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

6 STEAM tinkering tools for the holidays

Engage kids of all ages with these STEM and coding learning toyssteam-tools

 

The year that was brought with it a renewed, and much welcome, interest in science and technology, as STEAM, makerspaces, 3D printing, and coding all became hot topics. Each year, as parents look to celebrate the various holidays with our kids, many of us rack our brains trying to find gifts that are both fun and educational. This year is no different and fortunately, the latest STEAM push has made many of the learning tools very desirable as holiday gifts.

The following are six ed-tech tools that will undoubtedly spark the creative and innovative side of kids of all ages (parents and teachers included). These tools are dynamic, engaging, and fun for everyone. Best of all, they’ll help students focus on higher-order thinking skills as they make, design, create, and code their way into 2016.…Read More

10 innovative STEAM education apps

There are plenty of options perfect for integrating STEAM in the classroom

steam-appsIt’s no secret that the concept of STEM education, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math, has made its way to the heart of the ongoing education debate. But now, STEAM education is refreshing the STEM model with a curriculum update.

Adding the “a” for arts, proponents of STEAM, which is spearheaded by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), advocate for greater integration of the arts in education. They believe that art and design will have as big an impact on the economy and job market as science and technology have in recent years.

This rising trend in education is an opportunity for educators to engage their students in new and more creative ways – and as with so many other things, there is definitely an app for that.…Read More

STEAM tips and resources you can use right now

STEAM advocates and supporters can share these tips with curriculum directors and teachers

STEAM-educationThe need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and proficiency is nothing new. But a movement is growing for STEAM education, in which the “a” stands for Arts. Cultivating scientific and mathematical viewpoints and experiences through arts education is a critical need in today’s schools, STEAM advocates say.

Each of these tips, resources, or tools will help you as you attempt to integrate arts education and arts experiences into STEM education.

Do you have a favorite resource or tool that doesn’t appear here? Share it in the comments, or find me on Twitter @eSN_Laura.…Read More

Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, No. 8: ‘Forgotten’ STEM elements

eSchool News counts down the ten most significant developments in educational technology during the past year. No. 8 highlights STEM efforts.

STEM-Top10In school systems from coast to coast, tech-savvy educators experimented with augmented reality, educational gaming, and other techniques designed to enhance teaching and learning.

These are only some of the key ed-tech developments affecting K-12 schools in the past year—and we’ve got a full recap for you.

Here, the editors of eSchool News highlight what we think are the 10 most significant ed-tech stories of 2013.…Read More

Creating space for STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art, and math

Two foundations are giving $500,000 to 25 school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania, and most of the schools will use the money to create places where students can employ the latest technology to learn, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Each district will receive a $20,000 grant from the Grable and Benedum foundations. Many will use the grants to redesign an area of the library or a classroom where students can gather to focus on projects related to what is called STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math…

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