Chromebooks in Band Class

Chromebooks in Band Class

As I start my second full year working with Auburn School District educators in what they call their Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy 2.0 (ATLA), it’s aways great to hear that long-term professional development really works. For context, I meet with the ATLA group 5 times throughout the school year. Each training builds upon the one before giving depth to the professional development you just can’t get at a conference or one-day PD session. This is where my focus with school districts is right now. If we’re going to make actual lasting change in schools with these powerful connected tools, then we need to make sure we have professional development plans in place that help teachers learn how to use them in truly meaningful ways.  –Jeff Utecht The following is reposted with permission from Auburn School District. Last year when I received my Chromebook at ATLA (Auburn Teacher Leadership Academy 2.0), I didn’t see how it would benefit me as a band teacher. After all, band is about having students blow air through instruments, not typing up a summary about a music history assignment on a glorified typewriter. But after graduating from ATLA, I realized that there had to be ways to use technology to support my students that I didn’t realize. Yesterday was our first day of Chromebooks in the band room and I was blown away. I realized that the little laptops give all of my kids instant access to digital keyboards. After a brief survey, less than 5% of my students could name the notes on a piano. Now 100% of my students can. That simple lesson is going to lead into much more complex musical theory discussions in ways that we could never have had before. In this way, the Chromebooks took us beyond supplementing what we were doing because it wasn’t feasible to provide access to pianos for all my students. Now the Chromebooks offer us a quick and portable way to do so. And the software! Instead of just presenting information to students, they get to practice! Repetition is a key to student growth. Today I am out of the building and my students’ Do Now is to practice naming piano notes for 50 repetitions! Currently, we are in the process of buying Flat, a simple to use music notation program that will allow our students to become composers. I’m excited by the cross-curricular benefits my students will...

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A Year in Review 15-16

A Year in Review 15-16

I haven’t made much time to blog this semester…..OK….this year. But what a year it has been! I am currently writing this sitting at Rialto Beach on the coast of Washington. One of our favorite ‘get off the grid’ places to go. We hike in about a mile, no Internet, no cell service. Just the waves, nature and prana. It’s here that I find time to finally sit and reflect on this year’s journey into amazing new educational adventures with more on the way. Eduro: Marysville School District I wrote last year about the 5 year contract we signed with Marysville School District and the work the team and I would be doing there. The first year has been simply amazing. From August when we started training 150ish teachers in Cohort 1, to deploying over 8000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 grade in October and November. Then “Doing the Work” to start changing teaching practice to understand how to make the most of this new tool and connected classrooms…it’s been tough but exciting. Last week at a training that Kim and I were facilitating for Cohort 2 (the next 150 teachers) a math teacher said to me, “I’ve started using Google Forms and ‘Flipping’ my class, but other than that I’m not doing much.” Let’s see, you made a transition from a PC to Mac operating system, you are learning and are continuing to learn the power of Google Apps for Education. You also have started to change lessons, units and overall pedagogical approaches you use in the classroom. Yeah…..I think you’re doing plenty for a 7 month roll out. So often as teachers, we don’t take time to step back and reflect on the journey we have come on in a year with our students and with ourselves. The changes are so small at the time that we don’t often see that they add up to something much larger. If this is where we are at in 7 months. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2018 and beyond. Cohort 1 is on training 7 of 12. Cohort 2 is on training 5 of 12 and Cohort 3 starts their training the end of June. Soon we will be changing learning for students from 3-12 grade across a district. Impacting the learning of roughly 11,000 students. What an honor! COETAIL: Another Cohort in the Books! Who would...

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