Category Archives: Course 5

You’ve changed… (Course 5 Final Project)

“At laaaassssst….” (in my best Etta James voice.) I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Much has happened in the past year and half and most had to do with my journey with Coetail. I didn’t know I was capable of communicating across timezones to educators from around the world. I’ve learned design principles that has made a positive impact in my teaching practice.  I’ve learned to embrace the available technology and make it work for me. I’ve changed!

My project with a flipped classroom was always in the background, but I never got around to sitting down, planning it and executing it. Thanks to my support group in the school, I took a risk and experimented with this concept with elementary students. A lot of time, sweat and tears (looking at you, iMovie for crashing on me) were shed just trying to get through this final phase. Thankfully, the result was worth it!

Coetail Online9 Course 5 Final Project Video

Project Goals

My goals for this project were to:

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

Due to the time constraints (as a specialist, I only see the students once a week), I am going to extend this unit so that the students will be able to create their very own tutorial videos. Not only does this learning experience allow them to demonstrate their music skills, but also to demonstrate their communication skills (can another student or audience understand what they are trying to teach?) and technology skills of creating a movie of their own. We would share our tutorial videos with other classes and hopefully other schools. What a great way to reach out to the community!

Video credits
  • August’s Rhapsody from the 2007 film August Rush
  • SAMR image from http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html
  • Introduction photos courtesy of Pexels and Pixabay
Student engagement and feedback

As a whole, the students worked well during the unit and they embraced this “new” way of learning; however, not ALL students were keen to learn from a video:

Student feedback via Google Forms
"I love it [with the whole class] because in real life I can understand it more." Ibrahim
"...it's more better because the teacher help us and we can learn at the same time." Haya

Mixed reviews suggest to balance screen time and teacher time during the music class.

Read the last comment. Seriously? This kid can’t recognise MY voice in the videos? Ha!

FAQs

Q: Isn’t it a lot of prep work to create the videos BEFORE the students come?

A: Yes, lots of prep work. Because I’m a bit neurotic, I created my own videos using the same instruments/materials that the students will be using – for consistency. I’m sure there are thousands of videos out there that will be useful for your context.

Q: What platform did you use and why?

A: I used Seesaw as my platform. I initially thought about using Google Classroom; however, due to the time constraints and the fact that the students ALREADY had experience with Seesaw, it was a better choice for us.

Q: What were the cons during your project?

A: (1) Having a strong enough wifi connection for the whole class. (2) Students complained about not being able to hear themselves play because of the person next to them – it’s more of a space issue. In the future, I would probably split the group to where some students can be spread out in different areas of the room while I worked with the other half and then switch halfway through the class period.

Unit Plan 

Here is my IB PYP Music unit plan (based on the UbD framework).

ISTE Standards for Educators:

1 LEARNER: Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning. Educators: 1a Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.

2 LEADER: Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning. Educators: 2c Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

4 COLLABORATOR: Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems. Educators: 4b Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.

5 DESIGNER: Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognise and accommodate learner variability. Educators: 5a Use technology to create, adapt and personalise learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Conclusion

Even with our limitations (time) during this project, I felt as though we made a positive shift in our learning environment. Because the students provided feedback about the flipped classroom setting, moving forward, I would like to have a happy mix of our “traditional” Orff approach and the flipped classroom approach. I DO miss being part of the musical discoveries when we learn something new. At least in the flipped setting, we can use our technology for review and/or extended activities. Uh oh. I think I’m on to something. . .

Special thanks to @Shazahmed for putting up with my antics and @YasmeenMunshi for lending an ear during carpool. And thank YOU, Coetail, for being a part of my learning journey!

Let’s Root for Each Other and Watch Each Other Grow

Building a community takes effort. A LOT of effort. Moving overseas is enough evidence of this community building. I knew no one. So, I had to start somewhere. I began with work friends – because how else were you going to meet new people besides your coworkers? Sure I could have gone to a bar (although bars were hard to come by in Doha several years ago), but that’s not my scene. Soon after, I joined a community orchestra. I met musicians near and far, we performed concerts throughout the year and even went out for the occasional meal just to “hang out”. Finally, I joined a group of music teachers in Qatar. The realisation of this community building sunk in a bit when I attended my PD a weeks ago. Short story: I arrived early to register, have coffee and say hello to my fellow colleagues. Rachel, the organiser of the workshop, handed me the agenda for the day and asked if I wanted to make a name tag. Sure. Then she says, “Well, everyone knows you here so it’s not like you need it.” Hmm…

The fact that I no longer needed a name tag was a bit surreal. But looking back, it took YEARS of effort. It meant I went to every music workshop available. I played with various ensembles through the years. I braved Doha traffic to meet and greet and be social with “my people”. I had to be an active participant. I couldn’t be a lurker. See? I’ve grown a bunch since Course 1 (insert winky face).

Now you’re asking me to create an online community? Whoa. That’s a tall order. The State of Qatar is only roughly 2.7 million people. You’re talking about online. Like, THE WORLD. Nevertheless, I accept your challenge. I already had a few groups that I follow via Facebook: I am a member of a Band Directors group, General Music Teachers, IB PYP Music Teachers, American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA) and Music Teachers of Qatar. I would read people’s post and respond in my head. It’s a silly notion now that I think about it. Maybe that person was taking a poll and needed the numbers. My response could have helped them in one way or another. And so, I need to take the first step. . .

The one thing that really convinced me to take the plunge were the group norms. Huh? It seems ridiculous, but hear me out. For example, in my General Music Teachers group, rule three states,

"This is meant to be supportive group. Please keep it respectful."

In my AOSA group, the admin states,

"The purpose of this page is to encourage collegiality, collaboration, and creative thinking among AOSA members and music professionals. All posts and comments should be marked by respect, be on topic, and presume the good will of other posters."

In my Band Directors group, rule one states,

"Be respectful, civil, and professional in all postings and comments. Debate is an important part of coming to new understandings for our profession and is therefore welcomed, but please be sure your opinions are grounded in your actual teaching experiences rather than untested hypotheticals. Also remember that we are not here to point fingers at one another, but rather to put forth the best of our own teaching experiences from which we can learn. No politics."

These rules/norms gave me a level of comfort in knowing that no one was going to laugh at my questions or scoff at an idea that I wanted to share. It was a safe space. We all wanted to support each other, and we all wanted watch each other grow in our beloved profession.

And because of this, I found a sort of “mentor”. Stephanie is a member in my General Music Teachers group. Despite our distance (she’s in New York), she finds the time to share her wisdom. Interestingly, she calls it “nerding out.” I can ask her a question about a pitch sequence and she comes back with a Kodaly resource. We go back and forth about our approach to teaching recorders and her experience with a ukulele club. Now I, too, want to start a ukulele club next year!

My other groups have also been a successful space for networking and learning. My experience has been nothing but positive. People are genuine and they truly want to help. The idea of posting in these spaces isn’t so daunting after all.

And so I’ve learned so much about taking the plunge and making the effort to build my community. It really IS worth all the effort. At the end, we just want to root for each other and watch each other grow.

Before Coetail…

After Coetail 🙂

Cheers!

Under Construction

Photo by Mabel Amber from Pexels

Much like how the whole country is under construction (Qatar is preparing for the 2022 World Cup), so is my course five project. It seemed like ages ago when I had plans for utilising Google Classroom to pilot a flipped classroom in a music setting. Well, step aside, GC. Here’s comes SeeSaw!

My colleague and tech guru Shaza practically rolled her eyes at me when I told her about my course five project. She was confused as to why I would even consider Google Classroom when SeeSaw is the new rage. SeeSaw? For realz? I thought that was just for portfolios! Boy, was I wrong. I described my ideal scenario using whatever magical device or app that’s out there, and she immediately suggested SeeSaw. What’s more? The grade 4 students that I’m piloting this project with already had experience using the app, so it’s one less step – one less thing I’d have to teach them. Well, I can’t argue with that. Here’s my progress thus far:

Step 1: Geeking out (Creating videos to upload on SeeSaw)

We recently had a fall break, and I wanted to use that time to create my videos and get general work stuff done without the students. The place would be quiet, the instruments were available, and I can knock everything out in a day. Man, I had a blast! I came up with a set up where I used two music stands, a felt sheet/fabric to help with “stand noise” and my iPad to create the videos. I could have used a video camera, but I didn’t think that far ahead. Nevertheless it worked well. The set up allowed for the video to capture the entire instrument AND my hands so that the students would see the proper technique. Bonus? You didn’t have to see my face! Ha! I then put the videos together first on Keynote then iMovie.

Two music stands were set up to “hover” above the xylophone with the iPad sitting on top.

 

iPad view of the xylophone. Look, Ma! All hands!

I know, I know. It seems like too many steps, but hear me out. I was recently playing with an online based app to create videos and presentations called Powtoon. I loved it! There are animated characters, sleek designs, and I found the finished product really engaging. I thought that my students would really enjoy it. Here’s the kicker: I’m too cheap to buy a subscription. There HAD be away to get the look and feel of Powtoon, but for free; hence Keynote to iMovie (Thanks, Apple!) Maybe if REALLY wanted to up my game, I’ll consider it.

Step 2: Upload introductory video and survey on SeeSaw

Believe me, I’m still a HUGE Google fan (despite setting aside GC). I used Google Forms to create a survey because I wanted to get an idea of who had their own devices, who had access to wifi at home, and to get a general idea that if the students had access to an instrument at home, would they practice and bring back their knowledge the following week.

The first assignment: complete the survey
One result from our survey

So. Just as I planned in my first post, the students would arrive to class, organise their iPads and other materials and get started with the lesson that was waiting for them in SeeSaw. Their first task was to complete the survey. The second task was to watch a tutorial video and learn a melody. The third task was for us to come together as a class and play what we’ve learned. We didn’t quite make it to task three due to the first day hiccups, but I did get a few minutes to get feedback from the students about their first experience in a “flipped classroom”. Their exit ticket was to give me feedback – tell me your impression of a flipped classroom and what we can do to improve. I was really happy with the results. Happy that I received feedback, but not so happy because the solution was out of my control. A lot of my students wrote that they wished the wifi was stronger because the video kept stopping. That’s more of an IT issue which I hope will be remedied. Some mentioned that they couldn’t hear the video because there were people next to them. Aha. That’s a space and logistics issue. That’s something for me to sort out next week. Some said that they were able to learn at their own pace and didn’t have to wait on anyone… I hear you, Ibrahim. You’re ALWAYS the first to finish a task which tells me you need to be challenged. So many new ideas to plan! What a great first day I had!

Step 3: Create a sub plan?!

This was NOT part of my process when thinking about my project; however, a music PD was being offered and I couldn’t pass it up. At my school, we need to find our own subs for a preplanned absence. So, several emails later, my classes were covered and I can officially attend the upcoming PD. I created an easy sub plan for my grade 5 classes (per request of the teachers covering), but had the opportunity to preserve my lessons for grade 4 because everything was on SeeSaw. I emailed the teacher covering my grade 4 lessons to give them a heads up of what to expect. Needless to say, the feedback was positive. All they had to do was monitor the students and iPads. The students were actively engaged in the lesson. The “high” kids completed the tasks for the day and even had time to provide support for the other students. It’s a win-win! I don’t know why I haven’t thought of doing video lessons in case of an absence before. It’s something I would definitely consider in the future.

Giving the students instructions via SeeSaw
Step 4: Pending

So. This is where I am at the moment with my project. Despite the tiny hiccups along the way, the process has been nothing but positive. I’ve gained a new approach to differentiation in my class in a fun and engaging way. I  know that creating those videos will take time in the beginning, but the results (so far) are something I can’t deny. It’s helping my students grow beyond (like my Ibrahim) and it gives me time to focus on my students that need more support. No child left behind, right?

Until next time!

“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?)