Wednesday, August 27, 2014

140 characters as checking for understanding

It would seem there was convergence in the force the other night.  I was reminded, during an excellent #musedchat on Twitter (Mondays, 5pm PST), of something I had read just before the school year started.

As part of Edutopia's #BestYearEver campaign, I stumbled upon an excellent resource on checking for understanding.  I remember eyeballing #39 - Twitter Post and thinking, "hmm, how might that be used in a music classroom?"  Little did I know my answer would come 20 days later.

The question was, "What are some of the classroom management tools you most frequently use?" (link)
The conversation that ensued was beneficial and further reinforced my appreciation in the power of Twitter as a professional development opportunity.

I had initially remembered that the CFU list had the students summarize via a tweet but what followed was the gold nugget,

Post-its.  What a great idea.  You don't need tech and you don't even need a Twitter account for your students.   Having students practice the skill of distilling their thoughts into 140 characters is important.  It forces students to evaluate what they want to say while still conveying meaning.

I wonder how others are using Twitter with their students.  Please share!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

5+ tech tools to try this year

Today is the official first day back at school for me (students return on August 11th).  For the first time in 10 years, I will be going back as a music teacher.  A ton has changed since the last time I was in the classroom and I am excited to be able to use some new tools.

Here is a list of 5 tech tools I am going to try this year:

This year I will be working with student from 4th and 5th grade at three different sites. This will be an effective way to communicate concerts and rehearsals as well as reminders to students and their families. Gone are the days of paper notes going home.

Not having to maintain a gradebook for many years has been a blessing. Now that I have to again, I am eager to use this one. Having a portable gradebook to record progress of students on instruments is going to be helpful. The website has extensive 'How To' instructions and it seems as if the tool is well supported and maintained.

Google Drive
I have spent so much time getting others to use Google Drive in their classrooms the past two years I am excited that I finally get to use it for myself.  On a personal note, this summer I removed Office from my desktop and do 95% of my work on Drive.  The other 5% I do on LibreOffice which is free and does what Google Drive doesn't (envelopes!).  I am also looking forward to sharing documents with students and parents.

I currently use Evernote to "remember everything."  From little notes to myself, to planning, to web clippings, and anything else I need to remember, this is the tool.  This tool I use for myself to stay organized and on top of things.  I have a good system right now but I am sure it will improve and adapt to meet the new challenges before me.  I am sure it will be invaluable while I am  at 3 different schools each week.

GarageBand (iOS)
I am a bit rusty on my accompaniment skills with piano and guitar.  This will be my replacement while I beef those up (they were never beefy to begin with).  I will eventually look at ways to have students do the creating (or accompanying).

Bonus: iOS Apps I will be using and trying:
insTuner - Chromatic Tuner
WunderList - hear very great things about this, going to give it a try as my to do list.

Do you have any tech tools that you use or are going to try?  Would love to hear about them below.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Something to do with 43 minutes of your time

Last week I stumbled upon a podcast that just blew me away.  I was intruiged by the trailor that had been created for it.

I clicked the link at the end of the video and was taken to where I discovered a brilliantly produced pilot for a podcast.  For the next 43 minutes, I found myself glued to my comptuer listening to Nick Jaworksi (@JaworskiMusic) and four stories about music education.  The pilot has a very NPR like feel to it.  It very much reminded me of This American Life in it's structure and delivery.

I let Nick know on twitter that I thought he did an outstanding job with the podcast trailer and he replied
Here is hoping you will give it a listen and support Nick in this endeavor. I am looking forward to a second episode.

You can find the podcast on the website or you can also download it onto your favorite podcast app by searching for One Degree of Separation and downloading the latest episode there.  Here is a link to it on iTunes. I imagine Nick will eventually have a dedicated feed for the podcast if it is successful.