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?)

Bop it! Twist it! Shake it! FLIP IT! (Course 4 Final Project)

Image via Pexels (Teono123 No)
Introduction

Upon hearing that I am including upper elementary to my teaching schedule next year, I immediately started thinking about the possibility of creating a unit of inquiry that incorporates elements from courses one through four. This unit combines the concepts of “Geeking Out” from Course 1, digital citizenship from Course 2, design principles (my fav!) from Course 3 and flipped classroom (as evidenced by the unit title) from Course 4.

Short story…

One of my students was injured during recess. He was rushed to the hospital for a broken arm and was house bound for quite sometime. His fellow classmates showed their concern by helping to finish his art work and sending “Get Well” notes with his older brother. One student came up and said, “Miss! He is absent for our xylophone songs! How will he learn the music while he’s at home?!”  Hmm. . . if only there was a way to show and teach him the songs that we’re learning. . .

Task: Students will create a teaching and learning video instructing their peers (and/or others) how to play (insert music title) on a variety of instruments. They will demonstrate their knowledge of the music by performing and modeling how the music should be played. They will use (tech tbd) to create their videos and upload it to Google Classroom for reflection, feedback and assessment. As a result, we will have a collection of teaching and learning videos to share with the school community.
Concerns

The assignment states, ” What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?” Well, I’m not redesigning it. I’m designing it from the ground up. I won’t have any prior knowledge or experience with this unit, but I am confident that I, along with support from my IT team, can plan and execute this project!

Shift in pedagogy

With this unit, it will be interesting to, again, let go of the reigns and have the students lead the unit and design their own teaching and learning videos. I am hoping that the students can not only create an end product that they are proud of, but also reflect upon the process of creating and sharing music with others.

Skills and attitudes

The Transdisciplinary Skills focused on this unit are:

Communication Skills – listening, speaking, viewing, presenting and nonverbal communication

Thinking Skills – acquisition of knowledge by gaining specific facts, ideas and vocabulary; analysis by taking apart their knowledge, separating into component parts, seeking relationships

Self-Management Skills – gross motor skills, fine motor skills, organization skills, and time management skills

The attitudes focused on this unit are:

Commitment demonstrating perseverance through the duration of the unit of inquiry and following through with end goals

Creativity – expression of unique ideas as evidenced by their teaching and learning video

“I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it!”

Of the three teaching methodologies presented in this week’s readings, I am intrigued with the idea of a flipped music room. In a hypothetical situation, if I were to teach older students, I would create video lectures on music theory (reading, writing, basic composition structure, etc.). Then, when the students returned to class, they could apply their knowledge and skills on a variety of instruments. Using Salman Khan’s Khan Academy framework, how then would I manage and monitor student progress? Since music is not yet available as one of the subjects covered in the academy, I would have to create my own via G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education). One scenario could be that based on the lecture, I could create a series of questions (using Google Forms) and read student responses. I would then focus on those who require more support. In addition, Noteflight Learn, a web based app on music composition, not only allows for students to compose, but for teachers to assign work, comment and assess. What’s more: it’s compatible with Google Classroom. Bonus!

Pros and cons

Even though hypothetical, I’m enjoying the idea of having the students come back to class with some knowledge base and be able to apply this knowledge on their instruments. Talk about differentiation and targeting students’ needs! However, if, for example, other subject teachers are following suit, can I justify a flipped classroom for a class that only meets once a week? Wouldn’t a student’s work load after school hours increase because of the many video lectures and not enough time for play and family time? Wouldn’t it be easier for me to say, “Hey, kid, go take your instrument home and practice!” How do we find this balance among the teaching team? How do we balance screen time for the children?

Perspective

In Ramsey Musallam’s blog, she offers her perspective on the flipped classroom. From her experience, she has found that “merging aspects of inquiry learning and video-based instruction” a successful teaching approach for her content. Flipped classrooms are not the end all, be all of methods. It happens to be an option and one that may or may not suit your style as an educator.  

My turn

I recently attended an IB workshop on the Grade 5 Exhibition. Our facilitator emailed us prior to the start of the workshop, introduced herself and gave us an assignment. We had to watch videos, read articles and answer questions based on the videos and articles. Who WAS this woman and why was she already giving me homework?! I was immediately turned off because she added another task to my already hectic workload. Nevertheless, I made time to do my homework. Workshop weekend finally came, she again introduced herself, and we immediately dove into discussion on the videos and articles. Huh. We already had something to talk about. I heard many perspectives from the other workshop attendants and there was immediate conversation and collaboration based on our homework. I see what you did there, Suzanne. Upon reflection, it made sense for us to be familiar with the material prior to coming to the workshop. We were able to participate in those discussions because we were prepared. We didn’t waste any time studying. Our workshop lasted only two to three days, and yet, we were efficient and productive. It was great!  Would I have designed my own workshop in this manner? You bet!

Which method, flipped, game-based, play-based, works well for your content? Why?

Confessions of a purist

I am a purist when it comes to music education. Let me explain. There are numerous studies of the benefits of music education such as how music lessons make children smarter, or how playing an instrument benefits the brain, etc. So, through my Orff and Kodaly training, that is the approach I take in my lessons. We create music through our voices, our bodies and our instruments. How, then, does technology play a role?

Confession time:

Hi, my name is Kehri, and I need help authentically integrating technology in my elementary music classes. 

I prefaced my approach to teaching music – it is created through our bodies, our voices and our instruments. I believe that developmentally it starts there. Bruner thinks so too. Since this is not a psychology blog, you can read more about him here. The Orff approach (which is the basis of my teaching practice) allows students to create, experience, improvise music in, again, the most organic way which through our bodies, voices and instruments. Where is the research study that suggests that music making VIA TECHNOLOGY also has its benefits? I suppose one could argue that a pencil and paper is technology; but, you all know what I mean. Perhaps I just haven’t found THE THING that combines the best of both worlds.

When I taught MYP, I gave myself a pat on the back for “integrating” technology in music class by using Google Classroom. We would access our classroom with 1:1 Chromebooks and students uploaded their video recordings. These videos were of the students performing on instruments. Google classroom gave us a platform for submitting  assignments and providing feedback and reflection. After discovering the SAMR technology integration framework by Dr. Ruben Puentudura, much of what we were doing was only enhancing and not transforming the lesson. Ugh. I really thought we were making strides. Back to square one.

What am I missing? Perhaps I haven’t scoured the latest apps or programs. As far as I know, there are apps that offer fun games with a “learning element”. Rhythm Cat is a game that reviews and challenges you how to read music notation. GarageBand is an app that allows students to create an excerpt, a short music sample, that combines loops or prerecorded sequences.  It has many more uses, but for now I’ll stick with creating excerpts. But shouldn’t the students KNOW how to create those loops or sequences acoustically? And for those who say that students can compose, there is a web browser based app called Noteflight that does just that. You’re correct. But then again, insert pencil-paper here. Maybe I’m just old school and need to get with the program. Program. See what I did there?

I feel like I’m stuck in the enhancement phase. I’d like to get to the transformation phase. But I just don’t know HOW.

I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a computer, asking all of you, to help her with technology integration in an elementary music setting. 

Open to ALL suggestions.

It’s all fun and games until. . . Course 1 Final Project

Introduction

I wanted to build upon a prior unit and focus on the process of creating a musical game by incorporating technology in the classroom. In this unit, the summative assessment task is the creation of an original musical game; however, the learning experiences leading up to it include collaboration, reflection and feedback via Google Classroom in order to introduce the concepts of “geeking out” and networks. Although it’s written in the PYP format, the unit plan shares the same principles and outcomes as UbD (Understanding by Design).

Assessment Task (using RAFTS)

You are the music teacher at Qatar Academy Al Wakra. Create an original game for your lower elementary students. Your game must include a title, form (rules of the game), skills, responsibilities and at least two musical elements of your choice. Be prepared to teach your game to the class in four week’s time. Good luck!

Technology Integration
  1.  Google Classroom will be used as a platform to provide resources (videos of games played in class and videos of children playing games from around the world).
  2. Google Classroom will be used for peer evaluation, reflection and teacher assessment. Not only will the students provide constructive feedback to each other in their own class, but to OTHER classes in the school as well . That will amount to SIXTY other students with whom they can collaborate with and enjoy each other’s games.
Reflection

I chose this particular unit because it was a UOI that my students truly enjoyed. However, I wanted to take it to the next level. I was intrigued about the concepts of “geeking out” and networking after reading about their positive impact on student learning. In my previous post, Geeking Out: A Beginner’s Guide, I was toying around with the idea of introducing  the concepts in a structured way.  The students will collaborate with each other in class, but my hope is to extend the collaboration to other students as well.  Due to my school’s class structure, the classes, for the most part, stay together. There are limited opportunities for students to work with other students in the same grade. Implementing Google Classroom will break down the classroom walls and offer a wider range of perspectives. The musical games unit will, hopefully, be enhanced by the support of Google Classroom due to its collaborating and networking capabilities.

Unit of Inquiry: Music Games