Walking This Way

What Do You See?
What Can You See?

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!

GIVING PROPS

Beautiful {Re}purpose
Beautiful {Re}Purposed PIANO. Photo by @Doremigirl

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 on Pinterest 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!


AnnieOur 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 🙂

MS Choir @Phillies Game. Photo by Heddy Bergsman
MS Choir @Phillies Game.
Photo by Heddy Bergsman
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl

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.

I See A Song! Photo by @Doremigirl
I See A Song!
Photo by @Doremigirl

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

An Interview with the New York Times Learning Network

Christmas 2012

Happy December!

It has been way too long since my last post. I apologize for being MIA here. I have been mulling over ideas, but mostly very busy  learning and teaching. The 2012 – 2013 school year has been fabulously rolling along with lots of great progress from my students.

Around Thanksgiving, I was contacted by the New York Times Learning Network editor, @kschulten, for an interview. I am delighted and honored to have been featured in an article published on November 29, 2012 about a rap project I did with my students last year. If you’re so kind, go here and read it!  I was very happy that NYT Learning Network allowed two of my students’ work to be included! I am very proud to share their work there 🙂

I am very thankful for many ways I am learning and sharing what I learn with my students.

Here’s to a great holiday season!

~Yoon

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