No matter what time of year it is when you are preparing your students for a concert, many times, inclement weather will cause us to reboot our preparation. When this happens, can tech assist? The short answer is yes. Here are some tech tools that I have used in my classroom or have seen used by other elementary music educators that can assist when inclement weather derails your plans.
YouTube can be an elementary music educator’s best friend when it comes to numerous items like showing performances of a piece they are studying, creating playlists of boomwhacker or rhythm playalongs, and more. On a day with inclement weather, create a YouTube playlist where the link can be shared via email, a school or music webpage, a digital learning journal, Symbaloo, or more. Below is a short video on how to create and share a YouTube playlist.
YouTube also can be blocked by schools. When blocked, here are some simple ideas to try:
- Download the videos from home and then place them in your google drive, thumbdrive, etc, and bring them in. This way, you can access them without internet access (use google drive offline to do this) or access them from any device because you teach in various rooms or schools. Use a service like ensavefrom.net. To access it, go to the YouTube link you want, place “ss” in front of “youtube” in the url, and this will bring you to a new page where you can download the video at low resolution for free (see below).
- Use a service like safeshare.tv or viewpure.com. These services have free options. These two services allow you to input the YouTube url and it “cleans” it up by creating a new url that shows the same video, but without the advertisements and the comments. With the paid service, you can create playlists to share and “purify” more videos than you can with the free service (see below).
Seesaw (or other digital student portfolio platforms)
Place practice videos or audio (in versions of .mov or .mp4) on Seesaw digital learning portfolio. Seesaw is free to use and you can connect your students in your class so that they can login from home to practice, submit playing videos and audio, and so much more. This is a video showing the process. Check my website, amymburns.com/webinars, to see a full webinar about using Seesaw in the elementary music classroom.
Flipgrid has similarities to Seesaw. However, Flipgrid’s tools vary from Seesaw and their way of connecting with families varies as well. For the purpose of an inclement weather day, go to flipgrid.com, set up an account and connect your students during class, set up a grid for practicing and submitting videos, and share the link or qr code on an inclement weather day. You can share via email, school website, etc. Here is a video showing how to do this. I like using this tool to connect music classes with each other and as a practice tool for students before they showcase their work on Seesaw. Both tools are phenomenal as a way to accomplish and achieve musical ideas in ways that traditional methods could not do.
Can’t Share Interactive Tools?
If you cannot share interactive tools, then sending an email with some practicing links will suffice for a day missed due to inclement weather. There are a variety of possibilities when it comes to using a tech tool. The best way to choose is to answer these questions:
- What is the musical goal for my students?
- What tools do I have access to?
- Can I find a tech buddy?
- Will IT support the tool?
- Is there a Plan B (and C and D…)?
- Will I be patient with myself and allow myself to make mistakes, much like I do for my students, when trying something new?
“Mrs Burns! Did you know that I sang along with you? You were on my mom’s phone!” – A Kindergarten Music Student
It is worth the effort. One of the best comments I received was from a kindergartner this year when I recorded myself singing “Oh In The Woods” and placed it on the kindergarten Seesaw music journal. During the next class, a student raised her hand and said, “Mrs. Burns! Did you know that I sang along with you? You were on my mom’s phone!”
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