March is MIOSM – “Music In Our Schools Month” – sponsored by MENC, Music Educators National Conference. As a music educator, obviously I support music education in school. However, it is interesting to hear what other people think about music education. Check out these Public Service Announcements from MENC’s MIOSM website.
Clay Aiken’s PSA
Sara Evans’ PSA
Edgar Meyer’s PSA
So I am working on a Capstone Project proposal for a technology endorsement called Teach21. While selecting the hardware and software I will need for my project, I stumbled across this cool little piece of hardware called a nanoKey. I am so excited about this little guy for a number of reasons….
- It is small so it does not take up whole lot of desk space for my classroom computers (I will have 8 desktop student computers when the hardware for my project is installed)
- It is USB powered so I do not have to worry about MIDI interfaces
- It still uses MIDI information, so we can use these little keyboards to input music or record songs with any instrument of our heart’s desire
- You can daisy-chain them together to get consecutive octaves
- They are portable, so I can set them up when we need them and remove them when we don’t (so the little 5 and 6 year olds to destroy them!!)
- It is extremely affordable, retailing at $62, on sale right now at $50!!
So needless to say, I am extremely excited about the potential of this little gadget in my classroom. I am looking forward doing composition units with my students next year, once I get all of my new equipment. Obviously I love music technology and I can’t wait to share new experiences with my students.
Please check out this month’s “MUSIC EDUCATION BLOG CARNIVAL” at Tanbur Music Education Blogspot. My post “Using Audacity to Have Fun with Folk Dances” is one of the featured articles this month.
From the Carnival, I also like Joseph Pisano’s article “Should we Utilize Technology in the Music Classrooms? Questions to Ask First.” This is especially pertinent to me right now as I am working on my Capstone Project Proposal for a technology endorsement called Teach21 with my county. I am considering what technologies to use to implement a composition unit for next school year.
First of all, it has been FOREVER since I have posted. I apologize….March is a busy month, and things get crazy.
Second, I used my ActiVotes for the first time this week. My classroom is equipped with an ActivBoard by Promethean. Included with the ActivBoard are these little voters called ActiVotes. They are wireless, battery-operated student response devices. Until now, these little things have intimidated me and I have been scared to use them. However, my student teacher and I finally got them out and started to figure them out. For his teaching unit, my student teacher has to administer a pre-assessment and a post-assessment to evaluate student learning. This was the perfect opportunity to try the ActiVotes out. And boy was it cool!
I helped my student teacher create an assessment using content from his unit. We passed out the ActiVotes and gave a VERY simple explanation at how they work. I was amazed at how engaged and quiet the students were as they took the quiz. I shouldn’t be amazed as these kids have grown up with buttons and tech devices since they were babies. This was instinctual for them. But it was cool to have them excited about showing what they know and responding accurately to the quiz.
What I find most exciting is that once the assessment has been administered, results are automatically saved with that assessment. You can go back and analyze results, see who answered how, and which questions were easy/difficult, etc. You can even show the results to the students as opportunity to reteach and review. Even better, I can print out results, record them in my grade book, and actually assess student learning!!! Who said a music teacher of 900 students can’t assess and evaluate ALL students for learning and comprehension?!?!? 🙂
My student teacher has given me much fodder for thought in the past weeks. Its amazing how mentoring someone can generate so much reflection on one’s own teaching methods and philosophies.
Today my student teacher introduced “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” to our Kindergarten through Fourth Grade classes. He created an animated, illustated Powerpoint presentation of the song with the lyrics and the embedded sound file. He timed it so the slides advanced automatically with the song. It was a fun, entertaining, and efficient way to teach an important American folk song. All the classes really enjoyed the experience!!
What I found amazing was after the first preview of the song, we took a survey of who knew this song already. Our school’s school population is very diverse with a lot of children of hispanic heritage. Understandably, theses students are often unfamiliar with traditional American folk tunes. It was a great opportunity for a cross-curricular musical activity and tidbit of American railroad history.
On a second listening, we encouraged the students to sing along with the presentation. We can revisit this song again to reinforce musical understanding of this song.
This reminds me to be diligent in including more American folk music and songs in my curriculum. It is my responsibility to musically educate my students to be well-rounded musicians….who understand, know, and appreciate a WIDE variety of musical styles!
I absolutely love folk dancing. And naturally my students do too!!
A husband/wife team named Peter and Mary Alice Amidon are folk dancing
“masters” literally – known as the “New England Dancing Masters,” along with their friends Mary Cay Brass and Andy Davis. They are collectors of traditional folk dances and singing games from North America and the British Isles. Their website features their products, workshops, and the best of all, two FREE dances with directions and sound files!! Sasha is a Russian folk dance that is simple enough for little Kindergarteners but magical enough for even adults to enjoy!
We used “Sasha” this week with Kindergarten and First grade with their exploration of tempo. I imported the mp3 of “Sasha” into Audacity, a program I talked about in my recent post, Blogging With Students. In this program, you can manipulate the tempo, pitch, volume, etc. So I produced copies of “Sasha” at a variety of tempi…..slow, medium, fast, really slow, really fast. Then once we learned the dance, we were able to experience tempo by movement (appealing to those kinesthetic learners!). Great fun and a great use of digital media for teaching musical concepts!!
Check out this great compilation of great places to find Music Graphics, Photos, and ClipArt!! What a great resource! Thanks, Joseph Pisano of MusTech.Net!