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

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

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.  

 

 

 

 

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.)

ISTE 2016. The First Installment.

I just spent the past 3.5 days at the most populated ed. tech. conference in the world.  I walked past dozens of people with allergies, colds, weird quirks in their walking patterns, loud talkers, interesting smells, accents, alternative interpretations of common slang. 

ISTE 2016.

I don't know why I just told you all of that.  People are people.  We smell, we talk, we sneeze.  At the end of the day, however, we all BELIEVE in something.  I common goal, which happens to be the learning and empowerment of students.  Whoops, I forgot the hashtag!

#ISTE 2016.

Many minds coming together to talk about digital integration and purposeful design in the use of technology in the classroom.  

#ISTE 2016. #manymindschangelives 

Last night, I facilitated a workshop on managing the technology setup in your classroom and seriously feeling empowered to learn and reach for better solutions, stronger setups and resilient relationships with those that support you.  It was really fun and interesting to learn how technology fits into your daily process (as teachers and admin) and the opportunities we all have to make the technology integration process even SMOOTHER.

bit.ly/ownyourtech2016

#ISTE 2016. #owntyourtech #ifeelempowered #smooooth 

Ther is so much HEART here.  So many people working incredibly hard to support, enrich and empower their students in every way possible.  Technology has become such an essential part of this learning experience.  AND, it has been great exploring DENVER, CO.  The food, drinks and laughs have been incredible.  Thank you to everyone supporting this conference, and I know that I have grown so much from this experience!

#ISTE2016 #hugethanks #highfive #seriously

Finding Relevance in the Jungle of Code.

When you are introduced to a new thing, what initially crosses your mind?  We are constantly surrounded by objects and objectives.  Other peoples' things (ideas, guidelines and parameters) thrown into our basket while we are trying to learn and teach our OWN things.  As adult learners, we often need to find the relevance of these "things" in our own lives, otherwise we will push it aside and go back to using the status quo.

We (as adults) also bring a pretty heavy backpack of life experience that is often not addressed when someone else tries to "sell" their thing to us.

Take coding for example.  

So many companies rely on some form of programming to store massive amounts of data, distribute content, streamline shopping and manage communication with their target audience.  These companies (and their higher ups) did not always incorporate programming into their infrastructure, but realized that they need to create these new systems in order to keep up with our crazy, beautiful world of past-paced innovation.

Because of this, companies (new and old) are not just looking for strong tech skills in its future employees, but the ability to create a big, beautiful idea that happens to incorporate these entrepreneurial tech-spectations.  Programming requires learning a new language, a new form of communication.  The wheel must keep spinning!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as adults (and teachers specifically), we are probably struggling with answering these questions when it comes to incorporating coding in your classroom:

1. What does it DO?
2. How can I USE it?
3. How will I explain its VALUE?  

For those teaching a non-"STEM-y" subject, it can be difficult to find that relevance for teaching coding in the classroom.

Here is some truth.  It's going to be a challenge to figure out how coding fits into YOUR own life (you didn't grow up around so much digital technology!)  But, think about how you can facilitate new discovery with your students.  Their backpacks of life experience are much LIGHTER, and are yearning for life's curiosities to manifest in the connection of thought to physical process.

Help your STUDENTS answer these three questions, and I'm pretty sure you will pick up on this new language without even realizing it (or any new, weird, intimidating thing).  Discover these new "objects" along with your students, and that wheel will keep on spinning as you pull away in your newly built hydraulic unicycle.