Yes, I am alive and well, even though I have been absent from the blogsphere :^). As I have these past three years, I have had the pleasure to plan for this year’s Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols with our chaplains. Since 1931, a Christmas Carol service has been observed at our Chapel and around 1990, our school adapted the form of Service of Lessons and Carols (see its interesting history here). It is one of my favorite school traditions that invites community members (faculty, parents, siblings, alumni, and community guests) to sing with our choirs for a night of glorious celebration. Each of the nine lessons are read by a student or faculty and followed by a corresponding carols of the Advent sung by all or by small choral ensembles.
As a vocal director, it’s a joy to look for arrangements that 1) are musically interesting, 2) highlight my students and challenge my advance singers, and 3) are relatively easy-to-follow arrangements for congregational singing.
Some of our favorite carols come from the 100 Carols for Choirs (edited and arranged by David Willcocks & John Rutter): Once in Royal David’s City, See Amid the Winter’s Snow, and Nativity Carol. In addition to these favorite carols from the book, here are some gems our choirs have discovered and have sung past three services (for some arrangements, I’ve had to contact the arranger directly…interesting times of digital downloads through PayPal!).
I know my students and I have our favorites from this list. If you find a new favorite, please leave me a comment!
It’s been a great teaching and learning year. As I look ahead, there are just 5 more weeks of school; I can’t help but reflect on my experiences.
A New Beginning
I became the chair of our school’s technology department in addition to being a chair of the music department at the beginning of this school year. I wasn’t sure how it was going to unfold or how I would feel about heading up another department. I have always been passionate about tech in teaching, but have not thought about using this passion for my career. I have to admit: I’m really enjoying it! Some things I have learned are:
I enjoy working with teachers and helping them to build their tech skills
I enjoy conversations about instructional tech with my team and the admins
I enjoy exploring tech ideas and writing out details to implement them. Participating in #edtechchat & #digcit chats several times have been great to connect to other edtech PLN!
My team and I have initiated the following this year:
Compiled and implemented 3rd-8th Digital Citizenship and Literacy Curriculum
Hosted Parent Coffee to have conversations about the digital world and students
Send out Tech Tip Tuesday resources out to staff and curate them on 9 Flipboards
Help each other to keep learning
And I am glad that I teach music during the day because my students keep me curious and creative. Although there are many things I don’t know yet and will need to learn, it’s been a great learning journey! I’m grateful for this opportunity!
Isn’t this beautiful? We had a baby grand in our department, which was not repairable. I hate throwing instruments away so I looked up onPinterest if we could repurpose this piano. Lo and behold, I found some images and asked Greg, a groundsman/maintenance, and all-around hardworking friend, if he had any idea what we can do to make bookshelves out of this old piano. Greg graciously took on this project on and used whatever free time he had to work on this beautiful bookshelf. This beautiful bookshelf is in the main hall and will hold arts books for our students to read. Thank you Greg, for this labor of love! It is so inspiring. Our community will enjoy this art piece for a very long time!
Our Middle School musical was Annie Jr. We had a wonderful group of students who exhibited perseverance and creativity in their acting and singing. I am always amazed at the help given to us by parents, teachers, and other non-musical students for costumes, set design, and backstage help. It was a great way for the community to come together and put on a great show. Excellent job by all! This picture is of our Annie, one of my students named Erica. She will be graduating this June. She is a sweet, intelligent, and humble young lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for nine years. She and her classmates will be graduating this June. The commencement will be bittersweet as we send them on their new journey!
On Thursday, April 17th, our Middle School Choir was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Citizens Bank Park! The Phillies were playing against the Atlanta Braves; my students were nervous, but did a good job singing and representing our school. The choir prepared well and adjusted pretty well to the echoey stadium. It was a great day for us! You can watch the video here. (WP won’t let me embed iFrame code 🙂
And each year, the second grade class performs a little musical production. This year, the production was inspired by Eric Carle’s picture book, I See A Song”. I will blog about this amazingly fun and collaborative project later– I just wanted to post this picture of my students singing their song yesterday. I love their spirit –they have taught me so much through the way they saw songs around them. I promise to post how this project came about and share my project with you. Here are my students performing on Friday, April 25th.
Blip Update (Daily photo + Music Project) So far, I have 115 Blip entries and haven’t missed a day! All the images above, except the choir singing directed by me, are my photos. It’s been really fun and rewarding to keep this project going; I am learning to use different lenses and compose my shots a bit better. Starting this project with my husband on January 1st was a fine idea! So can you scroll up to the first photo you saw at the top of this post? What do you see? Sometimes, things look and feel messy, out-of-order, and downright chaotic, just like the ink settling in the vase. What I have learned is that pulling back and being still at crazy times helps me to refocus and see things more clearly. The first photo is a picture I took for a MonoMonday challenge. I decided to experiment with ink and water. Can you see a face? I know what face I see. Who do you see — Mark Twain or Evard Grieg, or someone else? I hope your school year is full great memories and challenges that made you grow. Until next time, @Doremigirl
Today was edcampHill, the first edcamp hosted by a boarding school. The Hill School (Zach Lehman, Headmaster) graciously opened up its campus for the afternoon to a group of teachers who traveled from far and near to spend a few hours of learning. I was happy to assist Kim (@ksivick) and take part in the organizing team.
As soon as edcampHill began around noon, teachers’ enthusiasm enlivened the room. The session board filled up just as quickly the meeting room was being filled up by the attendees. After checking in and getting their name tags, teachers enjoyed a big bagged lunch provided by the Hill School. Teachers enjoyed talking over lunch and got ready to begin their learning.
I want to point out 3 noticeable differences of this edcamp over other ones from the past:
Later start time. Starting at noon was a practical decision made by the Hill School as it holds classes on Saturday mornings. A later start to edcamp gave travelers time to travel to edcamp location unhurriedly. I know I felt good coming in later in the morning.
Free, delicious lunch. It was so great that we started the learning day with a delicious lunch. Not worrying about where to find places to eat (and for organizers, not having to point attendees to local eateries) was a huge plus!
A personal touch. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings. It was great for Zach Lehman, the headmaster, to greet many attendees as they walked in. His personal welcome set a positive tone to start our learning.
Sessions – Conversations
As I mentioned earlier, teachers wasted no time posting sessions. The sessions were:
ArtStor: Using High Quality art from museums
Using Primary Sources for Student Engagement
Play = Creativity: 21st Century Children – Are they missing this?
RTII: Response to Instruction and Intervention. Data, Exceptions and Technology Integration
“Digital Writing” in various disciplines
Technology and Real World Learning in Foreign Languages
The Connected Educator: Learn to Build a Personal Learning Network
Blogging in the Elementary Classroom
Inquiry-Based AP Labs
Can Entrepreneurship be taught?
Connecting Classrooms to Open Data for real world learning
Educational Leadership: Drivers of Systems relating to people
Three 45-minute sessions passed by quickly as teachers engaged in meaning conversations, sharing experiences and resources. What I love is the conversations and sharing that takes place at edcamps. Personally, I attended the sessions underlined. It was fun co-leading discussion with Kim on being a connected educator. Every session was meaningful.
So why do I get involved in edcamps?
I believe that it’s the best learning format for teachers to learn and share. Coincidentally, this morning’s #satchat topic was on faculty meetings. Edcamp model for Professional Development was mentioned numerous times by yours truly and other educators. What is there not to like? Nothing can beat free registration, teachers teaching teachers, casual and fun learning environment.
If you took part in today’s edcampHill, thank you! I learned much and my colleagues and I will take back what we learned to our school community. You have made me a better educator and colleague.
Thank you Hill School! Many teachers left energized and happy! Thank you for being a gracious host.
I listened to Beethoven Clarinet Trio, Op. 11 for the first time earlier this week. It was my first hearing the work; I was struck by magical textures of clarinet, cello, and piano. Listen to the second movement, Adagio, if you please:
If you don’t use Spotify, listen to it via YouTube (audio quality isn’t great, but this is one of the best examples I can find):
The movement is just beautiful.
This is how I will describe my experience in Washington DC since Tuesday. I’m fortunate enough to be included in this year’s cohort of NAIS Teachers of the Future (ToF) program. 19 of 25 ToFs made it to DC to advocate our loves: students, passion, teaching, and learning. This particular group of educators were not only talented, they were personable and engaged. Our discussions continued over meals beyond session times. For most of us, this summit was the first time we interacted with the National Assocation of Independent Schools, its President, and staff. From large group sessions to small group breakouts (unconference model), we shared, discussed, and brainstormed ways we can better serve our students, schools, and the educational community. NAIS, thank you for making this possible!
The movement is just beautiful.
Each teacher’s passion and purposeful initiatives sparked interest and excitement during this vital, two-day retreat. It’s my hope that this movement of the independent school teachers will be more than a single spark. ToFs, let’s keep the fire going. Just like Beethoven’s tender music, let’s keep the fire smoldering in tenderness…for our students and for the independent school community. Our work is just beginning…let’s make it count!
You can follow our discussions and posts on NAIS Connect site. Look for posts from Teachers of the Future discussion group.
My colleagues and I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the NAISAC13 conference on March 1st, thanks to the leadership of my school who funded our trip. It was a fantastic day to travel down town to Philly with the people I work so closely with. I was also very impressed that all of our admins and some of our board members came (some who are past and present parents). A day like this rarely happens, but it happened :-).
So lately, my trips to the Philadelphia Convention Center has been tied to conferences. Seeing massive crowds of educators and edu related people mean vis-a-vis meetings with teachers from my PLN or people whom I will connect with and learn from. But what was different about my experiences on March 1-2 was that these days were dedicated to independent schools and teachers.
It was my very first time attending the NAIS conference. I loved meeting teachers from independent schools around our country and having conversations about our classroom experiences. I attended sessions that pushed my thinking. I really enjoyed morning general session given by Dr. Tererai Trent, and the closing session by Dr. Cathy Davidson. Both women, graceful and displaying strong leadership, guided us to “be the champion of quality education” (Tererai) and to “move from critical thinking to creative contribution” (Davidson). I am inspired!
But something stuck out like a sore thumb to this music teacher.
Creativity and arts education are two important focus areas many independent schools are known for. If many (maybe all) independent schools are offering plethora of arts offerings to build a well-rounded student body, then why aren’t we seeing many arts related folks presenting and sharing their ideas?
Don’t misunderstand me. I really appreciated listening to students from Girard College and Baldwin School sing their hearts out before the morning and afternoon general sessions. The performances were inspirational and these moments remind us once more how music enriches our lives. And who can forget the graphic recordings by Five Elements? The recognition of the arts is not in question here, but rather, the presentation by the arts practioners is. What could be the reason for the big void? Lack of funding for IS (independent school) arts teachers to attend the NAIS conference? Not enough interest from the IS arts teachers for NAIS? Who can answer these questions?
I did, however, learned a great deal from a handful of sessions I attended in between the two general sessions I mentioned above. I listened to smart and inspiring IS teachers and thinkers who shared their practices. I want to think big now and hope to learn from many arts teachers when I attend future NAIS conferences. I wished that I had more time with people who came to NAIS! Luckily, the following day would be one of the most special learning day.
think T O G E T H E R at edcampIS: Saturday, 3/2.
I was very fortunate to work with the people above to organize edcampISfor 3/2 (absentia Jac de Haan). All of the communication and planning happened online (Google hangout, Google Doc, and emails). A handful of us had met through edcampPhilly or Educon, but most of hadn’t met until the morning of. It was an amazing way to plan for such an exciting day. It was invigorating to be with people who were excited to work to make this day of learning the best day for those who were trekking from NAIS conference to John Huntsman Hall of Wharton School (University Pennsylvania). Over 150 independent school and public school teachers from nearby tri-state areas registered to join us.
Edcamp is the BEST f2f free professional development. People who want to sacrifice a Saturday to learn from other teachers register and show up. And those teachers who have attended edcamps before come thinking about a session they might want to moderate.
112 teachers and administrators were in attendance! Wow!
21 posted sessions. Some of NAIS conference presenters also presented at edcampIS! I wished I had time to attend all of the sessions.
John M. Huntsman Hall of the Wharton School of Business is a beautiful building. We were very fortunate to use the rooms there and have tech support from U of Penn!
Arts colleagues, Dina and Evan, came and we shared our stories of collaboration and arts advocacy around our school community during the second session. I am so proud to work with them!
12 amazing sponsors donated money for breakfast and gifted cool prizes, and swags. They are so generous!
Organizing team – did I mention they were great to work with? Everyone contributed to ensure the day ran smoothly.
Learners who came (attendees): Having conversations make us connect to inspiring teachers in a great learning community. There were many conversations and connections made. It’s good to know that I’m not alone. Exchanging ideas and learning from seasoned and new teachers is such a privilege. The edcamp was designed for this kind of exchange in a pretty relaxed and fun atmosphere.
If you attended edcampIS, thank you! You made it great!
If planning opportunity for an edcamp comes your way, take it! Recruit many teachers as possible to work with you. You won’t regret it!