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

"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:

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

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.