“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” (Cue music)

Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels

Greetings from the sandbox! Welcome back Online9! The school year started off, well, late. We moved schools – from one location to another. The new school is bigger, brighter, state of the art, etc., I could go on. Needless to say, everything is behind schedule, including our units of inquiry. Still, we begin our 2018 school year. Here we go!  


This year, my teaching responsibilities have been extend to the upper grades. I am now the music teacher for students from grades one through five. My teaching schedule is packed, but I welcomed the challenge with the “older” kids. I knew they were capable of so much more – musically – and I couldn’t wait to start! The first few weeks of school were all about establishing essential agreements and assessing prior knowledge. Boy, was I in for a surprise! The students weren’t quite at the level I expected, in addition, they brought more sass and drama (insert eye roll here). But despite this, we must persevere. Onward!

What do you plan to do and why?

My aim is to reevaluate my current teaching approach and experiment with a flipped classroom with my upper elementary music students. This endeavor will hopefully achieve the following:

  • To create a digital library of video tutorials of me and/or my students performing on instruments
  • To provide an opportunity to teach in small groups for students needing more support
  • To challenge students needing advanced music literature
  • To personalize the learning for individual inquiry
  • To provide an authentic audience (with other classes and/or schools)
  • To empower students to create and spread the joy of music making

In a previous blog, Confessions of a purist, I mentioned my hesitation of technology and its place in a specialized subject, i.e. the arts. As such, I want to determine whether or not a flipped classroom can be a strategy to authentically integrate technology in my classroom without sacrificing my content.

“Confessions of a purist”

I stumbled upon a blog post which introduces flipped classroom and suggests how to prepare students before coming to a flipped class. One takeaway was the notion that no two flipped classrooms look exactly the same, just as no two traditional classrooms look the same. I was relieved! I was concerned that MY version of the flipped classroom wasn’t credible. Which brings me to. . .

How do you think you might get there?

To begin, I’d like to model the flipped classroom for my students. My thought was to use a video tutorial as a provocation. The students will have access to their own iPads and headphones. The students will log onto Google Classroom and proceed with the first task – to watch a video tutorial. The video tutorial will be no longer than a minute and the students will have the opportunity to replay the video as many times as necessary for them to learn an excerpt to play on an instrument (xylophones or recorders). After some time, we will come together as a group and perform what we have learned. This moment of the lesson will determine whether or not they were able to learn the excerpt on their own or if they need more support. The students will write comments on GC regarding the video to provide feedback regarding the pros and cons of the video and how we can improve the next one. Hopefully the format of the videos will remain consistent so that the students learn the “formula” of the video, enough to create their own (insert storyboard here). As a result, not only do the students demonstrate their music skills, but they have created a product that can be used for assessment and to share with a greater audience.

"The Flipped Classroom is a pedagogy-first approach that strives to meet the needs of the learners in our individual schools and communities. It is much more an ideology than it is a specific methodology…there is no prescribed set of rules to follow or model to fit…Practitioners of the various flipped classroom models are constantly tweaking, changing, rejecting, adding to, and generally trying to improve the model through direct experience with how effective it is for kids." 

- from the blog post "How do I get my students to prepare before coming to a flipped class?"
What are you hoping to see in your students learning as you conduct the project?

My Central Idea (or Enduring Understanding for those who use the Understanding by Design a.k.a. UbD framework) is: Musicians practice and reflect to improve their skills for a successful performance. THAT is what I hope to see in my students as we conduct this project. I want them to experience the practice and discipline necessary to have a successful performance. I can already predict that this unit will be longer than expected due to the time constraints – I only see them once a week – and (fingers crossed), the students will want more time in order to have a good product to share.

In theory I’ve got some basic ideas, but in practice is a different story. The project attempts to blend what I’ve learned in our previous courses – geeking out from Course 1, design principles in Course 3 and flipped classroom in Course 4.  I’m ecstatic to get started, and I hope that moving forward, this project will positively impact not only my teaching practice, but also my budding musicians.

Catch you on the flip side! (See what I did there?)

2 Replies to ““Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” (Cue music)”

  1. What a flippin’ good idea! 🙂 I too have also toyed around with the idea of a flipped classroom. I teach English Literature/EAL and Spanish so I know and trust the idea of rote memorization with language, but have wondered what more I could do with that idea. Grammar lessons?

    I look forward to hearing about and seeing the end product!

  2. Hi Kehri,

    I really like your idea regarding flipping the classroom. I remember first learning about this new approach to learning design back in 2010 or so, when I stumbled across the work of chemistry teachers Johnathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. They were some of the early practitioners of the “flipped” concept, and I remember being very intrigued, as well as inspired.

    The hard part was that it seemed like so much work on the front-end. Making videos, designing resources for students to use at home, curating content, anticipating learning needs in advance, etc. I got exhausted just thinking about all of the projects, and all of the time it would take for me to make these resources. Not to mention the work involved in shifting the mentality of both students and parents toward this kind of learning strategy.

    Thankfully, in the intervening years, so much more content has been made available through other sources on the internet that curating good content for students is not a problem. I no longer personally feel the need to create (or in many cases, “recreate” would be more appropriate) my own videos, for example, when so many other science teachers have already done so. (And, to be humbly honest, better than I would do anyway, as a total novice.) There many IB chemistry educators (for example) posting their own fantastic work. There are also whole professional organizations (such as Crash Course, TED-Ed) that are producing videos and work that are beyond the quality that any one single teacher could do in their spare time.

    As you indicate in your post, there is no “one way” to manage the flipped classroom. So often, we see these changes as “all or nothing” approaches, but there are an almost infinite number of middle-road options. We can start by flipping one lesson, or even a short video/article on one small concept. It really is up to us as educators, and that is the cool thing.

    Looking forward to hearing more about how it all goes.

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