Thursday, February 9, 2017

Global Music and Composition Project

Welcome to this global music and composition project. A project where US music and band students create music with the help of singers from a Tanzanian primary school.

The objective of this cultural project is to broaden and strengthen your’ views, actions and responsibilities in a globally linked world.  Through this new international connection, you will have an opportunity to address assumptions and stereotypes learned from media and internet sources.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Globally Networked Curriculum Project

Global Music Composition and Performance Project
Hello Colleagues,
This week, I would like to share my globally networked curriculum proposal by posting it on my blog.  Its not perfect and I welcome your feedback to make it better.  Below you will find the project specs. Thank you so much for your time.

Globally Networked Curriculum Project
Planning Sheet

Local Learners & Global Learning Partners
Content and Topic

Local Learners:  High School Music Composition Students, Michigan, USA

Global Learning Partners:  Primary Age Children from a PK-3 School in Arusha, Tanzania

Topic:  Cross Cultural Music Sharing and Composition

Content:  Students will share global music views through music composition and performance
  • The Tanzanian students will sing and record a traditional Tanzanian children song and share with US student
  • US HS students research and study East African and Tanzanian traditional/modern pop music
  • US students compose a musical arrangements based on elements of their research elements of Tanzanian music traditional/modern pop music
  • Tanzania students learn the US students’ arrangement and use it as background music for their traditional children’s song
Project Outcomes (4-5)
Authentic Task

a) Content
Foundational Knowledge: Students will share global music views through cultural research, music composition, song and performance (Kereluik, et al., 2015)

b) Cultural
Humanistic Knowledge: Students will identify common elements in culturally diverse music through a collaborative composition (Kereluik, et al., 2015)
  • US students will explore the complexities of Tanzanian traditional music, instruments as well as modern pop music
  • Tanzanian students will examine the interpretation of their traditional song by another cultural view.

c) Collaboration
Students will present to a performance to bring cultural awareness of Tanzanian traditional instruments and music to their community

d) Skill
Meta Knowledge: students will understand elements beyond a single cultural perspective and recognized positive commonalities (Kereluik, et al., 2015)
  • Students will recognize important elements of Tanzanian and East African traditional and pop music
  • Students will learn a new song
  • Students will recognize Tanzanian traditional instruments and their sounds
  • Students will use a variety of tech tools as well as their instruments

US students will perform their globally inspired composition at their spring concert and the Tanzanian students’ voices will be played over the US compositions to form a gNet arrangement.
Technology & Materials

  • UJAM - Students will learn to use UJAM, a Google Chrome extension, to record, produce and produce their compositions
  • Whatsapp - for communication and file sharing
  • Mobile phones - for recording compositions
  • Mobile devices and speakers to play voices and the concert
  • Musical and band instruments

a)  Formative assessment
Weekly work in progress presentations and performances

b) Collaborative assessment
US Students will be assessed on timely and clear collaboration with Tanzanian teachers

c) Skill  and Cultural assessment
US Students’ spring concert will include a presentation that compares and contrast Tanzanian music to American music as well as musical instruments
US Students presentation will also include information about the Tanzanian school including photos of the kids and their school

e) Content assessment
US and Tanzanian students will be assessed by the quality of their performance during the spring concert

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education29(4), 127-140.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Agent of Change

Technology can turn the powerless into an agent of change

Everyone has a reason to wants social change or wants a hand in affecting change. Even people who are uncomfortable with change, expect change in others in order to maintain the status quo.
There are six different types of agents of change.  The Ultra Committed Change-Maker is a zealot for social change whose life is revolves around their passion. The Faith-inspired Giver is an individual whose religious values propel their enthusiasm for change.  The social Conscious Consumer is a environmentally aware individual who often works for social justice causes. The Purposeful Participant aids his career and furthers their goals through social work. The Casual Contributor propelled by immediate issues in their community and Social Change Spectator participates personally in changes near and far.
Today, I worked with four first grade teachers who are working to get through their first weeks of a one to one digital device roll out.  After six months of preparations, the students received their iPads today yet the teachers are hesitant. More than hesitant, they choose to focus on the negative aspects of the device roll out instead of seeing how these very expensive tools can change the way their students look at life. They failed to see the privilege that comes with being part of an elevated demographics and all the material trappings that often blinds them to the plight of teachers worldwide that do not even have pencils for their students.
In the K-12 Horizon Report,  their is a call for change in the way schools work and in the way teachers work to maintain students engaged in what they are learning.  Teachers like the ones mentioned above are so engrossed in the way things “should be” that they are not paying attention to the way things “could be”.  They ignore a powerful juncture where they could become the fulcrum of social change by using the iPad to teach children how they too can be part of social change.  Children are agents of change instead they will learn apathy and protests.
Social change is birthed by one’s attitude and beliefs about their ability to make a difference.  In agreement with the social change agent quiz, I am a Socially Conscious Consumer.  This characterization explains my career choice and the way I chose to spend my resources. I have worked in West and East Africa in my quest to create changes and now I work in American schools to train children to uphold the American values such as innovation and progressive thinking.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

If You Have a Classroom, You Need a Class Website!

Why is it so difficult to understand why teachers today must have class websites or use learning management systems, where they house their course content?  90% of our students’ lives are ‘on demand’.  The internet has become the first place where people go to get quick answers.  Student today do the same. They seek answers online.  The one important thing that they need that is usually not online is access to their teacher and their school work.

Digital grading programs have forced teachers to post student progress online.  This is helpful to parents but it can also be very frustrating.  By the time parents see their student grades online, it is usually too late to intervene.  So it is very important that the teachers maintain an online environment where they can post lesson objectives, tutorial videos, assignments description and assessment links to help parents see class processes and requirements in a timely manner.

Three weeks ago, my 7th grade son forgot his daily math worksheet in his locker.  We take homework time pretty seriously in our home, so when he informed me about what he had forgotten, he knew that this mistake was not going to be resolved with a simple ‘I am sorry’.  In addition, by the time we discovered this catastrophe, his school building was closed for the evening so we could not access his locker. This was going to cost him some of his video  game time privileges for the week.  

Lucky for him, his math teacher is thoughtful enough to have a class website where she posts these required worksheets.  Before i could start berating him about this lapse, my son accessed his math teacher’s website from his cellphone and printed a copy of the worksheet.  “Crisis averted!”  I was so grateful to his teacher for contributing to a peaceful and conflict free homework hour.

There are many other reasons why teachers should have an active, organized and navigable  online environment. To start, a class website

  1. is a tool that will help student be more self-directed.  Students can access their course content multiple time, anyway, anytime and anywhere.
  2. provides a transparency tool for the teachers.  Parents, board members, community members, and administrators can view the class content at any time.
  3. is a great place to archive student work as well as the amazing activities and happenings in one’s class.  What a way to market innovating learning ideas a teacher might be trying.
  4. provides access to printable course materials, videos and additional resources.
  5. is a great place to differentiate instruction to fulfill IEP (Individual Education Plans) and 504 plan requirements.

As a mastery learning specialist, I coach teachers to maintain fully loaded class websites that allow students to work at their own pace.  A mastery learning website has the entire course available to the student and the student is able to progress through the course content as they master the material.  This design is similar to most online university courses but it is created for 3-12 grade students so that they can differentiate their own learning.  Mastery teachers spend valuable instructional time working closely with small groups of students, assessing and observing student learning.  Most importantly, they can spend time facilitating dynamic, interactive and engaging activities that encourage hands on learning and long term research.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

MOOCs: The Best Professional Development I Have Ever Had

When you don't have a clear vision of what you want to do, imitate the recognizable until you learn to recognize your voice. -- Anonymous
What if the world's best colleges and universities granted access to FREE world class education to everyone?

Free college education use to be the stuff of fiction, however, thanks to some very smart professors at a couple of ivy league universities lifelong learners and people looking to improve themselves can enjoy the most amazing courses without paying a dime. This new academic tech miracle exists and it is called a MOOC.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are Massive because a single course can entertain thousands of participants at the same time.  They are free and therefore Open, and they are well designed courses now offered major colleges and universities on the internet.  There is currently a tremendous number of MOOCs ranging from How to Start a Profitable Farm to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Practices. Today, MOOCs even offer inexpensive certificates that students can purchase at the completion of a course.

"MOOC poster mathplourde" by Mathieu Plourde 

I took my first MOOC 4 years ago.  It was a course offered by Stanford University about classroom environment design.  At that time, I had been contracted by a local school district to design an online learning program for teachers and I used the MOOC to help me structure the program content I planned to include.  The video lectures were inspirational and the course capstone project was to create a product (physical or digital) that would significantly change the learning environments in a classroom.  

This course had more than 1,200 students from all over the world, many of whom had similar goals as me.  Students were encourage to either sign up for the course as a group or join an existing group.  I joined a group of 11 amazing teachers from 12 different countries and 4 different time zones in what would prove to be one of the best professional development experiences I have ever had.  

The MOOC learning experience supports that proven pedagogy and learning theories like self-directed and differentiated learning.  They provide a platform on which participants can choose to work collaboratively or alone, at their own pace, anywhere and anytime. For educators, MOOCs are a way to provide cost effective and timely professional development where teachers are able to watch and learn from successful educators in the field.
There are conflicting opinions about the effectiveness of MOOCs.  The loudest criticism is the low completion rates.  This criticism, however, derives from traditional definitions of formal learning environment and completion measurements as the only legitimate standard of success in a course.  For example, studies show that roughly 4% of participants actually complete the MOOCs. However, the MOOC does not work like the old school cafeteria line style of learning, where every student starts at the same point (typically on chapter 1) and receives the same portions of the content.  Instead, MOOCs function more like a supermarkets or grocery store where a participant might opt to enter a course with a goal and idea in mind, then consumes the entire MOOC or only parts of the course that are relevant to him or her, without penalty.

Since I first discovered MOOCs, I have taken over 25 different courses.  Some, I have completed in their entirety and some I have taken simply to understand specific information housed in specific chapter or modules of a course. The courses were all taught by vetted university professors with terminal degrees and usually maintained by post doctorate students or college teaching assistants. Every MOOC I have taken this far, has been packed with dynamic and relevant information. It has been a place where I have found a network of educators with similar values and an affordable tech tool to help me elevate my craft.

Note: If this is the first time you are reading about MOOCs, take a look at this list of current Massive Open Online Course offerings

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