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!

Imagination extends the ability to think, create, and express ourselves

Image via Pixabay

This is the central idea of my grade two students’ unit of inquiry. As part of their summative assessment, they are to write or rewrite a short story in English class. They will use their imagination by writing an original short story, adding another character to an existing story and so on. In visual arts, they will create sock puppets, and again, using their imagination, they will a character (aka sock puppet), and perform a skit in Arabic. In music, they will perform their short stories (written in English) accompanied by student created soundscapes or musical motifs. 

I’ve always enjoyed this unit because it gives me an opportunity to share the unique instruments in our music room. As part of my provocation, I display an image on the smartboard – it can be any image – and their task is to use their imagination to write a quick narrative of what is taking place in the picture. The  students then decide what instrument, sounds or sound effects to use to support that narrative.

Image via Pixabay

The ocean image is my go-to only because my hope is for the students to choose the ocean drum to provide the sound effect. It seems too easy. Yes, that’s the point. We move on to a number of images, and each one will have a different feel, sound, mood, theme, etc. A woodpecker sitting on a branch can be represented by a woodblock, or an image of a skeleton can be enhanced by a group of claves played simultaneously.

What’s interesting for me is when the students choose an instrument that won’t “naturally” go with a specific image. It gives me insight to how the students perceive a particular image and their musical choices. Furthermore, the best part of this learning experience is that there is no wrong answer. They all seem to have a different perspective, and that’s what makes this unit so unique.

Image via Pixabay

A good image supports my content because it triggers some sort of reaction, an emotion or better yet, a sound. It enhances my lessons in that for the lower primary students, they do not know how to read traditional music notation (yet), but images make an excellent stepping stone. Steady beat is a concept that I can try to explain ad nauseam but simply displaying a beating heart or even a grandfather clock, in addition to, listening to a steady beat, and the concept understood with relative ease. They may not be able to verbalise the concept, but demonstrating with their bodies through movement is a clear indicator.  What’s more, tracing our fingers on a roller coaster image helps introduce the exploration of vocal sounds – high and low. There are countless uses for images in a musical context. Although it can be time consuming, curating images to teach musical conceptual understandings has proven to be successful.

Any other ideas of using images in a music setting?

Happy weekend!

A picture is worth ten thousand words

Image from Pexels by Clem Onojeghuo. https://static.pexels.com/photos/375882/pexels-photo-375882.jpeg

I love pictures. I love taking pictures. I also love drawings. I love to draw. I am by no means a photographer or an artist, but I do enjoy the hobby of taking pictures and doodling.

After taking a semester long course called Teaching ESL students in mainstream classrooms: Language in learning across the curriculum, my personal hobby of picture taking and doodling merged onto my professional life. If the text can be enhanced or better understood by the use of a photo or a sketch, it will provide additional support for our English language learners. Okay, then. Google Images here I come! I became almost obsessed with adding photos to my Google Slides/Keynote for my daily lessons, in addition to, the worksheets I created for my students. A colleague also introduced me to the Noun Project – a site where I can search for simple icons to illustrate specific concepts. Module 8 of the ESL course became a particular favorite as we assessed published texts that were used in the classroom to determine whether or not the balance of text and image were appropriate for the age level they were intended for. The module sparked a drive and inspired me to create my own materials that I deemed were more appropriate for my particular clientele.

Then came the video, Everything is a Remix: Fair Use. Hold up. I may not be tech or hip enough (yet) to transform media by re-purposing or by adding new meaning or expression, but I had a funny feeling that my race to find the perfect Google image and/or meme needed to slow down. I needed time to reflect and allow the main ideas of the video to sink in.

Wikipedia defines fair use as, “a doctrine in the law of the United States that permits limited use of copyrighted material without having to first acquire permission from the copyright holder.” Examples of fair use can include, ” commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship.”

Regulations on fair use can be a bit murky; however, when you use media for criticism (making an argument) or commentary (expressing an opinion) AND you can answer “yes” to the three-step test, all is good and well (for the most part) in the land of fair use:

  1. Is the clip you are using illustrating a point? Does it provide an example that supports your argument or demonstrate what you mean? (Side note: you can’t just use it if you like it or it’s entertaining).
  2. Is this point clear to the average user?
  3. Did you use only the amount that was reasonably appropriate to make your point?

Hmm, good to know. I should post the three-step test as a reminder when creating materials and resources for my class. Thanks to sites such as the Noun Project or Pexels, just to name a few, I can still fulfill my need of using images to support my concepts. These images are mostly free for my personal use. Google Images also provides an additional “usage rights” tab to ensure that my search for the perfect image is within the realm of fair use.  This, at the very least, is my understanding. I know I have a long way to go, but this is a good start.

So, for now, instead of racing to find my perfect image, I’ll happily cruise in the slow lane so I can check my gauges (the three-step test) and enjoy the extra clicks and views that the land of fair use has to offer.