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

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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):

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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

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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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