I have had the fortune of working closely with Sally Gregory on a range of projects during my time at Canadian Lead Primary School. She is far too modest to say it herself, but she is a skilled musician, a talented director and above all, an outstanding educator. She has taken the time to write the guest post below outlining her take on Music education and its value in our primary schools. – Teddy.
It has taken a great deal of persistence and nagging on Teddy’s part for this post to be written. I think it would have found it easier so play one of my own songs for a crowd of thousands than to somehow put the cacophony of thoughts in my head about music education into a ‘brief and succinct’ blog post.
I was one of the lucky students who went through the mainstream education system in Australia and came out the other end with not only knowledge but also a love of music. Unfortunately this was not due to the quality experiences at school, but the foresight of my mum to pay for me to learn at a private music school. This is a classic illustration of what I like to call ‘The Great Divide’. On the one hand, there are amazing educational opportunities for young musicians who can afford to access them. On the other, most students in government schools don’t have this opportunity.
Why not music? The excuses will come thick and fast if you ask. Not enough money, no teacher expertise, lack of resources, not enough time or just not a priority. In primary school music, dance, drama and visual arts are all thrown under the one blanket of ‘the Arts’ with vague statements thrown around about how to teach and access them together. Surely they are all the same?
Wrong. To put them together and to say teaching any part of one is enough diminishes their value and educational benefits.
So what are the benefits?
Here is where I struggle to articulate what it is that I so passionately feel. I could quote endless results from case studies about the benefits for school communities, how music has turned schools around, increased attendance and made students feel more connected to their peers. I could provide links to research into the educational benefits, how it assists student’s brain development and learning in literacy and numeracy. I could talk about the value of creativity or about music for enjoyment and the response it evokes in all of us.
But ultimately, words can only go so far in expressing the worth of music.
Evelyn Glennie, a deaf virtuoso percussionist, has developed a better understanding of sound than most of us will ever achieve. She can determine the pitch of a note through touch alone. Most would argue that music is of little significance or value to someone who can’t hear and yet the impact it has had on her life has been significant.
I challenge all those out there who proclaim often and loudly that you’re not musical to think about what experiences lead you to come to this conclusion. For teachers in schools without a music program please consider how you might be able to use music to benefit you students and school community.
You can find Sally Gregory on Twitter: @SalGregory
Are you a Music/Arts educator? What are your thoughts?
What does the Music/Arts program look like at your school?
How do you bring creativity into your classroom? What benefits have you seen?
Please share your comments and expertise in the space below.
I could spend hours browsing the various talks on the TED website or app. Why? Because everyone who speaks at TED has a fascinating story to tell. I become completely immersed in topics that I’ve never been actively interested in, to name a few: Evolution, toasters and happy secrets.
The point I’m making is that once we have a genuine, relevant ‘hook’ by which we can purposefully engage our student audience, most of the work is done for us. The hard work lies in finding the ‘hook’.
I’m not suggesting that TED is the answer, or that we should tune students in to lessons by showing them these videos, but here is one which I was able to draw from this week when beginning a discussion on Asia and linking our Maths talk to real-life.
Which resources do you draw from to ‘hook in’ your students?
Do you have any examples of your favourite ‘hooks’?
What are your favourite TED talks? Share the best of them and your comments below!
As a second-year graduate teacher, it is around this time of year that I see a lot of activity on my social networks related to final teaching rounds and preparation for new graduates who will be seeking a job the following year. Lately I’ve become hung up on the obsession that some universities have with the creation of a huge portfolio that graduates are encouraged to take to each interview they successfully apply for.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the creation of a document that promotes reflection upon successful completion of a Bachelor’s (or similar) Degree in Education, and I’ll list some of those reasons below. However, I also think that there are some other things to stop and consider before potentially spending hours on a static document that will rapidly pass its use by date.
Firstly, here’s what I like about the concept of a professional portfolio:
- As I mentioned, by curating a portfolio, new graduates can spend valuable time reflecting on the pedagogy and experience that their degree has delivered;
- Becoming fluent with terms associated with professional practice allows candidates to practice responses to questions if they are lucky enough to be short-listed for an interview;
- There is a huge sense of pride and achievement associated with constructing a document that reflects what you have done, what you are capable of and where your true passions lie.
Now, the parts that I’m hung up on:
- As with any aspect of teaching and learning: practice, knowledge and curriculum are constantly changing. Too many portfolios seem to be static documents which leave little room for updating. Anything representing your professional capacity as an educator should be open to change.
- They are bulky and difficult to navigate.
- The general consensus among the interviewing panel members (in my experience) is that they rarely have time to look through a portfolio.
I’m not against the idea of collating professional knowledge and experience, the very opposite! In fact, visual arts teachers rely very heavily on hard copy portfolios of work for obvious reasons. However, I am just trying to encourage people to think about how they go about it.
For example, digital portfolios have many advantages:
- If you do a great job, they also show your capacity as an ICT educator – a highly sought quality in teachers;
- There are a number of amazing, innovative publishing alternatives (Prezi is a must see!);
- It is inclusive of engaging, digital media (such as photographs andvideos) that have a huge potential to showcase your various talents;
- It can be showcased from a variety of different platforms; including iPad, projectors, laptops, Skype and much more;
- It is a live document that can easily be shared, edited and updated for every purpose – this is my most valued aspect.
I hope this post proves useful to those currently updating their professional resources, and I welcome any comments or thoughts in the space below.
In an earlier post I wrote about publishing for a purpose, and giving students the opportunity to choose from a range of publishing tools/types to suit their writing. I have received some amazing feedback on Twitter and Facebook from my loyal PLN, and from my colleagues too. Here are some of the most talked about publishing resources I have discovered in the last few days.
Answergarden - Probably the best brainstorming, jigsaw tool that I have found all week. This site allows you to create a question for students (or staff!) and monitor their answers using the generated link. I love having this on the smartboard while small groups of students add to the brainstorm via a shared netbook. No sign-up, no obligation. Try one out here!
Flipbook – This tool is awesomely simple to use: create, export. It is as simple as that. Students can create a digital flipbook and export it as a GIF file to their email. I love the idea of this being integrated into a mixed-media publishing approach – e.g. students publish their flipbooks to their wiki or blog page.
Piktochart - An infographic creator tool that offers three basic templates and a video tour for students, which I think is a great starting point to introduce the topic. I am really excited to try this one out in the first week of Term 4, I’ll keep you posted!
Glogster - A big thank-you to Hana who posted this on the OpenEdToolbox Facebook page! I have not used Glogster in the classroom (yet!) but their .edu address offers simple templates which students can use to create an interactive poster including music, video, text and even data-attachments. Thanks again, Hana!
Sock Puppets - I owe another thank-you to Mary (Follow her @Mj0401Mary) who shared her experiences with this app in the comments on one of my posts. There are heaps of similar apps out there for iPad to animate and record, but I’m sharing this one because it looks great and I think Mary deserves a mention!
Search Cube - This one is a research tool, not a publishing tool. It is extremely cool though. My students love it! Give it a click!
I am also looking forward to posting about the shake-up of my classroom design and changes to my literacy block in Term 4, I’ll keep you posted!
Enjoy the last days of Term 3, Aussie teachers! To everyone else, keep up the good work!
Have you successfully used any publishing tools in your classroom that I haven’t discussed here? Share them in the comments section below.
First of all, sorry for the delay between posts. End-of-term-itis (self-diagnosed), combined with a major whole-school event and a master’s assignment, have pushed any potential ideas for sharing to the back of my mind.
I’d like to share some of the thoughts and reflections I’ve been considering lately while my class have completed several writer’s workshops, individual student/teacher conferences and ultimately, published pieces of writing.
All too often, certainly throughout my late primary and secondary education, the term ‘publishing’ has given too much emphasis to word-processing a finished piece of writing, adding a nice title and a bright yellow, unreadable form of ‘Kahootz’ font. I quizzed my students on what they thought ‘publishing’ was, and was fairly unsurprised to hear similar responses.
However, by taking my questioning a step further, I was able to tune them into my line of thinking a little more. Over the course of several tuning-in parts of our Reading and Writing lessons, I introduced my 3/4s to a variety of texts (online newspapers, YouTube videos, Twitter to name a few), explaining that books were just one example of a text that we can learn and gather information from. After giving them this as the ‘hook’, I was able to encourage them to volunteer what our understanding of other texts might be, their answers looked something like this:
This set the basis for the discussion that we have been having this term – what are the ways in which we are able to publish our ideas? As the title and introduction of the post indicates, I began to feel that students simply typing their work wasn’t enough to consider it ‘published’, and I wanted them to feel this way too. After all, if a student has already conferenced with me, received feedback and refined their writing – isn’t word processing it just replication of that final handwritten product?
Now that my students are grounded in new (and some old) forms of media, they are beginning to have a deeper understanding of how and why people did/do things that way. Now that we have a comprehensive portfolio of conferenced writing, and some resources available, there are so many options open to us for showing our ideas. We ended up using the first mind map to develop a classroom poster, ‘Ways we can Publish’ (photo on the way!). One of my Grade 4 girls hit the nail on the head just the other day:
‘Teddy, I’ve typed up my fictional recount and turned it into a podcast. If I publish it another way, to show someone else, that’s okay isn’t it?’
‘Fireworks! Excellent! Fantastic!’ I beamed, ‘Here is a year’s supply of stickers!’ After all, isn’t this what we want our students to be doing with their learning? Understanding how to use the tools that we have got at our fingertips to do something better, cooler, more awesome. Instead of replicating, we are generating something new each time, constantly adding new angles and ideas. This is what I call publishing for a purpose: turning old ideas into new forms that encourage people to become switched on by our way of presenting and thinking.
Where does this all fit in? To finish, let me refer to data generated from the 2009 PISA survey results showing Math data that has been compared with entrepreneurial capabilities by Yong Zhao:
Look closely and you’ll notice that the Asian countries leading the way in regards to testing aren’t achieving the same creative outcomes in entrepreneurial capabilities as Australia and the United States. I’ll reflect on this in more detail in a future post.
For now though, we have success among creative entrepreneurs in our education system. Let’s encourage our students to continue publishing ideas in these new and exciting ways.
Of course, this idea of presenting our knowledge doesn’t just stop in the literacy hour, it extends into every area of the curriculum. This publishing focus was begun after students were immersed in the inquiry writing process for Term 1, and spent time learning revision and editing techniques in Term 2.
I invite any responses and feedback to this post as I would love to see what you are doing in your Literacy classrooms and offer some feedback of my own.
What is working for you in your literacy classrooms this year?
What have your students have really taken hold of and enjoyed?
Are there any publishing resources that I haven’t mentioned here worth sharing?