Just a Techie being a Techie

I love computers, I will admit I spend hours up hours in front of my computer not only at school but at home as well. Sometimes it’s just for checking social networking sites or email, sometimes it’s for writing my sci-fi stories and sometimes it’s for coming up with new ways of bringing technology to my students. We all teach what is required by our curriculum but don’t we also tend to focus on the things that excite us as well? That’s computers for me.
We stand in an age of change in between pen and the keyboard. In my view it’s time to walk that line as educators bringing just enough of each into the classroom. Sure we tend to be separated into three groups, those who hold onto those pens for dear life not ready for them to be unglued from our hands, those who have fingers melted to the keyboard from hyper-speed typing (I fall into this category!), and those educators who are the role models to the rest of use and have found their balance on that high tight rope separating the old from the new.
Why technology in the classroom? Why care? Why find that balance between the two instead of going all Office Space on that new Dell Desktop or using those pens as missile launchers at the ceiling? Tech is becoming more and more prominent in life, whether it is being thrown into schools, available at home or in a job. A majority of jobs now require use of some sort of computer whether it’s something small like a calculator or a full server. It also is a great collaboration tool getting students to work together for one common goal of preparing students for jobs that require more than sitting in a closed off cubicle mumbling aimlessly like Milton from Office Space (2 Office Space references! new record!). Also..and this is for you techies like me who are constantly asked for computer help from family, we can create a whole generation of adults who don’t need to ask their kids where the power button is or how to use their phone if we start teaching now. Save a new generation of kids the parent aggravation!
OK, so I’ve tried to make the case for real world application of technology but what about our own little ecosystem we call a classroom? What can it do to make everyone’s lives better? Being a music educator I only have 40 minutes with students per class period, it takes them 30 seconds to look up an answer on a net book or Ipad than 5 minutes in one of my old dusty textbooks that have become a resort for spiders while they sit on my shelf!
Another reason is as my students put it “We’d rather learn it ourselves than listen to you!” You might say rude, I say motivated. I would rather give them a problem to solve and let them go at it then have them listen to me talk anyway, being a facilitator why they use tech to learn themselves about required concepts rather than a speaker can make a huge difference on whether or not they walk out of the classroom with that still stuck in their heads instead of being dumped out in the trashcan by the door. Don’t PUSH them by teaching it, give them a project and the tools to complete it so they have to PULL themselves up to a level of understanding.
This is my favorite reason for using technology to enhance learning because it’s why I use it too. They allow you to go global. You don’t have to just us words and make students imagine what you’re talking about, technology allows you to take a sledge hammer to those walls surrounding your classroom and break them down! Show students that whole world out there that they can reach if they just try. Use your computer and show them Carnegie Hall, play a Youtube clip of a drum circle in Ghana give them motivation and fire to learn all they can about everything.
So why use technology in the classroom? It’s awesome, It makes everyone’s lives more interesting, it helps improve understanding of concepts and pulls students to learn and it prepares students for the future! Go Technology!

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

The fighting spirit, something all hard working people have. We can be kicked while we’re down and still be able to come back swinging no matter what happens. We have problems arising right and left fires that need can only be put out with our skill and quick critical thinking. The way we fight for what we want can sometimes be our saving grace making life worth living and filled with adventure and great rewards. Music education only takes those willing to go down swinging, if the pressure, stress, and criticism doesn’t kill us..it only makes us stronger. We are given the task to provide our students with opportunities to arise above the rest, become great at what ever form of music they choose, and dream big. With all of the obstacles we face as music educators everyday we have to put on the boxing gloves, refill the coffee mug and plaster that confidence in what we do all over our face then walk in the doors of our learning establishment ready to face the day no matter what is chucked at our heads.
We can burn out from everything we do, we can slink back into that dark corner where nothing we do seems right and everything seems wrong. Relax, refresh, and remember to stick by what you do even if it seems wrong it can be oh so right. Strive for the things that you look forward to every week whether it is a hug from a student or that friday night margarita. The small victories are what keeps us from going under into that dark corner. Our perseverance, our drive, and our fire inspire others around us. We work hard to see the explosive positive results, we play hard use the enjoyment from every second.
Remember to use your resources, remember to talk about it, remember to smile with your head held high, and remember that fighting spirit.

#Musedchat 12/5 discussion- Top Ipad apps for Music Educators!

Our #musedchat discussion on twitter tonight ended up in making a list of recommended apps for music educators. Here is that list:

History of Jazz Tenuto
Audio Tool
iReal b
r-Tap anything
Read Rhythm
A.P.S. MusicMaster Pro
MuseScore viewer
Symphony Pro
My Classical music
Sound drop
Korg IElectribe
Shiny Drum
Magic Fiddle
Percussion Free
Drop box
Beginning Guitar
Glass Piano
Music Theory
Falling Stars
Ludwig Metronome

We’re Halfway There

Ok, I was never labeled a chorus teacher, never a natural singer, BUT I expect a lot out of my students and try to be the best educator I can be for them. This year I had a mission that was driven by students prodding me last year to start one, and that was a chorus. The programs at the schools I work at had died out due to over scheduling and the retirement of the previous teacher. I had missed directing ensembles so much that when students came to ask me about one I readily agreed to fight tooth and nail for it this year. Luckily my administrators as very supportive of the arts agreeing quickly to the start of the programs. One just started this week and runs during the recess and the other has been going for 6 weeks after school. None of the 100 total students I have now have ever been in chorus until I arrived, now my after school chorus is beginning to read chorus music, run rehearsals like clockwork and sounding wicked awesome and my recess chorus after their first rehearsal is excited and ready to work hard. Didn’t think a few years ago I’d be brave enough to do this but seeing the progress made, the dedication my students have to these groups, and the genuine smiles on their face I can’t help but well up with pride. With the help of my supportive school community these students have a new opportunity to experience the wonders of music outside of the general music classroom. I’m not looking for them to be perfect, they’re only in elementary school! All I ask is they practice, try their best, and have a good time…holey heck..I’ve got a chorus!