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Flipping Your Elementary Music Classroom Using iPads or Chromebooks

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-40-44-amAs I continue my research for the upcoming third installment of my free Help! Series resources for elementary music educators, I am becoming more convinced that in the future, chromebooks will become prevalent in elementary schools. In my previous post, I wrote about studies that show they are advantageous for schools. They are more cost-effective, web-based for easy access of websites and apps (adopting more android apps in the near future),and cloud-based for storage. Though I currently feel that iPads are more versatile for the music classroom (as they have more apps that can assist students in music making, note reading, composing, assessment, and more),there are ways that both devices can be used to enhance an elementary music classroom. Flipping the classroom is a good example of this.

Flipping the Classroom 

I saw this idea by watching Cherie Herring, a fabulous music educator in South Carolina. I would not be able to have used this idea nor be able to write about this idea if I had not seen her perform this successfully. I credit this post to her.

At our school, my third and fourth graders study the recorder and my fifth graders study one of the following three woodwind instrument: clarinet, saxophone, or flute. When my third graders want to earn recorder stars so that they can move up their recorder belt from yellow to blue, they request more songs to practice at home. I give them the opportunity to bring their recorder and music home over the weekend to get a head start on their next song. However, I was noticing that although they are good musicians, they were having difficulty sight reading and practicing new songs on their own. This made me think about flipping my music classroom.

When a music educator flips the general music classroom, they create a lesson that can be accessed outside the classroom. The students watch the lesson to assist with their comprehension of a musical concept. When they return to the music classroom, the educator moves forward with the lesson. In addition, flipping the classroom assists with preparing the students to learn a new music concept. The lesson introduces a new concept by showing examples of the concept such as a lesson on dynamics or tempo. Therefore, if you follow a methodology of prepare, present, and practice, flipping the classroom enhances the prepare and practice portions.

How to Flip a Classroom

There are many ways to flip a classroom. A popular way is to use video. Many educators record themselves using their laptops or smart devices. Once they finish the video of their lesson, they upload it to their students’ learning management systems (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Seesaw (a student learning journal),edmodo, schoology, etc. The students can then access the video from their LMS. This is a very successful way to flip the classroom.

When I felt that my third graders wanted to advance their recorder studies or when I realized that my fifth grade instrumental class meets once every two weeks, I decided to flip my classroom so that the students could practice and advance from home. I chose the app Explain Everything to create a practice video. I felt that Explain Everything could video myself playing the instrument and also give me the opportunity to instruct the students to how to accomplish playing the song, which were ideal.

Using Explain Everything to Flip the Classroom

In the two videos below, I show how to use Explain Everything to record a lesson. The top video is the iOS version called Explain Everything Classic ($5.99). This app is iOS only, is described as an interactive screencasting whiteboard and best for budget and subscription-constrained institutions (50% VPP discount). This was recorded on an iPad and uploaded directly to Vimeo. The bottom video is the Explain Everything app that runs on iOS, Chromebooks, Android and Windows, is an interactive screencasting whiteboard, has real-time collaboration, and has cloud content and link-based sharing (starting from $2.67 per user / per year). This was recorded on a Lenovo N22 Chromebook and uploaded to Vimeo.

The videos begin with an introduction before the picture appears.

The videos begin with an introduction before the picture appears.

When I completed creating a video, I uploaded it to the students’ Seesaw (web.seesaw.me) pages. Seesaw is a digital learning journal that my school uses for the students’ portfolios. By uploading it to Seesaw, the students can access the videos from home. In addition, when I am absent, the students can log into their Seesaw pages in my music classroom and watch me teach the lesson for that day. I did this recently when presenting at the NJAIS conference and it worked successfully with my fourth grade music class. They were able to practice a recorder song that they could perform for me during the next music class.

Finally, if you do decide to flip your recorder or instrument class, you can ask your students to record themselves performing the song and send it to you. You can do this by creating an email account specifically for students to send you their videos (I created a music teacher account in gmail for my students). Or the students could upload their videos to the school’s LMS for you to view. Basically, whatever works with your school’s current LMS is the best way to achieve this.

Next post: Some free chromebook apps for the elementary music classroom.

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Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award and the 2016 NJMEA Master Music Teacher Award. TI:ME . You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com
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