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So I started out this year and talked to my students about them running the whole show. Everything from choosing the theme & music to publicity, programs and choreography. We jumped right in making collaborative groups. Students chose the groups they wanted to be working in. I asked them if they wanted me to set up communication, blogs, etc. They said “no,” let us figure out how we will keep records and communicate. After the Christmas show my students assessed what they like/didn’t like, what they felt went well/not so well and what plainly failed. My students and I collaborated on resources that they would need for the spring concert/show. They wanted subgroups, timecards, check lists, and scheduled meetings, essentially they asked for everything that I wanted to give them for the first show. Now the first show went well, but my students were more stressed, trying to make times for meetings and communications. It is interesting to me that once they gave me the list of things they felt they needed. They actually used these tools because they now saw the value. So I gave them the tools and meetings etc., that they requested.  The second show went really well as well.  (a roughly 2hour show with constant music and movement, no down time waiting for groups to get on the stage or off) TheImage biggest thing that I noticed was that my students who used the requested tools accomplished their task with much more ease and much less stress. I still had students who didn’t use the tools and they found that they were late on their parts of the project and they were doing double the work or repeating work that someone in their group had already done. These students were more stressed and working right up to the last moment.


I have a student who wanted to have a day of drumming and got permission, then set up the whole class.  Scheduling the guest musician and the drums for our class. Over saw the delivery and introduction of the guest musician. It was a great day and fun experience. Same student played African drum for our “Tarzan” medley number in the concert. Cool independent student.


My students are working on their second collaborative project for this school year. We learned so much from the first project and the student feedback, especially about having time to collaborate. Students wanted independence in their first project and said they wanted to work out their own communication. Their feedback after the Holiday Concert was that I was hard to coordinate time with each other amidst their busy schedules. They still got the tasks complete but with difficulty. For our second collaborative project, I secured time from my administration for student collaborative meetings. This has taken some of the pressure off my students and made it somewhat easier to accomplish tasks, work together and communicate. Students have commented that it is easier to accomplish tasks because of the facilitated meeting times.



Today at our CIG meeting day at the IU, I made a reply to a comment from Leslie. I realized while reflecting and writing that my inquiry is taking a different turn from where I thought it was going, still related to independent students. My goal was to create independent students. But in taking this question to my students it has developed into what kinds of tools do my students need to have, to help them to become more independent learners. (My students want tools) My student vocalists want to be more independent musicians. I have started doing more play in my classroom on the point of harmony. In several of my classes, we are making our own arrangements. So we take the melody and then play and try our own harmonies. This is time consuming and somewhat counter productive to preparing a concert. but when it comes together the result is fabulous. Since my concert is a collaborative project with our band and I have multiple choirs. If we did the number of pieces we would traditionally do in a concert by ourselves the concert would be 3-4 hours long. It is really nice to be part of a collaborated concert. In order to shorten the time we are required to do less music which means that the pieces we do can be more challenging and we have more time to work technique and quality. So I have the time to “play” with some pieces. In order to help my students I write out little parts of the songs we are playing with so that they have a little structure that guides them and they fill in the spaces along the way. I have had to do some mini lessons on improv and harmonization but my students are starting get the hang of it. We have a long way to go before mastery but it’s the journey that makes life fun. Technology is another tool that my students and I use that helps them to be more independent. My students help to write in harmonies into Finale and then everyone can see the work being projected to the screen. Our collaborative composing is more productive. We listen to other groups who have harmonized the same songs we are working on and pattern our harmonies with the parts we like best from each of the different recordings. The students draw on these ideas and create their work it is a long process but we tackle a little bit each time we work. They are becoming more open to the creating process and sharing each others ideas, an important step in independence.

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.

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.

At our meeting today, we shared our surveys and progress with each other. Some, well most of us, have time frustrations and spent time sharing. We received help with our technology an helped each other. I had time to convert my notes and place them in my wiki as well as get caught up on my blogs. My time and some connectivity issues had kept me off the internet so I have written in my journal my notes and reflections.  Today was a good day to revisit our inquiry and realign my goals. My students signed up yesterday for their more specific collaborative groups. Hopefully, they will have started today while I am away to begin setting goals. We’ll see…

So, I was going to be absent from school and left  my students with the technology to run their own rehearsals. I have my students’ music in finale and project it to the board so students can learn to follow a line of music. I have been the one who runs the technology, but I left it for them to run. My students rehearsed! Hurray. They held rehearsals. They didn’t rehearse the same as if I was there but they sang, they interacted with each other and they had fun. Actually there were a couple of things that they solved that were quite creative! Hurray for my students!

Reading #2

So I read this article; “The Making of a Music: The Construction & Reconstruction of a Teacher’s Personal Practical Knowledge forming Inquiry.” My first response to this reading was Hurray! I can so relate to the process that Anne went through as she was starting over. I understand her feelings of self-doubt and rediscovery; the stresses of time and wanting to give my students the very best quality while still experimenting and changing according to the needs that I see. My School is trying to get all teachers to do what Anne did. I feel that there is disconnect in their understanding and therefore in their expectations. There is the struggle of change. In my field, music, we live in the realm of inquiry (what would happen if… or how would this sound if we tried…) and what Anne called “play”. Sometimes inquiry happens because of something students bring into “play” a question or an observation. Sometimes because of something really cool that happens while we are rehearsing, a connection made.  I really liked how she focused on the creation of experiences for students within which they would communicate their understanding to others, learn to respond to one another, and be transformed through the interaction of narratives. This helped me as I read my students reflections and evaluations of the Christmas concert collaboration. I have given my students some different tools to help them with their collaboration as a direct response to their evaluations and what they felt they would need to be successful.

I found quote #1 the most relevant to myself at this point. I
actually wrote out a couple other responses but in reviewing what I wrote I
found that my response had more in common with the first quote. What “problems” do you encounter with your
students that could stimulate a shared inquiry as an active quest?

I have an inquiry question that is
growing out of a problem. The problem is one that I see; though I don’t think
that my students would share my view. I believe that my students are
comfortable being complacent.

This year, I asked my students, “What
would happen if I put the sectional learning of parts into your hands? What
else might happen if you were to take over all the managerial parts of putting
together a show/concert?” They said things like, “just tell what you want me to
do or say.” and “Well that’s your job.” My students were, are comfortable
showing up doing their thing and being able to say it was all out of their
control. They like the comfort of down time during rehearsals. You know the time I am talking about, the
unaccountable time when another section is working parts.
So when I sent
each section to computers to work/learn their parts with their group they
grumbled and groaned. BUT… within the first couple minutes they were working
out part issues and learning together, solving problems. I only have 2
computers but I have 2 pianos and another student in each class that plays
piano and plays parts for their section. I now have a 3rd computer
and that means that I can rotate my students through the computers and have
each group perform what they have worked on for me. I can record them for them
to hear or for the class to hear. When we know a section we come together and
sing it as a group. This is allowing us to work on dynamics while they are
learning parts so when we put a section together it feels like it means
something. They have a taste of success doing this but still they are
comfortable with the “old way” and they are used to being not in control and if
something doesn’t go well… “It wasn’t their fault.”

As I have taken my inquiry into my
classroom over the last couple of years, I have asked my students to be
participators in the teaching as well as the learning. They resisted at first
but as they became comfortable with being uncomfortable (the old ways being
used less, and technology being used more) they grow excited about the learning
that is actually happening for themselves and their classmates. However, at the
beginning of the year; I mention turning more control on their learning to them
and they get frustrated, because it is dressed as work. They are afraid of
work, of maybe failing and being accountable. They have forgotten how fun the
journey was/can be.

November 2019
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