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

For the Love of Reading!

{I have been quite reticent lately due to my involvement with the middle school musical – which I will reflect later. I wanted to quickly write this post while it’s still  the Read Across America week!}

There’s been quite a celebration this week for

Reading!

Inspired by two second grade teachers, this reading project was born. They got many teachers to read a page of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You! for the Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day, March 2, 2014). They efficiently uploaded mp4 files  and scanned PDFs into a shared GDoc folder; I took the recordings and PDF pages into Keynote and  iMovie. We introduced the video in the morning to our PreK-3 this morning and the response has been great! Guessing names of the teachers will not be that fun for people outside of our school, but the students and teachers had fun guessing who is reading.

The following are my take aways from this project:

  • The project was simple and manageable.
  • It’s fun when teachers collaborate. (Teachers want to make more of these books!)
  • It’s a great way for the students to see how teachers collaborate.
  • The project benefits everyone in the school community – the shared link may inspire families to read together or even older middle school students to make similar book projects for their younger buddies.
  • This video was designed such way that it can be used in multiple ways. It can serve as an audio book, as a reading book and for reading practice, and to inspire students/teachers to read and create digital storybooks.

There was another event that took place yesterday to celebrate literacy: Book Swap. K – 5th grade students brought books they already read and are willing to part with. The library was set up with tables with these books for classes to swap books. I thought it was a brilliant way to recycle and distribute books. I can see how the Book Swap can be an on-going literacy event.

Wait, there is more. All the remaining books have been donated to a local children’s library.

I’m thankful that I took a part in this win-win project! If you would like more details, or have better ways to create a project like this, please leave me a comment!

 
Here is the video:

PS: My music classes and I will see about adding music that will go with this video. I will follow up when this has been completed!

 

~@Doremigirl

New Year Challenge: Sound Illustration

Happy 2014!

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start!

I enjoyed a much needed break. During the two-week break, I came across a cool photo journal app, that got me to start a new daily photo journal. I’m enjoying seeing daily pics and enjoying the stories that accompany the images. I’m glad to take part in Blipfoto community!

This morning, I came across an interesting challenge by Cathaber who invited her readers to post their daily pictures with an appropriate soundtrack. For me, image + story + soundtrack = perfect!

Today’s blip is about cold, cold winter. It snowed about 7-8 inches overnight. This would not be that big a deal except that the local newscasters announced that our area is colder than Alaska right now!

So I got to think about what soundtrack I’d accompany my blip today. As I do for many of my classes, I just started listening to music and started making a “Winter” playlist….so here is the selection I made for many new winter songs I came across.

I’m tagging some people who are always listening to music and thinking about teaching connections:

@stepanpruch

@nobleknits2

@royanlee

@malynmawby

@reed_man

@TriToneJones

@scott_watson

For the friends I mentioned (or other readers): I invite you to start a daily picture-a-day (365 project) so that we can do it together. If this is too much 😉 I invite you to tweet or let me know if you write a post with a soundtrack that describes your day. I wonder how many soundtracks and songs we can track throughout the year. Life seen through music, doesn’t it sound just beautiful?

My blip post is here with my playlist!

Here’s to a great year full of music!

~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

 

Sharing My Stories

I had a wonderful day at CCA of Philadelphia yesterday, having met many teachers who were eager to learn about tech integration. The session was titled, “Connect Your Passion with Tech: Transformative Learning & Creativity”. Both sessions were full and lively. Having great conversations were the best part and I am very thankful that for my friend Todd H., who got me to come and share with their teachers. Here’s the site I prepared for the conference. If you attended one of my sessions, you will find some new materials that might interest you, so check out the tabs.

After a quick dinner, I had the privilege to talk to @wrightstufmusic (Samuel Wright) and the teachers in AIS Music PD day (Australia). I was happy to take part by Skyping in and sharing how my students were using iPodTouches and iPads in the classroom.

So on this crazy busy day…

  • I learned that I enjoy spending time with new teachers who are eager to learn. Really nice, attentive teachers made the day!
  • I enjoyed sharing my stories (my failures and successes!)
  • Using someone else’s SmartBoard and system was very uncomfortable. I was horrible at using the wireless keyboard yesterday.  Again, people were gracious, especially when I fumbled around, or when the embedded code in Google Sites failed to show content.
  • I reflect on how much I have learned from my PLN. Thank you for those who contribute daily to my learning!

Keep moving forward, friends!

~Yoon

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.

Try.
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!