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

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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"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:

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. "


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.


The Intersection of Old and New.

    Modern technology is a new species of insect.  To older generations, it may seem like an aggressive attack on comfortable living.  To the young, it is a new idea that is yet to be obtained, just within reach.  How can we, as a culture of modern citizens, create an environment where ALL can feel comfortable around a new "species" of technology?
     Can we bring a greater sense of discovery to those that consistently feel anxious, stressed and/or scared of new technology?  It spreads beyond just recent innovations.  Think of something as ingrained in our culture as a toaster.  Young people will be required to understand the goal behind the design of the toaster, and may even need to use it on a regular basis the rest of their lives.  To them, it will be "new," and to those in previous generations that grew up when the toaster was first invented, it is still just a regular part of life.
    Now, what happens when an "old" invention intersects with "new" innovation?  Today's technology!  (Don't forget about yesterday's technology, or tomorrow's technology either!)  If it is new to you, it's a new tech tool.  No matter how you look at it, both the young and old are discovering the inner-workings and meaning behind a tool.  Right now.  Today.
    "What exactly is happening within different generations," you ask?  The young bring some serious gusto in adding enhancements (based on learned theory and observation in today's culture), while the old carry incredible insight into why this "thing" came into play to begin with.  Naturally, a push and pull system arises.  The younger generations are constantly seeking ways to make things better, brighter and bolder (bless their hearts), while the older generations (bless their hearts, too) are constantly asking "Why?  Is this really necessary?"
    One more thought: What happens when a "comfortable" mindset intersects with a "curious" mindset?  My answer would be relevant innovation.  Ideas that work for that individual and make sense to him or her.  Today.  Right now.  Every time a relevant tool is discovered, explored and fully implemented by an individual, a new bar is set for creativity and innovation in that person's life, whether they are aware of it or not.
    No matter when or where we grew up, we have been exposed to a culture with a very specific set of tools and a certain path of growth and welfare.  Change and "new-ness" can be frightening to any of us.  But, what pushes us through this initial fear is the sense that, "Hey, this could actually be pretty cool.  What else can it do?"  That flicker, flare and flame of discovery can drive someone of any age onto a path of innovation, all their own.   

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.

Create Your Own Learning.

Behind every innovation lies three "actions" of design: THINK, BUILD, COMMUNICATE.  No successful product has ever been presented to the world without these three components.  Whether it be a new type of blender, waterproof binoculars or a micro-chip clip, there exists a process of thought, craftsmanship and instruction leading to successful integration and acceptance in our society.  One of these components cannot exist alone.  Even with a near-perfect design, prototype and distribution model, who will be the end user?  How will they find relevancy with the product?  Will they have resources, or an avenue of communication when assistance is needed?

Right now, imagine this "product" is LEARNING.  Forget about the latest watch or a new form of transportation.  Let's get non-tangible.

As humans, we are constantly curious and easily stimulated by the outside world.  Children's minds are like sponges, but they lack the life experience to navigate life's hairpin turns.  Adults often forget the playfulness of discovery, lingering instead on immediate goals and the cause/effect of quick decisions.  If you were the creator of your own learning (as a product of sorts), how might these three components integrate to a personalized and unique innovation?  Consider the following questions:

Think: What inspires you? (How can you best collect and retain information?)
Build: How will you strengthen your understanding? (Can you draw, listen, watch, present?)
Communicate: How will you empower others with this discovery? (How can you explain your ideas with passion?)

When you were a young student, how would you have responded to these questions?
How would you respond TODAY?

No matter what "hat" you wear on a daily basis, we are all students, teachers and participants in life.  Learning is something we should be thinking about, building and expressing constantly.  Isn't that the goal for most of us, to feel so deeply engaged with the world that we can't help but live life to the fullest?

We all have the ability to create our own learning.  Let's ACT on it.