This year, as part of my Action Plan, I asked my Grade 7 music students to compose a rhythmic variation based on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star using multiple tools.
My Action Plan Research Questions were:
• What changes occur when new technology is introduced to the classroom within project based learning?
Introducing these new tools allowed me to position myself as a learner among the students. When exploring these tools with students for the first time, many responses were heard in the classroom by both the students and myself: “I need help!”…“I’ve never done this before!”… “Try it this way” to “Wow, that sounds nice!”
• What happens when multiple technologies are synthesized during the PBL process?
Introducing new technology can be intimidating and scary – especially if the technology has not been used in a full-class setting. Questions and challenges can be expected. While perhaps the most challenging, this is also the most rewarding aspect of introducing tools that are new to both the teacher and the students. Students who engaged in this experience were encouraged to be curious about the capabilities of the tech tools and explore their own individual ability to create new music. The end results were encouraging in both aspects.
• What changes can be identified in teacher practice? In student practice/learning?
My role was essentially that of a facilitator or mediator. I engaged in active listening to better understand my students’ questions and to find sensible solutions to road blocks and challenges. Students also assumed this role – helping each other through the creative process.
• What can a reflective process teach?
It’s useful to turn to the Habits of Mind, Body, and Action to reflect on what was involved in this experience. While many Habits played a role, some were quite instrumental throughout the process:
- Embrace learning
- Question and be curious
- Think creatively
- Take responsible risks
- Strive for accuracy
- Find humour
- Seek collaboration
- Use past learning
- Share what you know
- Respond with awe and appreciation
Another way I’ve reflected on this experience is captured in this illustration by Erica Sota of Think Link Graphics:
In this poster, the experience is represented as a journey, with questions emphasized throughout. The warm and supportive climate of the classroom is captured with the silhouettes of students working collaboratively. The tools’ logos are represented and the vibrant colours in the poster capture the energy and diversity of the compositions. Click here for a Prezi that further explains my Action Plan.
Student examples of the Noteflight step and the GarageBand step:
Students have reported that this was a memorable, enriching experience and I had a lot of fun learning along with them! As a result of all this creative work, we have a better understanding of some composition tools and we also have quite a collection of Twinkle Twinkle variations!