The Beginning of the Journey

Being able to truly think, reflect, and share is something special

Earlier this summer I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for EdTechTeam as a result of a Twitter post about Trevor Mackenzie’s “Dive Into Inquiry” (you can see the original blog here). Prior to this I never would have considered myself a writer. I enjoyed writing, in fact, I frequently reflect back to grad school and how much I enjoyed researching, writing about, and presenting on various conductors and pieces of music. But it still didn’t click how much I enjoy the writing process until I completed and submitted that blog post. Being able to truly think, reflect, and share is something special! And from that, this blog was born.

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Throughout the summer I spent a significant amount of time learning and reading. I participated in a 12-week Teacher Leadership Certificate program through EdTechTeam that turned my views on education upside down. I read numerous books, also about teaching. What’s incredible is that none of them directly related to music, but I feel each will have a drastic impact on my teaching of music.

This will be my space to write about three things I really enjoy professionally: music, teaching, and technology. While I know I have been continually growing and evolving as an educator, I feel like after this summer a true transformation is on the horizon. Hence the journey!

Here are some of my main takeaways, and my goals for this school year:

Global Connectivity                                                            

In a time where information and communication are right at our fingertips, it’s so important to show students how to become part of a global community. One of my goals for this year is to take my students outside of the four walls of our classroom, to learn from and experience music globally. (I’ll be writing about my Global Collaboration project soon!)

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is something I have been interested in since the spring, when my county announced they were going to begin piloting some personalized learning initiatives. After researching the topic I’ve decided to jump in with my 5th grade instrumental music students. The idea of giving students a voice and a choice in their learning is really intriguing, especially in my situation where every 4th-5th grader has to play an instrument. For the band and orchestra lessons I outlined the learning targets at the beginning of the year, and the students will be responsible for setting their own goals and moving through at their own pace. Students will also have a choice in how they show mastery of various skills. Lessons will look (and sound!) much different, as the students will be working individually or with a partner while I facilitate and help as needed.

Inquiry Based Learning/Project Based Learning

Going along with the personalized learning, is giving students the opportunity to learn what they want. Students are used to having teachers ask the questions, and they provide the answers. In inquiry based learning the students have to come up with the questions first! In music, especially instrumental music, this might be a bit of a stretch, but I have some ideas on how students can design their own projects and really take ownership of their music making.

“Our job as educators is not to prepare students for something…our job as educators is to help students prepare themselves for anything” ~ A.J. Juliani

Flexible Seating

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This is a bit of an experiment. The theory is that students should be comfortable in their learning environment, and should have choice in how/where they learn. In a band or orchestra rehearsal this obviously isn’t possible on a regular basis. While yes, there are days I let the students sit wherever they want, having the tuba player in the front row consistently just won’t work! However, when the students are working independently or with a partner, why not give them more freedom? I purchased four stools from Ikea that I believe will still enable them to have good posture while playing. The stools are small and easy to move, so they can be kept under the counter and out-of-the-way while not being used. I also purchased 4 pillows, and am considering allowing students to sit on the floor. To promote good posture I purchased tablet stands, in hopes the students could put their lesson books or iPads on the stand. We’ll see how it goes!

Flipgrid

Talk about a fun tool! According to Flipgrid it is a “video discussion platform,” but really it’s so much more. Students respond to a prompt by adding their video to a grid. From there, students can view and respond to each other’s videos, the teacher can respond and add feedback, a rubric can be added…the list goes on. Flipgrid gives every student a voice. Plus, it can be shared with anyone you want, safely. Parents, community members, other teachers and students, and more. I can see so many potential uses for the music classroom! I am very excited to share Flipgrid with my students.

Thanks so much for accompanying me on this journey; it’s sure to be an adventure!
~ Theresa 🎶