Bitmoji Field Trips

I will admit, I have fallen down a deep rabbit hole with these Bitmoji Classrooms. I have made general classrooms, ones for centers, etc. It is just way to much fun! One recent mini project has been little virtual field trips built as a Bitmoji classroom. Taking a few activities, videos, and virtual tours that best represent that area of the globe and allow students to explore. Something fun for students to explore and learn about a place outside of their community. You could include songs, movement games, videos, all kinds of resources. I’ve made two examples in Google Slides below!

Interested in more? Let me know what part of the world you want your students to visit next!

In times like these..we need to make a list.

As I sit watching the morning news over coffee, listening to the unsettling stories about administrators, teachers, parents and students fighting with the best way to reopen education. My heart breaks just a little with every new case, with every new fight, with every panicked teacher and staff who have to go through this. Education is not some place where people should be worried about life or death situations. It is a place for community, friendship, positivity, growth, and most important, learning. While I cannot sit here and tell you which way to start the school year is best. I can tell you, this is the time for hope, for creativity, and for preparedness. This is the year for teachers and administrators to make sure they are prepared for any situation that is going to be thrown their way. 

  • Administrators and school officials should be pretty much creating a new handbook just for this year, all the what if’s should be answered just in case.
  •  Parents should be ready for more lockdowns or online learning. What is your backup plan if you need to go to work?
  • Teachers, take a breath and remember you have a huge support community ready to help you. Right now, it’s time to make a list of everything you need to do and start checking it off. I got one started for you.

Checklist for the beginning of the school year.

  1. What are your district guidelines?
  • Sanitizing standards? What will you need to do and what cleaning supplies will you be provided?
  • School learning environment, will it be in person full time? Hybrid learning? Fully online? Find out the plan.
  • In person environment standards, if you are going back in person what will the district except? How far apart will the desks be? Will there be mask requirements?(will you be provided a mask or shield?) Can students share certain materials?
  • Technology standards, this is especially if you are hybrid or distance teaching. What lesson delivery platform will your district be using? How will students log in? What are requirements for lessons?

   2. Lesson Preperation

  • What lessons or units are a no go completely in your curriculum? What do you need to set aside and not do this year in order to follow safety guidelines?
  • What lessons need a creative solution? Can you adjust some lessons to fit guidelines and still make it a safe and fun experience?
  • What lessons are all good and you can still use?
  • What new lessons can you replace the ones who are a no go with for this year?
  • Do you have at least a 6 week plan for remote learning if a lockdown happens again?
  • With times like these, how are you going to implement more social and emotional learning into your lessons to help students (and yourself)cope with these times?

   3. Materials

  • How are you going to sanitize your materials?
  • What instruments can you use? Which ones can you not use due to cleaning restrictions?
  • What materials do you need to get more of in order to follow district guidelines?
  • What do you need to make? Do you need to make kits for each student?

   4. Communications 

  • If you have families opting out of in person instruction, how will you communicate with them? What work will you be providing home?
  • For communication to parents and families who are opting for inoerson instruction. How will you communicate quickly if there is an issue at school?
  • Do you have prepared communications for transitioning again to remote learning if needed?
  • How about how you will communicate with families who are not in person but have little technology at home to communicate with?

This is just a start to help, we always know there is more to think about. Just remember, this is never a time to give up. It’s a time to take a breath, realize this is just another obstacle in your way that you will learn how to jump over, and remember that you are a strong and creative person who is ready for anything. Always know, that we are here to help.


I wrote a book!

That’s right, you heard that. After years of long nights, lots of coffee, and everything else that comes with a book. It is finally done and is here. I am so excited to be able to finally hold it and share it with the world!

Available Today!

Interactive Visual Ideas for the Musical Classroom Activities; Tips for Music Teachers. Is the 6th book in the Essential Music Technology: The Pretissimo Series. This book covers basic tricks and advice on how to use and take care of your projections systems in your classroom as well as activities and projects you can do right now and also provides a long list of recommended resources to use with your device.

What makes this publication stand out from the rest is that it lays out how to use your devices simply and easily in your classroom. You can take an activity or a resource, and start doing it right away.

This book just got published TODAY! You can get it from OUP directly here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/interactive-visual-ideas-for-musical-classroom-activities-9780190929862?cc=us&lang=en&

What Happens Next Year?

As one of the most unique and eye opening ends to a school year is coming to a close and as we head into summer there is a big question on everyone’s minds, what is going to happen come the start of the new school year? How will classes look? Will there even be classes? There is so much up in the air.

One thing you can do is to make sure you are prepared for whatever the new year will look like. Make sure you have something in the back pocket for what ever will be thrown at you. Start with what you could learn, and then what you can make to fill your toolbox to prepare you and your students for whatever comes your way. Everyone is going to be different. Prepare for all situations. I literally specialized in online learning for my masters and could not tell you the right or wrong way to do this.

So let’s break it down into a few suggestions on where to get started.

What are some things you could learn? What could you immerse yourself in to learn more about to prepare for the next year?

Google Classroom – A widely used platform that your district might already have set up! Ask your IT, they might be able to add you right away. If they don’t have Google, they might have the Microsoft equivalent. Then start exploring, start playing, and look for tutorials on YouTube to get set up.

SeeSaw – Another content delivery platform as well as portfolio tool being used by many during this unique time in education. I have seem some creative educators start building choice board in SeeSaw to share with their students.

FlipGrid – A great platform to get your students to video themselves answering questions and recording their thoughts. A great way to capture thinking and you can see their smiling faces!

Zoom and Zoom webinars – Seriously, if you don’t know how to use Zoom, you need to and get administrative approval to do at least a couple of live sessions with your students if you still are apart this fall. Webinars in Zoom is also useful if you wanted to do a webinar style lecture to record for students to watch later!

YouTube Creator Studio – If you can, start learning how to use YouTube, make videos of yourself teaching, put it in an unlisted playlist, and then you have your instruction all ready for the new year. Having videos will help those students who have technology troubles as you can provide them a link and they can replay it on any device.

Just Take a Deep Breath

In this time of uncertainty and new everyday normals. Everyone is looking at education in news ways. What we call distance learning has brought out new creative measures for educators who would normally shy away from new innovations out of pure survival to last during this unique mark in our history. What comes with our new normal teaching day brings positive aspects of seeing children succeed at home in front of their families eyes, and still being able to connect with them through different technological means. It also brings a lot of downs as well, not being able to see your class in person, not being able to play together, learn together, and grow together under the same roof, having to change your instruction to a point where it looks nothing like how it was when you are in the classroom.

The world is different right now and we are all under a lot of stress but you need to remind yourself to breath and let the high expectations you have fade. This is not the time to continue on with normal, this is a time in our history where students need to know comfort and have options to keep their mind off the daily fears they might be facing. With each new day comes more challenges and this is a time to not weigh people down, it is a time to lift them up/.

I have seen all over the web frustrations from teachers and students over unfinished work, technology woes, and exceptionally high expectations. Most trying too much at once while others just barely make it through. If I had one piece of advice, it would be..you ready for it?…It would be to take the deepest breath you can, clear your mind of all of those fears, and high expectations. This isn’t a time for normal, it is a time of positive thoughts, all the smiles you can muster, and ways to get your students no matter what walks of life they come from making music, together, with their families.

I love to see videos teachers are making encouraging students to sing  songs together or showing off their best dance moves. The websites and apps they are encouraging their more technology savvy students to do and their challenges and projects given to students  who might not have the most access to technology. Some teachers are zooming with their classes or joining in regular classroom teacher’s zooms to sing a song with the class. I especially love Cherie Herring’s choice boards she is posting in the SeeSaw Teacher’s Facebook group, the teacher friends in my feeds using TikTok to grab their student’s attention, and even just sharing a book with them over a quick Facebook or YouTube Live makes all the difference in a child’s day.

Don’t try to overexert yourself in a time like this. You are doing your best by sending your students a bright spot in their day or even just week. Music is what brings us together, it brings kindness, positivity, and a warm heart. Especially with what is going on in the world, it is not a time to panic, it is not a time to be frustrated. Take this time to use the bent up creativity you have and do something good for your students and for yourself. We all need a little bit of that right now.

cute little girl holding purple color pen

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

E-learning – Things students can do at home.

It’s been heck of a couple of weeks hasn’t it? I hope everyone is staying home and is healthy. I know if seems like this is never going to end, but just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel to all of this and we will all come out stronger in the long run. 

Some ideas are below to help those music educators out there who are digging for more things to give their students during this time of online learning. Just remember, this is a great time to incorporate more discovery and project based learning into your curriculum. Let the students do the exploring as you do what you can to guide them along the way. You are all doing the best you can do. As long as you are still connecting with your students and keeping them excited to learn about music, you’ve done your job.

Virtual Field Trips, This is a great way to get students discovering what is out there in the world through virtual museum tours like the ones found on this list, Museum Tours. You could also look into an app like Google Expeditions to allow students to continue to explore the world from the comfort of their own homes.

Project Based Learning, If you have ever wanted to table into PBL this is the best time! Create a fun project that allows students to show off their musical knowledge and they can take their time with it and have fun.

  • You could have students research assigned composers, musical periods, or genres. Give them creative liberty on how to present their work. From a normal paper, to a video, to a live video demonstration. Have them show you their best work their way.
  • Craft projects are another great option. To have them build something in the comfort of their own home and with the time that they have now, they can dive deeper in and maybe enjoy a project to do with their family. Have them build dioramas of famous concert venues, instruments, even paint a picture of a famous composer.

Outside time, Give them challenges that will take them outside. Have them find outside sounds maybe using Samplebot to capture the noises and compose a piece. You could also challenge students to perform outside, a perfect way to bring some positivity to their neighbors!

Show off their talents, Living room talent show! Have students video themselves performing, then put it into a reel for all the students to see their friends.

Facebook or YouTube Lives, You as the teacher can do Facebook or YouTube lives to connect with your students. Do a lesson like normal but just to the camera. Students will be able to log on and see. Get creative and make it interesting!

 

woman in pink long sleeve shirt holding silver laptop computer

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

E Learning in Music Class – For my Quaver Peeps

With the scare of schools closing, whether it be because of sickness or inclement weather (yay for endless snow days!) , there is always talk about what to do when E-learning becomes necessary. With music class being a 90 percent performance and collaborative based environment, how can you translate this to being online? Today, this one is for you Quaver users, let’s go down the list of things you can do if you gotta go E-learning. 

There are a lot of options in here that do require having student accounts. There are several ways to create these. I highly recommend sending an email to the customer service gurus to get the directions on how to. 

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Assignments in RM

The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, the new tool in the Resource Manager that allows you to assign a full lesson to students or create a lesson from scratch. Both of these tools equally effective.

When assigning lessons straight out to students, you need to do the following:

  • Head into the Resource Manager and search for the lessons you want to assign to your students in the search bar.
  • Once you find the ones you are looking for, drag those lessons from the results into one of the folders on the right-hand side. Now you’ve made a copy of them. This is the time that you could customize the lesson if you want, or go straight to assigning it.
  • To make it into an assignment, select the lesson you would like and then click the Menu button up top and select “Create Assignment From.” This will make a lesson that you can assign to your students.
  • Once you have created this in the Resource Manager, you can then head into your Teacher Admin Panel and assign it for the students to be able to access.

Some lessons are not the best to assign right out because they are meant for whole group instruction, while others will do just fine. Look for the following criteria:

  • Activities that have clear directions for students and/or family to be able to read. You want to make sure they know the purpose of each screen.
  • Lots of interactivity that they can do. 
  • Some screen that allows you to measure the success of the lesson, whether it be an assessment or interactive that they can use to demonstrate their new knowledge or skills.

The other thing that you can do in the Resource Manager is to create an assignment from scratch. This is almost exactly like customizing a lesson. To get started, all you have to do is to:

  • Head into the Resource Manager and select the folder you would like the assignment to go into by clicking it once. 
  • Then click Menu and New Assignment Template.
  • This will create a new assignment. Please go into the folder you created the assignment template and find it in there. 
  • Once you find it, click it once and then click edit. 
  • Now you can search for Quaver things to drag and drop into the assignment or click menu to create a new screen such as the Teacher Recording Screen, which allows you to create short videos with instructions for the students!

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This tool is, in my opinion, handy because you can not only use it to design some E-Learning for your students, but you can also use it to put ClassPlay songs together for your students to practice for concerts or even create lessons for projects you are doing in class. 

Project-Based Learning

YES, your students can do projects even outside of class. Even though a lot of the projects in Quaver are performance-based, you can have students record themselves using their devices using the Student Recording Screen for you to be able to see their creations, or they can send you the components of everything they did for you to see. 

*Tip- If you want to use student recordings in a different medium or share with others, I recommend having students also sending you a copy via dropbox, Google Drive, or email to make it easier for you. 

Some of my favorite projects that students could also do at home with some modifications:

  • 4th-grade Rap Project
  • 5th-grade Commercial Project.
  • 6th grade Scoring for Animation.
  • 7th grade Music, Media, and Technology.
  • 8th grade Musical Styles.

Student Interactives

This area is great to be able to send students to if you want to have musical options open for them to access. Students can either access them from the Student Tab in their account or by clicking the Student Interactives button on the QuaverMusic.com main page and typing in a Class Code that YOU create in your Teacher Admin account and can pass along to students who do not have student accounts. 

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Some highlights in here are:

  • The recorder scores perfect for students to practice. If you wanted to do a recorder unit away from school time, I would recommend doing the lessons first and leave these for more practice time. 
  • The Note and Rest Grab and Staff Champion games in the Music Theory area are GREAT. 
  • Instrument Crane in Instruments and Knowledge!
  • Rhythm Selectah in Music Creation!
  • Orff Library in the Playing Music Section!

Beyond lessons, you could have a small library of activities like these for them to do if they feel like spending more time creating and learning about music. 

Creatives

This is where students can go to create and compose. Whether it be the creative lites or the regular creatives, they have lots of options when it comes to making music. Give them guidelines or let their imaginations run free and give them opportunities to share. A lot of these are also integrated into projects and lessons. 

Low-Tech Options

We have to think about equitable access when it comes to situations like these. There are some cases where you know every student in your school has access to the internet and a device. However, in most cases, there are still large populations of students who do not have access at home to a device or internet, so having options they can do without access to either is necessary. 

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There are a lot of printable resources throughout the curriculum which allows you to send home a packet for students to do or have links available through email for maybe someone to go to the library to download and print out. A great place to start if you do not know what you are looking for exactly is the Essentials. Each one of the Quaver Classrooms has a worksheet area with lots of creative options for you to download and have your students do. I like the extra credit and craft ones because students can get hands-on with the activity and take their time creating a great product. 

*Tip- Classrooms 11 and 12 have some wonderful worksheets that focus on writing rhythms and melodies. Perfect for getting students started. *

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Are you a Quaver teacher needing some help to get E-learning going for your students? Send me an email Catie@QuaverEd.com and let’s plan it out. 

Taking a Trip in VR

Ok, I’ll admit it, I have gotten REALLY into Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) lately. It is such a fresh innovation that has not made it into all classrooms yet because of its inaccessibility now though more tools are coming on the market, making it more accessible for more to be able to incorporate VR into the classroom. With resources from VR creation tools to apps that have the tools already built and are ready for you to use right on the spot. Everyone can add something special to the activities you do every day in your classroom. 

Some of the top VR/AR tools I have been playing with so far:

MetaverseApp Store Download Google Play Download An AR experience creator that allows teachers and students to create games, word hunts, and even quizzes inside of the app to use in class.

Merge CubeMore details My newly dubbed “Stress toy” in sessions due to its squishy awesomeness but also a high powered AR target! There are several apps out there that are already built for the cube that you can use right away. Just make sure to search “Merge Cube” in the app store to see what offerings are there. You can also use CoSpacesEDU to create your own Merge Cube experiences.

CoSpacesEDULearn more here. You can get an account for free, but there are also premium plans with more tools unlocked. I have fallen in love with this VR creator. It is easiest to use and has a simple UI that makes it easy to learn for anyone who is interested in creating VR and AR experiences.

Google’s VR Creator Check out a tour I created for Carnegie Hall  This is an easy to use VR creator that allows the user to search for real places using Google Earth and create different scenes at different locations. I made one for Carnegie Hall but also Beethoven’s houses in Bonn Germany and Vienna Austria as well as a few other fun ones.

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Now you’re asking what can I do with these tools? How about,

1.) Have students research a specific musical period or composer and build their presentation in a slide presentation app before putting them on the Merge Cube using CoSpacesEDU for optimal interactivity presentations.

2.) Create a VR tour of a famous music venue for students to be able to explore. If you are talking about the Sydney Opera House or Carnegie Hall, why not show students the real-life building.

3.) Have students use the Metaverse app to create word hunts for their classmates to experience. You can base it around musical genres, basic music theory, or even current songs they listen to.

 

What questions do you have about AR/VR in the music classroom? 

Centers Round Up

Wow, another post? I must be on a roll, or was just snowed in up in the great white north for a few days, you may never know. 

Centers, one of my favorite things. I loved being able to create tasks that students were able to take the lead on as I sat back and watched them work and guided them along their journey. Some students would jump right in to the task while others needed a little extra hand holding. This was ok though and gave me not only insight to the student’s level of ability but also allowed me to do some observational assessment as well.

Since I was a music teacher, doing centers in my room was a little tougher to schedule but I was able to get creative with it. There are two types of centers that are useful and can be done in the music classroom. The first are permanent centers, ones where they are always in a space in your classroom and can be used by students during certain periods of the class or day. These are the perfect type of center for students who need a little extra challenge or for some who need a little extra practice.

The second type of center are ones that are just temporary and are used as the instruction rather than a permanent center. There were times that I would schedule centers for grades 3-5 and would do them for the entire week. I saw each class at least 1-2 times a week and saw all my grade 3-5 classes in the morning so I could have centers set up all morning at different ability levels, have students come in and sit, explain the schedule for the period and directions, and then set them free. If I saw the class twice that week I would just let them come in and go since they already knew the directions.

I’ve already written a lot about centers on this blog, here are a couple of the good ones!

One of my most popular posts about a centers kit for your classroom!

Outdoor Music Class Kit

Quick and Easy Center Ideas

Some center ideas to start your day!

Some out of the box ideas for center time.

Spooky Centers

Ready for Music in the Schools Month?

 

What kind of centers have you done? What could you try out in the new year?

Robot Coding Maps for the Music Room

Hey, remember me? The one behind the screen who has been busy up to my eyeballs as of late (news on what I’ve been up to coming soon!) In the meantime while you wait with bated breath for what is coming next (yes, wait on the edge of your seat, you know you want to!) I come to you with another idea, another tiny spark of creativity that flutters back into my brain. I hope over the next coming months there will be more flutters and sparks again like there used to be. These dumps of the mind are therapeutic to me even on a rough day, I can sit here and type, figuring out the best words to make you sit here and read interested in what is coming next, what do I have to share?

The theme of the day is “Robots”, my current favorite vocabulary word, it just flows right off the tough “Rooooo..bots.” One of the many things in the current realm of educational technology that is categorized under accessible innovations. They have taken the EdTech world by storm and keep finding stronger connections to student learning experiences. I follow a bunch of educational robot toy companies from WonderWorkshop to Sphero and am always in awe of what I see students and teachers doing with them in the classroom. From navigating through mazes to drawing a masterpiece using the bots. The possibilities are becoming endless and crucial for students to experience. In the coming years, coding is going to become a mandatory 21st century skill required for students to have proficiency in to acquire a job when school is over. Coding is like composing and creating music. If you can bring in your new robot friends to the classroom the right way, the experience will be so memorable.

Here is just one idea of many, robot maps are not a new idea but you have a hard time finding any music themed ones. So I’ve made a couple below to go alone with the activity.  These are photos you can download and get printed onto larger paper or a material like vinyl or recreate the idea on the floor with masking tape or take a piece of butcher block paper and redraw it on there to place on the floor.

Activity

Objective: To compose a piece of music using the notes and rests the programmed robot moves over on the mat.

Essential Question: How is coding the robot to move like composing a piece of music?

Materials needed:

Before Class Prep:

  • Acquire a couple of programmable robots. Sometimes your technology coach or media specialist might already have a small army of them that you can borrow. It does not need to be one to one robot but having a couple would make it easier.
  • Make sure that you have individual devices for students or small groups and they have the necessary programs on there to work with the robots.
  • If you would like students to compose on the devices, make sure the composition program you want them to use is on there.
  • Create or get the map printed to use. I recommend having a couple maps available! Lay one out on the floor for the start of class.

Pre-Existing Knowledge Requirement: Basic knowledge of meter, notes and rests, and basic composition skills.

Procedure:

  • Have students come in and get ready for the lesson. Have the Essential Question on the board for them to start thinking about.
  • Give directions for class.
    • Each student or small group will take a look at the floor map and will each program the robot through the coding software on the devices.
    • Students must program a robot route through the map that will give them enough notes and rests to fill up 4 measures.
    • The piece must have 4 measures and include a variety of notes and rests and be in either the meter of 4/4 or 3/4. Students cannot use a note or rest more than once in the composition and must use all of their collected notes and rests. They can use the notes and rests out of order from how they were collected! (or not, up to you!)
    • Groups must be able to perform their piece for the class and be able to demonstrate their robot collecting their notes as well.
  • Have students break off either by themselves or into groups and hand out materials and devices.
  • Ask students to program and plan their robot route first and check in with you before heading to the map to collect their notes and rests.
  • While collecting notes and rests, make sure students are writing down every note and rest their robot goes over. (It will be at least 10 notes and rests.)
  • Once they have collected their notes and rests have students go off and begin composing. Have them check in with you after composing their piece before they start practicing.
  • Make sure students have ample time to practice.
  • Once everyone is done, get together and listen to everyone perform their compositions and demonstrate their robot adventure!

Assessment tip: Bring a device and video each student’s performance to use for a portfolio artifact or for a grading rubric after.

Map 1 (without sixteenth notes)

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Map 2 (with sixteenth notes)

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