"Main Street Music" Resources (Fall CUE 2019)

I will be presenting a one-hour session today at Fall CUE 2019 on "Main Street Music: Social Studies, Soundscapes and Poetry.” Click on the image below to view the presentation slides, which contain additional resources at the end! To read more about this integrated unit, as well as other sound-related projects, read my previous blog post.

Click on the slide image to view the presentation slides from CUE!

Click on the slide image to view the presentation slides from CUE!

Teaching with SOUND (in any class).

Chapter 1: Even with Sunglasses, the Sun is BRIGHT.

We try to fit the mold of education. Shades on, let it come. Administration making framework and guidelines. Parents having expectations that we can’t quite comprehend. It’s safe to dwell in a tinted land where we always look good and can look safely at the bright sun…yet we won’t take off the shades until we’re home.

What if I told you that by teaching with SOUND we might have to betray the “sunglass method?”

Shades are cool. .but why shield yourself of something that provides so much growth, brightness and light to so many beings? Yes, too much sun is bad for the complexion, and yes, we all need some cloudy overcast times once in a while. We are human, after all. Yet, in order to grow as healthy humans, we need to step out of our comfort zone. Embrace the realness.

Teaching with sound might just help you stretch and grow more than you know. Why is that? Because you grew up listening to music, hearing the sounds of breakfast in the morning, noticing when your dog barked or when your sister was in the bathroom brushing her teeth. Experiencing the verb of the venue at your first concert. Sound is an everyday element of great proportions…for your students. Why not embed it in your teaching?

For the past two years, I have taught digital music and sound art electives to middle school students and taught integrated sound to 1st graders. Out of left field, right? Yet, students thought abstractly and created “Audiobiographies,” music to fit the “mood” of their Main Street and created Foley sound effects to help personify the scene in their video. Students can grasp and understand the impact of sound when given the opportunity.

Here a some project examples created by 6th-graders and 1st-graders (Main Street Music):

6th-grade “Audiobiographies:” Project Overview, Student Examples

6th-grade Electives: Project Examples

1st-grade “Main Street Music” Integrated Social Studies Unit: Finished Project Example; Unit Overview (Detailed)

Chapter 2: I was Born Not a Musician, but an Enthusiast.

You most likely did not start learning an instrument at an early age. If you did, that’s legit. I sure did, and it changed my life (but it’s not the requirement of awesomeness).

How did music or sound effect you as a growing human? Did you have favorite songs, musical styles, bands, friends who liked certain bands? Did you find yourself changing moods when things got noisy…or too quiet? This all paints a picture of how sound fit into our individual mold as we grew.

Even if you never laid hands on a musical instrument, think for a second…HOW did sound transform your life?

Chapter 3: Bringing SOUND to the ADE Table.

I recently was accepted as an Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2019. Sweet! I attended the ADE Institute in Bethesda, MD a couple weeks ago and was BLOWN AWAY by the high level of talent and creative thinking all of the other ADE’s brought to the table. I REALLY want to help students connect globally and with empathy via sound. I had the amazing opportunity to present a two minute “pitch” to the 350-person crowd around an idea I’ve had for a while: “How might we develop students’ creative expression with sound and music to build empathy and global connections?” After the pitch, I met with a group of about 50 educators from the Americas to create practical ways of implementing this idea in the classroom. WOW was I amazed by the input/output of ideas.

Chapter 4: Summary of Crazy Cool Idea Formation.

I figure you probably want to see some of the ideas brought to the table. Here you go:

The top five ideas were marked from each group’s idea formation and I am so grateful for this group collaboration. After helping to facilitate this session, I am so glad I was able to bring a new way of thinking to lesson design.

Below is a rough list of many of the big ideas teachers developed. Oh, and by the way, most of these teachers have never taught with sound before. How might YOU use these sound-related ideas in your teaching?:

  • Audio journey of a typical day with sound effects and different voices

  • Share with world

  • Reflect on regional/cultural similarities and differences

  • Audiobiography + Visuals

  • Capturing community voices

    • Dialect

    • Phrases

    • Slang

  • Song collaboration (Carol Ann McGuire)

    • Each school/region adds a song section or instrument layer

  • Music pals (pen pals)

  • Interview musicians from different parts of the world via FaceTime

  • Students identify important songs from different countries

  • Record same phrase in different languages

  • Creating sounds for a story/character

  • How can we design music for people with “exceptionalities?”

  • Sounds/songs to math algorithms

  • Record a favorite book/chapter

  • Accessibility to Sound: visually, tactile, color of sound. “How do people experience sound (non-auditory)”

  • Sound reflections

  • Playlist of sounds organized/shared by creator- based on map locations?

  • Global field recordings

  • eBook of home story/region story

  • Personal theme song

  • Sounds for colors: what sounds do they make?

  • Creating music for film/media

  • Study of multiple cultures/instruments

  • Coding music

  • Family-created songs/soundtracks

  • Collaborative music-making in class

  • Colors + sounds (Mr. Holland’s Opus)

  • Flipgrid exchanges

  • Collection/database of worldwide sounds/music

  • Different tones mean different things: crying babies

  • Silence: how does it effect each of us?

  • Sound/music connects us to different cultures

  • Audio Scavenger Hunt: record sounds at home: what sounds happy/funny/etc.: compile in Keynote or Pages

  • Caption This: creating emotional soundtrack for a video with sound removed

  • UN 17 Goals for Sustainability: creating a “song” for each goal

  • Telling another person’s story through sound/music

  • Look for “anti-empathy” in speeches/new stories/etc.

    • Use a T-chart to look at examples empathy vs. non-empathy

Chapter 5: What’s Next?

This school year, I am planning on teaching the following 6-8th grade electives (subject to change):

  1. Digital Music 

  2. iPad Orchestra

  3. Music for Movies

  4. Digital Storytelling

  5. Accessible Sound

  6. Songwriting

I am also planning on collaborating with Susan Maynor and Erika Moser on a 2nd-grade collaborative project this fall. More to come. Excited to share in the process!

How are YOU using sound in your teaching? Would LOVE to hear about it.

Twitter: @eh48

Insta: @soundteaching, @emmo48

Clips Interviews on Flipgrid!

You know how I posted about a recent 1st grade project I did at Hillbrook? Well, I wanted to share with you the awesome end result!

To summarize the project:

  1. Students recorded short interviews with a partner using Apple Clips.

  2. They added effects to the clips to make them look cooler.

  3. They drew illustrations about one or two of the questions they asked/answered. Their homeroom teacher (Margaret) laid down some legit ground rules of drawing (has to have at least 7 colors, etc.). They turned out great!

  4. Students added a soundtrack via Clips.

  5. Students had a gallery walk to view each others’ interviews.

Now for step 6:

Students uploaded (mostly independently) their Clips videos to a Flipgrid “grid” that I created beforehand. They did great!

Check them out: https://flipgrid.com/112d6d99.

Overall, a fun project for all :)

Quick Tip: Create Mac OS Mojave Installer Drive

I love learning new things!

Recently, our front desk laptop at Hillbrook was bugging out, shutting itself off in the middle of a process and then showing an “international prohibition sign” (official name). #nobueno

download.png

The first time it happened, Deborah (front desk associate) brought the laptop to me with a real-life frowny face. It completely halted her workflow and it can definitely be a bit scary to see a symbol like this on a computer screen (I have to write notes to myself all the time, since I’m jumping from one thing to the next all day):

IMG_1788.jpg

I gave her a loaner laptop and then proceeded to boot up the computer in Recovery Mode, run First Aid in Disk Utility and finally re-install Mojave. It worked…for about two weeks. Then, it happened again! ERG.

This time, re-installing the OS left me looking at a fun message on the screen: “mac OS could not be installed on your computer.” Hmm. I was at a bit of a loss. I love me a good challenge, though! #lifemantra

macosupdate.png

I did a little research and discovered that it is pretty straightforward to install a clean OS from a separate startup drive (seems obvious, right?). I had never HAD to do this in my years of experience as a technology specialist, so therefore never actually learned. It’s awesome when you are presented with a healthy challenge, stretch your mind and resources and land on solid solution ground.

Thanks to this SUPER helpful article from Apple Support, I was able to create a clean OS installer using an extra flash drive.

After creating the new install disk, I booted up in the disk (option + power on) and reinstalled the OS via that route. It totally worked!

A few small tips:

  1. Make sure you have an external drive that is AT LEAST 16 GB.

  2. Make sure the drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

This article saved the day…and I am an even BETTER technology specialist for it! #newknowledge #growth

Apple Clips with 1st Grade!

Who knew that working with 1st graders could be so rad?!

This is the second project I have been a part of with that grade level and it has been fun learning more about how this developmental age interacts with themselves and with technology. Let me tell you about a cool mini project we embarked upon:

My friend Margaret (1st grade lead teacher, new to Hillbrook) wanted more ideas for integrating technology in her classroom. Her previous schools did not have very large technology budgets or integration for that matter, so didn’t get many integration opportunities in the past. She needed the first part of the school year to nail down student behavior norms (she has a super tough class this year) and reached out in January about me coming into her classroom with a fun tech-related project. She had no particular expectations, so I had to think of a few ideas that would align with curricular goals for her students*.

*Note: Technology doesn’t ALWAYS have to align with curricular goals, but it is very important to make it RELEVANT to students. This could mean bringing in something academically unrelated to what they are learning, but it should relevant enough that students are able to create a strong connection to it, even on a subconscious level.

The Apple Clips app was (sort of) recently released, and not many teachers are using it at our school, so I decided to introduce students to the app by way of interviewing each other in partners! Since Margaret’s students were learning how to ask questions of another person and listen attentively (CA English Language Arts Content Standards, 1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies), this would be a great medium with which to practice such skills!

  1. We first gave them an overview of the project via a short video we made in 5 minutes that day before. It was fun creating something quickly with Margaret, who was very enthusiastic about the idea!

  2. It’s important to double-check that the Clips app is available and working on student iPads BEFORE starting the project. We have 1:1 iPads that stay in the classroom for lower school (K-4). As I am also the person in charge of managing and distributing ALL iPad apps, I had pushed the clips app well ahead of time. However, there is a known glitch with several Apple-designed apps, where an Apple I.D. is required for use. UNLESS of course, you know a work-around (which I did). With our jamf Pro database, we can delete the app and reinstall it again via Self Service. Comments are welcome if you would like to know more about how we use jamf Pro for most everything!

  3. Students began by thinking of 2-3 “favorites” questions to ask their partner. They video-recorded a clip of them introducing their partner, followed by 1, 2, 3, however many clips they wanted for each question they asked. They could also add visual titles (forgot the real name) to show the words on the screen as they said them (so awesome).

  4. They then drew illustrations by hand that depicted one of their partner’s favorites (or their own). After taking a photo of the illustration within the Clips app, they moved the image to the appropriate place in the timeline.

  5. After this, they had the option of adding a visual effect to one or more clips!

  6. Our last step (happening next week) will be to add an optional soundtrack, export the video to their camera roll on the iPad and upload to Flipgrid!

I hope this gives you one idea about using Apple Clips with 1st graders! They have really enjoyed using it and have caught on quickly. More posts to come on working with 1st graders as a technology specialist!

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@soundteaching on Instagram

Hey, and welcome back from the holiday bustle!

I am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after a full week of visiting family in Michigan and having another whole week to my own devices (tech pun intended).

You can follow my education and sound-related Instagram posts on my “teacher Insta,” Sound Teaching. You an also still follow me on my “personal Insta” at Emmo48.

Over and out for now!

"AudioBiography" Workshop CPE Fall Institute 2018

This post includes the slide deck and links to resources from the “AudioBiography” workshop as part of the Center for Progressive Education Conference 2018 in San Francisco. Follow my posts on Twitter at @eh48 or on Instragram @soundteaching for further insights!

Resources:

Why Do We Disconnect?

We all do it once in a while.  

"I'm taking a vacay here" or "a long weekend there" and "I need to disconnect from tech" for a few days (or weeks).  What is it that makes technology sometimes feel all-consuming, a slow soul-suck that wants to hang on like a giant lake leech?

It started with Facebook.  

A game-changer that shifted society's way of communicating and connecting.  A powerful engine of youth-driven tech bliss, which then seeped into the everyday lives of their parents and grandparents.  What started as a "cool new way of learning about one another and re-connecting with past friends," turned into a massive engine of artifacts, fragments, political/social movement, rhetorical questions and un-prompted answers.  A new single super-highway that evolved into a metropolis.  What if you don't want to "live" in a metropolis?  #suckstobeyou

Then came mobile apps and quick-firing fingertips that don't want to lose their mobile momentum.  Like the invention of the microwave and the need for quick, cheap food (due to world war craziness), we have again as a society followed the wave of innovative bliss.  "This is something we have NEVER experienced before.  Let's check it out, yo!"  There's nothing wrong with being a curious, ever-learning society with growth mindsets and such, but we do need to understand one thing:

Curiosity does not equal conviction.

We enjoy these toys that seem self-evident.  But, not all tech is created with an equal objective.  We must be aware of WHY we have this thing or that app.  WHY was it created, and to whom is it relevant?  Some of us still use microwaves to cook everything, but others choose to cook the majority of their food using an oven or stove top.  Not because they don't believe the microwave is a useful technology, but that they like to cook with their own two hands and eat food that is more naturally grown.  It doesn't make one person better than the other, but we all have a different version of what is RELEVANT in our lives.  With a greater density of technology options, it becomes so much more important to answer the question: What do I really NEED to make my life more fulfilling?

I go in phases myself.  Sometimes, I truly want to create things.  I am an ARTIST, after all, and often get the urge to compose music, write poetry or blog!  Sometimes this requires paper and more often a laptop/iPad/iPhone.  Frankly, a lot of technology out there makes it more efficient to create art.  Plain and simple.  I can put a digital music arrangement together on my laptop much quicker than recording each part live into an 8-track or whatevs.  I can convey my own thoughts so much faster by typing rather than writing on paper.  However, I still have moments where I truly want to journal and/or draw in an actual journal on nice paper with a nice pen.  Because I was not put on this earth to use technology.  I was put here to be me, whatever that means.

Let's get back to the original question: why do we disconnect (from technology)?

We disconnect from technology (and other things, frankly) to create a balance between your own drive and the motivations of innovation.  As humans, we need to be self-paced.  We need to control how we see the world and at what speed.  Sometimes this means really diving into something new, that really intrigues us and fits into our "speed" at the time.  Other times, we need to lay back, go back to first gear, ignore the microwave and re-connect with the analog properties of the everyday world.  It's pretty beautiful, actually.  Beautiful that we have that choice.

Don't feel ashamed if you have to touch the "disconnect dial" once in a while.  We are blood-pumping, breathing human machines that need some analog TLC on the occasion that our innovation-brain needs a vacation.  #longsentence #importantsentence

Why do YOU disconnect?  Comments below.  #hollaatyogirl 

With Technology Comes Patience...

We ALL know how frustrating technology can be, am I right?

Believe me, I've been working in the educational technology industry for 5+ years, the technology training industry for 5+ years, the technology support industry for over 5 years and the corporate A/V industry for a year.  Sometimes it still happens.  The RAGE.

Don't worry, I don't show it to other innocent humans.  But it still happens, and it's all perspective.

Summer tech. work is INTENSE.  It's a lot about making lists upon lists and always aware of deadlines upon deadlines.  It's also about what can wait until mid-September?  Good skills to have, though.  Being able to tell a heap of work that "you ain't worthy of the beginnings of my year, yo.  Wait in line like the rest.  You second best."  

I digress.

New iPads are LEGIT to setup.  So fancy and nice and...they require DEP scoping, yo.  

We got over 100 new iPads this year to replace older ones in the line-up.  Cool.  Don't forget to scope 55 of them (manually) to the correct DEP pre-stage enrollment group in JAMF (based on the graduation year) and leave the rest for the other general enrollment group.  Cool.  No biggity.

Let's make sure each Lower School classroom gets the same model of iPad...no easy feat.  Did some math and some magic and we GOOD.  However, 3/4 through wiping all LS iPads and setting them up in Active Directory bindings, they stop "checking in" with our JAMF database.  WTF.

Then, our printer policies stop pushing out and pretend like there's no driver in the freaking driver's seat.  #ERRRRRG

#BREATHE

I called my buddies at JAMF support (super cool and helpful peeps).  They on it.  I had to send multiple Terminal commands via our MySQL Database to dig deep.  It's still an open case.  I get the feeling these issues are related.  If this shiz doesn't get sorted in a week, ain't no one getting a computer that can print (I think).

#FCK

#BREATHE

...you know what?

I am a human using non-human tools in a human world.  I need to remind myself that my humanity is more important than the inner-workings of a human-made metal machine that doesn't know how to order an Americano from an indy coffee shop.

#CHILL

 There's always a solution stemming from a creative human brain.  Always.

#TRUSTYOABLILITIES

The bottom line is that you should never completely trust in a techno workflow and that you are strong enough to design the solution, with or without the techno.

Much love,

Emily

Chill Nights

Chill nights be tight.                                                                                                                                        There's something so right                                                                                                                                About a dream that's real,                                                                                                                                    With so much appeal.

All it takes is patience                                                                                                                                                In what may conspire.                                                                                                                                               A path that only some faith will inspire.

No fear.

Keep leading me higher                                                                                                                                        And higher.                                                                                                                                                            This pain will lead me to fire.

iPad Collection Season: Check!

Another "iPad Collection Season" at Hillbrook just wrapped itself up in a nice bow. 

We used a different strategy this year (compared to previous years): collect 4 grade levels of iPads in 1.5 days instead of 1.5 weeks.  It seemed a bit daunting at first, since it takes a lot of energy to guide multiple groups of students through the collection process, in addition to hauling said iPads from one side of campus to another after collection (with only two of us collecting).  It was worth it, however, to have a faster timeline and more efficient process.  Ultimately, it gave students a longer period of time with their iPads, which helps when teachers are still assigning final projects and assignments that are dependent on the use of an iPad.  

If you are curious about the process we use for iPad Collection (in middle school), check it out below:

  1. In the fall, when iPads are deployed, have students create an empty folder titled, "2018 Work."  They can upload items here throughout the year if desired.  This isn't exactly what we for "student portfolios," but it's a way for students to quickly keep things that are important to them. 
  2. Starting 1-2 weeks before iPad collection: have advisors/teachers guide students through uploading any content they want to keep for next year to the "2018 Work" folder mentioned above.  Here are the general instructions we give students for this process.
  3. Have advisors/teachers remind students to: have their name and grade level CLEARLY visible on their case, remove any decorations from their case, locate and bring their charger + cable and bring their iPads fully charged on collection day.
  4. (Optional) Make a special announcement to the whole school mentioning all important items from step 3.  BONUS: do this in character, calling yourself "Collector Gadget" and using a thick east coast accent and improvised routine (I have done this two years in a row!).  Feel free to make up your own character ;)
  5. Gather a BUNCH of milk crates/rolling carts and label them by grade level.  Have at least one bin solely for collecting chargers.  Grab some electronic spray cleaner and some micro-fiber cloths as well.
  6. Create a spreadsheet listing all students, separated into tabs by grade level.  Make columns for "iPad," "Charging block," "Charging cable" and comments.  This will be crucial for keeping track of missing items or broken screens.
  7. On collection day: go through these steps with students.  It helps to teach them how to properly tie their charging cable.  Also, it helps to setup a "cleaning station" for wiping their screens.
  8. Use your spreadsheet to check off items as they are turned in.  It took us about 20-25 minutes per group of 20 students (give or take) with two and sometimes one person checking in.  

That's about it!

I am usually the only Tech person here most of the summer, so it's important to me to have iPads as organized as possible before the school year officially ends.  This summer, I will fix broken iPads, swap out cases, update our MDM inventory and profiles, rotate iPads in or out of inventory and get ready for another rockin' school year!

What do you do at YOUR school for iPad collection?  Comment below!

#almostsummer

Be a Good Glitch-Finder.

Over the past week or so, I have had two experiences that made me feel like a worthy citizen of this digital age.  They both involve finding strange oddities (i.e. annoying glitches) on particular websites.  These glitches were by no means on a monumental scale, but were things I encountered more than thrice on the same site and I was getting fed up.

I am sure many of us in this situation of consistent glitchy-ness would continue to use the site indefinitely, no matter how frustrating (assuming it is a useful site otherwise).  In these two situations, I decided I did not want to sit there and let these seemingly obvious glitches keep swimming down the stream of internet subconsciousness we all float upon (some of the time). 

I wanted to be an advocate for change!

So, in both scenarios, I contacted the support team for the site (by phone if possible) and explained that nothing was immediately wrong on my end, but I wanted to bring to their attention a glitch that I had experienced many times and that they should know about it!

Both companies were extremely helpful and pleased that I was actually going out of my way to help a company become better. 

Now, I am not trying to boast or make myself look like a better human being than everyone else.  I simply want to spread the word that it's very gratifying to know that your observations, quick communication and few minutes of time can not only help a company improve their user experience but can spread positive and proactive thinking across industries.

So, go find some glitches!


Hillbrook Sound Art 2018 (The Rundown)

Hey guys!  The Hillbrook Art Show 2018 is about to wrap up.  It's been quite the artistic year over here and I wanted to share with you some personal experiences with 6th grade Sound Art. 

As I mentioned in a previous post or two, I have been teaching a new 6th grade art class focusing on SOUND.  It's been a very fun and eye-opening experience for both the students and myself (being my first time teaching a class of my own outside of percussion ensemble) as a new medium for self expression and storytelling.

We created several small projects over the course of the class (I had 4 groups of 6th-grade students that rotated between 4 art classes throughout the year):

  • Sound Reflections (Listening for five minutes to a sound artifact and either writing or drawing their interpretation/story based on their connection with it.)
  • Soundscapes with LoopyHD (Students made observations in the form of writing and audio recording of sounds that encompass the area around them.  They then recreated the sounds they previously heard by recording new sounds in the LoopyHD app.)
  • Short Videos with Foley Sound Effects (Students got to meet and see a cool demo by a working Foley professional!  They also created their own 30-45 second video clips (or grabbed a licensed one from Vimeo) and recorded all of the sounds themselves!
  • AudioBiography Final Projects (Based on a chosen personal "theme," students composed their own audio (including Foley sound effects) to help embody that theme or idea.  A visual element was required in addition to sound.  Students used GarageBand, LoopyHD and iMaschine as primary audio creation tools and chose between iMove, Padlet, Thinglink or Scratch + MakeyMakey for their final presentation medium.  Check out all of the awesome student projects below (be ready for some interesting variety):

        Quarter 1: bit.ly/2ILnZRQ

        Quarter 2: bit.ly/2rHMOoe

        Quarter 3: bit.ly/2IlMguk

        Quarter 4: bit.ly/2II2CB8

For the Art Show this year, I made sure to take 360-degree images of each class.  Then, I uploaded either links to or the actual project to a hot spot under their picture.  I setup two iMacs at a table with links to the AudioBiographies (and other projects) already open in several tabs (on Thinglink).  I also laid out several pairs of headphones with headphone splitters so visitors could listen simultaneously (great way to connect with others in an abstract way!).  

All in all, this has been a fun and challenging year of stretching and discovering what students can create with sound.  Can't wait to teach this again next year!

#fyi I am always available for more information about any of the above-mentioned projects or any other thoughts or questions you may have.  

 

 

 

 

Audio App-titude: Enhancing Learning with Audio (CUE 2018 Resources)

Yesterday, +Christy P. Novack and I presented a session on integrating audio into student projects and your overall teaching.  It was super fun and was great to give teachers new ideas to bring back to their classrooms!  In case you missed it, below is the session description and a link to the presentation slides (with many resources included).

To connect with Hillbrook teachers about audio-integrated projects we have done or are in the process of doing, fill out this form.  We would love to talk to you and provide more information about these projects!

Description from our "Audio App-titude" session at CUE 2018:

"Is music just for music class? Is sound something you hear, but never write about? Incorporating a multi-sensory experience is instrumental in designing a more differentiated learning environment. This session will highlight a few audio apps and tools that can bring a new level of engagement to the (non-music) classroom. "


The Mentor

What makes me think?  What makes me blink?
What makes me second-guess everything that I see?
The answer is not in what makes it you or me,
But it is troubling when I forget to breathe.

To feel claustrophobic beyond belief
Is like listening to your own blinking heart beat.
It is not as if there is no hope.
Only a sense of being out of scope.

I do not feel helpless or out of touch.
My inner strength feels very robust.
The pot hole inside is gaining ground.
What I really need is to feel profound.

What can I do to fill the hole?
All of my elements will be in control.
I need you there to see this through,
For what comes from your journey is in me too.



As Aliens Leave and Peace is Restored.

"Calm, relaxed, I imagine a water droplet dripping. Sitting at edge of a lake, eyes closed, relaxed. Quiet suspense building, then lake quavers. Let’s out vibrations. Suddenly, it’s like a purge, and humans are being hunted. I hear voices, warnings, as they get closer. It settles, and I hear more voices, fading off. I start running, and reach a rural town. It’s run down, and I start hearing things, from people. Good, bad, all of it. It settles, as aliens leave, and peace is restored."
--Varun (6th grade student)


This year I was tasked to design an art course for 6th grade students at Hillbrook. The class was to be focused on Sound (my specialty and personal passion) and have an overarching theme of "Self Portrait." All four 6th grade art classes would share the same portrait theme. This has been a very fun and challenging project! I will most likely make several posts around designing and teaching this class, as I have many insights, "learns" and cool experiences to share.

This post, however, is dedicated to introducing you to the pure power of SOUND REFLECTION. This is not to be confused with meditation, musicology, music theory or acoustic building design. This, my friends, is a powerful gateway to the mindful observation of space, mood, internal dialogue and storytelling. It is only a part of the larger "sound art" class, but such a key element in opening these students' ears, minds and souls to the strength of sound.

To facilitate a "sound reflection" experience (either by yourself or with a group of students/peers), follow these steps:

1. Choose a track to play. This can be instrumental or with vocals, but instrumental tracks tend to be more evocative and leave room for creativity in reflection. It helps helps to choose a track that is 5 min. or less (if possible).
2. Provide guidelines for listening. Before the first sound reflection, have a conversation around how to listen with a mindful focus. Key things to think about are: What imagery does this sound bring to mind? Should I write something or draw an illustration? Will it be a story or a list of whatever descriptives come to mind? Talk with your students about all the ways and mediums with which they can reflect. There is no "right or wrong" way to reflect.
3. Provide a workflow/template. It helps to provide students with a central place to document these reflections. I decided to make a Google Doc template titled "Sound Reflection Whiteboard," where they can write entries for each reflection. I assigned it via Google Classroom and gave each student a copy. It is expected that every reflection is in some way inserted into the document. If they choose to draw a picture, they can take a photo of the drawing and include it in the document.
4. Find a good time. In my class, I decided to do these reflections almost every time we meet, and always at the very beginning of the class period. It brings calm, focus and good discussion afterwards, leading to more mindful learning for that hour, not to mention the fact that deep listening and discussion can strengthen community in the classroom.
5. Share and discuss. Have 3-4 students share each time. Make it optional. Over time, more students will feel compelled to share, based on their relation to the particular track that day. You may be surprised at the deep insight and emotional intelligence that can come to the surface when stimulated by sound.

Refer to the slides in my previous post (Bridge 2 Tech) for links to other student Sound Reflection examples.

Any questions or insights from your own teaching experience? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to reach out via Twitter at @eh48 or email at ehendricks@hillbrook.org.


Keeping Your Sanity with eBook Distribution

Those of you that have been in the educational technology world for the past few years have seen MONUMENTAL changes in lots of different categories of technology.  There are many more bots and drones that are compatible with the Tynker app, for example.  Swift Playgrounds has taken off as an interactive base station for learning coding and Google has made it much easier to manage your classroom resources with Classroom (groundbreaking, in my opinion).

There is one thing, however, that has made only INCREMENTAL improvements.  The biggest headache that I have experienced as a "device management profesh" is the existence and necessity of eBook distribution in the school environment.  You may be wondering what exactly I am talking about.  Let me break it down.

When iPads were introduced, schools began spinning their gears around whether or not the iPad (or any mobile device for that matter) are either appropriate or affordable for learning environments.  Hillbrook School (where I have worked for about 4 years) was one of the first schools in the country to jump on the chance of introducing iPads in the classroom.  It was tricky at first, given the fact that virtually no teacher had even touched an iPad themselves before having to create curriculum incorporating this complex tool.  It was cool, though, because over time these same teachers discovered exactly how powerful the iPad could be.  We even re-designed how our classrooms look around the idea of "flexible" tools.  

With all this greatness came more pressure on app developers to create useful tools for both the consumer AND the classroom.  Over time, this has happened and is still happening and gradually improving.  Awesome.  The systems for distributing these apps to students and teachers has ALSO improved dramatically (Thanks, JAMF!).  Awesome.

What's not so awesome, as an ed tech profesh, is that the distribution of licensed digital books has been a huge headache and is not for the weak-hearted.  Without going into too much detail, let me give you an overview of the current process I take every time I need to push an eBook to students:

Systems we use: Active Directory, jamf MDM, Apple School Manager, Apple VPP
Devices: 1:1 iPads grade 1-8  

Workflow:

1. All iPads have been setup at the beginning of the year using an Active Directory login.  This allows a unique "username" to appear in the jamf MDM database (requires linking LDAP info in the jamf settings).
2. Apple School Manager account was setup and Managed Apple I.D's for (almost) all students and faculty/staff were created by uploading .csv files to Apple School Manager with a WHOLE BUNCH of required data.  Check out this extensive manual.
3. Apple Education Support settings were enabled and updated in jamf.  We had to be pretty specific about how these were set, since the Active Directory username needed to match the Managed Apple I.D. (headache).  Example: AD username = ehendricks.  Therefore, jamf needs to know that the AD username is the same as the first part of the Managed Apple I.D. (e.g. ehendricks@appleid.hillbrook.org). 
Settings we use at Hillbrook for importing Users in jamf using Managed Apple I.D's.


4. Purchase eBook licenses in the Apple VPP store.  You will need one license per iPad.
5. Go to JAMF > Settings > Mobile Device > Apple School Manager > Force Sync
2. REQUIRED: Go to JAMF > Users > search for any user > Click Import > Import new users added earlier in ASM
3. Create a new VPP invitation in jamf.  Add User(s) to new VPP Invitation.  Make sure it is set to “automatically register"!
4. Assign the eBook to students in Users > VPP Assignments.  Make sure you have enough licenses!
5. Students will need to then login in the iBooks app using their Managed Apple I.D.
6. Then, they can go to the Purchased section of the iBook app and open the book!

PHEW, see what I mean?!!!!

Yes, that IS a lot of steps, and there are probably many more steps hidden within all of this, depending on your situation, school environment and the MDM that you use to distribute eBooks.

The cool thing is that in order to keep your sanity in this process, you need to remember to be patient.  Large technology companies like Apple and jamf are rooted in the needs of "grounding" technology.  Technology that many categories of users depend on and have specific expectations and needs depending on their industry.  eBook authors ALSO have an industry, which is partially in the digital sphere, and partially in the physical sphere.  It's a little weird, but we have to respect this discrepancy.  Older business models and licensing still need to be dusted off and redesigned, but who will do the dusting?

This is some crazy, convoluted stuff, but let's join hands, breathe and trust that the needs of the world will influence iBook distributors and authors to reassess the ways in which they reach the student masses.

God Bless.

(Also, please email me at ehendricks@hillbrook.org or respond in the Comments section to discuss any specific questions or needs.)

Own Your Tech! (Repost)

(Repost from an earlier blog post published on the CUE blog last year.)

Hey teachers! Part of being a well-equipped educator is knowing both how and when to use a variety of tools and resources to lead our students in becoming better learners.  Today, these tools are often electronic, which can add more complexity and stress if you are not used to using them on a regular basis.

Just like every book has a cover and every pair of scissors has a blade, every device in your classroom setup has an intentional design that serves a specific purpose. The key is to be able to define this purpose. This comes from understanding the features/benefits of the tool’s design and knowing how to manipulate these features to have full control over its integration in your classroom setup and, ultimately, in your teaching. Let’s think about a few ways in which we can better prepare ourselves for OWNING these technology tools in our classroom.

Why is This Thing in the Room?

Have you ever used another teacher’s classroom and were completely thrown off by the technology setup? “What is this rando cable hanging off of the desk and taped to the floor?” “Are there seriously three remotes?” What follows is this flowchart: Is the other teacher around? If so, can I ask them what the heck is up with their setup? Shoot, they are gone today. What is the phone number for the Tech Department again? Will they even pick up? Slowly crumple into a ball of stress.

Let’s take a big step back. Before you even walk into the other classroom, what are your GOALS for teaching that day? Will you need to show a slideshow of a student’s service learning trip (yes), play an audio clip of Michelle Obama’s speech (most likely), have students collaborate using Google Documents on their iPads (yup)? Good. Now that you have a better picture of what you and your students will most likely need to succeed during that class period let’s nail down the types of devices required, as well as the features we will need to use to provide the greatest benefit in learning.

Here are the most common categories of tools used in today’s classroom, including a few features:

Display
Projector, TV, SmartBoard
Power button, power cable, video inputs, remote, settings menu
Audio
Wall speakers, portable speakers, TV audio, built-in computer speakers
Audio cable connection, volume control, power cable
Mobile Devices
iPad, Tablet, Laptop, Chromebook, iPod
Power/syncing cable, OS software, microphone, speakers, apps, settings
Internet
WiFi, Ethernet
Access Point (Router), ethernet cable, SSID (network name), settings

Let’s step forward again into the other teacher’s classroom setup. What type of display device is provided, and where is it in the room? Great, you found the TV. Now, where is the content stored that is being displayed? A Shared Photo folder on your laptop? Cool. How will the laptop be connected to the TV? Nice! That HDMI cable was almost hidden from view under the pile of papers on the desk. Is the TV powered on? If not, where is the remote? (etc., etc.)

Do you see how our line of thinking changed from major freakout stress ball mode to a more soothing, “I’m going to ask myself some essential tech setup questions” voice?

Draw Your Setup.

It can be challenging to truly understand your tech. setup without a visual illustration. Imagine if you were in the situation above. A basic illustration (from the teacher that normally uses that classroom) outlining the main tech tools, how they are connected (with labels), and where they physically are in the room could have helped, right?

This concept can also be useful when needing a stronger grasp of your OWN classroom setup as well. Learn what is in your room, why it is there, how things are connected (types of cables) and what features are available with that tool to enhance student learning.  Then, DRAW IT.

Own Your Tech.

We have looked at the technology in a classroom setup that may initially seem foreign and uncomfortable.  Your goal is to make that “weird” setup your own (in your own classroom) by mastering its flow, knowing all its intricacies and practicing being in the driver’s seat when it comes to troubleshooting.

In preparing for this next school year, what gaps do you have in the understanding of your tech setup (or a co-teacher’s)? What goals do you have for maybe mixing it up and trying something new? What resources do you have for finding out more information about a device/component, or learning how to troubleshoot more efficiently?

A great way to pull this all together for yourself in a nice little easy-to-reach package is by creating a digital Technology Resource Guide. It can include all of the information discussed in this blog post, plus whatever else you want to include! Here is an example of what this could look like.

Have a great "second half" of the school year! Let's OWN this.



Follow Emily on Twitter (@eh48) and read more about her technology escapades on her blog (tech4word.blogspot.com).