I found this week’s readings to be the most practical so far because they provided many tangible uses for incorporating technology into the music classroom in any setting. Bauer’s (2014) narrative of Michael’s school day is a wonderful example of a day in the life of a music teacher. Aside from providing several sample uses of technology, the narrative also provides insight into the unique demands placed on music teachers, like traveling between schools, teaching varied grade levels and subjects, adjusting to instrumental limitations, etc. (Perhaps it would be useful for some of our more critical non-music colleagues to read a similar narrative about “a day in the life” to help them understand exactly what it is that we do on a daily basis… But I digress.)
Much of Michael’s technology use is similar to what I already do or plan to do in my new classroom this fall. Using a document camera to project exercises on the board is incredibly useful and often saves paper and time spent photocopying. Since I was a traveling teacher, I also found myself using music off of my smartphone with a small bluetooth speaker as well. I frequently showed videos on YouTube either to spark student interest with a particular piece of music, for students to critique, or as a modeling example of good performance practice. I have also found that providing silly or funky background tracks can make even the most simple activities more fun and engaging. For example, when first learning recorders, I played a silly background track and students echoed patterns that I played using only one or two notes. With a fun accompaniment, even one note can sound interesting! Recording performances has also always been part of my curriculum as a tool for self-assessment, but usually only as a reflection after a chorus performance. I am excited to use tools like audacity to record my choirs more frequently now that I will have five choruses that I will be teaching full time. Listening to one’s own performance and providing constructive criticism is an invaluable tool for ensemble growth.
In Chapter Four, Bauer (2014) also provides a table that gives an example of technology that could be used to accomplish each learning standard. This table is already bookmarked in my textbook, and I plan to make a photocopy to keep in my classroom. Some examples were obvious, like recording student’s singing to monitor and provide feedback regarding posture, breath support, and diction. However, the table also provided me several ideas that I had not yet considered. One such example was the use of video conferencing to provide a clinic or master class of sorts to an ensemble. What a fantastic idea! Additionally, the idea to use various forms of technology (like an iPad with a speaker) as an instrument itself within the ensemble was also intriguing to me.
Bauer (2014) also mentions various other media, such as graphics to make learning more interesting, instructional software including online tutorials and games, and internet resources like blogs and social bookmarking sites (Pinterest). I could write several more pages about how useful I have found all of these tools in the past, but instead, I would like to mention one that I did not see in the reading. I have had great success working with Planbook.com as an organizational tool. Especially when teaching elementary school (six different grade levels on a rotating schedule), Planbook.com was an easy way to manage my lesson plans and track instructional progress. It is not a free service, but I felt that it was well worth the $12 per year that I spent on it. I am very much looking forward to continuing my work with all of the forms of classroom technology mentioned above and incorporating them into my new choral classroom setting.
References:Bauer, W. I. (2014). Music learning today: digital pedagogy for creating, performing, and responding to music. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.