Thoughts on December!

Happy First of December!

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how 2013 has gone by so fast. And if you’re a teacher like me, chances are you will be busy during the 20 some days in school and not really enjoying the holiday season. Music teachers, you know what I’m talking about :-).

I’m making an effort this year to ready myself for a month-long celebration. I want to be awake and be present hearing the sounds and laughters from the children around me (especially my own), cry with those who are suffering, and living the moments with friends new and old during this month.

I have much to be thankful for!

Here are 3 ways that will help me to celebrate during December:

 1. iTunes Radio – let it work for you.

If iTunes Radio is new to you, you should try it. Although I’m a Spotify user, I use the iTunes Radio in the car because Spotify radio is only for paid users (read about it here). I love the iTunes Radio because

  • It’s free streaming music
  • It plays very few commercials (and most of the commercials are music/music concert related)
  • I can use it in the car
  • And I can look at the history of what I listened to and find new favorites

You can start by listening to featured stations like Guest DJ – Kelly Clarkson who picked her Christmas favorites. It’s fun listening to celebrities’ playlists and commentaries. You can also start a station by clicking on the + sign (see image below).  I’ve loved using the iTunes Radio since October (iOS 7 update) and found many stations that helped me to find new Holiday favorites. Can you tell how I’ve been looking for special holiday songs by looking at my stations? LOL!

iTunes RadioiTunes Radio

The Radio also works like Pandora when you star a song you like – the station will play more songs like the one you starred. Enjoy the season with music!

 2. I read an interesting blog post titled “Kindness Elves: An Alternative to Elf on the Shelf Tradition” this morning. I love this post because the  blogger shares her pursuit of kindness and character-building activities to kids during the Christmas season. I  share her sentiments about Elf on the Shelf being a bit creepy and about the whole behavior modification (or manipulation) through using Santa or Elf-watching. I’m all for wonderment and making magical moments for children. What I don’t like is that many things we do in our culture enable the children to play  the entitlement games. So what struck a chord with me is that her variation  on the Elf on the Shelf is about  Kindness Elves “who love to help and notice kindness in others”. I emailed the post link to my colleagues at my school already and want to see the kindness in my students each day. So here we go! Let’s look for kindness and give help to those who need it!

3.  Give a thought to giving. Anna, the Kindness Elves blogger, said that we give presents because we love those people not because they deserve to get them. I agree. Instead of buying random gift cards, wouldn’t it be great to find a meaningful gift? I know how hard it is to find a great gift, but I found one today. So here I want to share it!

I sure didn’t have to take 5 to fall in love with this amazing product ;-). I learned about Koostik from Kelly Tenkely (@ktenkely) who wrote a post about her dad’s craftsmanship here. I love that Koostik products are handcrafted in America with natural resources, aesthetically uber cool, and are highly functional. I think smaller models will be good for cars without Blue Tooth. I’m hoping to order one in the next day or two for my husband. I just have to make a decision for which device…(I hope he doesn’t read this post).

December 2nd update

The good folks at Koostik and I’ve been tweeting back and forth about some specs so here they are:

The Original is 8.5″ x 3.5″ x 2″ and is approx. 1 pound.

The Pivot is 7.25″ x 3.25″ x 2″ and is less than one pound.

They are super friendly and great with questions and follow-ups. Shhhhh – I ordered mine – you should, too!

So how will you spend your December? If you find meaningful gifts (the ones you make or find), please share them with me in the comments. Also share some good music you may find on the iTunes Radio. And please join me in celebrating the goodness of life with children.

May your December heart be filled with goodness, kindness, and music!

Cheers!

~@Doremigirl

Learn. Create. Talk. #etmooc post #2

Create.

So I’m being pushed.

I’ve been MIA on Twitter and G+ last year and a half due to many reasons. I don’t need to go into what those are, but I had made my decision after much thought. As I mentioned in my #etmooc intro video, my daily learning life changed since I started joining Twitter and building my PLN. This network included a wide range of educators, administrators, education groups, edu product builders (and some edu product promotors) etc. I started gathering resources and links. In secret, I became a ninja curator on Diigo and Delicious. Here was a music teacher, wanting to save a lot of things for other teachers to share and build relationships.

Connecting with people takes a lot of time. Reading & commenting blogs, tweeting, retweeting, cross-posting on G+, Pinterest, Learni.st or Facebook take some time (to set up, especially if you are anal about intricate ways to connect all your devices to services). Face-face meetings are the best in cool conferences, but they come with an expensive price and need a lot of planning to do all cool things. After a full-blown, all-power-to-me kind of start to social media learning plunge, I had to take a step back. I took a long break….ok, I wasn’t totally disconnected. I just wasn’t actively tweeting ;-).

After all, I had changed because of online learning. I connected with the world and gained real, precious friends. Through many kinds of learning and connections, I’ve had the time to think/imagine/assess/dream about who I am as a learner and teacher. It was mostly good stuff. I just needed time to repurpose and reflect.

In the last two months, though, I’ve been imagining/dreaming again about connecting and learning. This time, not about curating (how to get stuff), but about creating. How am I enabling my students to create music? What essential skills am I teaching them so that they feel secure to wander and make their musical journey? What relationships am I building with them?

While I’m contemplating these things in between teaching, driving, being a mom & wife, I was trying to get to #etmooc archives (I signed on very late!) and had some Java upgrade problems. I tweeted and this is what I got:

In the previous tweet, I told Ben I liked his video on #etmooc homepage “#ETMOOC Is Overwhelming. So, Let’s Make Some Meaning.” Instead of just saying, “Thanks,” he casually invited me to join the conversation – #ILikeConversation. I was nudged to respond, but it was late so I went to bed instead. Next morning, I find a G+ invite from Ben to join Reflective Practice Vlogging community. Naturally intrigued, I accepted the invite and started learning. Surprisingly there were only 40 people in this community. Lurking as the 41st member, I read some convo threads and started watching some vlogs. It was very cool that Ben et al made videos to think together with others. It’s like being f2f, but you’re not. The cool part is that you can respond to someone’s question/idea via vlog. I haven’t had the time to think about making a vlog and it might take me a while, Ben. The concept is brilliant and scary for me. Conversations need to be real and natural, just like how we talked at Educon two years ago, Ben. Just maybe this is what open online community needs!

Another push comes from a book I’m reading by Scott Watson, a music teacher who wrote Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity. I’ve known Scott to be a great role model as a teacher who enables his students to create music and share with their community. His book reflects his gentle spirit which guides teachers to “allow students to share themselves” (p.6). Thank you, Scott! Can’t wait to read more!

The last push comes from my students. I’ve shared with my middle school students how I’ve started photo-a-day challenge three years ago. I asked them a simple question this January to join me in seeing the good stuff and capturing it as a picture format. A handful of students got excited and started posting their pictures with descriptions on GDoc. So to be a hip teacher, I opened a Tumblr account and started posting pictures. I had no idea what pain it is to customize codes on it! I’m learning codes left and right, learning to add Disqus codes and all. Yesterday, I shared a post with my students giving them photo tips and ended the post with encouraging them to comment on each other’s pictures and having a dialog. Funny, reflecting and conversation found their way here, too!

So after 4 Java updates, I’m finally onto opening some #etmooc archives. I’ll be doing what I can and reflect. Thanks for the poke, push, encouragement, learning!

~Yoon

PS: Submitted my lipdub vid. Did you?

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)

Opening Ceremony Music at the 2012 London Olympics

Andrew Maunders designed this alternative Olympic poster

It was an amazing night of celebration in London last night. The opening ceremony, under the direction of Danny Boyle, was full of spectacular visuals, integrated social media, tech, doused with delightful surprises and humor.

And of course, MUSIC.

It was a great mix of pop and classical music. I loved hearing two children’s choirs (were there more?) and the London Philharmonic under the direction of Simon Rattle. It was wonderful to see conductor and musician extraordinaire, Daniel Barenboim, carrying the Olympic flag with seven others.

I also loved that happy, energetic drummers stood on the sidelines as the athletes marched in. The drummers kept the atmosphere upbeat and moved the marchers at a fast pace.

Music, once again, played a vital role in the opening ceremonies. Congrats to Danny Boyle and the people of the UK. You have a great wealth of creativity. Thank you for sharing with the world.

So if you were looking for a list of music heard during the entire ceremony, here it is (thank you, Spotify)! My absolute favorite is Elgar’s Nimrod. What’s yours?

(N.B. I started watching the ceremony a bit late so if I missed something, let me know. I know there were some things I missed due to commercial breaks, too. Leave me a comment below!)

~ Yoon (PS. I absolutely love sharing world events with friends from all over the world. Tweeting during the ceremony was memorable!)

Student Project: Year in Review

I have been wanting to write about this project for some time now. Now that I have the summer to reflect last year and plan for the fall, I wanted to share a fun project and highlight my students. 

One of the perks of being a “connected” teacher on Twitter is that I have an easy access to numerous resources. I connected with Katherine Schulten (@Kschulten), the editor of The New York Times Learning Network, on Twitter and had a chance to meet her in person at ISTE ’11. She is a former English teacher who is passionate about education. I enjoy learning from her and edu related people on Twitter. Some of these teachers have collaborated with me and others have been a source of learning inspiration (read about two examples from my previous posts: Connecting with students in Australia & Music in Me Project).

Right after the Winter break, I read a tweet from @Kschulten about a rap contest for students. The NYT Learning Network partnered with Flocabulary, an online learning site that teaches just about any subject through songs and raps. This project intrigued me because it combined music, tech and research. What important world events would my students remember and care enough to mention?

On the day I read through the contest rules, I realized that the contest closed the following day. I was disappointed that my students would not have an opportunity to submit their work. But I decided to go ahead and tailor the project for my students anyway 🙂

Project: Year in Review

  • PREP – The students and I watched Flocabulary’s The Year in Rap:  2010 and discussed its content and style. The students compared and contrasted the this rap to popular raps they listened to (Kayne West, b.o.b., Nikki Minaj etc.). Discussion topics  included through-composed vs. strophic forms, the rap length, accompaniment, solo vs. BGVs, and what role words and music have in a rap. I segued way into the project by asking, “What do you remember about 2011?”
  • PROJECT

Research: We went over this Google Doc which contains all of the information about the project. I let the kids know that they can decide to work in a group or individually. Most worked in a group, but a few chose to work alone. I worked on this doc with the frame work of NYT Learning Network contest rules, but adjusted to what I thought might work best to my students. I asked several Twitter social studies teachers on #sschat what sites are good for current events and listed a couple links they can go on. My reason: instead of citing just one source for all major news, I wanted to guide the students to seek out multiple primary sources. I allowed 4 class times (about 4 hours) for this project to be completed. Many of the students chose to come during study hall to get their work just right!

Music & Audio Recording: The NYT Learning Network contest provided music tracks from the fabulous folks at  Flocabulary, but since I teach music, I added this important music component to the project. My students have been using GarageBand (Apple app) for some time so I didn’t have to prepare them much for using loops. Unlike previous recording projects, I did not have the students use a separate recording mic. All audio recording and mixing were done from GarageBand.

So take a listen!

MY TAKE AWAY

  1.  FASCINATING TO SEE THE YEAR’S HISTORY THROUGH 12 AND 13-YEAR-OLDS. There were a wide range of topics and highlights. I loved that I discovered that my students are developing global citizens who, for the most part, care about world events. Class and 1:1 research conversations proved to be invaluable. Because students were documenting their work on Google Docs, I was able to follow their work and comment real-time.
  2. EXCITING TO SEE THE STUDENTS BEING EXCITED TO CREATE THEIR OWN MUSIC TRACKS. It was very interesting to watch students work. Partner groups needed to collaborate in class while listening to music (a headphone splitter is our friend). And because they had their Google Docs open, some chose to chat back and forth this way. Student group discussions on music style, lyrics, rhyming scheme, and instrumental choices were happening at a rapid pace. More than anything, they were listening. #win
  3. IMPORTANT STEP: SEEING THE STUDENTS IN HIS/HER LEARNING PROCESS. Some students were great researchers. Some were fabulous at writing the lyrics and some were just excellent at creating the music. The same students, while being so successful at these areas, struggled to use class time, or struggled with another part of learning. Partners were good  (since they chose their own) in this case. They motivated each other. It was important for me to recognize each student’s strengths and struggling areas and work through challenges. I have to say that guiding each group/student was a time consuming task, but to their credit, they worked hard! So…
  4. CELEBRATE & GIVE FEEDBACKS. It’s exhilarating when students call you like the world’s ending because they want you to listen to the short segment they have been working on (remember, I have {dramatic} Middle School students?). Run to them. Be excited for their successes, however short or minor. Also give them honest opinions and guide them to think about things they may have missed. The NYT Learning Network provided a rubric on their site, but I decided to give my own feedback as well as class feedbacks on each project. 

At the end of the school year, this project was mentioned many by my students as one of the memorable learning moments! If you decide to try, let me know how it went.

We live in a well-connected and resourceful time. Take some time to connect with teachers around the globe. You’ll be surprised how many generous teachers/organizations there are. Take time to learn and share! 

Last one…

This project has been shared via Skype with Samuel Wright (Wrightstufmusic) and for his Music Technology Presentation in March. He  is a music teacher and tech guru from Australia with whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Samuel recently blogged about his presentation and mentions my students here. W00t!

Happy Summer!

~Yoon

 

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Instant Isaac of J2LComics gets a review from @dougpete!

What an honor!

doug --- off the record

I really like it when an idea takes off.  I also like it when students find a way to showcase their talents and abilities.  There was a convergence of these recently.

Without a doubt, the best takeaway for me from the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia was a chance to meet Yoon Soo Lim (@doremigirl) in person.  It’s one thing to have a friendship courtesy of social media but being able to meet that person face to face certainly puts it over the top.  Since our original meeting there, we have managed to stay in touch.

Recently, we were chatting about our kids and one of the things that came across was the love for creating comics that her son had developed.  It was more than just the type of comic that we see created via electronic media; he drew them by hand.  That makes it extra special.  In…

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Here’s Isaac!

Today, I’m writing a short post as a mom.

Our son Joshua (11-year-old) loved to draw ever since he was able to hold a pencil in his tiny hand. He was also a very early reader, just like his older sister. He spent many hours drawing or reading by himself. We were happy watching him act out scenes from favorite stories…

He is a fun, creative, and happy boy 🙂

Today, my husband and I started a comic blog for Joshua. We’d love for you or your students to check out his comic, Instant Isaac. We have fallen in love with Isaac, a 12-year-old who is fun and innocent. We love seeing life through this quirky boy. I hope you will get a chance to take a look at the first post Instant Isaac 1 and share it with your students. If you’d like to know a bit more about Joshua, check out his ‘about me’ page where he wrote a short introduction about himself.

I’m grateful for school art teachers, Ms. Venueza, Mrs. Schmidt and Mr. Thomas who encourage our son to pursue his passion! And I owe a huge thanks to my friend, Doug Peterson, who suggested that we start a blog for Joshua. Thank you, Doug!

Here’s to a great journey for Joshua and Isaac. Tune in every Sunday evening for a new strip!

~Yoon