Intersections of Personalized Learning

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Teaching – for me category.

Building a PLN for the Here and Now

The assignment for this week (or was it last?):

1. Create a Twitter account (if you don’t already have one- if you have one, you can use that). 

  • Done.  Actually, been “tweeting” since the beginning of Twitter.  I ping pong back and forth between being a “Mommy blogger” Twitter user and an #EDCHAT user.  My followers and who I follow has changed since I started using it quite a bit.

2. Find at least 5 people to follow that will help support you in your project – people you can learn from – they have to be people outside of the Spring Lake Park Community.

  • Shelly S. Terrell @ShelTerrell – A freelance teacher trainer, now working out of Stuttgart Germany and #edchat co-founder
  • Jana Scott Lindsey @Mollybmom – An instructional consultant our of Saskatoon
  • Sue Scheff @SueScheff – A parent and parent advocate that talks a lot about bullying and creating personalized relationships in schools
  • Dr. Josef Pisano @pisanojm – A professor in Pittsburgh who works in Music Technology and started the #MusicPLN
  • Jose Vilson @THEJLV – a teacher, math coach and author that talks about personalized relationships specifically with students of color.

3. Do a search for blogs (not wikis or NINGs) about the topic you learning more about – find at least 3 blog posts that support your learning. 

 I have noticed this and researched it for the better part of a year.  Its speaks to the isolation that many fine arts teachers feel.  Its talks about the need for teachers and directors (if you see a difference in terminology) to talk about MORE than just their craft, or the ways that they get things done and move into ways of meeting student need.  Ways of not JUST creating a performing ensemble that achieves at top levels, but creating music learners that have a variety of skills.

4. Post a question or reply to at least one of the blogs.

 I didn’t find a place to post on a Music Education blog – and it’s not from lack of trying.  I have been reading quite a bit about how to incorporate language about race being a social construct in my classrooms.  I read Love Isn’t Enough (formerly Anti-Racist Parent) which is edited and contributed to by Tami Winfrey Harris.

Reflection?  By high school, students should understand through a variety of ways that race is a social construct.  The vocabulary and history that accompanies racism in the United States is well talked about throughout Social Studies classes and can easily be incorporated, even in a music class.


Next Steps

Once the 21st Century Learning tools have been opened up, its important to use them.  Isn’t it that way for all new things that you learn?

I have mentioned a few times how frustrated I am with the lack of a professional, online, collaborative community for music teachers.  I actually think that community is stronger for those teachers teaching elementary or middle school music.  I even think there is some sort of perceived or real divide between instrumental and vocal teachers; vocal teachers having a stronger, richer community than those teaching instrumental music.

My professional goal, that at the moment dovetails well with some of my personal goals is to find, create, participate in an online secondary instrumental music teaching community.

  • I have joined the #MUSICPLN group on Twitter (although, quite frankly, I find them to be much more technology awed than I was hoping for.)
  • I am considering starting a #BANDPLN on Twitter that has a “chat” on a week night about rehearsal techniques and technology uses.
  • I am talking with 3 other instrumental music teachers in the Twin Cities about their interest and participation in this, so we could do it collaboratively and not in a vacuum.

What else?

How do I/we enGauge 21st Century Skills?


The first statement of the NCREL/Metiri Group’s “enGauge 21st Century Skills” white paper declares that “our children live in a global, digital world – a world transformed by technology and human ingenuity.”  Incorporating that technology, whether it be data sources or electronics and human ingenuity, whether it be new contributions to the academic canon or innovations in source sharing, is a struggle in the public school system of the US.  It becomes a struggle because of the vast quantity of children served, by the limited amount of resources, multiplied by the ever advancing innovations in research and technology.

In order to make 21st century learners and incorporate the skills of technology and the embracement of human ingeunity, we need to examine the positive advancements we have made and identify the next areas of grwoth.

Question:  Where you see efforts playing out in terms of strengths and weakness in the way you currently educate students at your school.

Answer: The first statement of each quadrant seems to be at a level where the school district and the individual teacher are achieving.  In the “Digital Age Literacy” quadrant, students need to have “basic, scientific, economic and technological literacies.”  In every discipline across the curriculum at the secondary level, students are assessed in a variety of ways and through a variety of state and national standards. 

Within the “Inventive Thinking” quadrant, students need to demonstrate “adaptability, managing complexity and self-direction.”  I believe that many teachers would be unconfident in their assessment of these skills, but are encouraging and embedding them within their daily classroom in a signficant way through group work, tiered homework assignments and student choice. 

 Within the “Effective Communication” quadrant students are encouraged to have “teaming, collaboration, and interpersonal skills.”  Through the secondary curriculum and particularly now, with the addition of the “Like Skills” grade students will be able to be assessed effectively on how well they participate on an interpersonal level. 

In the final quadrant, “High Productivity” students need to “prioritize, plan and manage for results.”  Its my estimation with the push towards summative assessments students are given more tools than in previous curricula structures, that allow them to see and understand and then work for the appropriate results within their own education.

Question: What areas of the quadrant do you need to strengthen as you managing 21st Century change?

Answer: I believe that there are two places within the quadrants that are in need of becoming more robust within the curricula for creating stronger and more internationally valuable students.  The “Digital-Age Literacy” cites “multicultural literacy and global awareness.”  While I disagree with their use of “multicultural” as a way to talk about other additions to the academic canon that are non-white or non-Western, I believe that it’s a statement that talks about creating a learner that values a wide variety of sources and traditions when they are learning.  In order to take that step, there are pieces of current curricula that will need to go by the wayside in order to incorporate larger bodies of non-Western, but equally valuable work. 

The other component that many disciplines struggle with, at all levels is the use of “higher order thinking and sound reasoning” skills within the “Inventive Thinking” quadrant.  Further professional development and peer coaching could encourage teachers of all levels to better their practice to incorporate higher levels thinking skills at every level.

Based on these quadrants, and our current use of reflection and professional development through Small Learning Communities and Professional Learning Groups I believe that accomplishing at all levels of the enGauge 21st Century Skills is really possible and probable in the next 4-5 years.

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.