It's been a week since CUE 2018. The conference was a nice break from the classroom. It's not that I don't enjoy teaching my students ( I do), but getting away allows me to reflect on the current state of #edtech and brainstorm on how to use up & coming useful technologies. Usually this time is reserved for late at night, but lately I find myself choosing sleep more often than not. Anyways, the point is I get some distraction-free thinking time. Here are some thoughts:
#OneNoteEdu - Tammy Dunbar and I gave a 3 hour Office 365 workshop, and I put together the section on OneNote. I've come to the conclusion that there is never enough time to discuss OneNote. There is just too much to talk about. Attendees need to understand the organizational structure of a OneNote notebook and the power of the page. Immersive Reader, embeds, math, tables, ink, researcher, printing and sharing, and then there are all the basics too. And if that wasn't enough, Classroom Notebooks take it all to a new level of pedagogical thinking, planning, and designing. I showed off a lot of examples of how I'm using Class Notebooks to share content, organize everything digital in my classroom, and implement learning activities with my students. It's pretty crazy how one software program can be used in so many various ways, be it for independent or collaborative student learning. At the same time, since OneNote is my classroom hub for practically everything, I don't have to teach new routines for other apps or online services. When my students come into the classroom and see that they're using iPads, they don't ask "what do we do?", they just automatically open OneNote, log in, and open our Class Notebook. I like this. It saves me time.
I digress though. Explaining all the ins and outs of a Class Notebook is also a big challenge. There is distributing and reviewing work, LMS integration, creating collaborative sections, creating groups for differentiated page distribution, the process of setting up a Class Notebook, and the permission levels associated with the three main sections. It's a lot to digest in such a short amount of time, and it's a lot to try to explain in such a short time too.
Power Bi - I gave my Power Bi session again. This was my third time, and I still haven't figured out a cool catchy name for my session title yet. I had a bigger audience this time. My session resource link (available at the session) was pinged 91 times that day (yay!). Maybe this whole what-are-we-going-to-do-with-all-this-student-data-and-how-are-we-going-to-manage-it idea is starting to catch on. It also helped to have a good location for the session as well 😉 Lots of people were interested, and there was a collective "wow" when I demonstrated manipulating a chart on students' success rate with multiple ELA anchor standards to show me the data based by grade level, class section, and both. I received some complements for my session at the end, before everyone was rudely kicked out by the convention staff.
FONBME - This is a take on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I call this Fear of Not Branding Myself Enough. There is just so much of it going on, and I don't know how to react to it. Should I do it too? I imagine it's time consuming, having to create a fancy acronym, write blog posts for every little thought, and having to attach myself to Twitter more than ever. I'd rather spend time this time with my family and on my students' learning. I like to create, innovate, and problem solve. This takes time. Time away from branding I guess. Oh well.
AR & VR - CUE has a nice little virtual reality playground for attendees to play around the latest devices (except for Microsoft's mixed reality headsets 😕). I'm still trying to put my finger on this for the music classroom. Yes, there are use cases for the historical part of music education, but I'm still trying to figure out how AR/VR could be used to help students understand and grasp the basic music concepts I teach in middle school. I already accomplish this without AR/VR, but does it have something to offer that makes it pedagogically worthwhile? I still don't know. Honestly I don't have a device to play around with and test, but that's not the real issue. I know what works in my classroom. I know how to design my resources and activities so that my students learn in my classroom. I want to (try to) do the same with VR. I want to be able to create a VR experience tailored exactly the way I want it for my students (TPK and TCK), except I don't know how to design for VR yet. During a discussion I had with one of the VR experts, I did learn about WebVR though, which I'm told is where everything is headed. Imagine if teachers had easy tools to create worthwhile VR/AR experiences for their students that could incorporate permission levels from the cloud, like a VR/AR classroom that adapts for every student. That would be cool. Make it happen Microsoft.
Recently I guest blogged on a couple of websites. I wrote one on how the StaffPad app has been changing my pedagogy in the music classroom. You can find it over at the Daily Adventures blog.
I also wrote one on how using a Surface in my classroom has transformed my instructional practices, and is a seriously awesome machine for the classroom. It's actually over on the Surface Blog, and....there's a video :-)
So my classroom was filmed for a couple days to make the video. My students really enjoyed it, and it was a great opportunity for me to explain some of the ins and outs of the film industry to them. They were pretty psyched too when they saw the final product months after the initial filming.
Check it out
In my last blog post I presented how I was able to create new resources to transform a regular music class routine (chair test) into a more meaningful activity for my students. Besides performing the required music excerpt for their test, they were also engaged in the analysis and evaluation of their peers as well. Not only does this support our school wide tier 2 academic vocabulary words, but also requires my students to listen and evaluate using musical tier 3 academic vocabulary concepts such as Tone, Pitch, Rhythm, etc.
Academic vocabulary (AV) is the vehicle for our school wide project. We measure its usage within our assignments to compare and hopefully find instances of positive deviance within our instructional practices. This has required me to get creative and develop new forms of assessment to measure my students use of AV in their academic writing. Whereas this kind of activity is common in the core subjects, it's not quite the typical activity found within the instrumental music class. My students have already completed one writing assessment this year, and I recently had to come up with a new assessment, different from the first, to measure my students' AV use.
My students recently completed another chair test, and I found myself looking at two sets of data points. The scores from their first chair test, and the scores from the recent chair test. The scores are based on a rubric I previously created, which accounts for the correct Pitch, Rhythm, Tone, Bowings, and Posture of their performance. The data is great for me to analyze, but what would my students think after seeing it too? I decided to find out.
Within the Excel file containing all my score data, I exported the numbers from both chair tests into two separate pivot tables. Using the pivot tables, I was able to average the rubric's category scores and show how my students' performed as a class and also as a section.
After my pivot tables were set up, I turned the data into charts with a couple of mouse clicks. I formatted the chart to make it look nice and simple for my students. After the charts were done, I exported (copy/paste) them to a Word doc, typed up the assignment directions, and Voilà! A new writing assignment. My students had to compare both sets of scores and look for changes among the rubric categories. Then they had to analyze both chair test exercises and use them to explain the changes that occurred in their score averages.
Seeing the differences in their scores was a pretty easy task, but explaining the changes by analyzing and citing specific challenges that each song presented…that was going to be a challenge for them >:-)
I gave them two days, and overall was pleased with the results of my students first attempt at this. Citing the data was not an issue, and most of them were able to dig a little deeper into the music and specifically identify and compare the technical challenges from both songs. Pretty cool. I love making my students think :-)
Below are some examples of what I received in their essays. Some are exactly what I'm looking for, and some are just fun to read :-)
Scroll to the right --->
I've been collecting this data for years, and by using Excel's pivot tables I was able to create a meaningful writing assignment for my students. An assignment requiring the analysis of music and data, plus synthesizing and justifying their findings into a written essay.
At my school site I'm involved with a group of teachers that are currently looking for instructional positive deviances in our classrooms through research and data. We decided as a group to focus on building our students' use of academic vocabulary. Currently we're analyzing the student use of vocab within our content areas, as well as focusing campus wide on 10 specific words. This has been a challenge for me. In the past my curriculum focused on building my students' reading skills of western music notation, not the English language. For me to participate effectively in the project, I was going to have to modify the activities of my music classroom.
Thanks to our meetings, where I get to listen to my colleagues (ELA!) discuss their processes for teaching and assessing academic vocabulary, I've been able to brainstorm and implement some new activities into my curriculum. However, to implement I would need new materials and resources that I didn't have. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet for the right tool/resource for my ideas, I've been able to easily create what I need thanks to the power of Microsoft Office and my Surface Pro 3.
I had a conversation with my meeting facilitator the other day. She told me that even though it looks like I'm not paying attention and participating in the discussions sometimes, she can tell the wheels are turning inside my head. She's right. As I listen to my colleagues, I'm writing down my mental musings into OneNote. These notes, which are readily available on any device I'm using thanks to the cloud, is where the creative process starts. The best part! No paper is required! As a teacher, paper is EVERYWHERE. Flyers, handouts, meeting agendas, new instructional materials, student work, advertisements. Using OneNote, my notes NEVER get lost ;-)
Creating New Instructional Materials
Now that I have a plan, I need the materials to support that plan. Maybe it because I'm just particular, but if I'm going to use materials/resources to aid my new ideas, I'm going to make them myself. Using MS Office its Cake and Pie (piece of cake, easy as pie) ;-)
Listening Analysis Worksheet for Chair Tests
Chair tests are just plain fun….for the music teacher :-) For those unaware, in the music class we designate an exercise or musical passage to be used as an assessment test for the students. The students play the exercise/section one at a time in class. Based on the results of each students performance, they'll be seated in a particular order ie. first chair, second chair, third chair,…….last chair(!) within their instrument section. Its nerve-racking for the students, but great for me to experience (it also leads to great conversations about presentation skills, nerves, and overcoming them). Anyways, I digress. Usually during a chair test, the other students just listen and wait for their turn. Well not anymore! Now, just like me, I want my students to listen, analyze, and give their own score for each student that plays. To do this, they would need a score sheet AND a rubric to score them with, which means I have to create one. Ready, Set, Office!
The Score Sheet
This one's pretty easy.
- Highlight the table cells, and use the Layout and Design tabs at the top of MS Word
The Final Product
That's it! I save the file as a PDF so it's shareable and can easily print off of a thumb drive.
My students use the form now whenever they have chair tests. I use the original Excel file I created to enter their scores. Using the formula functionality within Excel, their scores are automatically added up to give me a final score. When the testing process is done, I can easily sort the data by Score and Instrument to see the new chair rankings. I also copy/paste the results onto my mega OneNote classroom whiteboard, so the students can visually see the rankings themselves.
Chair tests can take a while for all the students to complete, especially when there are 40+ nervous children in one class. Having them complete the score sheet helps with classroom management, fulfills the listening, evaluating, and analysis standards of music education, using school-wide and classroom vocab words in context, and also sets my students up for the next activity associated with their chair tests.
Stay tuned for part 2 which describes the next step of measuring my students' use of academic vocabulary! In the meantime, leave a comment :-)
Disclaimer: I am the proud owner of a Surface Pro 1, however the fine folks at the Cerritos Microsoft Store have been kind enough to loan me a Pro 3 to use. It has been wonderful using it, and I thank them greatly!
My String Orchestra class didn't go exactly as planned this week, and it's all OneNote's fault. On Tuesday we were supposed to continue in our method book, working on playing in the key of F Major. We were going to get to the next page and play one of my favorite songs, Waltzing Matilda! Alas, it did not happen thanks to that cape-wearing purple program called OneNote, and her little sidekick Office Lens.
It started when a couple of my violins came into class, talking about their new roles in the school play. They play the "music kids" and have to perform a song on stage during the performance. They handed me a copy of the song, and a conversation started. "The song is way too easy" was heard, as well as "what are those letters on top of the notes?"
Boom! That was it. That was all I needed. "Lesson's over kids, it's time for a teachable moment!" <-- I didn't actually say that ;-)
My 8th graders received a heavy dose of music theory instruction last year from me, and what a better way to start off this year's new theory season than with:
1) A review of last year's theory instruction.
2) Opportunities for critical thinking and application.
3) The creation of a new assignment/project for my students.
It took me less than 60 seconds to set it up. I pulled out my Lumia phone and snapped a picture of the song my violin student had in her hand using the Office Lens app. Two things then automatically happened behind the scenes. Office Lens saved that picture straight to my OneNote notebook on my Surface Pro 3, and it saved the picture as a PDF file into a designated folder in my OneDrive. Within 60 seconds of snapping the picture, I have the song plus some music staff paper up on my whiteboard-wall using OneNote. Then the magic started.
I tackled the letters first, explaining how they represented Major and minor chords that went with the melody. I could tell some of my 8th graders were a little rusty, so we reviewed intervals and triads, which was fine since it helped with explaining the A7 chord. After that we tore up the song, analyzing every bit that the class time allowed. By the end of class, my OneNote page looked like this:
By the end of class, my two violin actors & the rest of the class received a new challenge from me. "If the original melody is to easy and boring for you to play, then write a harmony line to accompany it! Every bit of information needed to write one is already listed on the page." I offered extra credit for trying, and the coveted "Student of the Month" award for the best arrangement. My challenge was accepted :-)
The teachable moment was great. My 8th graders applied knowledge they had previously learned, I was able to introduce some new concepts, and my 7th graders were involved. This couldn't have happened without the help of my daily tech tools:
Surface Pro 3 - I love this machine! I project my screen onto my classroom wall by wirelessly connecting my Surface to the projector with its built-in Miracast functionality. This enables all my students to see my "whiteboard" aka computer screen. It also allows me to freely walk around my room with my Surface, enabling me to use my proximity for classroom management purposes, engagement with particular students, and to use my classroom piano for reference, all without losing immediate access to my whiteboard. Using the pen and OneNote as my classroom whiteboard, I have unlimited whiteboard space and can annotate on PDF documents and pictures. The best part is when I hand my Surface and its pen to students and give them tasks to complete. The "Wow!" factor sets in and my students are completely engaged.
OneNote - ….is awesome because of how adaptable it is to various educational situations and settings. In my classroom, it's my whiteboard, my overhead projector, my document camera, and my lesson planner, all nicely packed into one sleek program. I'm not limited by space constraints, I don’t need messy markers that always get lost, and I don't need to worry about poorly lit documents. OneNote has become the visual canvas of my classroom instruction.
Office Lens - OneNote's little sidekick is a must for OneNote users. It's ability to capture images and save immediately into OneNote is simple, easy, and quick. For example, I use it to capture and display student's classwork for reference, analysis, and immediate formative assessment. The process is fast and seamless, and is great for those "teachable moments." Office Lens' continued development has introduced some great features lately. Not only can I quickly save an image of something to OneNote, but Office Lens will also translate the image and save as a Word doc, PowerPoint slide, or PDF file. This is great if I want to save, edit and use a document I receive at a meeting or conference.
This trio of software and hardware has changed my daily pedagogical routines. I'm able to present more material to my students quickly in an effortless manner. As a teacher, I experience the "teachable moments" every day I go to work. Now, using OneNote, Office Lens, and my Surface Pro 3, I can easily turn a teachable moment into a visual interactive lesson for my students.
Disclaimer: I am the proud owner of a Surface Pro 1, however the fine folks at the Cerritos Microsoft Store have been kind enough to loan me a Pro 3 to use. It has been wonderful using it, and I thank them greatly!
Over time, the information I've been required to post on my classroom whiteboard has evolved from a Learning Objective, to the Learning Objective + Classwork and Homework agenda, to a Learning Target (students will Know X and Understand Y by Doing Z) + the Classwork and Homework agenda. It's a lot of information. Don't get me wrong, it's totally appropriate and necessary for students' learning, but there's an issue. I teach five completely different classes, so getting all that information on display for all the students is a challenge. I have a few options for displaying information on my un-centered, small, single whiteboard.
1) Write the learning targets and agendas for every class on the board. Drawbacks: Tiny writing, students can't see what I've written, no blank space on the board to use during instruction.
2) Only display one class at a time. Drawbacks: Some students still can't see, writing for every class is keeping me from supervising/managing my incoming and outgoing students during the passing period. Remember, I'm dealing with expensive instruments, cases, chairs, and music stands.
3) Install some more whiteboards in my room. Tried that, district took them down :-(
4) Give up and just not write it on the board. <--Not an option!
Over the years I would bounce around between option 1 and 2. Students from one side of the classroom would have to get out of their seat and walk over so they could copy down the agenda in their planner. One year I did install some cheap office-store whiteboards, but those eventually disappeared from my wall courtesy of the district maintenance crew. It wasn't until I discovered OneNote on my Surface Pro that I finally found a solution. At the time, I was connecting my Surface to my classroom projector to display instructional content, and began to use OneNote at school to take notes at my work meetings. OneNote's organizational structure (Notebooks -> Sections -> Pages) makes it incredibly easy to create and stay organized. I quickly figured out that within my "Work" notebook I could create and designate a section for each of my classes. Within each class section, I could create and use a page for each daily agenda and learning target of the day. Boom! Now instead of using my not-so-strategically-placed-in-the-classroom whiteboard, I just connect my Surface Pro to the strategically-placed classroom projector, open OneNote, go to the relevant class page, and viola! Now all my students can see the classwork, homework, and learning target for the day. Switching between each class agenda takes seconds, giving me back the time I need to monitor the students coming and going, setting up, and needing my assistance.
Creating a new agenda is super easy. OneNote automatically provides the date and time for when a page is created, which helps me keep track of the day and plan the information to be posted for my students. Just like in MS word, I'm able to create tables within OneNote's whitespace. I use the table function to format my agenda info for easy reading and understanding. I never delete my agenda pages, and here's why. By scrolling through the previously created class pages, I'm able to quickly check the agendas from past school days. This helps me stay on top of what we're learning, what's been assigned, what I'm collecting, and what's due soon. Using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-A (select all), Ctrl-C (copy), and Ctrl-P (paste), I can quickly create a new daily agenda and learning target page with a consistent style and format in a matter of seconds. This new method and routine is much faster and easier than writing it in a lesson plan book, and then again on my semi-useful classroom whiteboard. I also don't have to worry about students being unable to read my handwriting as well ;-)
In my music room, my Surface Pro is continuously connected to my classroom projector wirelessly via its built-in Miracast wireless display connection. Now I can be standing at my classroom door with my Surface, not only monitoring my students, but also changing the agenda for my next class. Using OneNote makes the task fast and simple, and it keeps me organized(!).
But wait, there's more!
I now have a second classroom on the other side of campus where I teach my multimedia students. The room is a generic computer lab for teachers to sign up and use, so I don't personalize it or leave any equipment there. Does that stop me from using OneNote to show the daily agenda? Nope! All my OneNote notebooks are available for me online, so I can get to them from any internet connected device. The computer lab's projector is connected to a generic teacher workstation, which either mirrors or extends it display. Using the computer's web browser, all I have to do is:
I can even make edits from my Surface Pro, which then immediately reflect on the projector screen. The edits are synced in real time to the cloud version of OneNote (the browser version I use to display the agenda in the computer class), and the edits take merely seconds to reflect on the teacher workstation.
OneNote is free to download, and can be installed on practically every device that you can connect to a projector. Teacher workstation, check! iPad, check! iPhone, check! Windows phone, check! Android tablet/phone, check! Thanks to my Miracast dongle, I can even use my Nokia 1520 to wirelessly connect and display the agenda if I need to. Using OneNote combined with my Surface Pro solved an issue I've been dealing with for years. It's incredibly simple, and enabled me to be a much more effective and organized teacher for my students.