My first #etmooc!

I registered for #etmooc two days ago…

I’m not quite sure what I got myself into just yet ;-) All I know is that 1) I have learned a great deal through my Twitter PLN last three years, 2) I do a lot of daily online learning, and 3) today is a good day to begin my massive  open online course — with a huge class.

Here we go! Here’s my intro vid!

Happy  learning!

Up next: Massive lipdub!!


PS: made it in a hurry since I’m so late to the party. I used Animoto. If you’re an educator, get a free edu account here. Folks there are great for allowing teachers to use this cool app for teachers and students. I also used my pictures from Flickr and some slides from my Keynote. Song: “Closer to the Edge” 30 Seconds to Mars.


@EdcampIS ’13 in Philly!


Saturday, March 2, 2013 | 8:30am – 3pm


I’m excited to be on the organizing team for EdcampIS 2013! If you are a teacher/admin from an independent school attending NAIS conference, or live near Philadelphia, I hope you will consider coming to a great day of conversation and learning. You don’t teach at an independent school? No problem! You’re invited, too!

It was my privilege to attend Edcamp Philly in 2010 (I think this was the very first of all edcamps!). It was an amazing day learning from other teachers and sharing what works in our classroom. @birv2 titled his recent blog post perfectly: “EdcampIS – learn from the real experts“. See, every edcamp session is facilitated by teachers like you and me who teach every day. You design ways to introduce concepts and skills. You discover ways to ignite learning-passion in your students. You work through challenges and know what apps/tools worked for you. Like Bob said, you are an expert!

Share your ideas and discoveries at EdcampIS! I’m hoping that all of #isedchat or #nais teachers will come and encourage their art/music teachers come. As a music teacher, I’m always looking for ways to connect with arts teachers :-). Did I mention that #edcampIS is absolutely free? Find out more info or register here!

Our #eduAwesome friends from California made this great video about Edcamp. I invite you to watch and even share it with your colleagues if they do not know what unconferences are.

Great job, @billselak  + team for making this great vid! See you all on 3/2!

~ Yoon

Charles Hazlewood: Trusting the Ensemble

I can’t get this TEDTalk by Charles Hazlewood out of my head. It’s been months since @shaugland shared this link on Twitter.  Even if you are not a conductor, you should watch this. If you are a parent, a teacher, or a musician, you need to watch this and get into the conversation:

This brilliant presentation contains much food for thought.

TRUST is an important word. I would guess that many of us like being on the receiving end (ie. people trusting us). Boy, isn’t it hard to trust others? :-)

This quote by an unknown author deeply resonates with Maestro Hazlewood:

Trust is the best medium for success. It creates an environment in which people feel free to be authentic, passionate, committed, and willing to share all they have to offer. ~author unknown


I reflected a lot, thinking about the simile (conducting is like a small bird in your hand) and the lessons learned through the South African Music project, the singing demonstration by the TED Choir (the F-E-D motive), the extraordinary story behind the Paraorchestra, and of Haydn‘s wordless, but apparent revolt in Farewell Symphony finale. The Maestro challenged me as a musician and teacher to assess myself as an artistic leader.

What am I doing to create a safe and passionate space for my students? What needs to change?

Musicians and music teachers, think of your ensembles. What is your story? What is your experience building trust with your group? How do you inspire the young musicians to feel free to be themselves, but give all to their ensemble?

And do you agree with this statement?

Where there is trust, there is music, and by extension, life. Where there is no trust, music simply withers away….


Why or why not?

~ Yoon (will post a post regarding my experience with my choirs)

Questions, Conversations, and the Rachmaninoff’s 2nd

21/366/2012 Snow Day

Happy 2012! I have been away from blogging since September. I’m finding a moment on this snowy morning to reflect (and remember how to use WP interface!). The past four months have been packed with performances, student projects, stories, challenges, and relationship-building conversations. Today’s post will focus on the conversations I have been having with my students. And for the record: it’s good to be back!

ONE of the best part of being a music teacher at a small private school is that I get to teach many grade levels. In the past, it got really crazy when I had two classes back to back – one being the oldest and the other, the youngest group of students. Thanks to the thoughtful schedulers, however, I have a schedule that works out beautifully this year. I also get to head a lunch table 3 times a cycle with the K-2 students (yes, we eat sit-down, hot lunches with the students!) and go out to 2 recesses after lunch.

There’s a group of Kindergarten students I want to share about. Whenever they see me,  they run to me with open arms and look up with the brightest eyes and smiles to ask me, “Mrs. Lim, are you on recess duty?” For some reason, they let me in since the beginning of the school year: they let me play a role in their daily recess make-believe stories. Their excitement,  their voices, their curiosity, their unfiltered thought process, and their love inspire me to live each day with a passion to discover and learn. They also remind me what important role I have as a teacher to all my students…

Interestingly, the following TWO conversations with my middle school students this week reiterated my last point.

Conversation 1: My students have been creating music on GarageBand for a project so during an afternoon study hall, a group of students came to work on their projects. One particular student had been working on his project pretty extensively so I told him I would love to listen to his music when he’s ready to share it for a feedback. I sat in the empty seat and wanted him him to finish editing; he started asking questions about editing music. Our conversation started as a Q and A for GarageBand, but ended up talking about his passion for music. After he told me he would like to do something in music, I was frank with my 13-year-old student (he has an amazing listening skills and can play just about any instrument). I told him I can see him creating, mixing, editing music in the future.

Then there was a short, but awkward silence. His widened eyes stared at me with a disbelief. He asked me, “Do you really think  I can…?” My answer: “Yes – I believe it!”

What I realized: my believing-in-what-my-student-can-become is just as important as what I’m teaching him now. We will definitely have more conversations, but for now, I’m going to think of ways I can support and get my students like him to think of possibilities.

Conversation 2: I was starting a class and while surveying the room while making my announcements, I noticed that one of my students was missing. A friend of the student quickly remembered that he was in a meeting and wanted me to know that he might be late. So we started the class. When students dispersed to worked on their projects, that student came to talk to me. He apologized for being late and wanted to run an idea by me. I was curious so I listened carefully.

Essentially, he pitched an idea to the student government to change a school dance into a night of student-run concert night. Tickets will be sold like a a real concert and the student line-up have to be really good. But there was more. The concert would be a benefit concert – it is to raise money for the music department so that we can have more instruments/equipment.

He asked, “What do you think? Do you think it’d be helpful? Would you approve this idea?”

:-) I had not seen this coming. Here was a student who was thinking about how to help me and my colleagues to create music better with our students. I was thinking, Whoa, what kind of kid is this? Did we make an impact on his music learning so much that he wants to give back? I am totally humbled and excited: we have future music education supporters!

There are THREE ways I can summarize what I’ve been learning:

  • Students matter more. Building strong relationships in and out of classrooms helps me to understand students better and will make me a better music teacher.
  • {For any teacher or parent} what we do everyday for the student (children) and for our profession (family), make an impact in our schools and communities (relationship). Be strong & be excellent!
  • The past 4 months (the active learning and reflecting months) have been like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony (third movement). The ebb and flow of life bring us sweet, harrowing, and unforgettable melodies like this one. So here’s my life in music. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do, especially at 3:54.  ~ Yoon

(Hear the entire third movement! Here’s the part 1 to the excerpt you just heard

Talk it Up!

And Design a Deeper Learning Environment

The following post has been featured in the July edition of VIA, an ezine dedicated for arts integration. I’m honored to have been contacted by VIA’s editor, Susan Riley, who has asked me to write a post focusing on creativity and the arts technique for the classroom teachers. Check out her website which has wonderful arts-integrating resources! If you’re curious about this ezine, download and read the entire July edition for free here (VIA is normally distributed quarterly through subscription). As always, I would appreciate your feedback and conversation!  Happy July!   ~Yoon

While saying good-bye to a happy 5th grade music class, I engaged in a quick conversation with their teacher about what the kids have been learning in my class (song writing: verse, chorus, lyrics, melody, and accompaniment).

And then I asked her, “So what are they learning with you?”
That one question led both of us make time to connect again in the teacher’s lounge and talk about what the students are learning in the classroom. Through one conversation, we discovered how we can connect and build on our students’ learning together. By asking each other questions, we got each other to think about students’ learning at a more in-depth level. The question I had to answer was, “Is there anything I can do to strengthen their learning?”

photo by Kim Davies, Flickr CC

Here is a project that resulted out of that conversation: The Preamble Project (click on the link to listen). The students were learning the Preamble and the US Constitution in social studies. After talking to the teacher, I had to answer the following questions:
  • What would be the best way for the students learn and memorize the words to the Preamble?
  • Would watching a segment in School House Rock be helpful?
  • What musical and thinking skills will the students demonstrate?

I concluded that helping the students write their own original Preamble song was the answer. Rather than just memorizing the words to the Preamble, my students sang the words to a tune they composed. Will they remember the words that precedes the US Constitution? Of course. Were they engaged in their learning? Absolutely!

If you are looking for ways to incorporate music into your lessons, here are some ways you can try:

Don’t be Afraid.
Being fearful snuffs out learning opportunities for you and your students.
As you prepare your lessons, think of a couple ways you can think artistically.
Remember that we are in the classroom to guide the young people in good learning. This means you do not have be the performer. Just create the creative spaces for them.
Start brainstorming arts-infused projects and make lists of possibilities.

Start a Conversation.
Collaborate with an arts teacher at your school. Share what you are currently teaching and ask simple questions to see if there are possibilities to collaborate on a particular unit.

  • Keep communications clear (time lines and goals) and start with simple ideas.
  • Keep a photo/video journal of the project.
  • Remember 2 Things: 1) not all of your conversations will end up as a project and 2) understand that  through the conversations your preconceived  ideas may change.  Keep an open mind!

Look & Listen for Inspiration.
Many teachers in my Professional Learning Network (PLN) share a great wealth of resources and lesson ideas. I read blogs posted by these teachers and see how I can apply their project ideas into my classes. You can do this, too. Look for inspiration in other creative teachers. Also look for inspiration in your students. Many young students are tech saavy and know really good sites for music. Ask them to share their good finds with you. They will be happy to share when they know you are opened to be taught by them. Here is an example of how I listened to my students.

Did you ever try using applications like GarageBand or Audacity to create your own remixes or mashups? Or have you ever tried playing music related games like Tap Tap? What is keeping you from learning? What would you like to try first?

~ Making an iTunes playlist titled, __________ (fill in the blank, i.e. quiet work time). What music would you include and why?

~ How about a podcast featuring a student and using music in the background?

Whatever the project, give yourself some time to use a specific tool and get comfortable.
Here are some links you can start exploring.

Have Fun :^)
Relax. Take one step at a time and enjoy the process. Your joy of learning will be infectious– even when things just don’t work out. Remember I asked you to journal about your learning process? Now share your journey with other teachers!

Hi! I’m an ISTE Newbie.

I was attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference for the first time past week. I had no idea how big this conference was before my arrival. To tell you the truth, with the exception of my presentation, I was not at all prepared for its enormous everything. With 12K+ attendees and exhibitors the Pennsylvania Convention Center was one busy hotspot (this is an unofficial number. I’ve also read other attendees mention 18K…)!

With many conferences under my belt, I thought this conference would be just like the others. The truth is that I felt quite out of place as I wondered around the crowds and (what felt like) endless conference space. But all was not lost!

I is for Interaction:  F2F Conversations

 I am connected to a lot of educators online and have been “conversing” with many of them over the last year and a half. But meeting these people in person is one of the greatest moments I will experience. I have had the pleasure of seeing and hugging many of my friends for the first time. It was incredible to match their faces with their voices. What was more fascinating was that many of our edu conversations continued on. I enjoyed every conversation whether it took place in the conference lounges/cafes, over dinner, or right after some sessions. Passionate learning and thinking together in person beats any virtual space. I am also thankful to have met new teachers with whom I can learn from.  

S is for Sharing: Arts are Alive in the Mix

ISTE panel

E.Peterson, Y.S.Lim, M.Baldwin, & K. Pace @ISTE11

Presenting at ISTE was something quite special. I was honored to present with  Elizabeth Peterson, Michelle Baldwin, and Kyle Pace for the Music and Tech: Harmony in the Making session. Although I was a presenter, I learned much more. I really appreciated how my co-presenters shared about how they help their students to make deeper connection to learning through music and tech.

I am so glad for those teachers who were hesitant at first, but decided to to come to our session. My friend Doug Peterson (@dougpete) came to our session and wrote this blog post. I was quite nervous to have friends like Doug in the crowd, but also was empowered by their support. So thank you, Doug, friends, and all those who attended our session! It was especially great to meet @musictechie, @dougbutchy, @rdammers, and @DoeMiSo from my MPLN (Music PLN).

I was reminded again that many teachers are looking to the “arts experts” for creative ways to teach. I hope I can continue to do my part in sharing ideas and advocating for the arts education. I was thankful to see many arts offerings at ISTE and feel tremendous honor to have had the experience. I hope to encourage and partner with many arts teachers to consider presenting in the future. Kudos to all educators!

T is for Telic: Taking Notes

There are several things I want to remember if I ever get another chance to attend ISTE.

  1. Read the program & add handful interesting sessions at least to the ISTE app. I did not look carefully or plan well. I, unfortunately, did not get over the enormity of the conference. It was hard for me to know what to pick on the spot. Next time, I will at least have a list of sessions I want to check out.
  2. Know the layout of the venue. I was clueless where things were. I would not have wasted a lot of time if I knew at least where some things were. I was thankful for the many volunteers who were everywhere who helped me. Next time, I will look at the map!
  3. Enter the exhibition with a goal. I had some kind of allergic reaction (not really, but figuratively) when I entered the exhibition hall that made me come right out. It was just so big and I didn’t know where things were. Next time, I will seek out specific companies to check out innovative ideas.
  4. Set aside time for poster sessions and special workshops. Again, there were so many that I’ve missed because I was so tired! 
  5. Talk to more people. I may not get another chance to talk to a presenter or someone from the PLN ever again. I need to make time for more f2f and make effort to talk to more people. They just might be as lost as me!

E is for Excogitate: Now Think Out {Loud}

So what am I going to do now that I have attended, ISTE? I am going to remember what great experience it has been to connect and learn. You, who are in my PLN, will be there to excogitate (to think out; to find out or discover by thinking; to devise) with me. It comes back to building relationships and conversations, doesn’t it?

I’m thankful for you!


So Pumped!

I guess I can use any these words: psyched, elated, happy, & inspired.

Today is an in-service day. All of my colleagues and I have been working hard, thinking, teaching, laughing, and making connections with the kids. We’ve been feeling like we’ve had too much snow, and feeling like we’ve had too much of everything.

It’s just that time of the year when everyone’s sluggish (not to mention, our students started their 5-day break today!).

And then it happened.

My closest colleagues, Dina, Evan and Jerald, and I met together after lunch to talk about our department happenings. Dina and Evan teach art; Jerald and I teach music. All of us are very different, but work really well together.

We began to talk about our Visiting Artist Week – answering questions to what worked well? What didn’t? What can we do better?

And then it kept happening.

What, do you ask? Collaboration of ideas! Four of us actively engaged in lively conversations about integrated curricula for next two years. We were drawing, writing, laughing, smiling, and passion-driven.

This is why I love working with these people. They inspired me to keep going and create art and solve problems together.

I love it that we work beautifully together and make learning fun and excellent for the students.

Here’s a recent picture of us:

How incredibly blessed I am to learn and work with them!


N.B. This particular meeting went half hour into our personal learning hour (first time we were given this for in-service day). Since were encouraged to do something for ourselves to either learn or do,  I chose to reflect. It was fun sharing this post with my colleagues during our wrap-up!