MIKE UNIFORM SIERRA INDIA CHARLIE

Image via Pexels (Kevin Ku)

I may be taking a different approach to week three’s blog, but I’ll have a go. I present everyday. You read that right. Every. Day. My Keynote presentations are part of my PYP learning environment. 

As the students enter the classroom, Mr. Mac, a behavior strategy under the CHAMPS program is displayed on the SMART board to remind students of how we enter the music classroom. The same slide will then be displayed at the end when they exit. We use this routine weekly as I only see my students once a week; it helps them remember the expectations. We go through the following sequence where “Give Me Five!” is shown on the screen. I raise my hand, the students follow, and we, through TPR, go through the meaning of “Give Me Five”. At this point, since I know have the students’ full attention, we go through the lessons for the day. We usually begin with a movement sequence where the slide contains short lyrics and an image of a marching band. For those students who are emerging readers, the text is displayed and they can participate in the chant while incorporating our movement to the steady beat. I know, I know.  I have written everything we say on the screen. I’m pretty sure that is faux pas number one according to Don McMillan’s Life After Death by Powerpoint

But for good reason. The children are now connecting the lyrics that they have learned by rote and assigning letters and words. The lyrics were not provided when I first taught it. It was only a simple image with movements associated with it. But now with the text displayed, they are practicing their English reading skills in the music setting. They LOVE pointing out the words while saying the chant. You can’t fault me for that. In fact, I should get bonus points.

Our class resumes with the introduction of the composer of the month. The slide contains a world map with the composer’s home country highlighted, an image of the composer, title of the piece and (sneakily) embed an audio clip on the slide. Depending on the composer, the activity could be a simple “sit in a circle and listen to the music” (with a focus on musical elements such as dynamics or tempo) or a movement activity with props (i.e. scarves, ribbons, bouncy balls, etc.) I liked Jeff’s idea of adding animation to presentations when appropriate. I speak of animation within the same slide and not transition between slides. Here’s why: when the students see the “typical” COTM slide, they are already programmed with the format of the slide. The world map is shown with a star to locate Qatar. The composer’s home country is highlighted, and I go through this silly, but effective, script that if we were to fly FIFTEEN hours by plane from Qatar, we can visit (insert composer’s name)’s home in (insert composer’s birth country).

Updated slide with animation

An animated arrow, for example, from Qatar to a specific country would add an element of fun – but with a purpose. They are making connections about where they are compared to the rest of the world. This simple learning engagement can trigger their curiosity, and as a result, they inquire about other composers and where they come from. When I initially designed this slide, I thought it would just be a display or a decoration to support the music behind it. Little did I know it would be an integral part of my daily lesson.

Keynote vs. Google Slides 

I’ve been creating these “presentations” for a few years now and I’ve come to realise that there should be a program where Keynote and Google Slides become one. I’m not clever enough to create this, but if anyone out there is, you heard it here first! I love that I can edit Slides from any computer; but Keynote has a more beautiful template to work with. For my context, videos and music embedded onto the slides are essential. Google. Are you listening? I shouldn’t have to put nuclear launch codes JUST to add music to my slides. And I’m not even adding music. I have to convert my MP3s to a YouTube video AND THEN add it to my slide. It’s very distracting. Even though I adjust the size of the YouTube video, it doesn’t look clean. Keynote makes it easy to just drag and drop music onto a slide. And what’s more: it’s invisible in presentation mode. Oooooh! Aaaaah! I can even edit where to start and stop if I only want a short excerpt. As an aside, did you know that there are wireless presentation remotes that do NOT work with Google Slides? Oh yes. I would know. I’ve owned three different versions (this one does NOT work). Because we transition from movement, to listening, to writing, to singing, etc., I don’t have time to waste and walk to the computer and change slides. With the presentation remote in hand, or with a special helper, I have a tightly paced music lesson.

For now, I’ll stick with Keynote for it’s ease and visually appealing slides. And I’ll definitely incorporate some of the design principles that I’ve learned this week for my future presentations. But if anyone wants to create “Key-slides” or “Google-note”, am happy to go 50/50 with you!

Oh happy day!

By the way, if you’re using Keynote and need to convert it to Google Slides, this video is handy. Enjoy!

 

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!