Here in the states, it is New Year’s Eve. Since I am close to New York City, the news is filled with pictures of people in Times Square getting ready for the ball to drop.
As for the countdown, we are approaching #2 on the list of Top Ten Reasons to Enhance Your Elementary Music Classroom with Technology. This list will end tomorrow, the first day of 2019. There will be a free webinar to shortly follow where these ten enhancements are displayed in action.
Definition and Reminder
If you have not read the previous posts, the definition of technology enhancement is using technology to enhance making and doing music in a way that traditional methods lack. In addition, the ten tools that I listed are meant to be guides to trying one or two in the elementary music classroom. Think of the list as a champagne buffet. If you drink the entire buffet this evening, you will end up feeling sick and overwhelmed for the new year.
I feel that students reflecting on their own music making as well as others, is important. It helps them explore and ponder on what they did and how they can improve or learn. It also helps them find and try new musical ventures. When it comes to reflection, traditional ways of writing a reflection or filling out a questionnaire have been used successfully for years. However, what if technology could assist with the students organizing and sharing their reflections that traditional methods lack?
One Device with a Camera
A lot of self reflection can be done by using one device, asking a student a question, and recording their answer. This way, it is stored digitally and can be viewed again at any time.
Student Digital Learning Portfolios
As stated in previous posts from this countdown, student digital portfolios like Seesaw, Class Dojo, and Bloomz, have been a game changer in the elementary music classroom. Students can showcase their musical works via pictures, video, writing, notes, web links, and more. To level up these portfolios, have the students write or video themselves within their journals reflecting on what they learned. They could also ask themselves the following questions:
- What did I like about my musical creation?
- I wonder what I would do differently?
- What if I tried this to improve the music creation?
- What would I do to improve it?
In addition, with student digital portfolios, students can take these questions and use them to comment on their classmate’s musical compositions. Since the teacher can approve and reject anything before it gets posted, there is always a safety net.
Here is an example from the parent Seesaw app. This is my daughter answering the daily student reflection question that her classroom teacher posts. I love this idea and am going to try to use it at least once a semester in my music classes.
Creating a form in Google Forms, Socrative, Kahoot! or Plickers, are wonderful ways for students to use to self-reflect. With Google Forms and Socrative, they can answer questions or write reflections. Both do not require students to have email addresses. In Kahoot!, the students can answer questions in a fun, game show style way. With Plickers, the students can answer multiple choice questions even when the classroom has only one device.
Other wonderful tools for a 1:1 classroom are Pear Deck and Nearpod. These apps project the class lesson onto the students’ devices. During the lesson, the students are asked to answer questions so the teacher can check the students’ comprehension during the lesson. Pear Deck is built to work with Google. Teachers and students log into Pear Deck with their Gmail address, files are auto-saved in Drive, and everything is integrated with Google Classroom.
When my students are preparing for a concert, I love to utilize Youtube to show them other groups performing the same songs. This helps the students see that they are not the only ones who prepare and perform concerts. It also helps them gain empathy for the performers. When I use Youtube, I will follow up with questions such as:
- How were the students’ posture?
- Was there a conductor?
- Did you see every student singing?
- If you saw one not singing, why do you think that they were not singing?
- Did they add choreography?
These questions are usually in a discussion-orientated platform for the purpose of student gaining more knowledge about performances.
To take this one step further, we have used Skype (Google Hangouts can work as well) to talk with other classrooms who are preparing for a concert. We sang our songs and then they sang their songs. One year, we were singing “Angels We Have Heard on High” in Mandarin and skyped to a classroom in another state. There was a student who spoke fluent Mandarin in that classroom and stated to my students that he understood every word. This compliment made their day!
Stay tuned for #1 appearing tomorrow and a free webinar to follow shortly thereafter!
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, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com