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It’s Summer Break

Tasha Morse_IMG_0740It’s summer break, and I, like many other educators, have been doing a ton of research and learning to make my classroom just a bit better next year. On my plate for this summer includes managing my classroom website and learning a new elementary general music curriculum subscription, called Quaver Music which is based entirely online.

Until recently, I was unsure if having technology in my classroom all the time was a good idea. It’s very easy to see now that technology is not going anywhere. Kids as young as Kindergarten have technology available for use in their classrooms. All of the classrooms at my school have SmartBoards installed. Just because there is technology, doesn’t mean teaching has to be 100% about it. In fact, it should enhance the lessons and not be the only part of the lesson.

I am super excited to have a curriculum next year that is engaging, as well as modern. Until now, all the “book learning” was done out of a book from about 20 years ago. The costumes the people are wearing in the pictures don’t speak to the kids of today. When kids today are growing up with mobile devices in their hands, adults dressed up in silly costumes just don’t speak to kids. They want computer animations and their world to interact with them.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try out the Quaver software last school year before the school purchased a subscription to it. One of the lessons provided was on steady beat. Perfect for a Kindergarten class. In a “normal” lesson for steady beat, we might talk about hearts having a steady beat. We might draw hearts on the whiteboard and clap a steady beat. We may march to a song and keep the steady beat while singing. This online curriculum includes all of the above, but also has catchy music videos, pre-made worksheets, games, interactive lessons, and quizzes with QR codes so the students can take quizzes and tests right from their mobile devices. The grades are then put directly into my grade book, and are ready to show to parents. It’s exactly what I was doing, but more colorful, interactive and exciting. Did I mention that the quiz and test grading is done for me? That alone saves me a ton of time!

Time is precious when you are the only music teacher for all three schools on the island!  K-5 General Music and Band, 6-8 Band and Choir, 9-12 Jazz Band, Band and Choir. Makes for a ton of planning and a ton of grading and assessment! I imagine that having quizzes and tests being graded for me is going to save so much time. Especially when it is multiplied by 5.

I have been trying to stick to “the old way” of teaching. How I was taught when I was in school more than 10 years ago. I now know that this is not possible, and I hope that by embracing some of the “new” I will in fact enhance “the old” and maybe that is the best practice for me, for now.

Are you embracing new technology, or resisting it? Do you feel overwhelmed implementing it?  I know my story is not the only one like it. Please feel free to share your successes and struggles. We can learn so much from each other!

Have a great summer! See you at ASTE 2016!

Tasha Morse