Glee for All in Miley Cafeteria

Excuse my corniness when I remark that I witnessed something tonight that was truly remarkable.  Miley Cafeteria at Salve Regina University (where I currently go to school) is not usually a very exciting place.  Over-tired, worn out, college students rushing in and out to get a quick meal is usually the social scenery of the scene.  However, tonight’s dinner was a bit different.  Thanks to a new speaker system in the cafeteria, the dining room manager is now able to play music over the whole space.  Tonight, she picked a Pandora Radio station of oldies tunes that everyone could sing a long to…..and boy they did!  Almost everyone in the cafeteria was singing along to tunes such as Sweet Caroline, Build Me Up Buttercup, and Here Comes the Sun to name a few.  This conveniently aligned itself with the first day of Spring.  What impressed me the most, as I sat back and watched classmates beaming as some belted it out while others quietly hummed the melody, was how incredibly transformative this music was to the atmosphere of the cafeteria.  It reminded me of the truly aesthetic and emotional component to music and why it is SO important to expose every single child to this same exact thing.  It also reminded me that common experiences, such as this, are what make any kind of education community (or community in general) special and unique.  People were walking out of Miley tonight (still grinning from ear to ear) talking about how fun going to get food was tonight.    I’m pretty certain I was probably the only music major in there tonight….just goes to show how music can really touch everyone.

In fact, to just drive my point home a little more, I’m sitting in the music department office right now, and a classmate of mine just walked in and asked what I was writing about.  When I asked her if she was in Miley tonight, she replied, “no…but my roommate was.  She told me all about it.  Sweet Caroline, right?”  Glad to see that people really are talking and excited about it.  And OVERJOYED to see something as simple as a good sing a long oldie lift everyones spirits so instantly.  Truly, made my week.

Blast from the Past!

http://webapps.yarmouth.k12.me.us/~mrice/newscasts0607/WWII/Podcast/E7ACAC6F-1BC2-446E-AFF7-5A7AE8E6DFE2.html

Just came across this…a video of me and classmate/friend/collegue of mine, Ben Nickerson, starring in a iMovie project we created for a class assignment in 8th grade.  Crazy to see the great work my school district was doing even (what now seems like) so long ago.  Ben and I (The Bens as we’ve been dubbed) have interestingly enough done a lot of work together on educational technology….have attended many a conference together and hosted our own student webcast through high school.  More info on that at http://tinyurl.com/bennben and you can follow Ben Nickerson @ben_nickerson

New England 1:1 Summit

This past Saturday, March 10, I was lucky enough to attend and present at the first annual New England 1:1 Summit hosted by Burlington High School in MA.  BHS is a 1:1 iPad environment, and they served as wonderful hosts for this great conference.  Educators and administrators from all around the country attended this conference.  I presented on two topics: my use of the iPad in college and why I believe a 1:1 learning environment in high school is incredibly valuable in preparing students for higher education and the “real world”.  After reflecting on the day and reflecting on my presentation, I walked away with a thought I had never had yet.  In thinking about education on a larger scale, we all know that a 1:1 environment is not attainable in every school, in every classroom, in every community.  However, what is possible is to implement a school culture that I believe has grown out of the 1:1 movement.  Culture is the first building block for any learning community in the direction of a 1:1 program or really any kind of 21st Century instruction.  Culture comes before machines.  This is so incredibly important to remember.  In my home district, we are fully 1:1 in grades 7-12.  However, in grades below 7th, we strive for the same culture that we do in our 1:1 grades.  This includes many things.  One is assessment oflearning objectives.  This means, when assigning a project, teachers look for mastery of content and allow students to take ownership of how they present that content.  A teacher may ask students to demonstrate their knowledge of photosynthesis, but rather than give them a specific means of doing so, will allow the students to use any available resources to do so.  This not only gets the students innovating more as they navigate through this task, but more importantly makes each student’s experience unique and gives them ownership over the product they produce.  Some students may make posters, some a voicethread, some a powerpoint or prezi, but this should be no problem for the educator as they are assessing on mastery learning objectives and not actual means of presenting them. 

It became clear to me that more and more schools, with far less resources than a 1:1 learning community, can make a move in this direction.  Students need to be pushed in the direction of innovation, increased collaboration, and communication with their classmates and community.  Taking advantage of any resources we can, this is attainable.  It’s amazing what 21st century skills can be fostered in the classroom just using the smartphones most kids have in their pockets these days.

New Blog!

I’m so excited to be starting this blog!  I plan to use my space here to blog about my experiences as I navigate my way through completing a degree in Music Education.  Between my music education experiences and my conferences I attend, I’m sure I will have plenty to write about.  I’m excited to keep the conversation going about instructional technology and what teaching in the 21st century really means.  We need to challenge all educators (fine arts too!) to push their students to do innovative, new things in the classroom….to collaborate and communicate in ways students never have before.  We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist and a world that is ever-changing.  I feel it a professional responsibility to stay as current not only in the field of music, but equally as importantly in the ways of innovative instruction and classroom practice.

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