Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Full Moon?

Harvest Moon? Is that really a reason for all the craziness? If that is so, then what will the first impending snow storm going to bring? On another "note", did anyone see the magnificent rainbow that yesterday's wild weather created? Not only was it a complete rainbow, Mahoney was in the middle of it! The ride home did not lead me to the pot of gold, however.

Shifting gears to technology and some applications, I am hoping to format some existing documents to google pages for sharing with colleagues in our music district (includes most of Southern Maine from Gorham to the NH border). We are a large and spread out group and if people have gmail, it would be a convenient way to share information and even work on programs for our festival performance--or would it? Can a great-looking program be created using Google docs?

However, what should I be researching that I'm missing regarding real integration in my instrumental music class and technology--or (without offending anyone) do I need to integrate technology when I sometimes think our musical instruments are all the high tech equipment we can handle? :) Happy Day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


...at all the data and possibilities! What a great resource right on our laptops! I can't wait to take this home and explore Marvel with our 6th grader---there is life beyond Wikipedia! The level of information is great--local papers to scholarly articles all in one place and credible too! This resource is much easier for me to wrap my head around, for some reason (at least today....)

I only spent a few moments on Slideshare and finally started searching topics of personal, rather than school, interest and found an amazing presentation by a professional landscaper. Not only did it inspire me to get to work in our war zone of a yard (15 trees down this summer!), the creator provided a very detailed account of all the software , tools and programs he uses in his business. Talk about integrating technology! An excellent example. Now if I could only remember how to link....

A little information...

...is a dangerous thing! How interesting to visit wiki's and see the compilation of so much knowledge on absolutely any subject. I recall as a kid picking up our encyclopedias (World Book) and thinking I would know everything in the universe if I could just read through every volume. I lost my enthusiasm at "Denmark". And now look at all there still is to learn! I know my learning style well enough by now that I must have a clear focus of the topic I wish to search. Otherwise I find myself completely distracted by all the interesting subjects and information out there. I did find it disappointing that so many great things that were formerly free now come with a fee...not surprising, but in this current economic situation, how are school supposed to "stay on the edge" when the fees for these services are so steep? It also seems that this happens without much warning and once there is so much work uploaded that one doesn't have much choice but to sign up for the pay service. And who has the time to search out other comparable tools that may be available for free?
(Obviously the food poisoning/brain embolism I suffered last Tuesday evening triggered my questioning process!)

Moving on, I would like to convert a handbook for a festival I am managing this year to a google document for easy sharing with the 30+ teachers in the southern Maine area that could access it and use it. This could be a concrete project I could wrap my head around, is not too involved, and could be an efficient way to share needed information in a timely manner. I hope Google stuff remains free!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

wiki woo woo woo

HSM anyone? (High School Musical for those people without 'tweeners in their home!)

One thing I've always wondered about; where do all these terms come from? Who says the highly technical mind is not also very creative? Wiki? Blog? PBwiki? Google? I love the words and terms!

I have found the class discussions so helpful in directing my learning through the tutorials. Comparing the different tools--google docs vs. wikis, blogs and voicethreads--they all offer such possibilities for the classroom. How to choose?

From last week, I liked Steve's example in Voicethread from his family trip and can see us using this as a way to share family photos instead of sending the cd to the family across the country (and it sitting on a counter for weeks before it's tossed!). I would love to see and share the comments, too.

I signed up for a wiki and am playing with it but do wonder if Google docs will serve my purposes better for now. Down the road, creating a wiki where teachers, community members and others can contribute to the discussion of current music issues like advocacy could be a great use.

Too much of a good thing, like at the Ricetta's pizza buffet...must be dinner time!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brain Cramp!

What a week so far, and it's only Tuesday! A full week in front of us and I am feeling the definite urge to get this going in practical terms for myself and my students. To date I have:
posted all current information online to homeworknow and the school website (yes, behind compared to some, but oh well)
created multiple google calendars, one for the district events (I did this in May!), created a home calendar and shared these calendars with others and even combined calendars...

...and know there is so much more to do but need to balance this with all the pressing needs of the day-to-day job.

I'm hoping to upload recordings of the music our jazz group will perform for the kids to listen to (and not feel intimidated that my husband already does this!) as a practical first thing to try.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Voice Threads r us

I think we're having fun playing with Voice Thread, or as the tutorial abbreviates, "VT" (which I wish didn't remind me of Vermont, as then my mind drifts back to our visit to Quechee, the Cabot Outlet and those beautiful cows!...but I digress...)

The browsing turned up some very interesting examples as I searched "school music". The best application thus far is using the VT as a place to offer tutorials. One walked students through the sign up process for a free online music composition tool--clear as a bell to follow, very well done, and in a format that allowed the user to review it over and over at their own pace. Another was student-created; a middle school jazz band advertised their group, who was invited, what they did, and what they liked about the group. Kids' images were used extensively--are we o.k. as this is a shared thing with limited people, or did kids have to sign off on an image policy document?

short week?

So it's Tuesday already, but when will Friday be here?! This third day of school brought LOTS of questions from students, which I love, but based upon the amount of paper on my desk and tasks left to complete, I found the hours slipping quickly away.

How is the technology use going? I am feeling more comfortable sharing google calendar (my husband and I have created and shared 4!), posting documents for students online, and continuing to think about how to use some of these great tools actively with my classes.

Now if I could just get to class by 2:30.....have a good week, all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Day After

No it wasn't the craziest birthday I've ever had, but truly one of the more enjoyable.

I am finding the tools easier to navigate and am beginning to see how I can practically applicate them to things I need to be doing NOW. I can link important beginning of the year information to the school website through google docs. or perhaps portaportal. I think I could even utilize a blog as a means to provide links to pieces I want kids to listen to, along with some directed listening activities. With 150 students, I don't think I want everyone to comment, but maybe I could rotate the activity through the grade levels and require a comment over a window of time. Listening is an important skill to develop and practice, and we simply don't have time to do much in class. This is something we can start in class for modeling purposes, but then move to "outside class time".

I also find great implications for some items of interest in RSS feeds and delicious. Music advocacy is a big topic with lots of updates. Chasing the latest findings just got a lot easier, except for the time factor. Hey, is there widget to create time?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes, cards, gifts and delicious cookies! Speaking of delicious...

I love it! This is a tool I am finding myself lost in, but in an enjoyable and productive way. The icons and pathways make a lot of sense and it appeals to my strong desire to organize everything--despite what room 201 looks like after most concerts!

I'm not at the point of going "out there" yet to save too many sites, as I had quite a few to sort through on my bookmarks (time to delete!), but a quick search got me where I wanted to be in a manner that made clear sense to me. Can we stay here a while?

Hump Day

Based on how we all dragged ourselves in here this morning, the heat is taking it's toll on motivation. Heading to the river in Windham after class has provided a good way to beat the heat and to talk through some of our new learning with other teachers...we're lucky we can hang out riverside and chat!

Certain applications are starting to look more like a natural "fit" for the music classes, although the value of blogging seems very apparent--this is a change in attitude from day 1!

I will have to admit however, that the format of the class does not always work for me. Maybe I don't have the attention span I thought I did, but I find the time on task practicing and exploring tools can be a challenge for me. I get distracted by other information online, find the quiet a bit uncomfortable (I don't want to bother others!), and would like to hear more from other classmates--their questions and comments are really helpful in clarifying my understanding--and lack thereof!

Gee, the band director is challenged by quiet?! Maybe it's time for school to start after all...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here is my attempt to link a site!

Shade Gardening

Here is my attempt to link a picture...:)

Deeper in the Muck

Well, 3 hours have passed and we've since learned about RSS, opened reader accounts and linked some feeds to our accounts! Wow!

It's great to learn about a tool that can help filter all the information swirling out there in the ether, but I must admit to still feeling overwhelmed by thought of it all out there. Remember the scene in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", the real one, with Gene Wilder? Mike T.V. sends himself through space and returns as the teeny version of himself. That's how I picture all that information out there and I need a good way to reach out and grab the good stuff without coming up with 105,000 possibilities.

..now if I could only work chocolate into this analogy....

A New Day

On the radio driving home yesterday was a timely discussion of accuracy (and manipulation) on the internet. The information in the discussion provided such a seamless transition from our class work to the night's reading...this stuff really is everywhere! The horizon is wide open...

Today I am hoping to narrow the focus just a little and start to feel a little more capable of navigating some of this information a little more independently. RSS Feeds sound almost too good to be true!

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Impressions

I have come to the 12-21 class with some preconceptions...it will be interesting to review in the next few days and weeks what opinions I still hold.

We have read some blogs as an initial task and the ones I chose ranged in topic from technology use in the classroom (Ann Davis), the subject of brevity in blogging, to the concept that our educational system suffocates creative thought. Nicely organized for easy browsing, all accessible by a mere click. This is where I start to lose my balance. The scope of information "out there" is overwhelming. The fact that one can also throw out their thoughts for the world to read and comment on expands the possibilities to the point where I cannot comprehend navigating this. Good thing I've got such great guides!

The blogs I read were very different but shared one common characteristic; the were very well written and each was written in the writer's unique voice. I love to read anything, and when starting with the newspaper I head to the editorials first. I found reading the blogs similar in tone. Having the opportunity to read others' comments heightens the reading experience by including other perspectives and further information. I did find some comments distracting--commentators sometimes went off topic or directed their comments in a familiar (?) way to the blogger. My preconception? I expect professional comments?

Connie and Steve are masterful at making this easy for us; will I be able to do this when I'm sitting in room 201 by myself?