CCSU Class: The Tech Geek in the Front of the Class

This past week I have been down at Central Connecticut State University taking my first grad course EVER. It was called Technology in the Elementary Music Class Room with the wonderful Professor Amy Burns :). I’m sure many of you are wondering why me of all people would be taking a technology class, don’t worry I had a good reason for doing so. It has become apparent to me over the past few years that I have been gaining a lot of knowledge about technology and its uses in the classroom I wanted to take this class not only because Amy was teaching it but also because I wanted to focus on the philosophy behind why we integrate and be more prepared to say with confidence why we should integrate if I get thrown into teaching a professional development opportunity in my area (we all know this is probably going to happen soon.)

The most important thing I took from this class was the SAMR model by Dr. Puentedera. Amy added an E to the beginning making the model E-SAMR






This is a fantastic way to step through the meaningful integration process bringing technology into lessons that not only is beneficial to students but will also make sure they remember it for a long time after.

I learned some great new tricks about Garageband and Audacity on our second day, (I’m still fairly young and can still pick up new things!) One big thing I realized was that Garageband podcasting is such an unused but amazing tool I could be using in my classroom. I can see my 5th graders doing their own in the future. I made a movie using the Garageband Podcast area about my recording studio:

To go along with this video another assignment I created was a wikispace about my recording room in my classroom: ESSPSSRecording  a place for my students to post work and get it anywhere, and for there parents and my administrators to see what students are doing in class! I have realized that I am REALLY bad about updating my current wikispaces and hope to use this new space more and display even more student work so they can access their creations and compositions.

Making tech more interactive is the ultimate goal for any teacher. I hate having to have my poor 5th graders sitting down and doing their digital portfolio work. Changing it up is they key, sure it takes time but never get into a comfortable rut when it comes to technology. My main goal this coming year is to change up what I do, sure this past year was very stressful and busy, but now I’ve over come it and it’s time to shake things up and create a little excitement! The Smart Notebook program might be a new tool to use. Even though I do not have a Smartboard I can put it on my iPad and use those tool that way to bring more song and movements into my room

On Thursday I gave a quick presentation on Quaver Music to the class (and the class after). I’ve realized that I cannot just talk about Quaver for just 15 minutes! I gotta work on my speel, but another product of this class was a nice small power point going over Quaver that I can use again if I need to: Quaver Powerpoint. Quaver is an amazing tool and I’m chomping at the bit to try to even get a look at their new curriculum, for now I’m loving the technology integrated into this resource.

We also discussed the 1st Draft of the NCCAS Standards, I have been staying sort of in the shadows with this topic since they came out, but after we talked about them yesterday, I just couldn’t help but post a blog about it yesterday: My Reaction to the New Standards. It was interesting to see everyones reaction in the class, it seems the consensus is that the standards need work.

Our final project was to create a lesson using technology. I decided to try out the Smart Notebook program since I have never used it before and built a lesson for my second graders about Bugs, You can read about it in my lesson plan here: Bugz lesson and if you would like the Smart Notebook file you can grab it here: Bugz notebook file

This class was a great way to experiment with things I have not tried yet, I was able to figure different things to try out for next year and got a lot of work done this week that I probably would not have gotten done at home. Its also always great to talk to Amy too because I learn more and more about branding myself and dealing with the politics of music education, I’m just getting into all of this and can never have enough advice with these sorts of things. I am walking away with a nice page of things I can use for next year and some new ideas to put together this summer for the upcoming year. I also came out with some great ideas on how to organize my conference presentations I’m giving next year as well. NHMEA! I’m coming to impress in October!


A Young Music Teacher’s Reaction to the 1st Draft of the NCCAS Music Standards

First, I just want to say I am not posting this to get anyone angry. I do not want to be pulled into war going on over the first draft of these standards that you can read here: I am just a teacher who just finished her third year of teaching K-5 general music who has been trying to sit quietly in the background and get all the information I can about this topic before I make an informed opinion, and you know what? After reading everything that has been going on with these standards the past two weeks my thought is opinion on these standards is incomplete. Why should I have a fully formed opinion on whether or not these standards are going to work if they are not finished yet? give me draft 2 or 3 and then I will make the choice of saying whether or not the next 30 years of my teaching is doomed.

These current standards up for public review are very vague, I will be interested to see where each important music skill is put into these standards and will be very interested if a standard class time for each grade level is put in here too so I would finally have an argument that my K classes are TOO LONG.  I love how creating has become an important skill in these standards, it is important for children to create music. I’m wondering if composing will be added as well because they are two very important but different skills for students to learn. I also wonder if the word guided will be put into higher levels as well, I know I find myself guiding my students through assessments even up to grade 5. Not every student cannot do it by themselves, they need a teacher guiding them along the way to success even past the Kindergarten level. How is responding going to work in class to? I know for a fact not even my 3rd graders can choose their own music to sing yet. Are there going to be people coming from the committee to state conference to present suggestions on how that should happen?

I know when I took a look at these standards for the first time I was scared out of my wits. How are we going to be able to make the change from the 9 national standards we were so use to and taught in college (I have ten in my state, the 9 plus one more) Those were easy to understand, they were simple, and they were direct. Are these standards going to be the same way in the final product? Are they going to be new teacher friendly and very accessible to even non music educators? I hope to see a very similar format to the old standards or I fear a lot of new music teachers coming up are going to be throwing them to the wayside because of their complexities and vagueness.

Being one with only 3 full years experience under my belt I don’t expect my voice to be heard very loudly. I have been keeping off social media until now about this because I was sure my opinions and reactions would be thrown out by teachers who don’t know me. I figure a lot of young teachers like myself have not spoken up for the same reasons. From what I read so far from Draft 1, I am scared about the future of music education. I hope my fears are going to be calmed by Draft 2 but only time will tell. I know there are experienced music educators on this writing committee who are trying their best to please everyone but I am sure there are no young educators in that group so not many of their opinions about OUR future have come up. Give me a completed draft and I’ll be a voice, I’ll be in this game for much longer than most who are currently involved. Give myself and all the young educators out there confidence to say we are ready for the future with these new standards and give us a forum to discuss this and I’m sure you’d be surprised on what you hear.


Taking School iPad PD to New Heights

  Before the end of school one of my principals who has been following all of the technology related things I do inside of school and out approached me about coming up with new professional development opportunities for the iPads. He is interested in getting more iPads for the school for next year and wanted to bring more unique opportunities for teachers to learn how to integrate them into their classrooms. I was very thrilled to have this project put on my shoulders, it’s exciting to finally use what I’ve learned and what I’ve been doing on a national level in my school district. I really want to do a good job with this to impress him, so I decided to put my current ideas out there and get some feedback! 

When planning PD opportunities (I run Music Ed Motivation Day too) I think about how I want the attendee to walk away. Are they going to have their minds completely blown, are they going to walk away confident, are they going to have good resources to use? Starting from the result to the beginning helps me form how I want get across the end result. It was a cool challenge to work on this from a different aspect other than a music technology standpoint. I broke it up into 4 different categories:

  • Basics of iOS Computing
  • Hardware
  • Apps For All
  • Activities to Integrate/ Creating School Wide Rules and Procedures

What I was thinking was to take these 4 categories and use them as topics for 2 or 4 different meetings. Each meeting optional and you can pick and choose based on your needs, there are many techie people in this school and I don’t want to waste their time with basics if they already know it.

The first two categories would be for beginners to attend mainly just going over basic iPad operation such as turning it on, going between apps, the different settings, and what kinds of different hardware can come with them and different ways to project the iPad for a whole classroom. These would be really basic for those who have not had much practice on the iPads, going over accessories, and basic operation with plenty of practice and possibly a little project would be the main points for this section.

The second two would be more for the advanced who just want to gain more information, share what they know, and create new resources to use around the school. These last two would be more focused on creating a sharing environment for technology so teachers would get use to sharing what they know with others in the school they might not see everyday. We would create a sharable document of apps divided up by subject and grade level, plan lessons to do in class that would involve integrating iPads in a meaningful way, and create a set of common rules and procedures for using the iPads in class so students have the consistency when using technology anywhere in the school.

With these meetings I thought about the one thing I hear a lot of teachers say after a PD experience, “How am I going to continue getting this help?” so I thought about extra support too in-between everything. Other than the obvious inperson assistance and by email. I also considered two other options, one being a pinterest board I have started with lots of pins about iPads in education. Pinterest has been rumbling between the teachers in school this year and I thought it would be cool to use it to my advantage. The link to the board is here: if you would like to be a pinner on this board please leave a comment and I would love to add you so you can help contribute to make this a top notch resource.

The other PD option I was thinking about was integrating the iPad club that had started in my room prior to the end of school. What I was thinking was continuing that tradition but having it open for teachers to come in and join the students as they explore the apps so they become more comfortable using it with students in a small setting and they can use it in a larger setting without hesitation.


    Those are my beginning ideas, I still have a lot to think about and mull over but what do you think? If you had the opportunity to create a unique PD experience with iPads what would you do?