The Power of a PLN

  Wait? It’s Friday? How did this happen? I really had no idea it was Friday until I got up this morning and my mother and sister were so excited it was jeans day! Just goes to show you time flies when you are having too much fun. (Not all fun, my school schedule hates me and I can barely get anything done during the day.)  I’m hoping for more of an interesting and fun week of school next week, I like things that are out of the ordinary and make the week fly by so I can crash on the couch and not get up until Monday. By the way, anybody see the new Teaching Music Magazine for this month?? I’m in it and so excited!!

 When I first started teaching I had only my college professors, my student teaching co-ops, and my colleagues to rely on for advice and motivation through my beginning years. It was really a “lost feeling” because I could email, maybe call, but if I needed an answer asap then I was pure out of luck. Sometimes, I received advice but it couldn’t work in my situation so I had to get creative on my own. That’s when I started to seek out advice past what I knew. I wanted a bigger circle, a circle that was fit with the right people and came from all walks of life, that’s when I found the MPLN (Music Personal Learning Network). Found on Twitter, Facebook, and even Google Plus the MPLN is the ultimate group of thousands of music educators who have banded together in order to support each other and stand up for music in our schools. I have been apart of this great group for so long many of them have become dear friends and the best mentors as I continue my 4th year of teaching.

  The MPLN over the years has:

  • provided almost instant support and feedback on problems I encounter and help guide me through and motivate me to be positive and keep my big mouth quiet when I need to.
  • been an amazing critic to my harebrained ideas, I can get quite crazy with my thinking and my PLN friends help me think through it.
  • given me someone to talk to during my lonely days hiding in my music classroom cave unable to leave because of my schedule.
  • given me creative ideas for amazing projects.
  • let me share what I do, and feel humbled and blessed by so many positive comments about my work.
  • given me opportunities not many other educators receive, especially with presenting at a national level at such a young age.
  • finally given me a strong passion for something that I want to spend the rest of my life doing.
  • made me laugh and smile.
  • shown people here at home that I am more, and I can stand tall.
  • finally, given me a platform for a strong voice for music education and music technology. I am still years away from hitting 30 and because of my PLN I have met amazing people. presented on a national level, have started to collaborate with top-notch companies like Joytunes and Quaver Music, and most of all, been able to speak up and actually be heard. I’ve spent years of my life not having that, having a PLN has given me confidence to say what I need to say and be confident in it.

     Don’t have a PLN yet? What’s your excuse?

Follow me on Twitter at: @musiccargirl14 and start following the #mused and #musedchat hashtags

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Or head on over to Google Plus and request to join the Music Education Community!


 Start in the conversations and band together with all of us!

Keeping Up with the Passwords

  This week has been nuts. With so many things to do I didn’t even realize it was Friday until today when my students in 4th grade had an amazing time talking to the William Howard School in England for a Skype call. They did fantastic and I was proud to show off my tech skills. A majority of this week I have held our netbook cart hostage for my older grades so they can get acquainted or re-acquainted to so we will be all set for future projects and webquests.

 With so many laws out there for children on the internet, many websites require individual login information that is unique to each student. Now this would be much easier for a class of 15-20 students only, but being a music teacher finding time to organize 600 student usernames and passwords proves to be much of a challenge. This week I had over 160 successful logins to the Quaver kids portion of the website using a few tricks. I now have all of my 3rd-5th graders all set and use to logging in for future projects.

  One trick is always to have the right tools.  With index card boxes purchase from Staples I have halved index cards each student and they are responsible for writing their information down with their name and class. The index cards look like this: 


    I have pencils and require each student to write down one card to leave here with me just incase they have trouble logging in next time so I can help them. With email at home a tricky subject in my poverty-low income school area it is hard to do password recovery through email and that is sometimes the only recovery system most websites have. I tell my students “I don’t have a magic reset your password button, you need to be responsible for leaving me your information so I can help you.” Students are allowed to write out another copy of their information to take home. Especially with a site like my students who have computers at home love to take a copy of their account info home with them so they can play Quaver anywhere.

   I have each class set of cards bound and separated by tabs. Each class has their own set of cards that I use a paperclip to bind them together and then as I put them into the index card case I separate each class by tab for easy and quick access for later. When I need them I take the class set out and place them on a desk for students who need their information to come up and grab their card. We always talk about how it is not nice to sign into someone elses account and that all cards need to be returned at the end of each class. I have yet to have a problem with hacking or lost cards.

   When setting up accounts a lot of students have trouble getting creative with usernames and passwords. I always tell them:

  • There are NO spaces in a user name or password
  • Get creative with your username! Somebody already has “butterfly” or “football”. When stumped just use your favorite animal and number!
  • If you have trouble remembering your username or password make them the same!

   Remember to always be diligent when a class is logging in as well, a lot of students will have issues regardless of how much prep you have done or how organized, patience with them is a virtue!


My card box all filled and organized!

How do you help your students log in  so they can create music?      

A Forgotten Quaver Webquest: Finding Debussy, Beethoven, and Vivaldi


  So I will admit, I forgot about this one too. I’ve maybe used it once and posted it over a year ago in my Anatomy of a Webquest blog. It’s been a Quavertastic week. With the rain and state testing and everything else the kids have been NUTS but I mention Quaver and they sit down and get ready for some fun OR I give them a vote for the end of class activity and ALL of them request a Quaver episode or ClassPlay song!  I had to wear a Quaver shirt today just because this whole week has been all about him! Next week they are getting their Quaver accounts set up so I was looking to write a cool webquest just for them but stumbled across this gem that I don’t think I really ever shared by itself. It’s been dusted off, cleaned up, and reworked in a fun quest about those 3 funny guys in the shop! Enjoy!

      Debussy, Vivaldi, and Beethoven decided to throw a party while the shop was closed last night, those rascals! Now they have disappeared from their posts and are hiding some where in Quaver’s world. Can you help find them? Let’s use clues about each of their lives to catch those 3!

1.) Debussy‘s piano teacher thought he was a genius when it came to playing piano, while in school he failed many piano tests but when he switched his focus, Debussy found he excelled at composition. Where would Debussy be hiding where he could compose at the piano? When you find it help him write 2 measures only in the treble clef staff to start off his next masterpiece!
2.) Vivaldi is quite a character, his personality most certainly reflected in his music with so much contrast . Where can you go to learn more about him and his music? He must be hiding back in his own time! Find him and read more about his wacky personality in his book! After you are finished, try to answer the questions at the end of the beginner or advanced book to recieve the Debussy diploma!
3.) We all know Beethoven lost his hearing when he got older, the shop has had some magical stuff going on lately and he has gotten his hearing back! My hunch is he is trying to retrain those ears. Where will you find him? Go there and play the pitch or interval game with Beethoven to help him get his ears in tip top shape again!
4.) Wow, you found all three of our friendly composers! They are all back into their rightful places. Using what you’ve learned about them, can you go into QSkits and create a skit where they talk about their lives? Add in costumes and make it funny! After you are done be sure to check your student tab and pass this in as your QSkits assignment! We will put on a show once everyone is done!



Let me know what you think!

What it Means to Lead

  This week has been exhausting, I’ve been focusing on creating and impleteing new lessons, new thoughts, new ideas, and just new ways to be better. The kids have been off the wall but most in a good way. Looking through the week as I reflect it has really shown my strengths. I can be strong, I can stand up and lead, and now with two new specialists in our building and with two principals who know what I can do with tech and want to use that skill, I’m falling into a leadership role and really enjoy it.  I took a few minutes today to remind myself what it means to be a leader.


What does it mean to be a leader? What do you do that makes you a leader in your own way?  I have so many PLN members that I look up to and are leaders to me,Who do you look up to as a leader?

A Leader:

  A leader listens to their peers. They are always there to be an ear to listen to your problems or your sucesses regardless of what they are.

  A leader  isn’t afraid to speak up. I know I’m shy but if I feel it is the right thing to say I will stand up and say it. I know I’ll regret it later if I don’t say my peace. I might still be a young teacher but that doesn’t mean you should count us out. We have our own experiences and even though we’re still learning we aren’t afraid to stand up and say our opinion.

Offers advice, who doesn’t need advice every once in a while? A leader is willing to be a second opinion to your own actions helping to guide as best they can.

A leader can compromise. A leader knows it’s not always their way or the highway, there is an amount of give and take they know needs to happen and will make sure it does.

A leader has strength even in times of weakness, we have times when we feed off the negativity and despair created in our enviroments. A leader has the ability to break down those invisible forces and be immune. They have enough positive energy that is infectious and doesn’t get caught up in what is around them. They always hope and push for positive change.

 A leader can take critisism wisely. They always have ambition to better themselves and take the good and bad feedback and turn it into advice for change and growth.

They don’t stop until the job is done, a leader has a hard work ethic and knows that no matter how hard the job is they do it all the way through even if they don’t want to.

A leader pushes the boundaries of creativity creating solutions, experiences, and products that are so out of the box they are past the point of amazing. A leader is a creative person and leads others to be creative as well.

They can take risks. A leader is the first one to jump the cliff even though they have no idea whether or not they will land softly. They jump with such grace and enthusiasm that others follow in hopes of a successful land on their feet.

 Most of all, a leader always offers a smile or a laugh. It is a known fact that others work harder and work better being happy. A leader, whether it is a boss or a coworker always knows the right times to offer a positive grin or joke to keep people happy.


Leading a conference session 🙂


We all are leader in special ways. How do you lead?