8 STEM learning challenges students can do at home

I was chatting with my brother the other day about how things are going with my two nieces learning at home while their schools are closed due to COVID-19.

My 13-year-old niece, Sophie, has continued to follow a typical school schedule each day with her school delivering a full learning program online. Her high school is doing a wonderful job providing lessons and activities to keep her motivated, learning, and engaged. She is enjoying this new way of learning, although she does report that hands-on subjects such as music and science are not quite us much fun sitting in her bedroom as they normally are at school.

Related content: A virtual learning lesson from Hong Kong…Read More

The story of a magical musical app

In the midst of the ed-tech revolution, teachers are need to make informed decisions about what brings value to the classroom. As a geography teacher at Monrovia High School in California, I’m interested in finding ways to prepare students for the 21st century while teaching them about the complexities of the world around us.

Teachers at Monrovia value being able to instill students with the skills they need to be successful outside of the classroom, a task that we’ve been able to achieve through an individualized approach to learning—and an acceptance of digital tools.

Breaking the tech barrier
Most educators are familiar with “the battle of the cell phone.” We’re faced with the tough call of whether to ban or embrace technology. Because students will need to be digitally literate to be successful in the workplace, I sought a way to keep things relevant, engaging, and valuable through technology.…Read More

How a small district turned every student into a music composer

There are moments in my life when the world slows down long enough for me to have incredibly emotional experiences linked to music. Those moments are pure joy. My goal as a music educator is to facilitate opportunities for my students to connect in that very same way.  I’m a music teacher for Montana’s Big Sky School District, so it’s thrilling when my students embrace powerful moments tied to music that really reach deep, and then find a way to lock into them for the rest of their lives.

One of the purest ways to imbue students with these amazing experiences is through music composition. Spending seven years as music teacher in Big Sky’s rural community, I encounter daily the educational benefits that a small school district offers students, particularly in its abilities to offer more intimate backdrops for learning.

Sadly, though, our less-populated rural areas lack resources—human and otherwise—and this deficit positions our school music programs in circumstances that are less than ideal. Rural communities don’t necessarily have a symphony or a spectacular venue that help our kids discover the “moment” that hooks all musicians. Without exposure to the important outside influences that help shape musical futures, we rural districts are essentially making music by ourselves, operating in a bit of a vacuum, which can prevent students and educators from accessing beauty through music.…Read More

5 ways music and tech are adding a little STEAM to our lessons

Technology plus music is an easy, accessible way to put STEAM in lessons — and students love it

The holy grail for those of us in education is a method that imbues students with higher-level thinking skills that stick, preparing them for what comes next in their lives.  This means not just reaching all students with the content they must learn but making sure this information stays around in their heads to improve their school performance and knowledge base.

As we all know, this can be a tall order, but in my school district, we’ve been using the latest and newest technologies that help to engage kids in learning. Our results have been significant and, I believe, worth sharing.

My job involves instructing both teachers and students in how to implement technology tools into their lessons. All our middle- and high-school students in Moore County, N.C., have Chromebooks so our digital tools must be compatible. As part of our constant brainstorming of new ideas and tools, my team heard about an online music recording studio called Soundtrap that runs on Chromebooks and we developed a curricular program to use it at many schools in our district. I personally use it at both of my middle schools.  One is a Title 1 school with a minority population of about 50 percent, and a free or reduced lunch status of about 65% while the other one is not a Title 1 school and its minority population is about 20 percent.…Read More

6 fun tools to teach creativity through music

Use these music apps and tools to make your own keyboards or work on a song with others around the world

Technology is not just for the traditional academic classes, but is also a great addition to the “special” classes, particularly the arts, and music is no exception. When it comes to getting students to experience music through, most of us are at least aware of the basics — Garageband, iTunes, and Youtube. But I like to focus on some new lesser-known tools that can be of great help.

Remember, that the goal is not to use apps and websites for their own sake, but rather to engage learners and impart knowledge. Let’s use technology to allow the students to take ownership of their own learning. Here are some ways that I incorporate technology into my elementary music class.

Flat is listed as a music score editor that allows multiple users to write and edit a song. It is based on the same concept as a Google Docs except it is a musical score. Students in the same class can collaborate or team up with a class anywhere in the world. They can start an assignment at school and pull it up on their own computer at home. It will play back what you have written so they can hear their composition. Just like Google Docs , the teacher can see who has edited the song and add comments.…Read More

Educating parents of the Siri generation

In our digital world, some parents may feel lost at sea. Here’s what they need to know

[Ed. note: Carl Hooker will deliver a related session on digital parenting at this year’s ISTE conference on Monday June 29. Previous ISTE coverage has focused on iPads and coding and keynoter Josh Stumpenhorst.]

digital-parentsWhat ever happened to the good old days? When I was a kid I used to listen to music my parents didn’t like and stay out riding my bike until the street lights came on. Today, our kids have scheduled playdates and a steady stream of organized activities, and spend the rest of their time connecting to others online. We no longer live in an analog world, yet why do we think our parenting should look the same as it did back then?

As an administrator in a one-to-one mobile device district, I’ve seen firsthand how access to devices can disrupt learning for both good and bad. But we forget that this disruption also occurs at home when the students take their device home. Our teachers hopefully have hours and hours of support and training for integrating these tools in the classroom, but what help are parents getting?…Read More

Drumming to Success: Why teaching music matters

As an instrumental music teacher in the Philly School District, there is not much that I haven’t seen in school, the Huffington Post reports. I’ve had students involved with drugs, violence and gangs. I’ve had students who were living out of homeless shelters, students who have both parents in jail, even a student that had a father who committed suicide while he was at home. I’ve seen students swear at teachers and disrespect principals. I’ve seen food fights, flash mobs in the hallway, and I often see Philly police officers in school for various reasons. However, there is one common theme that I’ve experienced in inner city schools: All students love music. I’ve had so much success with the students that have been labeled as “failing.” Even some of the most at-risk students in school can find success in music…

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