Passion Project

My biggest passion is music, that’s no question, but I really struggled with finding a good topic for my independent learning. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to learn more about music for my future, or if I wanted to explore a different topic. There are a few other things that I’m interested in learning about, but they aren’t necessarily needed for my future. So I decided to do the best thing for my future music educator: research historical music instruments.

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I already know quite a bit about modern instruments, but I continue to learn about them every day. I would consider modern instruments to be the ones in the symphony currently, but they are all evolved from the past historical instruments. Since I’m already informed about much of the instruments today, I thought it would be nice to take a step back and learn about the origins of those instruments.

I am in love with music history, so much so that it is going to be my master’s program and what I’m going to hopefully be teaching in a college one day. I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I was taking a survey of music history class last spring. It was only a quick overview of all of the important music events from the beginning to time, but I needed more. I want to know as much as I possibly can about all of the music in the past including composers, music, instruments, eras, and even significant places in the world. Everything about history intrigues me more than any subject ever has.

Since I am going to study music history for a very long time, I didn’t want to do anything with the actual music. Instead, I wanted to use what I already know (modern instruments) and expand that knowledge into something that connects with my future endeavors. I think this will be a great thing for me to study not only because it is something I’m deeply interested in, but because it is something that I need to know anyways.

Music is not only my biggest passion, but it’s also my life. I constantly am finding new music to listen to, new music to study, and new music I’d like to learn. I am constantly surprised by how many things I do not know yet. I feel like the more I learn about music, the more I realize there is to learn, and I hope to never stop learning more.

Hacking, Making, and Playing

The biggest draw I have towards elementary music is the play. There is even a specific music method SPECIFICALLY geared towards play and fun. To me, there is something so special about having a classroom full of children all enjoying themselves and learning in the process. If any of you ever have a chance to go to a Kodaly conference, I very highly recommend it. Even though it is a “music” conference, there are strategies that can be used in every single classroom. To learn more about the Kodaly method go here.

TED Talks are extremely important to me for the classroom. My English teacher would use them as assignments for us to respond to. They were one of my favorite assignments. I secretly love watching TED Talks, and it’s so interesting to see all the different kinds there are. I don’t think TED Talks is just another way to lecture kids. They are an integral part of promoting outside-the-classroom learning and inquiry. If we can inspire the kids to find something they’re interested in, they will be much more interested in learning in the classroom. If you can get the students to find TED Talks they’d enjoy, it’s an easy way to incorporate play.

I really like the “hacking” idea introduced in the “hackschooling makes me happy” video. Often times we see hacking in a negative light due to all of the technological mishaps. But hacking isn’t negative at all. It is such an important thing we need to use more in the classroom.

Hacking is simply doing something in a different way. Education nowadays is so focused on everyone learning the exact same thing at the exact same time. If teachers can change how we view learning, so many more students will thrive. In fact, it reminds me a lot of differentiated learning… hmm…. funny how some things have recurring themes in education strategies.

This video is a very interesting look at what hacking education is, and how we can use it to our advantage.

I plan on using education hacking in my classroom,  because not every student learns the exact same or even wants to. There needs to be more perspectives on every subject matter. In subjects like math where there can by many ways to find the correct answer, it’s especially important. If they find the correct answer in a different way, that works, why shouldn’t they be able to do it?

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I would like to leave you all with this quote, it seems fitting on the topic.

What IS Digital Literacy?

“Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”

–  American Library Association

Put in other words, digital literacy is simply using technology to enhance learning in the digital age. This is especially important in our society and our current century. Nowadays, everything is digital, whether we like it or not, and to deny students the chance to use the tools they already have, defeats the purpose of education and slows down progress. In a great article written by Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson titled 14 things that are obsolete in 21st century schools, he lists some very important points that teachers need to be focusing on, rather than keeping with the standard ideas.

Digital fluency goes beyond being literate. Digital fluency is a combination of digital proficiency, digital literacy, and social competence. Being able to communicate well is the most important part of digital fluency. The difference between digital literacy and digital fluency is that being literate means being able to choose which technologies will work the best, and being fluent means being able to explain why that would be the best technology, and how it should be adapted. (More about digital fluency here.)

Essential elements of digital learning is best explained in this video:

It is important, nay, essential to incorporate using as many technologies as possible in the classroom. Especially in this day and age. So many amazing things can be done if we allow our students the technologies they need to succeed.

I think I already know quite a bit about digital literacy. I use technology every single day of my life, and almost every hour as well. I like to think I know how to find good resources that are reliable and safe. I use social media every day, and use it to communicate with friends and family on a regular basis. I have never had a blog before, but I know quite a bit about them and how to use them.

I want to learn how to use my knowledge of digital literacy in my own personal classroom. I think it can be somewhat challenging to use digital literacy in a music setting, but I have some ideas. I would like to have more ideas for the future though.

I expect to learn how to expand my knowledge of digital literacy and to use it for a very positive experience for my students.

In order to become effective digital learners and leaders, we need to take initiative to be as well adapt to digital literacy as possible. I think it wouldn’t be out of the question to be digital fluent as well. We, as teachers, need to be a step ahead of our students at all time, and in this day and age, that takes a lot more effort on our part, since the students grew up in a digital age, whereas most of us did not grow up with tablets in our hands.

 

 

 

Getting a Head Start on Learning

My learning experiences started before I even stepped foot in a classroom. My mother has been a teacher for almost 30 years, and she began my learning very early on. As Soon as I was born, she read to me every single night, and sometimes even various times in the day. She even taught me to read when I was only 4 years old. We lived across the street from the library, so that has also shaped my experiences greatly. I have always had a passion for reading, and since I had a head start on it before my schooling experiences, it allowed me to be ahead of my years reading wise, and knowledge wise.

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The second key moment in my learning development was beginning piano lessons. My grandparents lived right next door to us, and they had a beautiful upright piano. My grandma was not a pianist, but she loved music, especially classical, and her daughter (my aunt) had played piano quite often growing up. So, at the ripe age of 6, I had my first piano lesson. I fell in love with it (even though I never practiced), and it was the start of a beautiful journey. From then on, I continued to have piano lessons very regularly, and I still do. It came easy to me at the beginning, and I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that now that I am a more advanced player, it requires more work and practice time. That has been a struggle for me most recently, but I will get to that later.

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The biggest challenge I had while learning in high school was my science teacher for my junior and senior year. I had a knack for science, and it was something I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but my love of music and negative experiences changed my mind real quick. This particular teacher was a very nice person, but she was too nice to be a good teacher. She also treated the students as friends primarily and not as students. I remember multiple times when I would stay after class to listen to her complaining about other students and other teachers even. To her own students. It was far from professional, and I aspire to be almost opposite of that. She also was known to burst out in tears her first year since she was going through a divorce, and could not leave her personal life at home. She never brought original ideas to the classroom, and lectures were strictly her reading right out of the book with no other insight. She let a lot of students get away with things in her classroom, and not a single student respected her. It’s really difficult to respect your teacher when she doesn’t treat you like students. On this note, I applied to the Chadron RHOP program my senior year of high school, was invited for the interview process, and was the only student who was not accepted to be in the program, or even as an alternate. That made me realize it wasn’t actually science that I wanted to do at all. It has always been education, but specifically music.

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The saddest experience I’ve ever had so far with a teacher happened last summer. My high school English teacher was struck by a car and was killed. She was 32 years old, with 3 children, and was the best person I had ever met in my life. She constantly pushed her students for bigger and greater things, and consistently told me I could do better if I tried harder. I tended to not try very hard in school, since everything had come so easy to me. I skated by on how easy learning was for me and did not apply myself. She had so much faith. In all of us, and in the Lord. She was an angel on Earth. Along with being an amazing person, she was also the best teacher I ever had. She picked the best literature for us, even though it hadn’t always been “standard literature”. She made everything as fun as she could and I remember doing daily grammar every single day in the classroom, and she encouraged us to answer by giving candy to people that answered. She understood each and every one of our challenges, and let us pick our own final projects in every single class. There isn’t a single student unaffected by the loss of the best teacher we will ever know. It has been almost an entire year since she died, and I still think about her every day. I will never forget how she helped shape my education and school-life.

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The most recent important learning experience I had was my junior piano recital about a month and a half ago. Even though I am an education major, with any music degree, the bare minimum is completing a 30-minute long recital. I went through a lot of emotional and physical trials while preparing for the recital. Practicing an hour a day really takes a toll on the body. I had began to get the music for my recital in the fall semester last year. Then I got the rest of my music at the beginning of the spring semester. Piano recitals also have to be fully memorized, so I had about 2 months to prepare the new music and memorize it. To say it was challenging is an understatement. As I mentioned previously, I hardly ever practiced while growing up. I have always done the bare minimum necessary, but with something as big as my recital, I had to physically force myself to practice more than I ever had in the past. It put a lot of strain on myself, and I had a few mental breakdowns during the spring semester. Preparation isn’t even the most stressful part. The most stressful part is the recital hearing. In a recital hearing, you are playing your entire recital an month beforehand for all of the music staff. All of the professors then discuss whether or not you’re ready to perform your recital. I passed, but not without tons of worry about whether or not I would. Of course, there were requirements. I had to clean up a few things on a piece and have more dynamic and accent contrasts throughout. The rest of the semester leading up to my recital, was mostly clean-up, but I practiced more thoroughly than I ever wanted to. I wanted to make sure everything sounded amazing. I had never been more nervous in my life than I was on that stage all by myself. It showed in my playing, but I slowly got over it, and the second piece on my program sounded the best it ever had!

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There are way more experiences than these throughout my learning, but these are definitely the most important ones. I’m sure I’ll touch on these things and much more in upcoming blog posts. All I know for sure is this is exactly what I should be doing with my life, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice for my future!