My Blogging Experience

April 14, 2010

Final Collaborative Project Reflection

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , — debyj @ 5:17 pm

This semester I spent a great deal of time on the Seymour Music Department Ning. I worked with students grades 9-12 with varying music abilities but most were beginners. There are three parts to the program: Band, Choir, and Choral. Choral is a more intimate form of Choir. There are only four girls in Choral and they do both solo singing and group singing.  There are a total of 34 students in the Seymour Music Department. Some students are in multiple parts of the program.

With the help of their teacher, Brandt Schneider, I created a large project for them to complete over a period of about two months. This is what the assignments looked like:

Part 1: Video Blog Assignment

This assignment is for ALL Seymour Music Department students!

Step 1: choose a new song (no more than 1 minute long) and start learning it.
– Band students choose a solo song.
– Choral/Choir students choose a song where you will sing and play on the piano. (it can be very simple)

Step 2: create a video that includes the following:
-a brief description of the song (what is it about, who is the
composer, when was it composed, translation of the words if written in
a language other than English, what is/was the composer like?)
-a performance of your new song (it is okay to make mistakes!)
– name at least 2 strengths you have in playing this piece
– name at least 2 things you would like to improve on in playing this piece
-3 things that you are going to do to improve this piece

Your video must be a minimum of 1 minutes and a maximum of 3 minutes long.

You will be blogging about those three things that you are going to do
to improve this piece and then you will be creating another video to
show what you learned and how you met your goals. Your second video
performance should show that you have improved!

For help with your project, view SAMPLE VIDEO on the Ning to see an example of how to do this assignment. The sample video will appear on the ning by Friday, February 26th.

Post any questions you have on the Ning. This can include questions you
have about the technical issues that can come up when you are trying to
make a video.

Your video must be posted by MARCH 1st, 2010!

Have fun!

Part 2: Video Blog Assignment

Step 1: Record a second video of the same song that you did before.

Step 2: Add a written comment to your video OR speak in your video about the following:

-what you think you improved on in contrast to your first video
-what you worked on in practice.
-what you think you could still improve
-Did you enjoy practicing or did you find it was hard? Why?

Step 3: Post on the Ning

Step 4: Listen to at least 2 other videos in your class and comment on their videos. What did you learn from them?

Have Fun!

After the students completed the first part of the assignment, I posted a 5-10 sentence comment on 3 things I thought they did well and 3 things I thought they could improve on for each of the videos.  I included some exercises they could try in their practice that I thought might help.  They responded to my comments and asked more questions to which I responded.

I viewed each student’s performance after they completed their final videos but I did not comment on many of them this time.  An important part of the assignment was for the students to learn from one another and learn how to give each other constructive criticism.  It was encouraging to see big improvements from video one to video two and also see improvements in areas that I had suggested!  The students were reflective of one another’s videos but some did not fulfill the requirement of commenting on at least 2 other videos.

Overall, I think this project was a great experience for me and for the students.  The students had several opportunities to perform and to hear and see themselves play.  Sometimes we do not really realize what we sound like on our instrument until someone records it for us.  I also had the opportunity to listen to players from various levels and give them feedback.  Part of the challenge of being a music teacher is to be able to diagnose problems you hear and help the students find solutions.  This was a great experience for me to try out those skills and face that challenge.

I did a few other minor things with the group. I taught them how to speak a little French for when they sing in French.  I also helped some students with piano playing. I created a sample video for the students to see what their assignments should look like as well.

I wanted to do one final activity with the students but it did not work out for Brandt.  I would have liked to skype with each class and discuss how their assignment went and maybe give them some general tips and tricks that I noticed were problems for most of the students.  Maybe in the near future we will still be able to do this as a sort of conclusion to my time spent with them.

April 12, 2010

Interview with Julie Lindsay

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , — debyj @ 4:16 pm

My much awaited interview finally took place a few days ago so I am now able to blog about Julie and all the of the exciting things she is doing to enhance the educational and technological world!

I have included my skype recording if you would like to view it. Unfortunately, I did not realize that I should have used headphones so there is an echo evident when Julie speaks in the conversation. I also had some trouble with my dogs barking when my husband came home. Even though I wrote him a note not to bug me, he still tried to peak into my conversation and make a silly face thinking I was talking to my sister. Evidently, I would change a few things for next time!

Julie Lindsay is currently living in Beijing, China where she is Information Technology and E-Learning Coordinator at Beijing (BISS) International School. I have found some of her resources very valuable. Her blog is connected to her Diigo account and she has it set up so that every week her bookmarks are posted to her blog. I enjoy looking at her blog weekly to use some of these resources. She knows a lot about what is going on in the web 2.0 world and is using these tools in classrooms and proving they are useful! I would encourage anyone in Education to have a look at her blog to hopefully learn something new and transfer it to the classroom!

For more information about Julie, you can visit:

Wikispace

Blog

Flat classroom

Thanks Julie for sharing your story with me and letting me know about some of the exciting things you are doing to enhance education!

April 6, 2010

Why I Think All Students Should Perform

I hosted a piano recital on Easter Sunday in my home town.  One week from today (eek!) I have to complete a graduating recital (in order to graduate), so I took the opportunity on Sunday to prepare myself for the graded recital and give my family and friends a chance to hear me play.

It went pretty well.  I played for an hour and included about 45 minutes of memorized music.  Every time I have a recital, the first thing I am always asked afterwards is how I can possibly memorize all that music.  It is totally possible! In fact, after you pick up on some tricks to memorizing, its not too hard to learn at all.  In our day to day lives, we really only use a small percentage of our brain.  Our brains are completely capable of handling much more.  We just don’t expect that because we never really need to use too much of it!  Have you ever had to memorize a piece of music before, maybe a poem for a class in high school, or a speech for a wedding?  Could you remember it? Was it that hard to learn or was it just hard to perform it memorized?

The toughest challenge is handling my nerves.  Memorization and nerves do not mix well so I have to very carefully prepare myself for performances and during the performance I have to constantly use positive self talk to remind myself that I know the music backwards and forwards and that I can perform well.  The second I start thinking “O crap! whats next, I forget!” or “geez that sucked”, it all goes downhill from there and things that I can play perfect in practice suddenly sound awful, I have strange memory lapses, or worse…I freeze!  The first piece I performed on Sunday needed a little more positive encouragement because I had a few memory slips and messed up on a few spots when I should have been able to nail them, but as I got more comfortable with the stage and my audience, my pieces started to sound more like they should.

Although not necessarily on piano, I think that all students need to gain experience performing from memory (be it on a instrument, giving a speech, acting in a play, talking to a small group, etc).  Performance provides a lot of challenges that will be good exercise for their brains and help them understand how to handle stress and high-pressure situations. Not many people enjoy performance because most do not know how to handle their nerves and they are scared, but stand up to their nerves and perform and they might feel like they are on top of the world when they can succesfully perform something memorized.  This is something all students should do because no matter where they go in life, they are probably going to have to perform at least once and they are always going to find themselves in various situations where they face feelings of anxiety, stress, nervousness, and fear.  Performing and memorizing may be a challenge for them and will definitely require encouragement, but in the end I am sure they will thank their teachers for that experience.

March 19, 2010

A visual world, but visual schools??

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , , — debyj @ 5:58 pm

I just viewed an Elluminate presentation given by Dean on the topic “Let’s Get Visual”. I remember watching a couple videos on this particular topic in ECMP 355 and being inspired to change the way I create and use PowerPoints. This is something that I believe all teachers (including professors) need to be aware of and take into consideration. Too many people create PowerPoints for the wrong reasons. I think they need to help tell a story and communicate ideas rather than list everything you would like to say. They also should be used to engage learners and add to a presentation. You are ultimately the presentation, NOT your PowerPoint.

Flickr CC-bdieu

If you want to find some excellent resources for creating great Visual Presentations:

Slideshare

Dan Meyer using images in the Math classroom.

Flickr

Compfight

-Your personal CAMERA

– Creative Commons Powerpoint (great powerpoint and an educational topic)

I got to teach a photography unit in CPT 10 during my internship. I knew a bit about photography, but I did have to do some research of my own in order to create the unit. I am really glad that I did some practice on my own and actually used my own pictures to create a PowerPoint for the students. It was really interesting for me discovering how challenging the students found this unit. With digital cameras today, we will take 300 pictures in a day and 50 of those pictures will be of the same thing. We do not think much about how we compose our photos because we assume one of the 50 photos will be good enough. I think we should think more about the pictures we are taking and do our best to make them a great visual representation of a story/situation. There are so many photos available online now for use and I think we should be careful when selecting them for visual presentations. Do not just pick a random photo you think looks nice. Pick one that is going to be not only a good example to students of good photography but one that also portrays the message you are trying to get across.

March 15, 2010

Cellphones for learning?

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , — debyj @ 10:07 am

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an Elluminate session with Liz Kolb on the topic of cellphones.  Throughout the presentation I was madly Diigoing all the of the resources she was sharing.  I also downloaded a copy of her powerpoint in case I missed anything!  I honestly did not expect to find this presentation so resourceful. I had no idea that there are SO MANY ways that you can use cellphones for learning.

If I went around a school and asked all of the teachers what they thought of allowing the use of cellphones in classrooms, the majority would disagree with the notion.  Before I saw this presentation, I would have disagreed as well.  I did not see the educational benefits that could come with using cellphones for learning.  Now that Liz has educated me in this area, I do not see it as such a bad idea.  In addition to using cellphones for learning, having them in the classrooms would also be a great opportunity to teach students about cellphone etiquette!  Right now, I believe that students are not being educated enough in that area and part of that reason is that we are not allowing them in classrooms and some schools are not allowing them at all in the building.

More and more students have their own cellphones everyday.  I would say almost all of my students in my internship had cellphones.  As this trend continues to grow, I can absolutely see cellphones becoming a great tool for students to use to enhance their learning experiences!

January 24, 2010

Old and New ways of teaching

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , , — debyj @ 2:29 pm

Reflecting on University classes….

Bad Learning Experiences:

– 3 hour lectures

Unfortunately, most professors choose to give students a 3 hour lecture each week in which they participate only by frantically writing notes. Some professors thankfully choose to give students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways such as group activities and discussions. This student – centered classroom is more realistic because it is very difficult for us to focus our brains on one particular event for three hours. I came across an article called quick brains that discusses how the brain has changed along with technology. We process information much more quickly then we used to and we have a very short attention span as a result. Teachers (including professors!) must realize this and change or alter their teaching styles if they want their students to succeed.

– motivation

Sometimes it is very difficult to be motivated in University classes. There are many many times when I have wondered what exactly I was learning in class that would be relevant to my career after I complete my degree. Sometimes professors forget to learn about their students. They should be teaching to educate the students in a way that best prepares them for their career! Unfortunately, many professors are teaching because they have to, not because they love to.

Good Learning Experiences:

– Elluminate

I participated in an online class presentation last week featuring Karl Fisch. It was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. It is amazing how technology has advanced in a way that allows a number of people from all over the world to meet together and discuss education without leaving their homes.

– Wolfram Alpha

Karl Fisch talked about a relatively new (May 2009) search engine called Wolfram Alpha. It is very neat and definitely worth trying out. For educators, especially in the Math and Science area, this new tool may pose some problems. Wolfram Alpha can calculate easy to advanced equations for you. Will it be allowed in schools or will it be a blocked website?

If you want to find out more about it, here is a short video tutorial:

Wolfram Alpha introductory movie

– You Tube

In his presentation, Karl Fisch stated that he disagreed with schools for prohibiting the use of You Tube in classrooms. Why not? He argued that we trust our teenagers to drive vehicles yet we do not trust them to use a video website. You Tube has some very valuable resources that are excellent learning opportunities. Not only that, but imagine if we could have the opportunity to teach our students how to use You Tube effectively. We can teach them how to understand the difference between a good and bad video. We can also help them understand the risks involved in posting their own videos; what they should or should not post. I agree with Karl. Lets stop banning websites and start helping our students make effective use of the internet! You Tube is not something to be ashamed of!

I never realized it until now, but my best experiences in University have been those when my teachers have used as many resources as possible (including technology) to best educate me. Technology is becoming such a great tool for teaching (as long as we know how to use it properly). If you are teaching and you are not using it, I think you are making a big mistake.

Another neat video I just found that I think is very relevant to this topic:

digital students @ analog schools

January 20, 2010

Nutrition in Schools

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , — debyj @ 9:25 pm

I have a part time/summer job delivering chips for a snack food company. Today I was working in some small towns and had to make a stop at one small-town k-12 school. We deliver chips to a lot of schools all over the country so that they can sell chips in their canteens/cafeterias and make profit for various school activities/upgrades.

The secretary at this particular school informed me that the school division is requiring that principals create nutrition programs for their schools which they will implement in fall 2010. She was very upset that she would not be able to sell chips at the canteen as of fall 2010. She expressed her frustrations in that she had tried to sell a variety of health foods to the students (such as yogurt, fruits, veggies and dip) and had no success. The food expired and went to waste and they made no money for their school. Her argument is that a bag of chips each day really is not a big deal, so why set all of these regulations? Instead of staying at school during lunch, they are now just going to walk to the nearest convenience store to buy their chips and chocolate bars.

This viewpoint really made me think about what we are doing to change the current health crisis that is effecting people all over the world and especially effecting children. It made me think about smoking, alcohol, gambling, and other major health problems. Somehow my thoughts always ended up resolving to money and crisis. Why don’t we just ban tobacco altogether when we know that it has no health benefits and is contributing to the destruction of our environment? well…the answer is largely money. Why not ban the production of plastic now that we know it is destroying our world? Well, we do not believe we could survive without it…and there is a lot of money in that.

Check out this video on plastic and you will see what I mean:

Is our economy so dependent on health-destructive products and services that it would actually crumble if we tried to stop it? At some point, we may realize that a temporarily destroyed economy might have been better than a permanently destroyed Earth.

When an alcoholic goes to rehab, the alcoholic is not allowed to drink alcohol. In fact, it is typically completely unavailable to that person. After several intense weeks (and sometimes months) of training, the alcoholic returns to the real world “trained” to avoid alcohol and begin a new life. Unfortunately, even after all of that most alcoholics rebound at least once. So my question is: How do we take chips, pop and other non-nutritional foods out of schools when there is a convenience store next door or a pantry of goodies at home? Although not as extreme, this is similar to telling an alcoholic to stop drinking while handing them a beer. We can try to train our students to avoid these nasty foods, to avoid gambling, to avoid smoking, but when they are surrounded by it, what kind of chances do they have? It is nearly impossible to separate them from these things, to “train” them, to help some with “rehab”. We do not have the resources in schools, so should it really be the responsibility of schools? Should it be the responsibility of parents? Nutrition is becoming a major issue for both adults and children. If the large majority of parents are having this problem too, how can we expect them to be leaders in the situation? That is like asking an addict to help another addict recover! So who’s responsibility is it??? How do we stop this cycle of self-destruction?

These principals that are developing nutritional programs have quite the job to do and a whole lot to think about. It will be very interesting to see how their plans come into action in the next few years.

The following is a great article on this issue. Be sure to read the very last line of the article, a comment from a concerned parent: CBC kids health

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