Tech Tip Corner #2- Basic Troubleshooting​ for your computer

Welcome to Tech Tip Corner! A recurring feature on the blog here to answer commonly asked questions about the technology in your room. If you have questions that you want to be answered, leave a comment below!

This week we discuss the most important skill any person using any sort of technology can have, basic trouble shooting. A basic checklist anyone can memorize with basic problem solving tricks to try to do quick fixes on a computer or device. This will help not only you in a pinch especially if something minor happens during class and you can fix it quickly, it can also help your IT department get down to the root of the problem quicker if it is more involved than what you can do immediately.

Not all problems have the same fix, but sometimes multiple problems can have the same fix. Turning your device off and on again might solve a whole slew of issues, changing browsers, etc. If you are having a technical issue, follow these steps first before you call technical support!

  1. Close out your app or internet browser completely and go back in. Sometimes a quick restart of an app can solve a minor issue.
  2. Clear your browsing history and internet cache.
  3. Try another internet browser, surprisingly enough, not every web browser is created equal. Some play nicer with certain websites than others. If one doesn’t work, try another to see if that solves the issue.
  4. Check to make sure that all of the cables going into your machine are plugged in tightly.
  5. Shut your computer all the way down, count to 10 and restart it. We’ve all heard that tech support joke that restarting your computer fixes everything, a lot of time, it does.
  6. Try to switch machines if you can, it might be a hardware problem.
  7. If a website you are running is loading slow, head to a speed test like Fast.com. Anything below 10 Mbps is very slow. Try closing out any extra web tabs you might have open to try to speed things up a bit.
  8. Make sure your programs and software are up to date. Having an operating system or software go too far out of date can cause some serious issues later on.
  9. Try to find a status page or the social media page for a program you are having issues with. It might be down today and might not be you!
  10. Run your virus software, you might have a rogue bug running around!

 

Try these ten basic trouble shooting tips before you call your IT or Tech support. Let them know your findings too. If these tips did not fix the issue the results will be a big help to them as they do some deeper trouble shooting!

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How do I Get Funding?

Funding, one of the biggest questions that I run in to when recommending new resources. Not all free resources are the best resources, sometimes you need to look at resources that require a purchase. Changing your perspective from “I can’t” to “I can” will lead you to a path of eventually getting the money you need to reach your goals for your room. The place to start is knowing where to get the funds. There is more money out there beyond the budget you have available. Some teachers might have enough to get new things for their room every year, but some might not have a budget at all. Know that a lot of the resources you want to add to your teaching arsenal are able to be purchased or should be purchased with other school budgetary funds, federal/state money, or grants. There are always other ways to get what you need, you just need to know where to start. I have seen many teachers who have gone after grants and more who have come away with new interactive boards to instruments for their programs.

When it comes to federal and state funding, there are several places you can look at that come into your school. The first being Title I funding. If you know that you are a Title 1 school, then you as the music teacher can request items using Title 1 funding. This does not necessarily mean you will get it, but due to the ESSA legislature that was signed back in 2015 declaring Music as a core subject, you have every right to ask. Schools, in the end, are the ones to choose how those budgets are spent, sometimes you might get it and sometimes you will not. If you do land a spot in the budget though and what you are asking for is a recurring charge, most likely it will stay as a line item in the budget for a long while. The other federal funding that is more geared towards the arts is that of Title IV, this is more of a “grant pot” that schools or states can distribute out to different projects and programs based on need. For this, it would be best to put together a budget and proposal for what you are looking for before asking. With any federal funding that comes into your school or district, it will go through an administrator who is either a coordinator for that budget or someone like the principal. Find out who that is and sit down to chat with them first to see what the best way to move forward is!

Local funding is a whole different beast. This can go to your school or local community. There are certain budgets that your principal might have access to which can help you acquire new resources. Sometimes this is not always the case but it is always worth asking your supervisor or principal about the possibility of getting certain resources such as a new instrument, small set of mobile devices, or even curriculum. If they have the wiggle room to get it for you, they most likely will be willing to help you out or at least pay for a portion of it and use some of your budgets to get the rest. Within your local community, there are many local businesses who might be willing to sponsor your program. From UNO’s School nights to local businesses purchasing ad space in your programs to help fund your program. Make friends and partnerships with your community!

Crowdsourcing websites such as AdoptaClassroom.org and DonorsChoose.org make it easy for teachers to fundraise from many donors at one time to get materials that they need. These sorts of websites are perfect for low to mid-range priced projects. If you are able to use these websites with permission from your district. Always make sure to have a project up and follow the guidelines of the website. You never know when an anonymous donor could come to fund the whole thing!

Grants are a great way to get projects funded for your classroom. Most grants require some sort of project or proposal of how the funds will get used. The more creative proposal or project the more of a chance it will get selected. Also, because arts teachers interact with almost every student in the school the chances for a grant are higher since the funds will impact more students. A good place to start is https://www.grants.gov . You can always search through state websites as well and places like Lowe’s and Target do small grants as well for teachers.

 

There are all kinds of different funding routes out there. You just need to know where to start. Start asking and you’ll find the path that works for you so you can get the tools  to great memorable learning experiences for your students!

 

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Tech Tip Corner #1 – Getting to Flash-Based​ Sites on an iPad

Welcome to Tech Tip Corner! A new recurring feature on the blog here to answer commonly asked questions about the technology in your room. If you have questions that you want to be answered, leave a comment below!

Today’s tip comes from a serious survey on the state of digital online resources and the announcement of Adobe dropping the Flash program in 2020 (Read the more here: https://gizmodo.com/adobe-is-finally-killing-flash-for-real-this-time-1797231399 )

A lot of out of these world resources created for education and have stood the test of time were written in Flash programing language and these sites have either stopped creating or are trying to catch up with the times but it might be a while. Now that a lot of even internet browsers are already dropping support for flash, it is becoming harder and harder to access these sites to continue using them in lessons. Desktops make it a little easier to access them, although if you ever have an issue with a  flash based website, I recommend trying it in another internet browser might help solve the issue. There are more and more browsers that are dropping their support for Flash, Chrome being one such instigator.

Still remains the problems of devices like iPads which are notorious for being anti-flash run into the problem of not being able to access those sites at all. (Flash and Apple are bad neighbors.) This pretty much means that any flash based websites are unable to be accessed through the normal way of heading to Safari. Most will try to get to a site and when they are unable to, they move on to the next resource, but there is always a loophole! To get a Flash website, use a Flash-enabled browser app to access the websites. Apps such as

 

 

 

It will open up a world of possibilities for increased interactivity for you and your students during instruction!

Life Update

 

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I’m still here! I promise. It has been a wild couple of years between finishing my master’s degree, teaching, working full time, and a whole host of other projects that I have been working on. Every step of the way I have told myself that as soon as life calmed down I would come back here to continue creating content which I love so much.

Now that life has changed so much I will be changing a few things up on here, sort of another butterfly out of the cocoon moment which I know I’ve had before (I’ve had this blog for way too long!) No real direction yet and no schedule, just surprises along the way while I mix some old favorites with some new things! Though the goal will always stay the same. Helping teachers incorporate digital resources and 21st-century instruction in our technology-based world!

 

 

Augmenting Reality, Bringing AR to the Music Room

Life gets away from you doesn’t it? Too much to do and not enough time in the day. Almost done my Masters though! Sooner than later I’ll be back more and more.

AR: Augmented Reality. A variation on virtual reality where instead of whole landscapes being brought to life through a set of goggles. You are able to input a little bit of pixel magic into the real world with as little as just a phone. A more popular AR game (or formerly popular..) is Poke’mon Go. Take your phone and go explore the outside where you can find little monsters around every corner waiting to pick a fight with you. You win? You keep your opponent. You loose? They keep you!..just kidding. 

AR is a term that has been around for a few years now in the Edtech field but is now just making its way into places like the music classroom. With this technology you can bring music, composers, even concepts to life and watch as students jump for joy experiencing the subjects jump off the page and come to life right in front of them using a simple device to capture the magic. I sometimes compare it to the spy glass from the SpiderWick Cronicles movie, without that the movie would have been a lot more frightening watching the house destroy itself rather than the mutant frogs coming after them. They needed that glass to see the magic like your students need a device to see theirs.

Before we get into a couple of activity suggestions the two main places to look into building AR and one fun one. 

  1. Aurasma – Love this app, you can build targets right on your device quickly and easily! Pretty much the top AR app in education right now.
  2. Daqri 4D – The advanced AR studio suite. This is for those who want to go to the next level and are not afraid to go for it!
  3. Quiver – Yes I spelled it right. An awesome coloring AR app that takes student’s drawings and turns them into moving pictures that jump right off the page!

 

What can we do with all of these tools?

  • What about a note scavenger hunt? Have students hunt around the school for pictures of notes and rests. When they scan them it produces a rhythm or melody they have to play before they check off that find and move on to the next.
  • Bring composers to life! Have them scan a piece of their well known music and they can see a mini Beethoven pop up on the page and then them more about his life!
  • My favorite is the AR word wall. Turn your existing word wall into an interactive experience. Students scan a word with their device and automatically get the definition and a visual example of the keyword.

 

What else can you do with AR in your Music Classroom?

 

 

 

 

The 10 Things Why Every Music Teacher Needs Duct Tape.

I’ve got a month in between classes and trying to get myself into the writing mood, enjoy a  little satire piece to end your Friday!

We all know the phrase “Duct Tape fixes everything!” but does it really? Here’s 10 things that duct tape can do to help make your day to day life in your music class a little less stressful. 

1.) Instrument Repair!

2.) Recorder Karate Belts

IMG_01893.) Hanging Posters

4.) Last Minute Bandaid

5.) Covering Home Made Rhythm Sticks

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6.) Earplugs

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7.) Quick Clothes Fix

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8.) Decorations

9.) Fixing Music Folders

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10.) Claiming What is Yours!

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*Making your Finish Line Flag for the Last Day of School*

How to PD

You’re sitting in a room with the rest of your building co-workers. It’s a workshop day, you’ve been talking about the mysteries of tracking student math data to meet state standards for the past hour. What’s next after you finish this topic? Writing standards! Yay!……..

You’re bored aren’t you?

I knew it.

Don’t hide it, you’re a music teacher learning about math. It’s ok to admit that you probably won’t ever use this information in your teaching and could benefit from something completely different. It’s common for arts teachers to get stuck in professional development workshops that will never assist them in their daily teaching practices. You have different needs than the normal classroom teacher. What you might not realize is that many administrators are open to alternatives, you just need to know how to ask. They will probably oppose a proposal of “sitting in your classroom lesson planning” so plan something structured.

Try some ideas like these:

Getting the group together– It could be your district colleagues or other colleagues from the area. Find a place to talk shop, maybe have a genius hour, have everyone bring instruments and try out a few new pieces together, build manipulatives for activities, you could even plan a large collaborative project you could all do together!

Virtual discussion– If you can’t get together in person, then do so online. Using a venue like Google Hangouts where there can be 10 people speaking at the same time can make things go very smoothly. You can collaborate on resource documents, talk shop and connect with your peers.

Presenter– Bring in an expert to speak. There are a whole slew of presenters out there who can come to your district to speak to your group. From Orff and Kodály experts to technology gurus who can be brought in for the day for a small price. Most administrators are use to paying a few thousand dollars to bring in a speaker for a district PD day. Ask politely and provide sound reasoning for why you would like the presenter to come.

Webinar– There are thousands of webinars available to watch during a PD day. Some may be live and some may be pre recorded. Most will be technology webinars, but in today’s digital age, a lot will be useful to your daily teaching. Most webinars will have some sort of questionnaire at the end so you can receive a PD certificate to put in for hours.

Going to a workshop– This might be a little more difficult to schedule depending on the area you are in. Lots of local education centers offer professional development workshops and educator get togethers. You might get lucky and find a conference on that day you could attend too!

PD is important part of growing as a professional. How you do it is up to you, you can make it boring or you can make it useful and exciting!