end of the conversation, we were all kind of sad over the fact that there was so much they wanted to do, but there was no time, no money, and a lack of support. I’m hoping that they took some ideas away with them from this conversation to discuss with their future teachers, and also to help their own children when the time comes. I want to push for guitars, or even ukeleles for the students in 8th grade to use in general music classes. In a perfect world, I would have a classroom with computers, keyboards and everything else I would need, but for now I will continue to teach out of a closet, using blue buckets as drums.
I recently watched the TEDtalk video by Sir Ken Robinson entitled, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Here is the link: Do School Kill Creativity. For those of you who do not know what TEDtalks are, I highly encourage you to check them out. Here is a direct quote from their website: TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
Sir Ken Robinson, a British author, speaker, and writer, gave a TEDtalk on how creativity is repressed in schools. He wants to see everyone’s natural Human curiosity encouraged and grown in schools, instead of being removed from the child. He feels that in today’s world, creativity is needed. As educators, we need to find ways to foster creativity, and using digital tools can help further that goal. For purposes of this blog, I will speak about the music classroom.
One might think that music is inherently creative, and it can be. But with music class for younger students, fostering that creative urge to have something productive come out of it that sounds like the goal you set for them, can be very difficult and frustrating for both teacher and students. Digital media can certainly help with that.
With all of the state and national standards I have to follow for music, the time and classroom constraints I have, and seeing students once a week, there are a lot of goals I need to meet. It certainly feels like I can’t foster creativity, but I wouldn’t say in my music classes I am educating it out of them. I certainly try to encourage any “happy accidents” that lead to interesting results. There are so many tech tools available these days to help teachers and students.
I love free tools and apps for the creative process. One might be surprised at many of the gems you can find online for students to use. For younger students, fourth through sixth grades, I like Incredibox and ButtonBass. Both are incredibly easy to use and both times I have used them with students, I have been impressed with the results. Both programs allow students to drag and drop, add, subtract, and create music without having to be aware of the multitude of music theory rules that govern music. Students can get intimidated by creating music, but when they have a fun program to use that takes away some of the fear, then they can just be kids and play. Sometimes that is the best way to come up with new, or different music. For older students, high school age, I like Online Sequencer. It’s a drag and drop program that is free; it might not be as easy to use as the other programs, but it works on the same idea.
While I also use traditional, non-technological media to foster students and their creativity, I do like to mix in digital media. Students love using different types, from xylophones and boomwhackers, to Incredibox and Buttonbass. While I can’t speak for regular classroom teachers, I can at least say that I try my hardest to foster creativity in the music classroom.
For my Wilkes’ course, I had a large multi-media project I had to create. I used Powerpoint and added lots of videos, a sound clip and some graphics. Half the fun of Powerpoint is all the extras you do with it to make a presentation interesting. One of the reasons we had to create this presentation, was to show how taking all the information you had gathered on a topic could be put together using digital media for students to experience a “disciplined mind,” along with synthesis of a topic.
Here is a direct link to my presentation.
We have been reading Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future. In this book he discusses how the world needs to have five different types of the thinking mind in order for Humanity to survive and thrive. One of those mindsets is the disciplined mind, the second one he discusses is synthesis. As educators, we have to try and show students how to think about topics and ideas in a disciplined way. “The ability to knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole is vital today” (Gardner, chapter 3). For example, when learning a new piece of music, I teach students to not just jump in and try to play it, but take a few moments and break the piece down. What is the key signature? What is the time signature? Are there any key / time signature changes? Are there any accidentals? What rhythmical challenges do I see? What are the dynamics and phrasing? By going through these questions, a student can look to see what “roadblocks” to success they might have. Using a disciplined mind to study a subject, or even specific topics within a subject, can lead students to be successful.
When I began my project, the first thing I asked myself was, “What technological impediments am I going to encounter?” I wanted to be able to use this presentation with seventh or eighth grade for their general music class. At any given time, I am working between an old HP laptop operating Windows from 2010, an HP laptop with Windows from 2015, and an iMac from 2015. I also never know what room I will be teaching in, if I can get access to laptops, or even a computer lab. So, I decided to stick with Powerpoint, which seems to be pretty stable across all three platforms. I also knew that I would most likely have to present this to the class with my laptop and a projector and speakers, so designing this project any other way might lead to technological problems. As much as I would love to have students break into pairs, or groups, use a laptop and go through the presentation themselves; music classes just do not receive priority scheduling for laptop time.
So the next question I asked myself was, “what should my project topic be?” I decided to take a portion of information from my Human Body and Music unit that students just do not seem to grasp as well as I like; hence the Human ear and how our hearing works, (and how to protect it). The test grades I have seen over the last couple of marking periods prove to me I needed to change how I taught about the ears. You might be asking why I would teach about hearing in a music class, but I feel that you can’t make music if you don’t understand how your body works to create it. Plus, your ears can do really cool “tricks.” (The new common core curriculum in the state of Pennsylvania also does not do a very good job of teaching about hearing and sound. My building has no actual room for seventh and eighth grade music; I never know if I am teaching in a cafeteria, a classroom, or a closet. It also does not have guitars, drums, ukuleles, or pianos to teach anything that students might normally learn in seventh or eighth grade general music.) I felt that hearing was a good topic that I really hadn’t synthesized yet into a cohesive lesson.
Creating this project allowed me to use a disciplined mind and hopefully achieve a synthesis of information concerning hearing, how our ears work, and how to protect them. As Gardener stated in chapter three, “Only if an educator can identify the dimensions that characterize excellent, adequate, and unacceptable projects… is it reasonable to expect students to advance…” (Gardner, chapter 3). If I have to do that as a teacher where student projects are concerned, why shouldn’t I apply that same logic to my own projects that I use for teaching?
Gardner, H. (2008). Five minds for the future [April 2007]. Retrieved May 9, 2016, from https://www.amazon.com/Five-Minds-Future-Howard-Gardner-ebook/dp/B004OC075I?ie=UTF8&keywords=5 minds for the future&qid=1462844192&ref_=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2&sr=8-1
Kindle eBook, no pages
I created a “clipboard” through Educlipper.net in order to save six links that deal with the world of the concert band. Here is the direct link to my clipboard. Since I conduct concert band in my building and teach instrumental lessons, I constantly educate the students on my responsibilities as a conductor, how sheet music is graded, teach them music theory, provide them with listening examples, find music, and even decide on the instrumentation I need for the semester.
A clipboard is sort of like an online filing system that can hold a bunch of links for students to look at and peruse. The boards can also be shared with other teachers, classes and anyone who might be interested in your subject. It’s very similar to Pinterest, but geared towards educators and students. (I’ll be making a link to my board on my district website so that anyone can access it at any time.) It’s also free!
My first link was a page listing concert band instruments. It also contains a short description of each instrument and their respective playable range.
The second link was a link to JW Pepper. They are one of the largest sheet music sellers around and they have a great selection. I order a lot of sheet music through them and they also provide lots of links to listen to the piece before I order it. I constantly tell my students to use the links I provide them to listen to the pieces we are working on in band.
For my third link, I chose a post on the role of the conductor and the role of the instrumentalist. While it is a blog post, I feel that the author did a great job of explaining what the responsibilities are for each party involved in a concert band; or any band.
Fourth, I chose a PDF file on how sheet music and band literature is graded. Just like books have Lexile score, band literature gets graded from level 1 to level 6. The students constantly ask me why one song might be a 1, while another one is a 2 but seems easier to play. Well, now the students can look at this chart and see for themselves why it is harder.
Fifth, was a link to musictheory.net. Its a great website that has lots of lessons and tutorials on basic music theory. All students struggle with this and there is literally not enough time to teach it to them. Everyone can benefit from spending some time on this website. The best part is that it is free.
Last, my sixth link was a Youtube search of the performances of the University of North Texas Wind Ensemble. They are amazing and one of the best bands on the planet. Consider the fact that this band is made up of music performance and music education students, and the personnel change each semester, and they consistently are one of the best bands year after year! All music students should listen to them play since there are so many wonderful examples to listen to.
I really like Educlipper and think that it has a lot of possibilities. I love free resources and ones that my students would actually be able to use. My one criticism is that there were no directions, or even a walk-through of what to do. I had to play around with it until I figured out how to use it. Overall, with a little bit of time, I think I could find more resources and more ways to use it.
For my Wilkes University class on Digital Media in the classroom, we were asked to make a motivational poster of some sort that we could use in an instructional setting. Since my instrumental and band students are in grades four through eight, I have to reach a pretty big audience. I like to use things that the students will think are funny, or that get my point across quickly. I absolutely love the trend of internet memes online and so do my students. They will often print one out and bring it to me if it has something to do with music, band or lessons. I decided to go along this line of thinking and create some posters to add to the collection.
Here is my collection of three (de) motivational posters. If you have ever walked along a school and seen those trite and happy motivational posters that make you gag, your my kind of person! I love things that make you laugh and add a little dark humor. So do my students; plus, they know it’s all in god fun. (If you have never seen any of the original de-motivational posters, I suggest you do a Google image search and giggle the night away.)
My current “crop” of eighth graders, who will sadly be leaving me in a month’s time to go the high school, roll their eyes at me every time I break out one of my many sayings they’ve heard since they started taking lessons and playing in the band with me years ago. I thought making some posters to go along with these sayings might add a little humor to their day and mine.
The grumpy old man picture is one that has been used for a multitude of memes. I love the man’s face; he looks so miserable! I retrieved the picture from a blog, you can view the original photo here. I’m sure every band director yells at their students to practice. I’ve actually gone to speak to students about taking home their instrument to practice and they have run away from me.
The Captain Picard photo is one that has been floating around the internet for awhile. The photo was originally taken from an episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I retrieved the original photo here. My husband is a huge Trek fan and loves anything with Captain Picard. I had to use the photo since he “crops” up in so many memes and (de)motivational posters. The saying below it is one I have used countless times. I’ve used so much, that as soon as I start to say, the kids fill in the rest of the saying. They know that in the back of their lesson book, they can find a fingering chart that shows how to play each note, saving me from having to spend precious minutes in a band rehearsal showing students how to play a specific note.
The last poster I chose to make is probably the third most used image for an internet meme. It is of Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. I do not watch the show, so I can’t really tell you very much about him or which episode the picture comes from, but here is where I retrieved the photo from. Every semester, our concert creeps closer and closer. The students start to slack off on practicing and forget to come to rehearsals and lessons. I get mad and frustrated; its a never ending cycle. I get to a point about a month before the concert and I always feel the students just don’t realize how little time is left to prepare. Hence, I used the catch phrase of Game of Thrones, “Brace Yourselves, Winter is coming…” since winter only happens once every ten or 100 years. They never know when it is going to happen, just that it will happen, and it could last for a very looooong time. I guess it sort of is a saying to make you feel dread, to panic, and to get ready in any way you can. I love a little dark humor.
I hope you feel properly de-motivated!
Hi there- I am currently taking a course through Wilkes University about Digital Media in the Classroom. Our first activity was to create a Tweet about who we are, what we do, what we are looking forward to in this course, and what is one thing everyone should know about us- in 140 characters or less. It was tough. I had to rewrite my Tweet several times to come up with the right combination of words, spaces and punctuation. Pictured below is my Tweet.
As much as I hate putting something out there that is not a complete sentence, sacrifices had to be made ;))
Everyday I hear students talking about someone’s Tweet. I hear teachers and administrators discussing something they saw, or read, on Twitter. While most school districts do not really like the idea of social media in the classroom, I feel that it will never go away. I would rather utilize it and teach students the proper way to use Twitter, and show them all the cool things that you can do with it.
As a band director for middle school students, I sometimes need to quickly disseminate information about rehearsals, lessons, festivals, etc. My administrators do not always allow announcements to be made, nor do I have a lot of time, or budgetary resources, to create paperwork to be sent home. Having a platform to use to help get out the news would be a great use for Twitter, since students and parents could access it.
I also teach general classroom music. While I do not know what grades I will be teaching from year to year, (even marking period to marking period), I love having students use the idea of Twitter to create accounts for dead musicians and composers to create silly conversations about pieces they have written. (Most likely I could use Facebook for this idea as well, but I feel there is a little bit more control over the content that the students are exposed to on Twitter.)
Lastly, I really do hate jello. It’s truly gross, wiggles and is gooey, squishy and yucky.