Saturday, April 26, 2014

Using Garageband in the Classroom: Working, Saving, and Sharing

So now that I'm actually in the classroom, co-teaching with a fabulous English teacher and using Garageband with students, there are a few things we've learned that may be useful to you. 
N.B.We are using shared devices. 

The Assignment

Students were asked to take two poems and the song lyrics of one song that share the same theme and create a "Mash Up".  The result will be an entirely new poem which they will recite and put to music using GarageBand.  This is a senior English class, so what the teacher is looking for is a fairly comprehensive explanation of student choices including an analysis of poetic devices.  You could definitely do this same assignment with younger students, with the focus being oral/reading fluency, rather than analysis. 

Step 1:  Student work periods

If possible, assign the iPads to partners or triads so that they can continue to work on their creations on the same iPad for more than one day.  Working within the App is ideal for editing, and we found one work period to be insufficient time.

Step 2:  Moving your GarageBand creations off a shared device

Option A:  
Airdrop the GarageBand creations from shared iPads to a teacher iPad or to a teacher Macbook--this is ideal if your students still need to edit.
Option B: 
"Open In" Google Drive (as per these video tutorial instructions)
Option C: 
Share to your Youtube Channel

Step 3:  Playing your GarageBand creations

For Option A:  
If you are not using shared devices, or if you've Airdropped your creation, you may play directly from the GarageBand App
For Option B:  
If you have saved the device to Google Drive, you will need to be in the Google Chrome App to be able to listen to the creation on your iPad.  OR you can access your creation on a desktop or laptop provided you have Reeltime, Quicktime, etc...  
**OR download Drive Tunes from the Google Chrome store to play directly from your Google Drive account.
For Option C:
Play directly from your Youtube Channel

If you teach English, and want to assess students's speaking skills (Oral Communication strand) as they work, feel free to use or modify this Assessment Checklist we created.

I can't wait to share the student samples!  They are working so hard and LOVING it.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

A fresh look at Assessment

Just before the holiday weekend, I had the honour of participating in a workshop led by Sandra Herbst on Assessement.

The first thing she did impressed me the most.  She introduced herself to each participant (well over 100 teachers and administrators), looked each of us in the eye, and sincerely welcomed us.

She later went on to say that in her school district, there is an expectation that EVERY STUDENT is greeted by name and welcomed EVERY DAY.  It made me think about that quotation by Maya Angelou  about how people remember how you made them feel beyond anything else.  Sandra emphasized that many students in her District may only encounter a caring adult at school, not in their home lives.  It made me recall a time in the not-so-distant past when  I would dive right into the day's lesson just as students arrived so that we could "cover the material."  What a missed opportunity!

It's so simple and yet so profound.  I think about what an impact it would make on the climate of a classroom and a school if we took a few minutes every day to ensure that our students felt welcome and valued.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.       --Maya Angelou

Here are a few other ideas that resonated the most with me:

  • "assessment" comes from the Latin to "sit beside"-->we need to spend more time observing and conversing with our students; prompting their thinking and giving them feedback about next steps--not just testing them and moving on.
  • "evaluating" is about placing a judgement on work which, more often than not, stops the learning
  • technology is a tool that can help us to find out more about what a student "knows" that goes beyond "pen and paper" tasks
  • some tech tools can help us to capture student conversations--she highlighted Quick Voice Pro and Voki--I have used Educreations for this purpose as well
  • being transparent about what is expected (Success Criteria) is crucial to students knowing how to achieve success
  • if we focus on learning, students will achieve far better on standardized tests than if we focus on "preparing" kids for tests
  • understanding a student (learning needs, social needs, etc...) will help teachers make decisions that will help move learning forward
  • it is essential to establish what "quality work looks like" --> then, when students submit their work, it is important that they identify what parts they believe to be examples of quality in their own submission (Use notes in Google Slides or Comments in Google Docs)
  • A "visual continuum" can help empower student to create quality work: Basically the teacher posts several examples of work that become incrementally more sophisticated--a student can identify where his work is on the continuum and what more is needed to get to the next stage--there are no marks or levels at all on the examples, and students are told that even beyond the "best" example, there is other criteria that could make it better. It is important that the examples are not always posted worst to best.

Throughout the workshop we saw videos of teachers and students learning together, we engaged in some high-impact activities, and had excellent discussions at our table.  I will certainly be taking this information into my daily practice.

Much of this work echoed the research done by Carol Dweck in the area of Growth Mindsets.

More information about Sandra Herbst can be found here.  She can also be seen on Twitter @Sandra_Herbst