You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.


My idea for my independent learning project for my Communications class came from:

This article is about creating oral history interviews. I asked my new substitute if he was up to trying to start my project because I hope to be back in the classroom soon.  Being a star, he was excited about my ideas. The first step is to have the students review the results of the survey, see what everyone was interested in doing. Then we need to get the students to choose what they would like to do for the oral history project. They will need to choose a topic, a method of presentation, independently!

Again, I really like the idea of interviews. They can interview kids who lived in other states, different school districts, people who had a bad experience and lived better because of it.  Key is finding someone they feel comfortable interviewing and learning how to ask open-ended questions. Maybe we can find some interviews on YouTube -good and bad. I really wish they would consider older family members-get family histories. Some kids don’t have grandparents. Parents who have been incarcerated would be great!  I’m excited:)

Hi Cory,

I read your post and I am glad to help with uploading a music or audio file. ; )

After starting a “new post” there is an option to upload an audio/picture file:

When you click on the icon, it opens a window that looks like this:

In this case, when I tried to add the “Itsy Bitsy Blogger” music file, I realized the file was too large for the blog post (as indicated in red above).

This would normally be a great way to post a smaller audio file. Unfortunately the basic WordPress service does not allow adding larger audio files. However, I am not giving up… There has to be an audio player or another widget out there that allows me to embed it into WordPress… Will investigate that… If all else fails I can include it on a website and link it here….

I have given my students an inquiry about harmonization. Choir students are used to hearing & learning their parts, then memorizing them for a performance. So we had our first harmonization playground. I did a brief warmup having my students sing in 3rds, moving up and down sometimes together and sometimes moving in opposite directions. My students absolutely thought I was nuts. I chose a pop song and projected the words onto a screen, but told them they didn’t need to sing the words- simply singing Oo would be fine. You can sing anything but not the melody. At first they sat and looked at me like I had a growth coming out of my head. I told them to move to somewhere in the room where they could be comfortable. I started singing  and turned up the music. As they started “Playing” with the notes, we had some strange sounds. But by the end of the second time through the song students were catching on and harmonizing. Then they sang louder. We tried with new pop songs, their was laughter and a few “I did it”‘s Now they have an assignment to work with 1-2 other students to harmonize their own chosen song. The rest of class they had their harmonization playground. It was a fun class.


I admit it, you asked me to post this and I have been dragging my feet.  After all, a blog is like a great sharing, an inspiring conversation, a place to talk about  what you are challenged by or what you are celebrating- in a community there to help.  So why did I keep putting it off ?  Finally I had to ask myself WHY AM I A RELUCTANT BLOGGER?   And it was for all of the reasons we wrote in OUR SONG!

Maybe we were a little giddy listening to all the great stuff happening in the room, or maybe we are just crazy techies, but for whatever reason, reluctant bloggers everywhere take comfort- help is on the way thanks to thanks to Camille, Cory, David and Bethany and these musical moments.

Now Camille can you help me load the music file??? HELP!  How do you load one???

The Itsy Bitsy Blogger (to the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The itsy bitsy blogger went up to write a post, down went the net and now the post is toast!

Out came a word doc to put it on at first, Now the itsy bitsy blooger could handle all the worst

The itsy bitsy blogger sat down to write a post, Writing always scared them, it bothered them the most,

Out came some pictures, the blogger posted these, Now the itsy bitsy blogger could make a post with ease.

The itsy bitsy blogger tried for the perfect post, Two hours later the page was still “almost”

Out came the tech dames who hit them on the head, Posts are conversations just talk to us they said!

The itsy bitsy blogger was posting to their blog, Their inquiry was dragging, they heads were in a fog,

Up popped a post with  someone else’s news, Now the itsy bitsy blogger had ideas they could use.

La bloggarotcha, La bloggarathcha,

Get your stuff down on the page

La bloggartcha, La bloggarathcha,

Make your classroom all the rage!

La bloggatotch, La bloggaratcha

Post to talk to us,it’s free,

La blogarotcha, La Blogaratcha,

I share with you, you share with me!

Quote #4: “Inquiry requires teachers and students alike to take up multiple roles and responsibilities within and across classroom activities.”

 I don’t think you could sum it up much better than that. I feel like this quote speaks to what collaborative inquiry is all about….moving away from the practice of teachers standing in front of a room and spooning out information that the students are expected to regurgitate, and toward a classroom setting in which teachers lead, but the division of power is such that students are able to assume that role when appropriate and promote peer teaching and self learning.

That said I find the goal this year extremely interesting. Taking group inquiry into the classroom is one thing, but giving students the reigns to shape and mold the line of inquiry, even create it themselves, is quite the other. Relinquishing power in this manner, even for the most liberal of teachers, is a bit scary. Then again, I guess it’s the logical next step.

With regard to my particular CIG, the discussion question that I kept coming back to when I read through these ideas was “What ‘problems’ to you encounter with your students that could stimulate a shared inquiry as an active quest?” Our CIG is centered around this question. We want to find out why so many students refuse to practice their craft outside of a classroom setting. We also want to learn their motivation for taking an arts class (to fit in, to create art/music, to get an easy A) and how we can motivate them further.

For the second reading I chose to read “The Creative Music Strategy, A Seven-Step Instructional Model” and was pleased with the content. Not only did I find it helpful and insightful, I was able to relate to and connect with the material being presented. Last year the Yellow CIG designed a unit of collaborate inquiry in which the students would be part of a large scale travelling art project. The students of music teachers in the CIG were charged with composing music to accompany the visual artistic works. To that point in my teaching career I had conducted basic composition lessons with my classes but nothing on the level that we had discussed for the project. As such, I sat down and brainstormed some ideas on how to create a unit that would teach the students about the elements of composition, while insuring that they were able to creatively engage in group composition that could be recorded and used in the project. The list that I came up with was staggeringly similar to the seven steps listed in this essay.

The first step, “Springboard for the Strategy” was the first thing our CIG decided upon. Earth Day became our theme. Step two, “Develop an open-ended musical question” was my first lesson. I spent the period discussing the history of earth day and the elements of composition, and in doing so had the students develop questions to accompany the lesson. Step three, “Large-group brainstorm” was the natural third step. Let the students dig in and give it a try. Doing it on a large scale allowed students to give and receive ideas without the fear of giving an “incorrect answer”. I somewhat skipped step four, “Personal Exploration” because my students created their compositions as a group, not as individuals. Students were placed in smaller groups to allow for additional rhythms and melodies but not to the level of individual students. In that sense, we kind of skipped to step five, “Small-group planned improvisation”. Once the students had created the parts of the composition and agreed upon the form we moved to step six, “Record for Reflection”. And when the project was complete we were able to reflect upon our pieces not only as single entities but as par t of the entire travelling art project.

I enjoyed this article because it not only gave me some new ideas for future composition lessons but it also lent credibility to the lesson I had already planned. This article outlined a much more comprehensive look at creative music making, but the process was very close to the model that I had already created. I really look forward to conducting this lesson again and adding the strategies mentioned in this article that I overlooked the first time.

My second year of teaching is much different than my first. Relationships with my students have grown stronger, I’m more comfortable with the staff and daily procedures, and my classroom has morphed into a few carts, a woodshop, and a cafeteria.
I began the new teaching year knowing that I would have to make adjustments to my arts education approach. The entire school, grades 1-8, embarked on total reconstructive surgery…the guts of which are still somewhat exposed, and my space had taken the deepest cut.
Currently, elementary and middle are in two separate buildings and I walk back and forth throughout the day. I teach on a cart in the elementary building and my middle school classes are either in the woodshop (that also doubles as the main entrance and office) or my art room, which is being occupied by the cafeteria and janitorial staff. My prep period is spent trying to drown out conversations about Facebook relationship statuses since I’m sharing it with seventh grade lunch. If I haven’t made it clear yet, the cafeteria is one part of the school that has not yet been built. Leaving my big, bright, new art room the designated storage space for all things fried and artificially flavored.
Although my days are spread thin, much like the PB&J that’s being served in my room at the moment, I’ve been trying to see the positive in this very unique situation. Since I work in every room in the elementary side, I feel very much a part of it all. I’ve also used this opportunity of “ exposure” to share what arts education really means. Teachers, willingly or unwillingly, have paid more attention to my lessons since I am the one they try to drown out during their prep period.
My latest project not only involves the whole school, but also draws attention to my groups inquiry question, “How can we help students discover who they are and their connection to the world through the arts?” I decided to have the elementary classes begin a school-wide project that would enable them to utilize their regular classroom space.
The students were going to begin creating their own dream world locker installations.
Students have their own locker in the classroom and most show real pride for that space. Taking the idea of personal space, how one uses it, and seeing what things each student values by hanging in their locker was an interesting and exciting concept.
We started by having discussions on identity and what it means to be your own person…what makes you you, how commonalities help relate to one another, and how our differences make us more of an individual. Ultimately, I wanted to continue the message of “acceptance” without making it totally obvious. The big project that is just getting underway now, started first with a few small activities. Each class filled out an identity map, drawing or writing different things about themselves. The students did not put their names on it because at the end of the class I shuffled the maps, and redistributed. It turned into a matching game. Each student had to read over the identity map they had been handed and tried to guess whose identity they had. Taking turns, they found their matches and announced at least one new thing they learned about the person. This activity ended up being very beneficial. It put everyone on the same playing field and somehow erased a lot of the barriers that are usually present in the classroom. There was a lot less judgment than I anticipated. This time, I think reading from a paper was different than listening to a person speak. There was a distance that was created, allowing a student who usually gets made fun of to have their time. For example, when students read the identity map, they were more concerned about getting the answer right and finding their match than caring if that person was “cool” or not. If the activity instead were to have the student stand in front of the classroom and introduce himself, I don’t think the class would have been as interested or open.
The next activity was to take the idea of identity and personality and show it through design and style. We spoke briefly about how people show things about their individuality by the way they choose to dress. In this activity, students designed a shoe with the requirement of incorporating three things about themselves. It could be abstract or literal. Many of the students had a theme for their shoe or reverted back to their identity map and drew three things they answered on the worksheet. We hung our shoes in the hallway, not only as a way to decorate the space, but to get the school amped and promote our big project.
Finally, we were ready to begin the installation.
The idea is for each student to create an art installation inside his/her locker. When the school is done, we will hold a grand exhibit, having all the lockers open for viewing. I am even thinking about having some classes create pod casts so people can listen to the artists speak about their work.
Just this week, I introduced installations and once again created my ever so trusty “Ms. Nemchik’s Art Museum”. Even though I’m in a different room every class, having a magnetic whiteboard waiting for me is guaranteed. My way of making sure each student sees the visuals I have for the lesson is to hang them with magnets in the front of the room. We practice how to act in an art museum or gallery, not touching the artwork, taking our time looking at each piece, and then discussing what we thought as a group afterward. The students really loved critiquing the work. They were excited about the idea of changing a whole space. After a consistently long discussion about the different art installation examples, talking about what we saw, why we liked certain aspects more than others, what we thought the artist was thinking, and how we would feel in each space, each class began sketching their own dream world.
I am trying to make the requirements very loose. In the sketch, I told them they should be able to answer the following three questions:
1.What does it look like?
2.Who is in it?
3.What can you do there?
I don’t want them to feel like they have to make it look like an actual place, but I did want to give them some guidelines so that they weren’t totally overwhelmed. I explained that when they are done with their installations they could invite others to view the lockers and have their own classroom exhibit. By having other people view their dream worlds they will be telling the viewer more about themselves and who they are as a person.
Here’s to hoping things go as planned! Art cart. Out.

Another productive day at the IU thanks to my CIG!  We worked together to get everyone on track for their inquiry.  I focused on finished a few posts, analyzing the data from my survey, and finding information my ideas for my inquiry content.  I’ve decided to use the information provided here: to kickstart my ideas. I’m going to decide between interviewing war veterans, people from different generations, and family members after discussing it with my students. The students will write interview questions, videotape the interview, and edit the videos into a TV show. This would cover most of the skills they expressed an interest in from the survey.

At our meeting we first reviewed our inquiry question, and shared where we were with our students. We decided that pre surveys and post surveys were needed to help in our evaluation of students.

At the end of Art Ed 2.0 year 3; I said okay so where do I go from here?  I have brought technology into my classroom and have found that it equalized my non music reading students, my music reading students and my IEP students.  It is easy to follow the line and notes up and down where ever they lead has helped students master music faster which has allowed me to focus on blend and dynamics more since the average choir student requires many, many repetitions of their parts before they get it into their head and muscles. (This is tedious and sometimes boring when it is teacher run because students have down time while waiting for their turn) Technology has helped us to utilize time better.

My administration have asked us to bring more rigor and relevance into our teaching in the classroom. Now I’m not sure what can be more rigorous and relevant than being in a musical collaborative group learning the music, learning vocal technique and making it work together with other singers to have a blend and balance and to take it into a show and communicate it to an audience. Together with my friend who is the band director, we asked, What would happen if students took on a larger role in the putting together of a concert show.

So, I laid out a plan and we put together collaborative groups. Students in the band and choir signed up to be in these groups. They were given a time frame in which to complete their tasks and I asked if they wanted me to establish tech to help with collaboration and communication and they said, “No, let us come up with that.” So we did. This is my largest concern, how will students communicate with each other.

Since my students already working on the concert before the CIG meeting I felt that I could not give them a pretest or survey. Instead I designed  a reflective evaluation for my students to complete at the end of the Christmas concert project. My hope is that from their experience, we will learn some what they know and how they work, then draw from the experience and take what we learned and plan a spring show that would turn out better, smoother communication and program flow, more input from students. So now that the first show is done and my students have completed I have poured over their responses, now we meet and plan new goals, new music, I have better help for their documentation and communications. They had some great ideas which we are now implementing. Now we start the new project and I let you know how that goes.

January 2012
« Dec   Feb »

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 21 other followers