Category Archives: M.Ed

Week 6: How to Play Jazz Piano (without chord roots!)

This week was all about rootless voicings on the piano.  I carried on with my work on ‘Misty’ from last week and tried a different style of comping.  I originally planned on introducing another song this week, but I found the rootless voicings to be challenging and require more time.  I tried figuring out the voicings in my head at the piano, but it was too much to think about. So I decided to break it down by going back to the theory basics and writing out each chord, determining the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 13th.  Then, I wrote out the chords transitions so that there would be nice voice leading and common tones between the chords.

A side note about voice leading: I studied a lot of Bach chorales in my first and second year of music school, with the goal of understanding proper voice leading. There are lots of “rules” with voice leading, but they help with problems like:

“smoothness, independence and integrity or melodic lines, tonal fusion (the preference for simultaneous notes to form a consonant unity), variety, motion (towards a goal)” – Open Music Theory

Open Music Theory is an open source textbook (open educational resource). Cool!

In short, good voice leading makes music sound pleasing to the human ear! I really like the end result of my progress this week:

What I worked on:

  • continued with “Misty” – added a separate recording of the bass line in the left hand so I could comp using rootless voicings
  • rootless chord voicings – figuring out which notes to play and using good voice leading

Wins:

  • Starting to incorporate good voice leading
  • Overlaying multiple videos in my vlog

Fails:

  • I had to write out the chords this week (instead of figuring out the chords in my head). Although not my original plan, it allowed me to really understand the theoretical sides of rootless chords and good voice leading.

Resources Used:

Next week I am going to begin my final piece as part of my learning project. I am looking forward to learning my favourite jazz standard, “Autumn Leaves”.

Let’s Talk About OEP

This week in EC&I 831, we were fortunate to have a guest presenter, Dr. Verena Roberts, speak to us about Open Educational Practice (OEP) and examples in a K-12 educational setting. Prior to this class, my knowledge and exposure to OEP was very limited, as well as my understanding of the concept in general.  I am going to explore:

  • what is open educational practice?
  • what are the pros/cons of OEP?
  • what should OEP look like in an elementary (primary grades) school context?

What is Open Educational Practice?

First, let’s consider Dr. Roberts’ very thorough definition:

Open educational practices (OEP) in K-12 learning contexts can describe an intentional design that expands learning opportunities for all learners from formal to informal learning environments. Individualized open readiness can be demonstrated contextually, as a result of  teachers and students co-designing for personally relevant learning pathways where learners can collaboratively and individually share their learning experiences, that encourages communication of meaning through multiliteracies, that blends curriculum and competencies and that promotes community and networked interactions with other learners and nodes of learning from multiple cultural perspectives in digital and analog contexts (Roberts, 2019).

In Dr. Roberts’ presentation, she highlighted a few key elements in her definition: intentional design; expands learning opportunities; and formal to informal learning environments.  Open educational practices focus on the process over product and the idea that learning happens everywhere.  Furthermore, she discussed the importance of collaborative opportunities to create meaningful learning experiences that are personally relevant.  Finally, learning takes place in a community of networked learners blending curriculum and competencies.

To try and wrap my head around OEP, I did some more research to understand the goal of OEP.  Luckily OER Commons provided a specific definition:

The goal of Open Educational Practice (OEP) is to build the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that support and improve teaching and learning. Using open educational resources (OER) presents unique affordances for educators, as the use of OER is an invitation to adapt, personalize, and add relevancy to materials that inspire and encourage deeper learning in the classroom and across institutions. –OER Commons

This definition highlights how OEP can support teaching (as well as learning) and allow educators to differentiate open educational resources (OER) for their diverse student needs.  The key factor here is that by adapting material, teachers are able to provide relevancy that will allow for quality learning experiences.

Although this is not a review of a specific Open Educational Resource, I found OER Commons to be very useful in my perusal of OEP.  In particular, there is the ‘OER Commons Virtual Academy’ with a series a modules to help “advance your open educational practice”. I recommend checking this area out if you are not sure where to start or are new to OEP.

oer commons

A few pros of OEP:

  • ability to adapt material for relevant learning experiences
  • collaborative learning opportunities
  • high engagement among students

These are only a few of the positives of OEP, but they resonated with me as the focus is put on the learning experience of the student.  This relates back to Dr. Roberts’ explaining a flipped learning environment – from formal learning to informal environments as a way to engage students and focus on the process rather than the product. Teachers are able to design learning opportunities with students using open educational resources.   BC Campus Open Ed states:

When you use open pedagogy in your classroom, you are inviting your students to be part of the teaching process, participating in the co-creation of knowledge.

The idea of co-creating knowledge with your students sounds fulfilling and dreamy. But also a little “pie in the sky”, which leads me to some potential drawbacks of OEP.

A few cons of OEP:

  • learning curve for teachers to understand how to use OEP with students
  • limitations in certain classroom settings (ex. primary students vs. high school students)

In a small group class discussion, we talked about how exciting and meaningful these kinds of learning experiences would be with our students, but that the thought of using an OEP was a little daunting.  It feels like it would be a lot of effort to get set up using OEP with our students, and as Loreli mentioned, teachers may not have adequate time to find good open educational resources.  Teachers need to be very invested and see the potential benefits in order to take the time to learn and implement OEP.  Furthermore, it appears to be difficult to find resources appropriate for primary students compared to the vast array available for middles year and higher students.

But, luckily Dr. Roberts introduced our class to her framework, Open Learning Design Interventions (OLDI) to facilitate this process.

What should OEP look like in an elementary (primary grades) school context?

 OLDI (Roberts, 2019) takes place in four stages:

  1. Building Relationships
  2. Co-Designing Learning Pathways
  3. Building & Sharing Knowledge
  4. Building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Using this framework, teachers can begin the process of incorporating OEP in their classroom.  Dr. Roberts also explains that younger learners (up to age 11) experience a “Teacher-Led Walled Garden of Open Exploration”.  This means the teacher helps provide different experiences for their students through inquiry-based learning opportunities. Some examples that could work for primary grades include: Skype in the Classroom, LiveArts Saskatchewan broadcasts and PenPal Schools.

Amanda tweeted asking her followers this question:

Including the image in her tweet helped show educators that they may already be using open educational practices without realizing it!  Amanda has some great ideas of how to use OEP in the primary classroom.

While this is by no means an exhaustive look at OEP, it is a start and will hopefully encourage you to learn more about how you can include open educational resources in your teaching practice.  We have to remember that our roles as educators are shifting to teaching students how to access, assess and apply knowledge by allowing creative learning opportunities. OEP is great direction to move towards if we want to continue to engage our students with personal, collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

 

Week 5: How to Play Jazz Piano (It’s “Comp” time!)

I think we have reached the halfway point in our learning projects! I feel like I am developing more independence in my jazz playing skills (for example, I can just sit down at the piano and experiment – get this – WITHOUT SHEET MUSIC!). Last week was all about reading a lead sheet and this week I focused on the art of comping. In a jazz group rhythm section, there is usually a bass player (responsible for the root of the chords), drums (rhythmic accompaniment) and piano/guitar to fill in the chord harmonies. Comping is essentially accompanying a soloist in an interesting way. Here is my progress with comping so far:

What I worked on:

  • Practicing the chords for “Misty” (focus on playing the root, 3rd and 7th notes)
  • Experimenting with different comping patterns for “Misty”. I learned about 3 different styles: walking bass, open voicings, rootless voicings. I chose open voicings this week.
Spread Voicings
Source: The Jazz Piano Site

Wins:

  • I felt like I was able to use my creative side and experiment with different comping rhythms and voicings. It was fun!

Fails:

  • Feeling hesitant with my chord voicing choices and concerned with playing the “wrong” notes. As soon as I relaxed, it felt a lot easier.

Resources used:

Next week I plan to continue experimenting with different comping styles (different rhythm patterns and rootless voicings) and try out a different jazz standard.  I think am ready to start jamming with other musicians – any takers?? 🙂

Week 4: How to Play Jazz Piano (‘Leading’ the Way)

This week I tackled how to read a lead sheet (or fake sheet) in jazz piano.  Basically a lead sheet has a melody line and chord symbols – the musician is expected to fill out the rest (using their understanding of the style of music and the type of accompaniment required). This is where my classical background and key knowledge was very helpful, since I already know how to read chord symbols and translate this to the piano.  But the challenge this week was to read a lead sheet like a real jazz musician – incorporate 3rds and 7ths in the voicings and always make sure the melody note is the played “on top” in the right hand. Hopefully my vlog this week explains my process with a jazz standard, “Misty”.

**Note – in a jazz group, there is a “rhythm section“. This usually includes piano (and guitar), drums and bass. The bass in responsible for playing the “root” of the chords, so the pianist usually omits the root of the chord when playing. Since I don’t have a rhythm section, I have included the root of the chords in my version!

What I worked on:

  • Analyzing and reading the lead sheet for the jazz standard, “Misty”
  • Used the 2-5-1 exercise and C Blues as a warm up

Wins:

  • I felt very invested in my learning project this week because I realized how much I enjoy the analytical side of music. Figuring out the chord voicings in my head was tough but rewarding!
  • Stayed on track with my practice plan this week. Short and frequent sessions as suggested by my classmates.
  • I learned how to do a video overlay in WeVideo (similar to what Amanda and Brooke did with their videos last week! Thanks for the idea!)

Fails:

  • None! It was a good week!

Resources used:

I hope you enjoyed watching what I mean by “classical fake jazz playing” and learning to read a lead sheet.  I am looking forward to pulling out my “Real Books” (massive collections of jazz standard lead sheets) and putting my new skills to work. Next week I would like to try another style of Blues (perhaps with a walking bass line) and start looking at comping patterns in the left hand.

Sharing is Caring: Let’s Discuss Open Education

In our EC&I 831 class this week, we began a discussion of open education and the culture of sharing. The term “open education” is something I have heard many times, but I have never taken the time to really understand the concept or what it means for educators and learners.

“The idea of free and open sharing in education is not new.  In fact, sharing is probably the most basic characteristic of education: education is sharing knowledge, insights and information with others, upon which new knowledge, skills, ideas and understanding can be built.” – via OpenEducationWeek.org

The quote above suggests that sharing in education has always taken place.  We share with our colleagues during breaks in the staff room, lending hard-copy books and resources, professional development sessions and more recently (in the last decade), through online platforms. My classmate Amy points to a great summary of open education through Tony Bates’ blog post, “What do we mean by ‘open’ in education?”.  Furthermore, Bates’ explains that “open learning must be scalable as well as flexible” because in an ideal world, “no-one should be denied access to an open educational program”.  This is the part that makes open education exciting to me as the opportunities to share and collaborate are endless.

Since the beginning of my career, I have searched Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers for inspiration or resources and I usually try to find something that I can manipulate for my own needs and students.  Turns out what I am really looking for are Open Educational Resources (OERs) that line up with the “5 R’s of Open Education” as described by David Wiley:

OER Infographic: Open Educational Resources can be used for free and without permission.
Image Source: Fort Hayes University OER

A unique aspect of OERs is that the creators “waive some (if not all) of the copyright associated with their works, typically via legal tools like Creative Commons licenses, so others can freely access, reuse, translate, and modify them” (“What are open educational resources”).  I think this is the part where I start to get a little overwhelmed and confused about what is considered fair dealing for educational purposes.

For example, in my division we have professional development groups called a “Community of Practice” (CofP), which are self-selected groups of educators with similar interests.  A couple of years ago I partnered with another colleague to create a CofP specifically for arts education teachers in French immersion schools.  We felt that there was a lack of resources for this particular area of arts education.  We developed a shared Google folder, Pinterest page, YouTube playlist, etc.  But, things started to get a little bit “icky” when people considered scanning in songs from hard copy books into our shared folder.

via GIPHY

Was this okay? Since we were using it for “educational purposes” and not sharing it beyond our group, did it fit into the fair dealing rules?  Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that because the original resource was not created as an OER, it still had traditional copyright rules.  If someone created a collection of French songs through OER Commons, then we would definitely be able to share the work using the 5 R’s of Open Education.

In my own practice, I have created unit and lesson plans for arts education and shared this folder with other teachers.  If the resource is an OER, I include it directly in the folder.  Otherwise, I simply include a resource list to make sure I am complying with copyright guidelines.  This folder was created for me as a place to store my resources, but I made it a shared folder because, why not! I think it is important that we share ideas among educators and stop reinventing the wheel.  Plus, sometimes I get other resources shared back in return!

via GIPHY

As a side note, for anyone who was in band or choir in elementary and high school, did you ever receive photocopies of music? Entire scores copied for hundreds of students? This definitely does not fall under the “short excerpt” fair dealing guideline.  A conversation about musical score availability online is a whole other world, but I will say that a simple Google search with “(title) pdf free” will pull up just about any piece of music you want. That is why I rely on websites like MusicNotes to make sure I am using authorized music either personally or with students. Other sites like Scribd also have musical scores, but often they look like scans of hard copy books.

As we begin to scratch the surface with the endless possibilities of open education, we should bring the focus to “Why Open Education Matters”.  I love this video from our class since it is short and sweet and highlights how open education helps remove barriers that prevent students from high quality education. Students and teachers can have access to updated resources online.

Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

 

Open education and a culture of sharing is important to me as an educator because meaningful experiences can take place through collaboration and community.  Why is open education important to you?

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

Week 3 – How to Play Jazz Piano (The struggle is REAL)

Wow. What. A. Week. I know distractions are a part of life, but this week was something else. First we had (multiple) Thanksgiving dinners, followed by a teething baby who wouldn’t nap then a stomach bug that knocked our household out flat for 3 days. My classmate Melinda talks about her challenges with learning piano, like getting her own keyboard to practice.  It just goes to show that everyone has different struggles and we are all working towards our own goals!

Unfortunately I didn’t complete all my goals for practice this week. But, I managed to squeeze in short daily practice sessions and learn at least one new skill.  My vlog recap will give you a snapshot into my practice attempts this week!

After getting bored with the basic blues scale practice (mostly the shuffle pattern in the left hand), I googled “blues shuffles pattern piano” and came across this video:

I was so happy to see that it was:

  1. less than 5 minutes long
  2. a simple lesson with an outline (and part of a series, so potential for further learning)
  3. included music notation (sheet music)

Yes, I know my goal was to stay away from sheet music and focus on learning by ear, but I couldn’t resist.  I realized that I am very much a visual learner, and I was feeling frustrated by trying to learn only by ear. But, trying to stay true to my goal, I decided to make a compromise.  I used the sheet music for a brief moment to initially understand the pattern and voicings in the right hand.

  • LH = play the root and 5th of the chord
  • RH = play the 3rd and root of the chord (in that voicing)

From there, I was able to use audio only to figure out the pattern in each hand and easily put the whole lesson together.  Overall, I really enjoyed this practice because it felt like I understood the pattern and form. I could easily learn this arrangement in another key, which helps explain why you can’t just rely on reading sheet music – you have to really understand what you are playing so you can transfer the skills to other keys.

What I worked on:

  • Reviewed C Blues scale with shuffle pattern in LH
  • Learned a C Blues scale lick with a new shuffle pattern in both RH and LH

Wins:

  • I learned something new (C Blues lick) despite the chaos this week
  • Starting to feel very comfortable with the Blues form and scale
  • Found a good YouTube channel that may be helpful for future Blues practice.

Fails:

  • Only accomplished one of my goals this week (Blues scale) and didn’t do a lot of work on the 2-5-1 progression

Resources used:

This week I plan to tackle the lead sheet and learn how to read it like a real jazz musician. I am also excited by the David Magyel YouTube channel, so I will try another lesson. After the half-way point in our learning project, it will be useful to evaluate our progress. Maybe it will mean changing our end goals? What are your plans to reflect on your learning so far?

A review of Anchor – “The best way to make a podcast”

This week in EC&1 831, we were tasked to find a tool or app that we haven’t used before that could be used to make learning visible.  After a few discussions in class and Twitter about podcasts, I am eager to look at the podcasting tool Anchor. I really liked how my classmate Jessica set up her review, so I will be borrowing her format. Thanks Jessica!

Why I chose Anchor:

First, a(n unnecessary) preamble:

I have been a lover of podcasts since 2012. I was obsessed with Season 1 of  “Serial”  and loved this new distraction tool during long drives, while doing laundry or going for a run.  I dabbled in serious and educational podcasts, thinking it was important to use the time to learn something new. Then on an all-inclusive vacation in 2013, my best friend introduced me to The Pretty Good Podcast – a daily nonsense podcast that was mostly fluff.  This mindless listening was so relaxing that now my preferred podcasts are comedy and pop culture.  I enjoyed connecting with the podcasters through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  I then moved into the world of Adam Carolla and eventually Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend.  This information is probably not important, but I think that a podcast listening list says a lot about a person.  (So I should probably say I like to listen to This American Life or Revisionist History to sound more interesting.)

I always wondered how I could use podcasts in the classroom.  As a personal project, my sister, niece and I decided to start a podcast two years ago. We created an opening theme song, branded logo for Twitter and Instagram, bought a domain and even recorded a few episodes using Audacity.  But we ran into trouble when we couldn’t figure out how to easily host and distribute our podcast, especially for free.  So we gave up.

SO, why Anchor? Because:

Anchor is an all-in-one platform where you can createdistribute, and monetize your podcast from any device, for free.

  • easy to use (and nice to look at!)
  • free
  • mobile and web options

Overview of the app:

After downloading from the App store on my iPhone, I created an account with my personal e-mail and was given a quick tour about podcasting with Anchor:

Untitled presentation (1)

Untitled presentation (2)

 

 

**Login options require an email, Google, Facebook or Twitter login. In my division we would use our Google (G Suite) logins, but I’m not sure how this would work with other divisions.

 

 

The app is very intuitive and user friendly and does not require a lot of explanation – it has a “start and go” layout.  After playing around with it for about 20 minutes, I was able to record a few sections, add some musical interludes, “drops” or sound effects and transitions.  There is an option to add music if you link an Apple Music or Spotify account, but the music is only available if you listen to the podcast within the Anchor app.

The audio editing function is very straightforward and allows you to split tracks and trim the beginning and ending of each clip.  There are not a lot of audio editing options (compared to a program like Audacity – no fading, adjusting speed, pitch, etc), but the simplicity would be perfect for students.  You can also import existing audio (like from a Voice Memo, or a pre-recorded theme song) easily through the mobile app or web page.

Review:

Pros:

  • simple, easy-to-use interface
  • basic editing functions that would suit the needs of students
  • Mobile and web platforms are similar (ex. mobile app has all the same functions as web)
  • Record many clips over a long period of time before putting together an episode
  • Easy podcast distribution (and options to monetize) – step-by-step prompts that are quick to follow

Cons:

  • The ‘Discover’ option on the app allows you to explore different podcasts. This might be hard to monitor with students to make sure the use is appropriate
  • basic (limited) audio editing functions
  • everyone involved in the recording need to be in the same location (unless you use Skype or another type of audio conference, which would compromise quality). There is a ‘Record with Friends’ option, but it is only available on the mobile app.

RWF_session.png

Overall, Anchor is appealing because of it’s clean and simple interface.  There are easy functions (but limited options) with editing that would make it ideal for use in a classroom setting.  Also, once you set up an account, you can access your work from the mobile app or on a computer via the web page. The hosting, distribution and monetization options are great, but probably not necessary for working with students.

Using the tool personally:

Since creating a podcast with my sister and niece as a little “passion-project” a couple years ago, we might revisit our work and try uploading the existing audio files to Anchor and distribute our podcast. One of the requirements for distribution is that you have a podcast name and cover art, which we already have…so maybe we will try it out!

Using the tool in instruction situations:

I think there are lots of cross-curricular options with podcasting.  As an arts education teacher, maybe my focus would be more on the overall design of the podcast (cover art, theme song, use of sound effects and musical interludes). You could use podcasts in every subject, maybe with inquiry projects, interviews, book reviews… the list goes on.  The simplicity of Anchor means the focus stays on content rather than trying to figure out how to use the app.

Using the tool to document learning and growth:

Podcasts can be used as e-portfolios for students and allow for opportunities to document personal reflections.  Since you can record many clips over an extended period before putting together an ‘episode’, it allows students to keep a running documentation of their learning or projects.

Overall, I am very impressed with Anchor. It is easy to use with a simple interface, basic set up and functions.  I am excited to use it personally so I have a very strong understanding of the functions before rolling it out with students.

Does anyone have experience using Anchor with students? Did you require any division approval before using the app?

Week 2 – How to Play Jazz Piano

Last week I made my vlogging debut with the beginning of my jazz piano journey.  After two weeks of tracking my progress through video, I have learned a few things.  First, I need to adjust how and what I record to make the vlog more interesting.  In particular, I want to make sure I include some of the “work-in-progress” videos instead of focusing on getting a perfect “take”. I really love what my classmate Amanda is doing to make her vlogs enjoyable to watch. Second, I purchased a phone tripod to make the filming a little more professional and maybe eliminate bad angles.  Luckily a few of my classmates had a similar idea, so I found some good tripod recommendations on Twitter.

Here is my week 2 recap:

What I worked on:

  • Practiced the 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) progression in all 12 major keys (and added in a drum backing track to make it interesting).
  • Reviewed the C Blues scale (in the RH) and tried playing it with a Blues shuffle pattern in the LH.

Wins:

  • Still no sheet music! Focused on playing by ear.
  • Being able to play the C Blues scale easily from muscle memory.  I must have learned the scale at some point over the years and I remembered exactly what to do.
  • Squeezed in lots of short practice sessions (5 minutes or so), which is about all I can manage with an almost one-year-old roaming around.

Fails:

  • I had a lot of difficulty with the Blues shuffle pattern in the LH. I need to spend some slow practice time on this skill.
  • Difficulty choosing which resource to use next.  There are so many on YouTube, so it’s a challenge sorting through the videos. My classmate Daina is exploring Udemy.com, so I might look into that as an option.

Resources used:

Basic Music Theory: C Blues Scale

Week 2 is complete! This week I plan to continue working on the 2-5-1 progression (and see if there are any other useful videos for practice), playing the C Blues scale in the RH and Blues shuffle pattern in the LH and maybe start looking at jazz lead (fake) sheets.

How to Play Jazz Piano – Week 1 (Jazz musicians are really smart!)

Week 1 of my learning project journey is in the books! My biggest takeaway from the week is that this is going to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated.  Playing jazz compared to classical music requires a shift in how you think and process music.  Instead of relying on sheet music, I am focusing on using my ears to listen to the chords and my brain to figure out what I am playing.  From a theoretical standpoint, I find jazz music fascinating as you experiment with different chords and voicings.  But I also find it frustrating because I am so used to playing exactly what is written on a sheet of music.  In some ways, I compare it to learning a new language, where you are translating the words in your head before speaking.  This week I am “translating” the chords and creating a visual image in my mind before I play the notes on the piano.  Sometimes I rely on the feel of the keys and my hand position, but then my technical brain takes over as I want to know exactly what I am playing.  I anticipate this will be a continued struggle as I progress through my journey.

After my initial blog post about the learning project, I received some great feedback about where to look for resources online.  Similar to my classmate Brooke, I put a call-out on social media asking for advice of where to start. I received lots of useful information and of course some funny but unhelpful advice.

Untitled presentation
(The first video suggestion falls into the “unhelpful” category”)

To document my learning journey, I pondered with the idea of vlogging like my classmate Amanda. Like Amanda, I am completely new to vlogging, but we had a great discussion in class on Tuesday night about ways to document our journey in interesting ways. Here is my first attempt!

What I worked on:

  • Demonstrated what I already know (basic form of the 12 bar blues)
  • Practiced play 2-5-1 (ii-V-I) chord progressions using 3rds and 7ths voicings

Wins

  • I figured out the progression fairly quickly and immediately fell in love with the “jazzy” sound
  • I didn’t resort to using sheet music! This is a big one for me. I practiced strictly by ear.

Fails

  • A realization that playing jazz is a lot more difficult and mentally involved than I thought

Resources used:

Aimee Nolte’s YouTube channel is supposed to be great according to recommendations from my jazz friends. My only complaint is there is a lot of talking before you get to the main practice.

That’s a wrap on week 1! For the next week I will continue my 2-5-1 practice in all keys and maybe starting working on a more sophisticated 12 Bar Blues.

“we participate, therefore we are”

In my relatively short teaching career (six years and counting), I have noticed significant changes in access to technology in the classroom.  For the most part, the access has improved with more devices allocated to each school as well as better programs and apps to use with students.  For example, during my internship, I still used an overhead projector and the occasional YouTube video (if I was able to book the data projector to use in class), to my current set up with Epson Interactive Projectors and integrated audio and visual technology in each classroom.

An even better example of improved technology for music teachers is a program called “MusicPlay”.  It is a Kindergarten to Grade 6 music program with hard copy binders and CDs, available in almost every Regina Public school.  Recently, the company released “MusicPlayOnline“, which allows access to the entire library of music and activities, as well as interactive games and exercises.  This program is an awesome example of innovation in the music classroom and has changed how I teach students.  It is also extremely helpful to deliver engaging lessons when overcrowding means no separate music classrooms and teaching from a cart or teaching in multiple schools.

In the Pavan Arora TEDx video, “Knowledge is obsolete, so now what?”, he explains that,

  1. Knowledge is changing faster than ever before
  2. Knowledge is growing (currently doubling every 1-2 years)
  3. Access is improving (smartphones and Internet- anywhere, anytime)

So the question we must ask ourselves as educators is, what do we teach? If the information we have to offer now will become obsolete in a few years, why even bother?  Instead, Arora gave a great suggestion of what to teach:

“We teach creativity”

He explains that teaching creativity will helps students understand how to access, assess and apply knowledge.  If we give students the information, they will figure out how to use it.  With these ideas in mind, we can begin to understand the importance of student centered, differentiated and inquiry-based learning.

I think it is also fair to highlight the need for arts education is schools.  We need to figure out ways to foster and build creativity which can be achieved through thoughtful arts integration in schools.  I also think collaborative projects and cross-curricular learning give students different ways to apply knowledge rather than only focusing on learning specific facts.  One of my dream teaching jobs would be to teach in a school that uses arts integration among all subjects.  Not only has this been studied to improve behaviour issues in school, but I think it teaches students to learn in ways that will be useful in the next generation.  The video below gives an example of how arts integration allows for deeper learning in schools. I was exposed to this video in my first year of education studies at the University of Regina, and I thought it was revolutionary at the time.  Seven years later, I think more and more teachers are using the arts to change the way students access information.

Returning the focus to social media and our course content, I think there are a few different steps educators can take to bring social networks into the classroom.

  1. Seek out approved networks by school division
  2. Review privacy guidelines and policies of these networks
  3. Educate students on safety and privacy online
  4. Use the networks as a new approach to learning

Using approved network by your school division is a good first step to help balance the need to educate children with the latest technology and stay safe online.  In my school division, you should technically only be using programs, networks and apps that have been approved by the division.  So in short, use tools that are on the approved list!  For example, SeeSaw – a network and e-portfolio to share student work with families.  Regina Public worked with this company to make sure the privacy policy suited the requirements of our division.  If there is an app or tool that you would like to use that is not on the list, send a request and the department will look into it.  In some ways, this is taking the pressure of the teacher to know what is safe online – instead get the people in a focused department to look after it! An excerpt from the Regina Public educational technology site:

Regina Public Schools strives to provide student and teacher access to quality teaching and learning tools that meet privacy and licensing requirements. Baseline apps, services, and software listed below are provided or supported by the division.
Staff interested in accessing apps, services, and software not listed as baseline, can send their request to support@rbe.sk.ca

As a good practice, I think it is still important to review privacy guidelines, terms of agreement and policies of any network you are using with students.  You may also be interested in learning about apps or networks you use at home, maybe with your own children.  StaySafeOnline has many resources, including a guide to student data privacy online.  I liked how the article gave examples of different questions to ask regarding privacy:

Examples of questions you can use to get both the conversations going include:
Does the app or software require account registration? If yes, is any personal information required? What permissions does the app need to function?
Does it need access to one’s email, contacts or location details?
Do the app developers share personal details with other parties? If so, to what extent?

I think it is probably a good idea to always be a little skeptical before you scroll quickly through service terms and click “I agree”.  This needs to be part of our teaching to students so we can be aware of how our data is shared online.

One of the NCTE literacies states that as active and successful participants in the 21st century, you must be able to “develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology”.  This goes along with my third idea that we should teach our students to understand privacy and safety online as part of using these tools.  Common Sense Education is an excellent resource with lesson plans, videos and infographics about how to protect students’ data and privacy online.  I think that privacy and safety should always been intertwined and constantly revisited in any conversation involving technology.  Safe access will continue to evolve as new networks and apps are created, so it is imperative to not become complacent with our understanding of privacy online.

Finally social networking is changing how we approach teaching and learning knowledge.  In the Brown and Adler article, “Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail; and Learning 2.0”, they explain that with the development of “Web 2.0”, our attention has shifted from access to information to access to other people.  This new “participatory medium” is ideal for many different kinds of learning.  With Web 2.0 comes Learning 2.0 – “passion-based learning, motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something”.  Instead of the traditional “supply-push” mode of learning to build up an inventory of knowledge, Brown and Adler explain that there is a “demand-pull” approach to learning.  This “demand-pull” is based on students having access to rich learning communities that emphasizes participation.

The article explains the old Cartesian idea of “I think, therefore I am” with the new social view of learning as “we participate, therefore we are”.  This social view is a reflection of shifting teaching practices in a rapidly changing world.  As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware of these changes and find ways to balance how we share knowledge while being mindful of student safety and privacy.

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“ilearn2”by Annitix1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

I think it is important that we continue to teach creative ways of learning and how to apply knowledge.  What are some ways you can include this in your classroom today?  For me, it’s through arts integration and using social learning apps (from my approved division list, of course).  I am also very intrigued about incorporating Learning 2.0 ideas, like passion-based learning with my students.  Finally, I want to make a personal commitment to review the privacy policies of all the social networking apps that I use so I have a better understanding of sharing data online and what it actually means. What changes will you make to how you share student data online?

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready