Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I've learned from 11 Tools

I think the most important aspect I got out of this training is the effective use of the Netbooks and I-touches in my classroom.  I definitely will use them as part of stations or centers during my class throughout the year.

I have changed my thinking about 21st century learning.  I've always known technology is important because I use in EXCESSIVELY in my personal life.  I know now that I need to include in my teaching even more to help my students get to the level that I am in technology use.

I wasn't really surprised about all of this information.  I'm just glad it is out there so I can have a more focused plan on how to use it.

Thanks 11 Tools!

Being good digital citizens

My students are going to have to be good digital citizens.  That means they are going to be trusted to use the internet for educational purposes and to be able to accumulate and share information that will help us grow mentally and psychologically as learners of our environment.  The cyber world is full of information, both helpful and harmful.  We must use good common sense in remaining safe in this cyber world.

Students would have to know that they are always being monitored.  Everything goes through the district server, and they must use all safe sites always.  They should also know to beware of dangerous sites.  Anything looking suspicious should be reported to me immediately.  Also, cyber-bullying is something that absolutely will not be tolerated.

The I-Safe factsheet can help us identify areas of concern, and I may post it near our workstations or centers.

All this information should be placed on a poster near our centers.  We will go over all items at all times, especially when commencing these programs at the beginning of the year.  As time progresses, we will continuously re-visit these rules of the cyber world.  Information dissemination to parents should also be available through all our devices, as well as hardcopy notices sent home with students.

We will always be diligent when it comes to the safety of our students.  We will always make sure that we shall always be on guard against any mischievous activities, and they will be punished accordingly.

Using I-touches in the Choir Classroom

I'm just starting to really utilize these I-touches this semester, so I'll be trying to incorporate them into my curriculum as much as possible.  Here's my dilemma:  I only have 12 I-touches available, and most of my classes have 30 or so students in them.  I know I'm going to have to set up some kind of rotation or stations that only 10 or so students at a time can attend while the rest of us continue the rehearsal.  At all times, I must find a way to continuously introduce the material being worked on in the stations into the actual rehearsal so the relevance can be incorporated into a meaningful application of the curriculum.  In other words, "I gotta make them use what they're learning on the I-touches every day during my rehearsals!"  This means I'll have to plan very carefully what I want them to study on these things.

I think it's extremely important for today's students to use technology in their learning environment, because our world will only become more dependent on technology skills as time passes.  The last 5, 10, 20 years have proved that.  We must hold these students accountable for every station/center we create in order for them to be able to handle this progress.

I know in my class all I-touches will come with tuners, metronomes, pitch-pipes (ha! that's a good one), I mean digital pitch (tone) generators, theory apps, sight-reading apps, etc.  All music we're doing will be loaded on every device, and I-touch docking stations that play the music on speakers will be a must (those could be used for breaking up class into sectionals and having students work in smaller groups).

I also will seek out the more knowledgeable students who may already know a bit about these devices.  They will serve as my "tech" crew.  I will have a few from every class, and have back-ups for them as well.  These leaders can hold after school sessions to help others in this type of learning environment.  I really want to try and make this a "technology-based learning environment".

Of course, when it's all said and done, they have to let all that technology go and just SING!  How ironic!

New technology devices in classroom this year

This year we will be implementing our new Netbooks and will put our I-touches to full use.  All music created will be on all devices for listening and rehearsing.  This will include full performances, parts for each songs, accompaniments for all songs, etc.  Students will be able to use all these devices as valuable practice tools for our concerts.

Furthermore, theory and drill apps will be included as well.  This will prove invaluable to help with ear training and theory training.

In addition, all correspondence will also be posted on all devices using our Charms website as well as Dropbox, which means that all devices will always have access to all music and correspondence at all times.

I'm still contemplating syncing these devices on a regular basis in addition to using an online clouding software, but that may require syncing every time I added new material I wanted on there.  I'd like to download the material to the device from the clouding software, but that also would take a lot of time.  As I get more familiar with all these applications, I'm sure I'll get more efficient at getting the results I need.

Future Jobs for kids who take Choir and Drama

I'd like to start a project to find information about future jobs for students who take Choir and/or Drama during their school years.

OBJECTIVE:  To find people who have jobs in the entertainment business, or in any profession for that matter, and have them Skype and tell our students how their training in Choir and/or Drama helped prepare them for their careers.

TIME OF IMPLEMENTATION:  I'd like to start this project this semester (Fall '12).  I know it may take some time to get this going, but we'll start working on this shortly after the beginning of the school year.

TOOLS:  I would like to use Skype as our main tool.  Blogs would also be an option that could be utilized.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:  I'd like to find professionals working in any field that would share with our students how their experiences and classes they took during their school years helped them get the jobs they have now or have had in the past.  I personally have a friend who works in L.A. that writes music for the movie industry, and has written songs in some pretty prominent movies (his latest work was on Rango!)  My principal has a son who has done some acting in movies, and I'd love to ask him as well.  I want to stretch the types of jobs to vary from acting, songwriting, conducting, performing, producing, writing, etc.  Any form of job that used their training in Choir or Drama (or even Band or Orchestra) could be open for invitation.

I'd love these professionals to address our students via Skype during class.  Question and answer sessions, sample short performances, advice, anything we can come up with.

This is just in the planning phase and many details need to be worked out, but I think it's a pretty good idea.  Parameters would have to be set for each classroom/professional interaction.  Pacing, times, recording it for other classes, etc.

Stay tuned and we'll see where this goes......!!!  Again, any ideas or comments are always welcomed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Familiarizing myself with the Blog!

Okay, so I'm getting a little more comfortable and knowledgeable with the concept of blogging.  I still need quite a ways to go, so here a little more I've done.

Here's a link to a cartoon I created.  Maybe it will entice kids to use the blogger a bit more, or maybe just to become more interested in what's going on in this site.

Here's also a poster I made that may motivate young singers to remember key concepts while singing in my class.  Remember, I'm just getting started, so it should grow as time progresses.  Also, any suggestions are very welcome!!!

Wordle: Choir Terms
Just a few more back with more soon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Google Apps to help disseminate info to my Choir students

Using Google apps to help give info to my students is going to be invaluable.  Currently, I see one drawback that I probably won't have any control over.  Not all my students will have access to internet at home.  Still, every single one of my students has access to a computer during school and even after school at our Library.  I think it's going to be important to make a visit to my Blog and Docs mandatory at least once a week or so for all students.  Maybe that way they will get used to getting online and checking things out regularly.  That's my idea for now, at least.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.  I know I won't have enough time to take them to the computer lab once a week (that would take up way too much rehearsal time).  I'm not sure they'd all get a chance to get online and check on things here.  This will be my first year trying this out, so it will be a wok in progress.  Here we go!!!  Again, any ideas as to how to get more participation, I'm very open to your suggestions.  I have approximately 250 students.  Thanks for your interest and help.