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!

“…a ripple of change.”

Image via skitterphoto.com

Thanks to FaceTime or video calling via Facebook, I am more connected to family and friends – especially as I am living abroad. I have a friend/mentor from home with whom I like to schedule “Facetime dates” to talk about recent news or drama. Our conversations can be as exciting as, “Guess what happened to so-and-so?!” or “What did you have for dinner last night?” Nevertheless, I am thankful for technology for keeping us connected.

Last week our topic of conversation was of global news. Bombings in Syria, children suffering from starvation in Yemen, the recent California wildfires and so much more. It was too much! As usual I complained of this type of news, and my friend simply replies, “It’s not news. It’s always been there. Now it’s more evident due to the Internet.” Ugh. Thanks a lot, Internet.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, I occasionally pause at the pages or images entitled “In case you missed it.” Generally, they post positive news. There ARE good people in the world doing good deeds. There are little games, videos or challenges to fill your Facebook with something positive. The post could be as simple as sharing a video compilation of tumbling pandas (It’s great! I promise!)

And then I wondered: How can I take this back to my classroom? How do I introduce the notion of spreading positive vibes or good deeds with my students?

Photo Credit: Danieal Longanetti

Well, to start, I utilised a strategy that my former colleague, Danieal Longanetti (@teach2learn13),  shared during her Seesaw presentation at Mini-Nesa in Doha, Qatar during the spring of 2017. It was a straightforward anchor chart that featured feedback and open-minded comments. Duh! It was so simple, yet an effective way to teach students how to write appropriate feedback and open-minded comments. She introduced this idea to her students while they were working on their Seesaw portfolios and sharing it with other students from different schools. When I started this concept in the comfort of our classroom, I realized just how much one, small, positive comment can affect my young learner’s self-esteem and passion for learning. My students were all afraid and/or embarrassed to share their songs with each other in the class, but then they realized that their peers felt the same way! They all received some sort of positive comment and gave each other suggestions to improve their work. And they wanted to! The students were inspired to improve their songs and to share it again with the group.  The idea became one, small ripple of change that made the biggest impact.

It might start within the music room walls, but soon I hope to “spread the good” in our school and hopefully beyond.  

“It takes but one person, one moment, one conviction to start a ripple of change.” – Donna Brazile

Counting down ‘til winter break! We can do this, Online9!

People first. Musicians second.

Image via Pixabay

In my school, music classes, and other specialist classes, are delivered once a week to every class in every grade at the primary level. In the course of one academic year, I will see the students roughly thirty-six times. THIRTY. SIX. TIMES. Due to my obsessive and perfectionist nature, I put a great deal of pressure on myself to design units that are engaging, concept-based, and infused with musical and technical skills. If one lesson is “off”, there goes one of my precious thirty-six lessons to teach my unit. No big deal. . . 

And with that, when students come to music class with their “drama”, already I am foreseeing my lesson going down the drain. I am annoyed.  I say to myself, “Child. Don’t you know that today we are going to learn about Tchaikovsky and his contribution to our musical world?! I don’t have time for your ‘drama’!”

Wait a minute, self. Stop. Reflect. Act.

Danah Boyd’s article, “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers, discusses her search for “…understanding the underlying dynamics” of bullying and how to “find intervention mechanisms that work.” Although her research subjects were mainly teenagers, I wondered whether or not my school’s research-based programs and interventions at the primary level provides the ideal preventative measures to nurture and support students before they go forth to middle and high school.  Hmm. . .   

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcFICCVWliY[/youtube] 

(Learning About Bullying – Pt 1, The Tough Kid Bully Blocker Shorts)

For instance, what I love about the PYP framework (although my school is only in its second year of implementation) is the concept of the IB Learner Profiles. The Learner Profiles are a set of attributes that prepare students to become “active, compassionate, and lifelong learners”. We aim to incorporate one or two profiles as we design our units of study. When the students come with their “drama”, we stop, reflect and refer back to the profiles.

  • Are we being THINKERS? Are we thinking critically and creatively to recognize and approach this problem and find a solution?
  • Are we being COMMUNICATORS? Did we take turns talking about the problem and discussed how it makes us feel?
  • Are we being PRINCIPLED? Are we acting with integrity and and honesty? Are we taking responsibility for our actions?
  • Are we being OPEN-MINDED? Did you consider the other person’s perspective?
  • Are we being CARING? Did you show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others?
Kelso Wheel

Kelso’s Choice is a conflict management skills program that was implemented in my school several years ago. Unique lessons and activities are taught so that students learn strategies for solving small problems. Students are instructed how to identify the difference between small and big problems – big problems in that adult intervention is necessary. Kelso’s Wheel is displayed in a corner of my room to give students a safe space to solve their small conflict.

Second Step is a social and emotional learning program that teaches skills for students to regulate their emotions and behaviors so that they are ready to learn. As a result students are better equipped to manage challenging situations or conflicts.

My hope is that the combination of the IB Learner Profiles, Kelso’s Choice and Second Step will result in the decrease of bullying in the primary and secondary schools. I DO try to make an effort to remember that I teach people first and musicians second. It will be a win in my book if my students grow up to be the “active and compassionate lifelong learners.” It will be a bonus win if they can articulately discuss Debussy’s non-traditional musical compositions in comparison to the likes of Mozart or Beethoven.

Have a great week!