Starting Up and Using a Cloud Based File Storage System

For years I carted around a keychain with usb keys holding all my most coveted documents. The more documents I had, the bigger my collection of usb keys got. Eventually I moved onto a hard drive but even after a while, that became just a place to backup my computer. What I found was online file storage systems. Places like Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox came around as fast as I could say the word “file” and you know what happened? I left those usb keys in my desk, took a leap of faith, and never had to carry around another file storage piece of hardware again.

Why did I change?

  • It was easier to float from computer to computer without dealing with “incompatibility issues”. I always hated when I had an important paper to print and could not get the computer to read my key because it wasn’t formatted to that system!
  • I’m a forgetful person, I write lists for pretty much everything and would probably forget my head if it wasn’t attached. I would often forget my usb keys and would have to retrieve them!
  • The room for files increase significantly, many times I would have to transfer a movie or audio clip I edited and could not transfer. The size of my Dropbox is ten times bigger than all of my keys and hard drive combined!
  • Even email couldn’t save me, attachment limits on email systems are evil. It’s sometimes a messy way to transfer files from one person to another. In Dropbox or even Google Drive, I can easily share with another person who is halfway across the world and simultaneously work on the same document at the same time.
  • There are so many ways to use it for your teaching.

I have all of the online storage systems you could imagine. From SkyDrive to Dropbox I’ve got it. Each system allows me to keep different things on it.

iCloud: Mac based system that stores all of your purchased music and movies, and most of your files from programs such as Keynote and Pages. I use iCloud for music and movies, it is so convenient to be walking down the hall with my iPod to go teach a class and downloading the new song I purchased on my computer the night before to my iPod Touch without any wires and no where near my computer.

Google Drive: Part of the Google family of products, I find Google Drive great for collaboration and sharing documents. I can put student work up there and privately share with others or publicly. I’m a sci-fi RPG writer and can collaborate with another writer halfway across the country on a new story or can work with another amazing educator on a presentation or important document without ever being in the same room.

SkyDrive: The Microsoft version of iCloud. Our school acquired this system this year when we switched to Microsoft 365. Each one of our students K-12 received a SkyDrive to store their work and have the ability to access it on any computer. This is great for me when I have them work on something, they can save to their SkyDrives from a netbook and then access later from the computer lab. It can be very helpful especially if collaborating on a project with another teacher. Students can work on documents right in Skydrive as well.

Dropbox: I use Dropbox everywhere for personal files. With the ability to access online through the website, on an iDevice, or downloading the program to your desktop. Dropbox is easy and the least stressful way to keep my files. I keep my greetings for my classes updated on there, projects, articles in progress, pretty much everything. What is perfect about the Dropbox program is that even if I forget to print out or grab a file from school to work on at home. I can access my files from one of my machine while lying on the couch and it automatically updates everywhere as soon as I save it.

So how about those usb keys? the Cloud provides so many new ways for collaboration and flawless storage from one devices to another. It opens up so many more opportunities for you and and your students.


(Photo credit:


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Web Quest Challenge Week: All New Quests!

  As most teachers know, the week before a planned school break can sometimes be a living nightmare, the kids are excited for a few days off and sometimes you can’t help but to start to feel the same. What I did inorder to not get pulled into the “it’s almost vacation!” vortex was give myself a challenge this week. I wanted to keep my brain moving at least until friday and then come in for the two days of school next week only hoping to have fun.I challenged myself to see how many new webquests I could write and I do have to say..I went a little nuts.. but in a good way. It was a nice creative challenge for my brain. Something I could go into work every morning and spend 15 minutes outlining and then type out during my lunch time. These quests are going to be great new challenges for my students, I can print one out and let students take them for extra credit to continue to discover about music at home! I think my #Webquestchallenge week was a great sucess not only producing some new quests but also a really cute iBook that I made for my iPad with all my new and old Quaver quests!

The following are my 5 days of quest entries, most are Quaver but I have a few others mixed in as well from Music Delta, Incredibox, and SFSKids! (The grade level and lessons beside each Quaver quest are suggested curriculum lessons that the quest might go along with)

Day 1: Chorus (3rd Grade Lesson 4- Identifying Different Voices)

     A choir is a group of people who get together and sing! No instruments other than their voices. Did you know there are 4 different types of voices in a choir? Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. Follow the steps to discover whom a choir is all about!

1.  Head into the shop, but do not worry! You are not there to purchase anything, click on the Jukebox near the guitars in the window and try to find a song that has more than one person singing in it! Do their voices sound the same or different?

2. Madrigals were written hundreds of years ago in the Renaissance and early Baroque time periods and were written to be sung without any instruments, just the singers! They had many voices singing different parts all at the same time! Head to the Phonebox and travel to the Madrigal time period to read the book and answer the questions!

3. Usually choirs sing in more than one part but at the same time. Do you know that we can call that a chord? Head to the Ear IQ carnival in the lab to test your listening skills in the chord game! Try to listen to each individual voice!

4. Now here is your big challenge! I need you to head to QComposer on the stage in the Studio. Using the Chord Builder, build me a C to F to G to C chord progression and then listen to your creation and try to hear each note as it is played. After, try to find and place a C to F to G to C phrase in the bass line to add your 4th voice!

Day 2- Loops/ Vocal Ostinatos

  An ostinato is a short repeated pattern! Can you make your own using Incredibox? Follow the steps below to layer voice ostinatos together and create one rocking tune!

  1. Choose one loop from each section and put it together. Try muting a few or soloing one. Can you hear each voice?
  2. Now mix it up! Take out at least 3 of your guys and put in 3 new ones of your choosing! Do you like how it fits together? If not what do you need to change?
  3. Press the record button towards the top left of the screen and record it at least halfway through. After, press share and share your creation with your teacher! Dynamics- (5th lesson 15, 3rd lesson 18, 1st lesson 25)

  Dynamics make a piece of music more interesting by allowing it to get LOUD and soft at different times. It adds a little spice to turn in a simple melody into a killer tune! What do you know about Dynamics? Follow the steps around the Quaver world to test your skills!

  1. Did you know that the Italian clavichord and harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori created what we know now as the piano in order to give musicians an instrument to better play loud and soft on? He opened the world of dynamics up to many musicians! Travel back to his time on the Phonebox and read the book and answer the questions to find out more!
  2. Next, head to the Jukebox in the Shop and click on the Shop episode songs. Listen to the Use Dynamics track and sing along to learn more about why we use dynamics!
  3. Here is the test, go to the QComposer on the stage in the studio and get out your composing brain! Using only the treble clef line, create a 4 measure melody where the dynamics change 2 times! Try for one loud dynamic marking and one soft. You can change dynamics by clicking the dynamic button on the bottom left and choosing your dynamic, then clicking where you want the level to change in your melody!

Day 3: ( 3rd lesson 8, 2nd lesson 13, 1st lesson 16)  Melodic Contour.

   Many times, a melody flows smooth up and down the staff like a river. Sometimes it goes way up and sometimes it goes way down. Float down the river of directions below to lean about how a melody flows.

  1. We call how a melody moves up and down the staff a melodic contour. Head to the painting easel called Songbrush in the Shop and practice making lines that flow up and down across the staff. Listen to them and hear how the notes go up and down!
  2. You will need a piece of paper and a pencil for this one. Now head to the Jukebox and double click the Classical music in the menu. Choose a song and write the title at the top of the page. Now listen to that song and try to draw a line like you did in Songbrush on the page. Play the song again after you are done and trace the line with your finger. Do you think you followed it?
  3. Here’s your turn to make your own melody that goes up and down like a river on the staff. Head to QComposer and using just the treble clef line create a 5 measure melody using only quarter notes that looks smooth with no big jumps. Save it and play it after for a friend after to see if they can follow along. Composing and Creating

      It’s your turn to be a future famous composer like Bach or Beethoven! Follow the steps to learn how to create a melody yourself.

  1. Head to the Music lab first, you will stay in the lab for this whole quest! Click on The Basics and take notes about different parts of making music. You will need this knowledge for later.
  2. Head to Symbols and practice dragging and dropping different symbols in each area of the melody and pressing play. How do they sounds? What makes each one different? Do they add their own little spice to the melody?
  3. Now you need to visit the Composerizer last to try your luck at creating a beautiful piece of music!

  Music Delta- Beatles

  The Beatles were a very famous pop band that changed pop music forever when they arrived in the US! Follow the steps to learn more about the band from England that changed music.

  1. Click on the History menu at the top of the screen and select Popular. Now on the left click Beatles and read the article right on that page to learn more about their history. Was there anything unique about them? Any funny things that stood out to you?
  2. Now select the Help video from the featured video links to the right and watch the Beatles in action. What makes their performance different than what you see today.
  3. Now up at the top hit the Planet link to be taken to Music Delta Planet and select the England group toward the top left of the globe. Walk your character to the building John Lennon is standing in front of. Let Lennon introduce himself before you enter the building and start playing with the Beatles on the stage. Place them where ever you would like and click play. Experiment with moving them, what

Day 4-

Quaver Music- Tempo (4th lesson 17, 1st lessons 22-24, K lessons 25-27)

      Tempo can be so tricky! Some times a song might go slow, and sometimes it might go fast! Just like a racecar! Let’s discover how to find tempos as we travel around 

  1. You need to turn on your listening ears for this one! Head to the Jukebox in the Shop and find one song that is presto (fast) and one song that is largo (slow.) Write down your findings to share in class!
  2. Did you know that when music first started having different tempos how fast you could go was because of the genre of music you were playing? Head to the Metro and find two different stops that have two different types of tempo. Find a stop that has mostly fast music and one that has mostly slow music.
  3. Now your challenge is to head to QBackbeat in the Studio and create a beat at either Largo, Presto, or Moderato. After click Play-along track and select a track at the same tempo. Do both of the tracks fit together?

Quavermusic- Phrase ( 2nd lesson 14)

       A musical phrase is like a sentence, it has a beginning, middle and an end. You can hear when it starts and when it ends but sometimes it can be a challenge. Lets start turning on our listening ears and find those phrases in the music.

  1. Head to the Metro and travel to the Classical stop. Click the menu and click music. Select the Aquarium from the Carnival of the Animals and try to count how many different phrases you hear in the music.
  2. As we have already said, phrases are like sentences. Go to QSkits in the Shop and come up with a skit that only has 5 different sentences. Sometimes in music it does not have many phrases but still says a lot! Make sure your skit says a lot without really saying many different things.
  3. In QComposer in the Studio click the melody maker and choose 3 different melodies/phrase and place them how you would like in the staff. Can you hear where  each melody starts and ends?

Day 5-

 Quavermusic – Intonation (1st lesson 15, K lessons 10-12)

          Intonation means how accurate you are singing a pitch kind of like hitting a target with an arrow. It takes practice and not everyone can do it! I know you’ll be able to do it. Follow the steps to practice your accuracy.

  1. How smart your ears are is a big deal with intonation! Travel to the Lab and click on the EarIQ carnival. Practice the Pitch and Interval games to train your ears!
  2. Now it’s time to practice your accuracy, what is better than a little target practice? Head to the music room and play QSplat in the arcade!
  3. Time to compose and sing! Prance over to the Studio and head to QComposer. Using only the treble clef create a 2-measure melody practicing how to sing the notes as you place each one. After hit the play button and practice how to sing it!

Quavermusic- Theme and Variation

          Every song has a theme or a specific melody; sometimes that theme is changed to create a variation on that melody! There can be one theme but more than one variation. Explore Quaver using the step below to find out more!

  1. Dance on over to Songbrush on the Shop to create a masterpiece! This is your theme, play it and then change it just a little bit, listen to your first variation and then change it again. How do your variations sound compared to your theme?
  2. Now to head to the Jukebox in the Shop and double click the Shop Episode songs in the menu, listen to the B Section Baby song! Did you know the B section in a song is like the variation and the chorus of a song is the theme!
  3. Here’s the test, go to QComposer on the stage in the Studio, use only the treble clef line and place four quarter notes in the first measure. Now take those 4 quarter notes and figure out what the note names are those are the only four note names you can use now! In the second measure take those same four notes and change them up, then do the same in the third. After, copy your first measure in the fourth measure. Listen to your creation! Do you hear the theme in measures in one and four and the variations in measures two and three?

I created a book..  after all of this quest writing this week I went a little further with my Quaver quests and used iBooks Author to create an iBook with all 26 of my Quaver quests I have written. With 90% of the quests now are suggested lessons in the curriculum that the quest might be a nice homework or extra credit assignment for. They also might be fun for a full class of younger students to do together as a nice before vacation activity.


Proud of my little book!

  I created the book as a way to keep all my quests all in one little place and have no plans to hit the publish button myself or share the full book online in a public place. If you are interested in a copy you can email me at and I would be more than happy to share it privately with you!


How to Quest: A Video Walkthrough

  Now that my switch to school #2 is starting to calm down. I can start to focus on how I am going to change-up and improve the rest of the year hoping to continue the good streak that I am on! I sat down and went through my curriculum trying to align it with the Quaver curric that I am using and acquired a few ideas. I’m trying to get better about posting how-to videos and walkthroughs. I’m not the greatest at recording myself but hopefully it will change with practice!

  Posted is a video I  created using Quicktime Player (my apologies for the audio troubles in the beginning, this is the first time I’ve used the Quicktime Player recording feature) showing you how I walk through a webquest with the kids. I started writing these a few years ago and write new ones occasionally. After trying out the free items Quaver had to offer I just had to get more and now I have the whole family of programs and enjoy every minute. So try out this brand new quest created just for this post, I guarantee you’re going to love it so much you’ll be hooked on Quaver for good.

Patriotic songs:

What does the word patriotic mean to you? The meaning of the word is: for the love of one’s country. Patriotic songs were written just for that purpose, to celebrate our country. We have many patriotic songs about America but how many do you know? A lot of them were written many years ago and some have started to be sadly forgotten. Follow the steps below to discover more about the tunes we use to celebrate the United States of America.

1.) Francis Scott Key wrote the words to our national anthem The Star Spangled Banner. He wrote them right after he watched a battle during the War of 1812 take place. I want you to travel back to his time in the Phonebox and click menu. Select the music player and click the Audio Drama. Now close your eyes and put yourself in Mr. Key’s shoes, does his inspiration inspire you?

2.) We consider a lot of our patriotic tunes to be marches. John Philip Sousa was considered the king of marches. Go to his stop in the Phonebox to listen to one of his most famous pieces Stars and Stripes Forever. What do you think the title means? What can you picture in your head as this song plays?

3.) Now it’s your turn to be like Sousa and Key. Go back to Francis Scott Key’s time in the Phonebox and go back to that music player. Choose Yankee Doodle and listen to the tune, can you write some words to go along with the melody of Yankee Doodle? Write it down on a nearby piece of paper and try to perform it!

Are you teaching patriotic songs in your classes? How do you teach them? Are their ways you could see yourself using this quest for your lessons?

Playing with an Apple TV

  So I am pretty excited, I have moved to school number 2 for the next quarter and have found time to actually start playing with some really cool new tech tools to use in the classroom! I cannot wait to start using them and I am very sure I will be blogging about them soon!

Last week I composed a blog about using Bluetooth as a way of sending music to an output devices as a way to use your device and move around and not have to stay connected to a cable at the front of the room. This week I wanted to show you how I use my Apple TV for the same purpose but instead of sending music I send visuals from my iPad that can be projected to the screen so the whole class can see. You can use new apps like Reflector to do the same sort of thing but I rely on my Apple TV because it is easy for me to connect and reliable with my wireless network set up at my school.


To set up your TV at school you first need to figure out, Do I have a projector that has an HDMI setup? Do I have a projector that has a VGA setup? Or am I using a TV? I have a VGA projector so I need a video converter box I bought off Amazon for about $30. This box allows my video and audio to be converted so it can play on my VGA projector.

Copy of ATV

Into that box I need to plug in the HDMI cable from the Apple TV, the power cord, the VGA cable to the projector, and the audio jack from the back of the computer. Once those are plugged in and the power cable to the Apple TV is plugged in the TV should turn on and be visible on your projector screen. After you are connected using the remote you can navigate the screen to connect your Apple ID so you can play your music, connect your Youtube ID to play your playlists, and my favorite, you can mirror your iPad to the screen using Airplay. There are two ways to turn on Airplay depending on the iOS you have running on your device;

iOS6 or earlier: Double click the home button and swipe all the way to the right to get to the Airplay menu. Touch the Airplay button and select the device you want to connect to. After hit the toggle switch to turn on mirroring and your iPad should then be visible on the screen.

iOS7 or later: Swipe using 1 finger from the bottom of your device up to reveal the tool menu. Right next to the button that is labeled “AirDrop” should be the Airplay button. Hit that button and select the device you would like to connect to  and do not forget to turn on the toggle button to turn mirroring on. After your iPad should be visible on the projector.

photo 1

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After you have connected your iPad you can now walk around the classroom and show your students exactly what you are doing on the iPad. This is great especially for classroom management. I can be teaching from the floor next to some of my favorite students and not have to stop class to keep my favorite students focused. It is also great for 1 iPad classrooms! All of the students can see and share the one using it sort of like a Smartboard Slate.

I use this tool a lot when teaching from my iPad, my students love to use Toca Boca Band, Garageband, Dolce Music Flashcards and I have all kinds of instrument apps we can use together.

This tool helps me replace a Smartboard. I do not have one in my classroom so my Apple TV is a cheaper solution!

  Do you have an Apple TV? How do you use it with your students?

How to Play Music Over Bluetooth

Another installment in my “how to” series. If you have any suggestions or need any help feel free to get in contact with me through comment on here or through this blog’s new Facebook page I love new visitors!

There are so many different ways to play music tracks in your classroom now, the possibilities are endless. Most have involved plugging your music device into something, whether it be a dock or an adapter. Now though, with emerging technologies you have the option of connecting your device using bluetooth (a capability that allows music from the device to stream wirelessly to an output device. I can walk around my room with my iPod in my pocket running class and be changing songs while not tethered to the front of the room)   The only iDevices that have bluetooth capabilities are the newest nano, the iPhone, iPod touch, and any iPad 2 or newer. There are many devices you can use to transmit from your bluetooth device to an output. In my classroom I have an Apple TV that is hooked up to my projector speaker system


and an Ion BlockRocker


both are reliable and allow for me to just turn them on and connect within seconds. This also allows me to hide my iPod in my pocket so I do not have any sneaky students trying to change the song on me! To use your bluetooth first make sure your output device is turned on and ready to accept a new pairing. After you have basically two options to turn on your device. The first one will work if you have the newest iOS for devices. First turn on your device and then with one finger quickly swipe from the bottom up and a tool bar will appear:


hit the button on the top right in the center to turn on your device and then swipe down. If you’ve already paired your device before with your output device then sometimes it will automatically connect. Other times you might need to go into your settings app:


and hit the bluetooth option:


make sure the toggle at the top is turned on and then hit the device you would like to pair with. I have three because I can connect to two different car systems and then my block rocker. Devices you have paired with before will show up in that list. If they are on and within reach then they will say connected.

Are you connected yet? I love using bluetooth in my room. I have several devices and now can use them whenever I feel like with just the push of a couple of buttons. There has been many days I’ve forgotten my iPod and used my iPad or I’ve downloaded a song on my phone but haven’t had time to send it to my school iPod. The biggest thing is the freedom to move. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be able to walk around the room managing my classroom when needed and if I need to stop a song or change it I can do it wherever I am without diving back to grab my iPod before it turns to something else. One less stress!

Bluetooh is just one way to play music in your classroom, how do you play music in yours?