Author: Manju Durairaj
Technology can be an aid to facilitate learning and teaching without compromising active music making. That is the core of effective general music instruction. Thoughtfully created PowerPoint, Word, or Notebook visuals and/or sequentially processed activities that use IWB and/or iPad/tablet can help develop, not limit the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication Skills.
Elementary music students can sing, move, dance, play instruments, notate, listen, create, and improvise in their music classes, even as the teacher uses technology-based medium to optimize and enrich student learning. Using PowerPoint or Smart Notebook application for Smartboard, one can create and edit images and pathways for vocal exploration. Animation features in PowerPoint allow students to vocally track a snowflake swirling in the wind, a bee buzzing from flower to flower, or a witch on a broomstick flying around a bonfire or in search of her cauldron of witch’s brew.
On the Interactive Whiteboard, one could create or insert an object such as a snowflake, leaf, bat, an owl, or a witch image. A contextual background and a series of related pathways may be created for the object. In a conscious effort to facilitate reading, most of the vocal or melodic contour explorations could begin on the left. Initially, the teacher may create the pathways and students may take turns coming to the Interactive Whiteboard, dragging the object along the pathway while vocalizing. Later they may create their own pathways for themselves or for their peers and work collaboratively. This is a great opportunity for quick formative assessment.
Interactive xylophones, recorders, hide and reveal activities, and smart response applications are all wonderful time saving, comprehensive, formative assessment tools. Images of objects, pathways, 2, 3, or 4 beat and pitch reading flash cards, maybe sent to iPads/ tablets via Dropbox, email, or QR codes may be accessed in the photo browser of the iPads/ tablets. Students may use whiteboard apps like Educreations (free) or Explain Everything (paid-upper elementary) to access and manipulate these images. These apps may be used to create rhythmic and melodic compositions that may be extended to movement, Orff instruments, and recorders.
Students can create, record, evaluate, and save their compositions onto student folders. The teacher may create digital portfolios for each student. These may contain screencasts, pdfs, video/audio etc. of student work, and can be easily retrievable for review for assessment, during parent conferences, and for grading purposes.
Technology is your friend!