Global Connection Project

I will admit that this is a homework assignment from a grad class. It was too good not to share though. I am totally and completely in love with it. Some days I wish I just had a class in my back pocket that I could test all these crazy ideas with. This post is from the POV of a class creating these rules and overall webpage. 


Mission Statement and Purpose:

The purpose of this project is to connect with many other music classrooms from all over the globe in the spirit of music and sharing. Students will learn about each country they connect with, share traditional American folk songs with other students in other countries, and learn a traditional folk song from the visiting country. This project will promote connecting with others on a global scale through music and appreciation of cultures other than their own. The final product will be a Google Map showing all of the places we visit.

What everyone is saying:

  • “The students are excited all day to get to music and connect with a new classroom, this is creating a buzz around school I’ve never heard before”
  • “What a great way to collaborate and get the students learning about Geography and be really excited.”
  • “This is showing students that there is a whole new world out there beyond the town they live in and it only takes a little motivation to go explore it”

How we are preparing it:

  •    Using the website Skype Classroom, we are connecting with classrooms from around the world who are looking to connect musically like us.

Visit our Profile Page

  •    We will also use our Twitter account

Visit our Twitter Account

  • Once we find a class to connect with we schedule a time that will be good for the both of us.
  • Then we will go into our regular classroom and with the help of our classroom teacher, we will research more about the country our new friends are from.
  • Taking the research we get from class we will pin it to our new map of all the countries we visit virtually.
  • In music we will choose and learn a traditional American folk song that we will share with our friends when we Skype.
  • We will also be sure to invite our school and district administration to come see us connect with our new friends.


On the day of our Skype:

  • We will be sure to remind ourselves of our classroom rules and show respect to the class we are going to be talking with.
  • We will remember to listen and know that we are representing our school and country.
  • We know our teacher Ms. Dwinal will have tested the connection already so we don’t have to worry about technology problems.
  • Our singing voices will be at our best.
  • We will ask well thought out questions to our new friends, and give our best answers to theirs.
  • We will be excited to meet kids like us from a different culture and share our music!

After the day of our Skype:

  • We will add our new information about our friends to our map.
  • Our class will reflect on how it went and what we learned for the future.


Songs we have learned during this project:

Student Responsibilities:
  • Research about the country they will be Skyping with.
  • Help to fill the map (linked above) with facts about the country
  • Learn and practice an American Folk song
  • Represent their country as they Skype and remember classroom rules.
  • Reflect as a class and fill out the Student Response form with individual reflections.

Portfolios: Showing growth

Has it really been a whole month since I’ve posted? Wow I’ve got to get back on schedule. It’s been a whole lot of travel, grad class work, and real work. Life huh? 

So as I’ve been traveling around my mind has constantly gone back to best ways to show student progress. How can we step away from number and letter grades and truly show student growth through physical product and having students actually demonstrate learned skills? Let’s face it, an A, a 4 or even a 99 doesn’t mean much when you try your hand at the real world. Its the skills you’ve mastered and the things you’ve done that truly count and what students should be striving for.

How does this translate into music? One of the rebels standing up for performance and demonstrating ability rather than stamping a grade on creativity. Easy, taking those performance opportunities, those composition activities, and even the small victories in class and archiving them. Taking those curriculum standards and create phrases like “I can” statements or status markers and connect those statements and markers to the archived moments.

For Example: Timmy videoed himself singing a “Do Re Mi” pattern. He showed mastery of the skill so in his portfolio he has that video with a statement “I Can Sing Do Re Mi On Pitch”

Imagine showing that to the parents/family instead of an A on a piece of paper? Means so much more. Also showing them products students created in class.Many website creatives now offer the ability to email parents while they are at work. Shows them in real time what their students are accomplishing, and you can save and store most of it when it comes time for report cards.

Top 3 things I can always put into a portfolio of student work:

1.) Videos of performances: They are already showing their mastery of a concept while performing it to a crowd, video it and archive it for their portfolio showing off their hard work. This also goes with taping in class performances and such.

2.) Recordings: Do you know how easy it is to whip out a recorder and carry it around the room with you as the class practices their songs or does their warmups. You can do it as a class or have them say their name as you go around and continue singing of playing. Soundcloud was always a favorite recorder app because I could record and instantly share.

3.) Compositions: There are so many composition tools out there now thanks to the World Wide Web, have students show their knowledge by creating and composing and then save their work to put away for later. Stuff like the Quaver Creatives or Incredibox are perfect examples of this.

Need some ideas of programs to keep student work? Check these out:

Three Ring – Awesome app that allows you to capture right there in the moment!

GDrive– A lot of schools now are Google schools and have access to GDrive easy and free!

Evernote– My favorite. Can be synced from any device and holds a lot of portfolio artifacts.


If you could throw out grades, how would you document student growth?

Mobile Devices in the Music Room

Technology now a days changes at the drop of a hat. One day CDs and DVDs are the new thing, next thing you know you have issues finding any machines that can use them because digital downloads have become so popular. Laptops use to be the new and innovative one to one device for schools, now Chromebooks and iPads have taken over the technology departments and classroom carts. Why? not only are they cheap but they last longer, meets student’s fine motor skills more on their level, and they have hundreds of thousands of apps that can be used to enhance student learning and experiences in the class environment.

I can’t tell you how many classes I’ve walked into in the past year and heard “They gave me iPads/Chromebooks, I want to use them but I just don’t know how”

Normally you would hear a response of “Well, you can use this app, this app, and this app” but to properly use these new devices in the classroom..don’t you normally have to see what the classroom is like first? Focus on the skills being taught and the activities or projects being executed in order to properly use the devices in a way that will make meaningful experiences in the environment.

Let’s take on iPads

See them in action in an actual music room:

iPads in the Music Room

There are 10 categories you can divide up iPad use in the classroom with:
As a teacher presentation tool
As a guest lecturer
As an e- reader
As a music device
As a note-taker
As a “center”
As a “writing tool”
As a review tool
As a research tool
As a content support

How would you use an iPad in each category? Would you project it on the screen and use a notation app to teach quarter notes? Covering as a music device and as a teacher presentation tool?

Or how about having a research center where students look up student questions and write them down in a collaborative glossary? Can you imagine instead of stopping class to answer a question, saying “why don’t you go find the answer for us and report back?” Turning spoon fed robots into innovative thinkers!


    The toughest thing sometimes is finding apps that fit what YOU want them to do. There are thousands of apps out there but not all of them work the way you want. I love those innovators that teach their students how to code apps that fit their needs but if you aren’t too comfortable with that yet sites like App Crawler help teachers discover programs that will help them with activities and lessons they are planning.


Need some ideas for your music class? Check out some of my previous posts on apps and iPad use:

           Integrating devices can always be difficult at first, but planning out your lesson first and then figuring out which activities would be enhanced by a device and THEN seeing which apps would fit into your plan. The more you do it and the more you do it right the easier it becomes!

 How would you integrate mobile devices into your music room?

Stuff You Can Do For A Sub

Substitute.. Most arts teachers cringe at the word just knowing whatever plans we create are most likely going to be thrown out the window by a non music trained sub who turns on the nearest video or presses play on the CD player opting for the zoo like dance party. So how can you prepare so this does not happen? Unless you know you are going to get an actual music trained sub it is hard to leave full lessons behind. You have to come up with activities that anyone walking off the street can do… Unless they have their own agenda..did you know that one time I had a sub come in and did her own lesson on Shakira?? I don’t know why either..

Here are some things I’ve done in the past for subs:


Projects– If I knew when I was going to be out a few weeks before hand, I would create some project that reflected as an assessment or review to what we were learning and would explain everything to the kids the week before. So as soon as they walked into class with the sub the next week they knew exactly what to do. I had them writing songs or poems for lyrics, maybe coming up with a play about a composer, or even write graphic organizers around  a topic you have been discussing to visually map out their new facts and thoughts.

Video instruction– Leave the teaching out of the equation for the sub and you do it! Film a mini lecture or the instructions you want to give the students and have the sub just play the video and facilitate the activity. Make it fun and pretend to be in an exotic location and make part of their activity to guess where you are and the links to the music they are studying.

Movement breaks– I had a huge list of dance videos and left my computer logged in. All the sub had to do was get online and click the YouTube Dance List in my BookMarks Bar to access everything. Link to the Playlist There are so many videos in here it could keep the average student occupied for HOURS.
Madlibs– You can take pre-existing mad libs or ones you create yourself and have students put in music vocal words they have been learning.

Movies– Another great assessment tool, could be about composers or styles, maybe you want them to write and perform a song for you. You would need a handful of mobile devices such as iPads or iPod touch for this to work but if you have a 1:1 school or a small cart you can rent out from the school media center it would work great. Go a step further and have the kids email the videos to you while you are out so you can keep tabs on their work!


I know movies are simple to leave and to have kids watch, make sure to leave something for them to do while they are watching such as a worksheets or graphic organizers.

Writing– Simple and straightforward, have them write a play using song lyrics only, or maybe an opinion piece on a certain period in classical music. You could also have them write song lyrics or reflection papers on the unit they have been working on.

What do you leave for substitutes while you are out?

Podcasting in Music

So I am totally loving my grad classes already. They give me inspiration for more activity and project ideas. There is always a little spark that wishes I was back in the classroom to try all it, but then I start thinking how many ways I can help teachers do this sort of stuff and my mind goes in a whooollleeee new direction. 

So this week’s assignment was to create two podcasts that would fit with my content area, sure it sounds easy enough. When your someone like me though it takes a while to nail down a solid idea that will actually work and is COOL. Never half do anything, who is going to listen to it if it doesn’t have the wow factor?

I decided to do mine on Blues and Folk music. I took inspiration from the venue books and went with it from there. Here are the finish products: 

Why podcast?

Podcasting is teaching outside of the classroom, allowing students to take learning further, podcasts give teachers a chance to flip the classroom teaching as homework and practicing and applying in the classroom, podcasts even work as a way of showing student knowledge in a different way.


So what kinds of things could you podcast about in music?:

  • I’ve heard many friends flipping their ensembles. Providing videos or audio tutorials on different playing techniques they want the students to master and then just rehearsing during actual ensemble time.
  • How about flipping your recorder program, practice at home, play at school!
  • Its also a great way for students to research and show off what they learned in a format other than typing a paper.

What do you need to make a podcast? It’s actually pretty simple.

  • You’ll need a device to record. Preferably a laptop.
  • Don’t forget to download recording software! Audacity is a really good program to try.
  • A great microphone, I LOVE these Blue Mics

Make sure you create a script, you might think you can free style but it is so much easier to get everything in with a point of reference! Also, practice practice practice before you record!


  Most sites out there usually allow you to share videos so turning your podcast into a YouTube Video is usually easiest (Throw the audio into iMovie. ) You could also use a song sharing site like SoundCloud, or even drop it into DropBox and share the link.

If you were to put together a podcast, what you you talk about?

Connecting with your iPad

Schools back! Its been a really busy month! I was on the road for at least 2 and a half weeks training and meeting wonderful teachers across the country. Between that and my new homework for my grad program I’ll be blogging a little less but I’m still here!

Its the start to the school year, new students, new room and new technology! I was in several trainings this month where teachers were passed out brand new iPads! Isn’t that exciting! So now you have an iPad and school is starting, how do you start using it where you are comfortable and it makes your day to day life easier?


Best way is to start using it yourself for your own needs. Here are some apps you can start using right away in class with your students. You only need one device for all of these!


Reflector $14.99– Wirelessly show your iPad on the projector screen by connecting it to your teacher computer. Great for games, composition activities, and showing visuals.

Puffin Web Browser $0 – Have a flash based website or game? Maybe like Quaver (you know that was coming.) Puffin allows the user to get to those websites without troubles and use the full programs. It is a little clunky but is a great resource for those go to websites that are still in flash!

Splashtop $4.99- Remote Desktop program that allows you to connect to your laptop wirelessly. You can manipulate the screen on your desktop from your iPad. I love suggesting this one especially to teachers who do not have access to an interactive board. This not necessarily does not take the place of one, but it turns your iPad into a Smartboard slate pretty much, and you can adjust

Doceri $0- Another version of a remote desktop app similar to Splashtop. This one allows you to annotate and record using the app and play later.

IDoceo $9.99- The ultimate teacher grade book app. Keep track of grades, take attendance, take behavior notes, the whole nine yards. Perfect app to keep you sane.

ClassDojo $0- Behavior app! Throw this up on the projector using Reflector and give points for good behavior throughout the class.


So you master using the iPad for your own. Now what’s next? Have you tried centers? Set out the device (or devices if you have more than one.) Compose, create, discover, make, take it to the next step and show how you can implement new technology into your classroom!

Need some help? Let me know!

Beginning of the Year- Getting Your Tech Ready

Its almost back to school for a lot of teachers!I love seeing the Pinterest boards piling up with new ideas and my Facebook teacher friends describing their pre- start of school dreams. I remember the excitement and all the time spent setting up my room. I decided this week would be some tips and tricks I learned about setting up the technology in your room!


One of my old classrooms 🙂

Make sure you test everything out to make sure it works, find the proper power and connection cords. If anything winds up dead or not working correctly make sure to bring it up to your tech department as soon as possible. Having working technology for the beginning of the school year would make like just a little easier!

Do not even try to set up your technology until you have figured out your floor plan. Too many times have I seen a teacher who sets up their tech and realizes it is in the middle of everything and completely in the way. The right placement will come when you have figured out the more important features of your space such as rug, chairs, and instruments. If your projector is not mounted to the wall and you do not have to travel from room to room I would highly recommend asking your tech department to mount it for you before school starts.

For three very important reasons:

  • If it remains on a cart there is a good chance for it to constantly be bumped and the picture to go askew.
  • Or worse! The whole cart knocked over! Bye bye projector, I hardly knew ye.
  • The worst is that it can become a tripping hazard. Let me tell you, falling flat on your face in the middle of a lesson is not the fun time you would expect.

Once your projector has a place, placement of your sound system is crucial.  If you have a portable system such as a boom box or iHome, find an electrical outlet and then drag a table or desk over to it. Putting it on the floor is just asking for a foot through a speaker! When you place any sort of technology in your room, make sure you consider if you want little hands touching it. Keeping it out of direct reach is always your best bet. You never want to put it so far away even you cannot reach it, but especially with younger students, you do not want them being able to push buttons from right where they are sitting or moving. A great tip is to try to get a small remote for any sound system. Perfect to stow away in a pocket and control your system no matter where you are in the room. You might not feel safe having it within reach of the students and place it on a high shelf. My reason for using a remote was it trained my students from a young age that the way to control my system was from the remote and not the speakers. If they were mischievous they went for the remote instead of the system itself and I could playfully karate chop their little fingers away before they got too far.

Creating a tech friendly learning environment

When you are setting up your floor plan for your new classroom remember a few things to help prevent disaster from striking,

  • Keep it off the floor to avoid being kicked. If you are on a cart keep it on there!
  • Secure it whenever possible. Not with flimsy tie downs either. Get the heavy-duty stuff like brackets and screws. You will thank me later.
  • Keep a clear area from your computer to the learning space. This lets you move back and forth easily when using the projector with classes.
  • If your projector (or if you have found the jackpot an interactive whiteboard!) is on a cart try to have it mounted to the wall.
  • Keep your sound system in a place where you can reach it, but it would be difficult for a student.
  • If you have any mobile technology at your disposal, make a designated area for it. That way your students have access but it is out of the way from daily routine.
  • Set up rules!
  • Most important, never let technology be the center of your teaching. Build your room around the singing, dancing, and playing you will do. The technology will land exactly where it needs to in order to build a perfect balance.

What kinds of things do you do to set up your room?