E-Portfolio Artifact with Reflection – Project #3

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:

https://eportal.cityu.edu.hk/bbcswebdav/orgs/L_EPORTFOLIO_WORKSHOP/Publication/teaching-portfolio-v1-20091127-A4.pdf

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.

Blogging. What I have learned.

Blogging is a website to record personal opinions and link to other websites on a regular basis.   I have many friends who use blogs to post their day-to-day lives, a diary of what their kids have been doing or events in their lives.  Mostly these friends are moms who homeschool and use the blogs to document what their kids are learning and the amazing trips they take in the process.

This is my first attempt at using a blog, thanks to the guidance (and requirement!) of Rod Anadon’s “Creating Educational Websites” class through “Connecting Link”.  I love the freedom within the blog sites!  It’s amazing that anyone can post their thoughts, learning, pictures, favorite quotes, and other interesting “best stuff” that we are all discovering on the vast world of the web, then have others reply instantly, or have other related material present itself as possible viewing.  And it’s surprisingly easy.  Too easy.  And so accessible.

So the big question for me is would I use blogging?  When would I have time?  Why would I choose this format for connecting with the world?  And finally, would I use blogging for educational purposes?

Never having had a love for writing or journaling, a blog feels like lots of work that is not in my comfort zone.  I do use social networking in Facebook to keep up with my friends and family, and I even post my own life events once in a while, but mostly I read about what my others are doing; kind of like friendly stalking, in an information seeking, nice way.   Even so, the time I spend on Facebook reading about my family and friends is limited to a few minutes compared to everything else I read on the Web or games I play for relaxation.  Writing a blog would not be something I would do with my limited personal time.

Would I use blogging at school for my students, classes, or parents?  Maybe.  My 8th grade orchestra has been selected to perform at the Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA) convention in January, so we will be traveling to Fort Wayne to perform for other music educators.  I believe we are the first PHM orchestra to perform at the state convention, and since middle school performing groups usually do not travel to perform, this is a big deal and a great honor for us.  It would be possible to use a blog to post about our preparations, traveling, performing, etc., along with pictures taken in the process.  I am not sure that this would be my vehicle of choice for communicating with students, parents, administrators, and the community, but it certainly is a possibility.  The drawbacks for me are with the time required to post and upload, especially with a whole orchestra of students to care for, transport, perform, feed, etc.  I would need to be comfortably familiar with the blogging process to make this a viable choice; so we’ll see where this school year takes me and whether I use blogging or not.  Either way this is another tool under my belt, so the speak, for another way to communicate with my students and parents that gives them the option to communicate back immediately.

Practice Makes Permanent

Been using this as a teaching adage for years – and so true! What learners practice is exactly what they know how to do.

Release Your Song

Most people have heard the adage, “practice makes perfect.” However, this statement is not entirely true. Drawing from the wisdom of my former teachers, and my own personal experience, “muscles have memory” and “practice makes permanent.” Since permanence most certainly does not guarantee perfection, here are a few tips for making sure you get the most out of your practice time.

1. Focus

Before you do anything else, make sure your mind is clear and able to concentrate. Without the ability to focus, your practice will, at best, maintain your skill, but more likely, introduce or reinforce bad habits. It is better not to practice than to do so with a foggy, tired mind. Take a nap, have a snack, start relaxed.

2. Warm Up

Just as athletes warm up before any sport or fitness activity, musicians need to warm up as well. Since muscle memory is what we are building through…

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