Thursday, September 12, 2013

Illumination Project

Where did this week go?  How did I get two blog posts done in one week?!  Count yourselves lucky!

I am currently teaching a class called "Beat Goes On".  This is a result of some curriculum changes that occurred several years ago.....lonnnnggggg story that just does not need any resurfacing.  At any rate, this class has gone through several curriculum and name changes over the past few years including: "Bebop, Do-Wop and Hip-Hop", "Musical Mosaic" and the current "Beat Goes On".  This class is basically a music history class starting in Medieval Times and we work our way to current music.  I like to put the "popular" music spin on the class with the idea that every thing that we were studying at the time was popular.  The music appealed to the masses.  We have had great conversations regarding our responsibilities as consumers when buying/listening to music in this class.  I really enjoy teaching this class and I think, for the most part, students enjoy it as well.

While this class is a trimester long class, it just does not seem like enough time to cover all that we want to cover.  I spend about two weeks, not nearly enough, teaching about Medieval and Renaissance Music. I also throw in a video that I found on the Discovery Education website.  This is a fabulous website that many schools have subscriptions to!  The final "project" for this unit is an Illumination project. I have some fine colleagues that came up with this idea and I spun it into a three level differentiated project.  Illuminations are the fancy lettering that you find in early texts-often found in religious materials and the earliest forms of written music.  Students receive this for their project:

Students choose one of the levels to complete.  As you can see, the levels become a bit more involved.  I would say that over half of the students (38 in this class) are doing Level 2.  I'm not sure that any are doing Level 3, which is fine....that's a big project for 20 points!  Many of the projects are REALLY good and I will post some pictures when they are completed.

You will notice the second and third levels utilize Google Translate.  What a cool tool!!  I told students they could use their phones to look up the lyrics.  For example:

There was lots of giggling as students tried to pronounce some of these words, but we had a good time with it.

This project is fun.  Students can express themselves through art and they are learning a bit about how early text was written.  Additionally, we are using technology to assist our learning and make our projects more in depth.  I believe this project could be easily replicated and adjusted for elementary and high school groups.  This particular class is 7th graders and a mix of students who are in performing music classes and students who are not in performing music classes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

S.M.A.R.T.E.R Band Goals

We are well underway into the school year!  Lots of great things have been going on in my classroom.  My 7th grade band is to die for!  65 students and perfectly balanced with a low brass section that is huge!  I have four tubas in my 6th grade bands (2 tubas per band) and the 8th graders are adapting well to our funky split class schedule-22 minutes, lunch, 22 minutes.  Not ideal, but we will manage.

I have started working on my first goal per my last post which is to implement e-folios.  I am using our district Google account and Google Drive to accomplish this.  I created a mailing list with my students' emails and sent them a "practice email" requesting them to respond to me to make sure they got the email.  Later this week, we will head up to the learning center (aka media center) and our learning center specialist will work with the students to make sure they understand how use Drive-downloading assignments, uploading assignments and making sure the students share with only me.

Google Drive is pretty slick.  I have created folders for each band, and within those folders subfolders for each students which will contain their online assignments that I will share with them, so it will be more organized than just a bunch of emails coming at me from my students.

The 7th and 8th graders have an assignment that they will complete and send me in the next week.  Typically I do this during class, but we will test this out to see how it works.  I am hoping that there won't be too many complications.

SMARTER goals are an extension of SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Actions, Realistic, Time frame, Enjoyable, Resources.  By no means am I taking credit for any of this!  I believe many schools are implementing SMART goals, but we wanted to add on to this.  Many students, and adults, find goal making to be tedious and often associated to something that is not enjoyable.  So, we decided to put a spin onto it so that students realize that goal setting is important and the process as well as the product can be enjoyable.

This is what my students will be completing, sharing with me and storing in their Google Drive folder.

So, we will see how this goes. I am hoping that this will be beneficial to the students, as well as myself.  A side benefit will be less paperwork and passing back.  Just a few clicks of the button and away we go!