Intersections of Personalized Learning

National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers

The technology standards laid out by the NETS define 5 areas where teachers need to evaluate and use technology in their classrooms and teaching interactions.  They go beyond student contact and student content delivery and encourage assessment of teacher growth and strength of usage.

 The first standard, “Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity” should be the place that I, as a fine arts teacher is excited and propelled.  In truth, there are some pieces in here that I challenge the very make-up of a high school music classroom that is rehearsal based.  The first statement, “Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student  learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments” seems straightforward in a “core” area of curriculum.  Students learning an instrument or preparing their voice for performance have limited areas of technology that can respond to their actual musical output.  Recording is a regular part of the classroom, and a piece of technology that is incorporated in the National and State K-12 Music Standards, but it’s not for developing student use, it is used for developing student critique. 

Within the first standard teachers need to “promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.”  This seems endemic to what arts teachers do.  In fact, it seems to support huge components of our curriculum with the caveat that technology is not the only vehicle for that promotion.  The second component is to “engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources” seems much more difficult as the “real-world” issues of making music are not technology solved and minimally technology assisted.  They CAN be technology assisted, but in no way do musicians (nor dancers/potters/painters/athletes/authors) rely on technology for their art form.  I’m not disputing that it can and should be helpful in many situations, but I do think there are some components in a music performance classroom, where the emphasis is on musical output, that negate significant uses of technology.

The third component of the first standard is to “promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning” is where the technology usage and integration seems to be the most powerful.  To have students hear other ensembles, see how composers work with other groups or ensembles and have them relate it to their own music making is so imperative and well integrated into the current (ours and National Standards based) curriculum.  For example, in talking about Frank Ticheli’s “Vesuvius,” a difficult concert band piece that uses several world tribal rhythms, it was imperative to me that students would see the ensembles, the people, the rhythms in use, not just on their page.  The composer integrated dynamic and unfamiliar tribal rhythms into the piece of music, but didn’t give students much information than the notes printed on the page.  Students came away being able to reflect on a piece culture, history, race and environment with the addition of multi-media reflection projects.

The second component of this first standard will need the largest amount of attention.  I will need to shift my attention from a rehearsal/ensemble based classroom, which relies on its own rehearsal standards, to a classroom and ensemble that engages students in producing musical skills that use technology more fluidly and with more attention to the use of digital tools.  What do I need to make that shift?  I would love to see someone doing it.  I would love to feel a balance between student performance based learning and student content based learning.  I know that we are working towards integration in those two pieces of the curriculum, but the model for where it could be, hasn’t been made yet.


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