Online Classes – Yay or Nay?

It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been in the classroom as a student, and I have been quite looking forward to going back to update my certifications. (In Michigan, you need 6 college credits past your Masters every 5 years to renew). Of course, I waited until the last minute. Hey – I’m busy, and I’m not even in a school right now!!

I didn’t realize how fast-paced my 8-week condensed summer classes would be. My head is SPINNING between Entrepreneurship and Management (note to self – next time, remember to take things very different from each other!)

How many of you have done this option? I am a HUGE proponent of technology in education, but I’m not sure how much I get out of these classes. I would love to hear your thoughts!


Utilizing Twitter in Music Education Presentation

I presented on the topic of “Utilizing Twitter in Music Education” at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids, MI on January 20, 2011.  For anyone who attended (or for those who would just like the information!) please see below.

Link to Utilizing Twitter in Music Education Prezi.  Feel free to download and use!

Twitter – Sign up here!

Theresa White’s Twitter Page

Ashley Elementary Music’s Twitter Page

Ashley Elementary Music’s Homepage with Twitter Widgets

Joe Pisano’s list of music educators to follow on Twitter

The Official Music Educator Twitter List

Theresa White’s list of music educators to follow on Twitter

PLN Survey November 2010: Utilizing Twitter in Education Survey Results

Link to my original post regarding SMS notification use for the classroom

Special thanks to Katie Wardrobe for the use of her slideshare presentation on the same topic!

Vimeo, PodOMatic and iTunes

Last night, I was in the mood to be “geeky” so I decided (and I use that word very loosely!) to set up a Vimeo account to upload our videos to. I then added a widget to our school website and I am very excited to see the students be able to watch themselves! I know they’ll enjoy it and we will be able to use it for evaluation purposes.
For the last year or so I have been uploading class “podcasts” to our website and just posting them as audio files. Yesterday I chose to open a podOmatic account and sync it to the iTunes store. I am very excited for our parents to be able to subscribe and listen to samples of what we have been doing in class. The 5th graders also seem pretty excited about it – they are the only ones I’ve told so far. I’m concerned that there won’t be enough room in the free version.

Does anyone use podOmatic for the classroom? Free version/Pro version? How many podcasts are you able to upload monthly before you run out of room? Do you ever need to delete any? Thanks in advance for any help you can give!!!!

Using Wordle as a Senior Remembrance

As a music teacher, I have had a tough time trying to figure out where to incorporate Wordle into my classroom.  In the elementary class it would be great to import song lyrics in to decipher meanings.  In the high school level it could be used for the same, but I had a fun idea for this year’s Senior Class and I think they enjoyed it (although probably not as much as I enjoyed making them!).

Our final exams in the vocal music classroom are really more of a self-evaluation and reflection of the past year.  The final question is always “What have you personally gained, musically and non-musically, from being a part of a vocal music class this year?”  Students reply with wonderful essays and we ask that they sign a release at the bottom so their essays could be used for justification of how our program helps students – if it were to ever come to that.

Our final exams were created in a Google Doc (click to view the exam) form this year (much easier to grade AND administer this way!) and they were taken in the computer lab.  I dragged our electric piano into the lab and played intervals for ear training and they completed the rest of the exam when they were through with intervals.

What have you personally gained, musically and non-musically, from being a part of a vocal music class this year?

When the Seniors completed their exams, I took this final essay question answer from each individual student, copied it into the Wordle template and just let it randomly choose colors and formats for me.  I printed the document to a PDF file (using CutePDF – a free PDF writing download) and printed them on colored paper.  We presented the Wordle (an individualized one for each Senior) to them with their Paper Plate awards on the Seniors’ last day of school.  They really liked them and my co-director and I had fun using the Wordles to quickly assess the key attributes each student felt they took away from this class.

Poetry Slam!

For the last two years or so, one of our 4th grade teachers has worked with our students to create a Poetry Slam.  He works with them during recess and gets them prepared for two rounds: preliminary and finals (Top Ten).  Today was the third “somewhat annual” Poetry Slam at Ashley Elementary and the kids were fantastic.  Our Slam included 20 students from 4th and 5th grades.  You can listen to the preliminary round by clicking here.

Technology in the Music Education Classroom – Resource

In one of my previous posts I spoke about the ridiculous amount of podcasts I have been downloading lately.  One of them is a group of podcasts from presentations that Amy M. Burns has done at different MENC/TI:ME conventions.  In the presentation she gave on technology in the elementary classroom she introduced her book and a few lessons from it.

I purchased this book from SoundTree as soon as I could get my hands on it and all I can say is “WOW!”  It is an absolutely amazing resource.  There are dozens of plans (all in a wonderful lesson plan format) for all different technology skill levels and student grade levels.  I have created lesson plans for every grade level for the next year and cannot wait to use them.  They can be used from Pre-K through high school and many can be adapted for grades other than what they are specified for.

I highly suggest picking up a copy of this book.  If you order it from SoundTree it will be a discounted $16.95 rate, and right now they are offering free ground shipping if you order with a credit card and live in the Continental US.  It’s practically a steal for dozens of lessons your students will LOVE (and ones that won’t take a ton of time to plan for you!)

Camp PBWorks

So, like all educators (or at least most that I know) I have decided to take the summer for Professional Development.  I have enrolled myself in a few webinars and such, but the one I am most excited about is the PBWorks Summer Camp.

The “Camp” consists of 5 weeks of webinars which take place on Tuesday afternoons from 1-2pm (EST) and then some homework that will take approximately 3-4 hours throughout the week.  I’m pretty sure that is dependent on skill level (either that or I am doing it wrong!)

This afternoon was the first webinar and I did hit some trouble signing in.  Luckily, a Twitter colleague McTeach helped me out by sending me the audio code so I could at least call in.  I’ll have to figure out what the issue was before next week’s webinar.  The audio-only call made it a little difficult to follow, but from what I understood it was a little difficult to follow anyway.  They talk really fast!!!  I have completed the homework and am ready for week 2.

I am really into the Wiki idea because I think it’s great that the students can contribute.  I’m still a little fuzzy on the bonus to either a class Wiki or a class Blog.  Our district will be subscribing to Edublogs Campus edition next year, and I’ve already been using Edublogs for a year for both my elementary and high school groups.  The ISD blocks all Wikis and, although I put in a site request to have them unblocked, there is no guarantee that may happen.

Do you have this problem at your school/district and, if so, do you have any tips for me?  Also, do you see Wikis or Blogs to be more user-friendly for the students and useful in the classroom?