The very first e-portfolio format I viewed online is, simply put, amazing. I am trying to imagine the work I have done in the past 30 years in education along with the accomplishments I and my students have had and how that would look in a well designed e-portfolio. The impressive learning site for educator e-portfolio help is:
This is something I MUST DO! Wow! In early June I began the process of applying for a high school orchestra position in the Carmel Clay schools in Indianapolis. One of the assistant directors at Carmel High School moved and his position became available with applications being accepted in a short ten day window of time. Even though I have no desire to move to Indianapolis I decided to just give it a go, fill out the application, and see what would happen. The application was an extensive online document. In one hour I made it only half way through before stopping and saving, as I needed to get agreements from my chosen references before proceeding. The next morning at school I found a letter in my mailbox that was a congratulatory letter requesting that my next year’s 8th grade orchestra perform at the IMEA state teachers convention in January in Fort Wayne. I showed the letter to my principal and our band director, both of whom are part of my references. The principal was thrilled with this honor, and the band director immediately began to laugh and commented about the job application, “You’re not going anywhere!”
It’s true, I decided not to complete the application; choosing to take my current students to the IMEA convention. But the job application and all it entailed is fresh in my mind: so much technology, online resume requests, proof of teaching skills, accomplishments for both teacher and students, etc. I knew when I started that application that it was time for me to upgrade my resume to an e-format. Whether or not I decide to look elsewhere for a high school teaching position, I need to get out of my 1960’s-70’s upbringing and join the flashy, high-advertising, spiffy looking e-portfolio age! This is something I will work on after I complete my educational website, which is my current project.
To address the (Charlotte) Danielson Group, “The Framework” questions posed, I chose “Domain 3 Instruction How do I use technology for instruction?” I have listed ways I use technology with each section of Domain 3:
3a Communicating With Students My middle school classroom was to include whiteboard technology but our school system got as far as adding projectors, document cameras, and screens. Funding was not available to complete the whiteboards in the middle and elementary schools, but the high school did receive this teaching tool. Frankly, I think the elementary school teachers would use this technology on a daily basis with their students, if they were properly trained.
I do use the screen every day with each classes’ agenda on a power point. Students know to look for the “B4 Class” items to complete before we begin our lesson, and the list of daily activities keeps us all organized and moving forward. I refer to the power point multiple times during each class both to keep me on track with my lesson plans, and students look to see the path we are taking that day. I never get, “What are we doing today?” from students because they “see” our learning.
I also use the document camera when I model rhythm writing, or note reading skills, show electronic technology like tuners and metronomes, or other items where a big screen visual is helpful.
3b Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques Google docs survey is a great way to glean memory learning or personal opinion or facts from students.
One tool that gets used in my classroom is the document camera. On a regular basis I will have one student bring their rhythm writing, note writing, method book written assignment up to the doc camera to show their work as the class compares it to their own writing. The student will use a pencil (or my very cool plastic see-thru hand pointers) to point and explain each item or measure of their writing. Mistakes the lead students make are welcome, and students are encouraged to feel okay about making mistakes. I tell my students that “their mistakes are a learning opportunity for everyone,” that “others are most likely making the same mistakes'” and “if they get everything correct then they are not learning because they already have it figured out”. The mistakes lead students present become instant items for sharing and discussion, as my students will offer solutions, help, and their thought processes to the whole class. I love teaching this way; the students are engaged, participation is high, and you can see light-bulbs turning on as they share.
3c Engaging Students in Learning See 3b. This year we will use students’ iphones to find tuning and metronome apps that they can use at home for their practice time. I would also like to begin using an online teaching and home practice service, SmartMusic. Our band program has been using SmartMusic for the past two years, and is discovering a level of success with the students who use the site at home. The band students are given time in class to take playing tests through SmartMusic with a computer that is set up in the practice rooms. The band class also uses the online helps with their concert music, especially in the split classes with limited instrumentation where SmartMusic can give them the sounds of the instrument parts in the “other” class to rehearse with. Now that the company has added our orchestra method book and more string orchestra music, it is time for our string students to join.
3d Using Assessment in Instruction Our band program uses scantron for their summative, Common Assessments. We all use recordings (audio and video) of rehearsals and performances for the students to self/group evaluate our music. In the weeks leading to ISSMA Middle School Organizational Festival, we will record and evaluate each of our three competition songs multiple times, trying to tweak and better our intonation, timing, dynamics, musicianship, etc. When the students “hear” for themselves what their music director has been working to fix, they begin to perform at a higher level of understanding and sensitivity, which is amazing for beginning to intermediate musicians to accomplish.
3e Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness Answering emails to parents on the day I receive them is a big push for me. Parents often begin their reply back with a thank you for immediate feedback. Since email is our main mode of communication, it needs to be as quick as a phone conversation! If we have time to talk on the phone, then we should have time to give a speedy response online. I try to answer emails on the day they are received both to address issues immediately, and to keep my work load from piling up to a level where I cannot catch up.