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So I am here trying to get my last blog post together and I feel that I have made a lot of progress since my last post, but I have not been able to completely accomplish the project that I set out to do this year.

After my first attempt at getting students to create and edit their own music was not successful, I re-worked my approach and I have had some successes since!  Students researched song that were either written for protest or historical perspective.  The kids picked quite a variety of songs, from Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Country Artists, Hip Hop Artists and  Whitney Houston.  The themes the kids focused on were racism, teen violence, child abuse, self image and patriotism.

I then charged the students with the task of making a decision about what they believe in or stand for, or to describe an event in their own perspective.  Students worked in groups and all of them were able to poems, phrases, and lyrics to make their statements.  Today, students were working on recording their statements and manipulating the sound files using Audacity.  Most of the groups were able to really contribute and create something, but one group who really had something to say and share “lost” their work and now I am worried that they will not get it recorded before Friday’s meeting…

This had really been a great year and I feel that this has really touched on our question: “How can we help students discover who they are and their connection to the world?”

Right now thinking and planning for the future seems almost impossible.

During the last 9 weeks I almost always am experimenting and trying new lessons to add to my repertoire for the upcoming school year, but because of the economic environment in education it is very difficult to imagine what next year will look like for me and the other arts educators in Pennsylvania.

I want to teach Music to kids.  Our students deserve a comprehensive education.  But in the face of waning budgets and financial constraints, I am aware that I may need to provide other options.

I am usually full of ideas, conversation and other options, but I have allowed politics and the anxiety of what is ahead consume my fervor.

So, here I am deciding on and accepting ideas.  Aware and concerned, but making a decision to be revitalized in this moment.  I guess I am wondering – what are my other options?  Do those options involved taking a test?  Taking some classes?  Stepping outside of my comfort zone?  Maybe all of these?  But I am going to look for them because this morning I felt empowered when I logged in and YAHOO reminded me that I do have them 🙂

Today during our meeting we really discussed some of the inquiries that we have been trying in our classrooms.  It was great to talk about how far we have come and about what we are doing in our classrooms.   Most of my group-mates have also reported about what we talked about in their own blog posts.  We talked about concerns with classroom management and how students’ motivation at the end of the year has effected what we are able to do in the classroom.

I shared my experience of having let time management and school-wide activities effect my own work in the classroom and group members were supportive and offered some suggestions to re-try the project this 9-weeks.  I wrote about those experiences in a separate blog post 🙂

We also talked at length about our Spotlight activity and organized some events type things for next meeting!

Attempt #1 for my student inquiry :

My plan was to introduce kids to the voice recorders and have them make various recordings that they could later edit into pieces.  After some very basic instruction about how to use the recorders, students were able to make a variety of recordings, but I did run into issues.  Students were trying to record very long samples, or they were having difficulty uploading and organizing their samples.  After we were able to get all of the sounds onto the computers and I showed students how to use various filters and editing tools to create their piece of music.  Most of the groups were able to edit and move around sounds within a set form, but none of the groups pieces were really coming together…  I thought about what was going on, and I thought that the challenge was time related because of activities surrounding state testing…  when I realized the real issue was the fact that I had missed critical step in the music making process – I forgot to discuss purpose!  I had assumed that the students would automatically know what they wanted to communicate in their piece…  which didn’t really work.  We lost several class periods to activites and then the quarter changed and the students moved  on to their next class…

So what now?  I stewed about how much of a mess this project turned up to be – and how I felt that I didn’t provide students with closure because we had to basically abandon the projects mid-stream.  A lot of the issues were time related, but now I have had some time to revise, reflex and now I am ready to revisit…  What am I going to change?

Attempt#2 almost ready for lift-off!

Since purpose was such a issue with the last attempt, my plan is to combine this project with the Protest Music unit that I was working on.  I am going to have students research a variety of songs whose purpose was to voice a cause or historical perspective.  Then I am going to ask students to research a cause or historical perspective of their own and create a statement about their cause using a variety of recordings and sound editing techniques…hmmm….  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Right now, I am lucky enough to say that this is my 4th year in AE 2.0.  Four years of questions, searching for answers, and trying new stuff!

I say this not because I am bothered by it.  I say it because I feel like I have so many new ideas and flows of thought that I am wondering which direction to go from here.  I am passionate and concerned about teaching students to express and communicate who they are.  I want students to understand that they can contribute to the world in positive and creative ways.

Right now I am considering our group’s question:

How can we help students discover who they are and their connection to the world through the arts?

I am thinking about how I can create a classroom lesson that helps me revise and excel the activities that I have started the last couple of years, and create a new lesson that really addresses this year’s question too.

I am entertaining some ideas using the mp3 players and Audacity to allow students to do some mash-up type mixing, or allowing students to create a piece of music using sounds that they create and edit and mix them!  Right now I am just at the idea phase – but next I will be asking myself – How does this relate to our question? 🙂

The Three Artistic Processes: Paths to lifelong 21st century skills through music by Scott C. Shuler, MENC President

I chose this article because it was a different article than another group member had selected and we thought that we could share ideas from different articles and share information.

This article discussed the 3 artistic processes as an answer to a variety of teachers’ questions about why Music Education in important.  The answer that I felt related to me was the need to explain how studying music prepares students for lifelong success, regardless of career choice.  The author also discusses the 3 artistic processes as clarification for how student-centered music education helps children master 21st century skills necessary for future successes.

Shuler discusses the history of the 3 artistic process model and its usefulness as : comprehensive (content-wise), practical (as a natural process that allows for a natural transfer of learning and assessment), and authentic (allowing live-long student-centered music making that stretches beyond the music classroom).  Shuler also states that in order to give students the gift of lifelong music education that teachers must ensure that students assume the responsibility of making musical decisions (interpretation & creativity), self-assessment and diagnosis & improvement of their own work.  Shuler believes that Music Education has gained some ground since the revision of Bloom’s taxonomy, which puts “Create” on top.  When teachers empower their students to carryout the process, teachers are empowering higher order thinking.  Shuler also comments that some of the 21st century skills that can be gained through this process are  Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and that national music standards highlight creativity through improvisation, composition & interpretation.  Commenting that collaboration requires attributes such as empathy, willing acceptance of a contributing role & respectful participation and an understanding of when to offer ideas and when to listen to others ideas.

The 3 Artistic Processes are described as Creating, Performing, & Responding and the article includes a table that describes activities within each of these areas.  The table also includes verbs that relate to Bloom’s taxonomy.

Insights Gained?

I really feel that this article was relevant to our group’s question: How can we help students discover who they are and their connection to the world through the arts?   I find the connection because I felt the article directly discusses both artistic behaviors and collaboration in the music classroom.  One comment that the author made that really interested me was about how teacher-centered music making does not give students the tools to be musical beyond the music classroom.  That some enthusiastic high school band members and choristers never play or sing beyond graduation, or if they do they are then dependant upon community or other music directors to provide the direction.  Shuler suggests that student centered music education gives students the gift of lifelong music making.  I was particularly interested in the process that he suggests to encourage students to take responsibility for their music learning.  I think that in the classroom, I would definitely like to give students the opportunity to make music in such a way that will extend throughout their lives.

Questions Generated and/or Divergent Views?

Looking at the chart, I do see that it is applicable to classroom music, although it does seem that most of the article refers to the ensemble class.  I am really thinking about the comment that Shuler made about students needing the skills to direct themselves and their research and experiences in their lifelong music making!  I am also considering how I can manipulate the artistic process described  in my classroom.  I am interested in students: creating and developing ideas and concepts, interpreting and developing personal ideas about their creation, presenting work, and evaluating their work.  I really am not sure about what content I want to use yet, I still have lots of ideas swirling around 🙂


After reading each of the quotes, it took me a while to decide which quote it was that I wanted to respond to…  finally, I rested on quote #5…

The question is “In what ways might inquiry disrupt the traditional idea of teacher as expert and learner as novice?”

When I consider the changes in education over the past 20 years (12yrs teaching, 4yrs teacher training, 4yrs my own HS career),  it is clear that the entire educational system has experienced a dramatic shift.  Now this shift was dramatic for me, because I was personally involved, but I am certain that during the decade before people in my position can say the same thing, and I am certain that a decade from now the same will be said again.  It seems that change is a constant – which is not always good and not always bad.  Right now I am confused by what the “traditional idea” of a teacher is.  I will comment that inquiry challenges a traditional thought where noise is bad, students should stay in their seats, and notes should be quietly taken.  I also believe that inquiry based activities provide students with the opportunity to explore that it is ok to not be perfect, a chance to explore their resources and to find creative answers to problems.

The relationship between me and this quote is that I question “traditional” thought when it comes to technology and availability of information.  I think that there are many activities that I could offer students if they were allowed to use their phones, mp3 players, etc. in my class.  In this time of the availability of  information, I feel like my phone, or other mobile technology could help me provide students with new and changing information, as well as, the tools for students to discover this information on their own.

September 2020

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