A myriad of web resources, unique, accessible, and information abundant genres for communicating and collaborating, evolved media tools, and emergent creative technologies are continually morphing a technology immersed learning landscape for music education. Today’s technology indigenous students have extremely sophisticated media palettes and are already utilizing urbane technologies to create and communicate. This native student interface demands that music educators infuse 21st Century Learning strategies with an array of purposefully selected innovative technology tools and resources, integrated with traditional acoustical tools and methodologies, to engage students in rigorous and relevant music lessons, projects, and activities.



2014 IMEA  Conference Session Presentation Mus Tech+Language Arts+Math: Technology Driven Music Projects to Support Language Arts and Math in the Common Core

2014 IMEA Common Core Handout

The Re-Imaged National Core Arts Standards

21st Century Learning Skills

21st Century Learning Skills

From Wikipedia: The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.

One of the most facilitative and effective Web 2.0 vehicles for music educators to fuel collaborative, connective, cross-curricular, creativity and critical thinking driven, 21st Century Learning 21st Century Learning (on Prezi) opportunities in the music classroom is an uncomplicated and simply accessed word cloud application called Wordle.

So, what’s a Wordle?

A Wordle is a Cloud app where you can create a word cloud (similar to a tag cloud) from any source text that you copy and paste into an import window, paste the URL from a blog, blog feed, or any web page that has an RSS feed, or paste the URL from a social bookmarking web service (like Delicious).  Wordle word clouds give greater visual prominence to the words that appear most frequently in your text and you can edit your Wordle with different languages (yes, ELL teachers) fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The word cloud images that you create with Wordle can be embedded into your school blog site or web page, you can print them out to use with your document camera, and/or  you can save them to the Wordle gallery to share with friends (via bookmark).

Okay, so how do I create a Wordle?

It’s super easy to create a Wordle:

  1. Open the text source that you want to make a word cloud with.
  2. Go to: http://www.wordle.net
  3. Click on the Create tab in the top menu.
  4. Copy and paste the text from the text source into the create window, then click on Go.  Note: Wordle will delete punctuation marks, italic text, bullets, etc. from your text.
  5. Click on the Font tab to select which font you want to use in your Wordle.
  6. Click on the Language button to format the text in your Wordle. Among the options here are removing common words, removing numbers, presenting words upper and lower case, and getting a word count.
  7. Click on the Layout tab to select the layout of your Wordle. There are several options here, but I like to use round edges and half and half horizontal/vertical. You can also opt for the words to appear in Alphabetical Order if you prefer.
  8. Click on the Color tab to edit your color scheme of your Wordle. There are several pre-created options here, but you can edit a custom color palette with up to five colors if you prefer. You’ll need to enter the standard html color codes (ex. #000000-black and #FFFFFF-white, etc.). You can access a great HTML Color Code Chart (VisiBone) here:http://html-color-codes.com
  9. Click on the Open in Window button to view your Wordle bigger.
  10. Think twice before clicking on the Randomize button to scatter the words in your Wordle unless you really want to do this.
  11. Click on the Save to public gallery button to give your Wordle a title, put your name on it, and/or include a comment about it for the gallery post. When you click on the OK button your Wordle will post to the public gallery and an embed code will appear in a window below it for you to copy and paste. Important: Be sure to add a bookmark for your Wordle in your browser and/or at your favorite social bookmarking web service (like Delicious). I also like to also copy and paste both the web address from my browser address bar and the embed code into a text document for “just in case” storage and I also always capture a screen shot of my Wordles and save them as jpegs.
  12. Click on Print to simply print out your Wordle to use a hard copy with your document camera.

There are other great word cloud apps out there. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

So, how would I use a Wordle in the music classroom to align with our Instructional Framework and  Tier 1 Core Instruction Model (Brain Based and Differentiated)?

Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom

Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom

By infusing music lessons, projects, and activities with Wordles derived from literary works in various language arts genres, such as poems, prose, limericks, nonsense words, haikus, stories, legends, folk tales, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, proverbs, narratives, song texts and lyrics, student authored writings and compositions, various forms of information and reference text, vocabulary words, and standards, anchor, KWL, rubric component and data charts, and learning scaffolds, music educators can unleash the power of the written and spoken word to:

Prepare Students To Learn

  • Introduce learning settings, map learning landscapes, and frontload and launch learning contexts to build background for learning, prompt students’ writings.
  • Initiate essential questions to activate prior knowledge and instigate students to make learning connections from their own experiences and filters, determine student knowledge base and transition to interface windows of further learning.

Clarify Purpose

  • Impel student engagement and interaction, focus students’ attention on new information to be covered, and frame the lesson to make information meaningful and relevant by telling “compelling stories”.
  • Integrate standards visuals, KWL charts, anchor charts, rubric component charts, and learning scaffolds.

Present New Learning

  • Invigorate rigor and relevance in instruction by providing visualization for the visual/linguistic learners (statistics say 65% of the population) in the classroom.
  • Intensify and clarify explicit instruction through visualization, chunking information, and providing visually focused think time.


  • Transport and transfer modifications for learning styles (visual and linguistic learners) and accommodations for Special Needs and ESL learners during teacher modeling, mini-lessons, think alouds, read alouds, and re-teaching (formatting, language, font, color coding, layout).

Check for Understanding

  • Navigate differentiated instruction (content, process, product) learning activities by entry levels, interests, and learning profiles (multiple intelligences, cultural differences, modalities, etc.) (especially useful for facilitating questioning, flexible grouping, and enrichment).
  • Interpret critical words in stories, songs, and students’ own creative, narrative and persuasive writings, locate power words, and sort and categorize music and other content area vocabulary word sets, organize inferences, and implant music concept words.


  • Propel critical thinking into synthesis by offering a format for manipulating newly learned information in rehearsal (rote and elaborative), guided practice, and review.
  • Connect learning across the curriculum to various content areas and accelerate information literacy.
  • Integrate the written and spoken word as the framework for music and movement activities (Orff methodology).
  • Inspire creativity, re-creation, and composition in music and other content areas (with Wordles serving as prompts or student end products).
  • Cultivate connectivity, collaborative learning, and innovation.


  • Drive formative and summative assessments.
  • Steer summaryjournaling, reflective analysis, closure, and follow-up activities.

The Dream Keeper Project:

The Dream Keeper Wordle

The Dream Keeper Wordle

In an ongoing project entitled, The Dream Keeper (in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King Day on January 17), the Haley Elementary School Fifth Grade students will interact with the following Wordle word cloud created from the words of three jazz poems by Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper, Dreams, and Dream Dust from the book, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Keeper-Other-Poems/dp/0679883479/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1297853542&sr=8-1 Hughes, Langston. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Print).

The Dream Keeper Project Description:

  1. Students perform and record (with a digital recorder) improvised and canonic readings of the Langston Hughes jazz poems (preceded by improvised chantings of the words in The Dream Keeper Wordle to enter into the context of improvisation) accompanied by improvised Dream Keeper motives on pitched percussion Orff instruments (metallophones and glockenspiels). They sing 3 Dream Ostinatos, accompanied by an improvised Dream Keeper jazz accompaniments using Orff instruments and unpitched percussion (teacher created Orff arrangement), then, perform the combined creative elements in rondo form.
  2. They create Dream Cloud visuals (by writing on Dream Clouds on their class’s The Dream Keeper Project SMART Notebook file page) about their own dreams and aspirations (by answering leading questions derived from the words in The Dream Keeper Wordle and cultural arts information web sites about Langston Hughes) then, write reflections (narrative writings) about their Dream Clouds (using a Dream Cloud prompt template) in comments posted to the Haley Musicbloggers Weblog (sorry to protect student privacy, general access is not allowed as per school system AUP) (as “Music Buddies” in the Haley Music Technology Lab).
  3. They create Dreamers dance improvisations to portray both the words from the poems in The Dream Keeper Wordle and their own Dream Cloud visuals.
  4. They create their own notated jazz Dream Keeper compositions (using a teacher created template).
  5. They creatively communicate a performance which includes all of the creative elements of the project both during an all-school assembly and in a videoconference collaborating with students from a partner school.
  6. The students storyboard and videotape the presentation using Flip cams, edit the video in iMovie, and post the edited video of the presentation to SchoolTube.
  7. The students critique their performance of The Dream Keeper Project by posting comments (using the The Dream Keeper Project Critique template) in comments posted to the Haley Musicbloggers Weblog.
  8. The students collaborate in varying creative roles in the completion of the project: Readers (poetry), Singers (ostinatos), Writers (Dream Clouds on SMART Board and Haley Musicbloggers Weblog), Researchers (Langston Hughes), Players (The Dream Keeper Orff arrangement and jazz improvisation), Dancers (Dreamers dance improvisations), Artists (Scratch Dream Clouds), Composers (notated Dream Keeper improvisations), Conductor, Technicians (SMART Board and SMART Notebook files, digital recorder, music technology workstations, Tandberg Machine), Videographers (Flip cams), and Critics (The Dream Keeper Project Critique template).
  9. During the course of the project the students will review the criteria included in the Music Project Collaboration Rubric and utilize the Music Project Collaboration Checklist as they collaborate as “Music Buddies” in varying roles in the completion of the project.

You can access the The Dream Keeper Project Wordle by clicking the thumbnail below:

The Dream Keeper Project Wordle

You can access the  The Dream Keeper project plan and other resources on the Infusing Mus Across The Curriculum page at the  .

You can access additional resources at the Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom section (scroll down) at the Infusing Web 2.0 and Cloud Apps page at the .

Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom Slideshare Presentation:

Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom Handout

Infusing Wordles For Cross-Curricular Projects In The Music Classroom (Google Doc)


This post is in conjunction with a recently presented session focused on Infusing Interactive Whiteboards and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom for the Indiana Purdue University CMENC members.

Visualization . . .

From Wikipedia:

The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.

So, I was participating in a session for music teachers a few summers ago where a consummate Orff instructor was demonstrating how she uses visuals to help students process Orff instruction . . . and we were imitating her body percussion models to learn a lengthy and varied playing pattern . . . So, we were standing there in the circle, the room was sort of dark, I was a little nervous and self-conscious, there was a lot of up and down motion in the pattern, and I was encountering static between the visual-brain-body synapse connections, which was really slowing me down . . . Then, the instructor displayed a digital visual iconic representation (using PowerPoint) of the movement and pitch patterns and . . . snap to grid!

As long as I focused on the visual, my eyes, mind, and body were perfectly aligned and coordinating to accurately perform the pattern . . . with little effort at all! The visualization scaffold held with the transfer to playing the pattern using Orff instruments, as the embedded visualization helped me to match to the correct pitch bars on the instrument to play the part. As a visual/auditory combination learner with some sort of undetermined cognitive interruption, I needed that visual scaffold to help me succeed.

I have lived with this learning frustration . . . think about the number of students in our music classrooms who are coping with some sort of subtle learning obstacle or who continually struggle with a more severe diagnosed learning disability. Even students who are pretty much brain ready for learning have a favored learning style . . . and 65% of the students in the learning population are visual learners or visual/auditory combination learners.

And then, there’s the whole concept of visual literacy in general, which all saavy educators (including music educators) should be constantly addressing. Here are several good web sites related to visual literacy:

Every good music educator utilizes visuals and uncover visuals to help students process instruction, but digital visuals are so vivid, clean, and focus friendly (not to mention how animations hold student interest) that they are even more accommodating than a human model (at least for me). The majority of my students are visual/auditory combination learners. So, in this era of brain-based instruction I now constantly use digital visuals projected on my SMART Board to facilitate music instruction.

But there’s even more to it now than the just concept of visualization . . . We now instruct in an “information abundant”, media literate, connected and interdisciplinary, collaborative, critically thinking, creativity, innovation, flexibility, and productivity driven, and accountable 21st Century Learning environment. Students (and parents) expect ALL educators (including music educators) to accommodate their unique approaches to learning and they expect us to facilitate learning utilizing “best practice” learning strategies and methodologies along with state of the art learning tools. By infusing the learning landscape with purposefully selected technology tools, music educators can create compelling and collaborative 21st Century Learning opportunities in music by merging a mix of digital interactive tools including interactive whiteboards (IWB’s), music notation, sequencing, and computer assisted instruction (CAI) software, keyboard controllers, digital audio (DAW) hardware and software, music related apps for iPhones/iPods/iPads, flip cams and digital cameras, gaming devices, adaptive technologies, Web 2.0 and cloud apps, learning management systems (LMS’s), and blogs and wikis.

So, with all of this . . . by far . . . the single most powerful, engaging, effective, and facilitating tool in my music learning environment is the SMART Board. The Haley Comets and I utilize it all day, every day as we pursue our music lessons, projects, and activities.

So, what is a SMART Board? It’s a type of interactive whiteboard (IWB).

Definition at Wikipedia:

An interactive whiteboard (IWB), is a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. A projector projects the computer’s desktop onto the board’s surface where users control the computer using a pen, finger or other device. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand.

And . . . utilization of the SMART Board is driven by a set of tools included in software called, SMART Notebook collaborative learning softwareSMART Notebook Icon.

Note: Recently, SMARTtech launched SMART Notebook Express, a free web-based version of  SMART Notebook software with which you can open, edit, and share SMART Notebook lessons.

Here is an information video about SMART Notebook Express:

SMARTtech also makes other versions of SMART Notebook software like SMART Notebook SE (meant for student use with SMART Sync Classroom Management Software in a lab) and SMART Notebook Math Tools. You can access thousands of teacher created SMART Notebook files at the SMART Exchange web site.

Note: Recently, SMARTtech released a Multi-Touch SMART Board the 885ix Interactive Whiteboard System!

Here is an information video describing the new amazing features of the 885ix Interactive Whiteboard System:

SMARTtech makes several other totally cool interactive hardware and software products that you might be interested in:

Note: Attention iPad users who also have SMART Response systems! Recently, SMARTtech released several new SMART Response devices (SMART Response PE , SMART Response LE , SMART Response XE , SMART Response CE, and SMART Response VE) designed for various learning environments, including  the Beta for SMART Response VE . SMART Response VE is browser based and works with your existing SMART Response system and integrates with SMART Notebook software!

From the SMART Response VE information web page:

Students can respond to assessments using Internet-enabled devices, such as computers, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad mobile digital devices, Blackberry Smartphone models, and phones on the Android mobile technology platform. To complete assessments, students simply log in to the SMART Response VE browser-based product to receive and answer the questions you have created.

Here is an information video about the new SMART Response systems, including  SMART Response VE :

 SMARTtech offers awesome online live training events for all of their products at the SMART Learning Center, many of which are free and they also offer SMART on-site training SMARTtech publishes EdCompass, a newsletter with all of the latest product news, and tips and best practices for using the SMART Board. You can also subscribe to SupportLink, a bi-monthly newsletter for support in using and maintaining your SMARTtech products. SMARTtech also offers some great SMART Webinars focused on educational technology integration.  They also offer some Grant and Funding Resources for obtaining a SMART Board and related products from SMARTtech.

Anne Irwin is the regional director (Indiana) for SmartEd services:

Anne K. Irwin
Regional Director
SmartEd Services

So, why is the SMART Board such such powerful learning tool?

  • Interactivity and animations spell, “immediate student engagement”.
  • Facilitates vivid, clean, and focus friendly visuals.
  • Music teachers can project “stuff” big for our large groups.
  • It’s intuitively friendly to the “digital natives”.
  • The digital files that you create are “forever”, easily accessed, and easily stored.
  • The visualization tools in SMART Notebook software enable “layered learning” and help the teachers address all learning styles simultaneously (visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners). “A picture IS worth a thousand words”.

Perhaps this student says it best . . . http://wsdtube.mciu.org/videos/21/what-is-a-smartboard?

We Smart Board fanatics like to import all of the files for a lesson into a Smart Notebook file so that students can finger click (on the board) the Page Sorter tab to navigate back and forth between several SMART Notebook lesson pages (which have been created with various applications and file formats, then, imported into SMART Notebook software) and use the totally cool SMART Notebook tools.

SMART Notebook software is P.C. user friendly and directly imports most of the Microsoft Office apps, as well as audio (as MP3 files), video (by link), and Flash files. SMART Notebook files export as .notebook files, web pages, image files, or PDF files.

Any  Smart Notebook file can also be recorded and exported as a screencast (as a Quicktime video file), so students can engage lessons and projects autonomously, in groups when music class is in “workstation” format, or when you have a sub.

SMART Notebook Welcome Center

SMART Notebook Welcome Center

There are LOTS of Tabs and Tools to use for creating, editing, navigating, and presenting Pages in SMART Notebook software:

  • SMART Board Orient and Control Panel Tools
  • SMART Notebook Tabs
  • SMART Notebook Tools
  • Floating Tools
  • Ink Aware Tools
  • Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit Tools

When you launch SMART Notebook a Welcome Center window for you to select the function you want  to use in the software will appear on top of a blank Page window. The SMART Notebook Tools will be located in the toolbar at the top, the Tabs window at the right, and shortcut Page tools at the bottom right. A Floating Tools tab at the bottom left will appear on your computer desktop when you install the software.

You use the  SMART Notebook Control Panel window to access and customize your Smart Board and SMART Notebook hardware and software settings (pen, eraser, buttons, mouse settings, etc.) and to orient the interactive screen. To open the Control Panel press the SMART Board Tools Icon SMART Board Tools Icon in your dock or toolbar, then, select “Open > Control Panel” in the menu bar.

Control Panel and Orient Tools

Control Panel and Orient Tools

SMART Notebook Tabs

SMART Notebook Tabs

SMART Notebook Tools

SMART Notebook Tools

Floating Tools

Floating Tools

In SMART Notebook you use a set of Tabs to create, edit, and navigate Pages.

Page Sorter
(Add/Delete Pages, Grouping)

Gallery (My Content, Gallery Essentials, Lesson Activity Toolkit: Pictures, Interactive and Multimedia, Notebook Files and Pages, Backgrounds and Themes)

Attachments (Attach Documents and Other Files)

Properties (Fill, Line, Colors, Page Recording, Animations)

You also use a set of customizable Tools to create, edit, and navigate Pages.

Transparent Background Mode IconThe Transparent Background Mode (so far, only available for P.C.) is a great new tool in SMART Notebook software with which you can view your desktop and windows (web pages and applications) behind a SMART Notebook Page and interact with the open, transparent file. You can draw using digital ink on the transparent Page, then, save your notes in the file, select and interact with the desktop and/or applications behind the Notebook window, display measurement tools, and take screen captures.

There is also a set of Floating Tools for creating, editing, navigating, and presenting Pages in SMART Notebook and when using the Smart Board.

Ink Aware Tools

Ink Aware Tools

SMART Notebook Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit

SMART Notebook Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit

SMART Notebook software also includes a set of Ink Aware Tools for you to insert and convert handwritten text, hand drawn objects, and screen captures into SMART Notebook Pages and Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).

The most interactive tools for creating and editing SMART Notebook files are located in the Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit. It is here that you access Pictures, Interactive and Multimedia FilesNotebook Files and Pages, and Backgrounds and Themes for creating SMART Notebook Pages, access and save your own content in the My Content folder, and access the SMART Exchange web site to download teacher created SMART Notebook files.

You can access more information about the Smart Board, instructions about taking care of a Smart Board, and detailed information about using the SMART Notebook Tabs and Tool Sets by referencing the SMARTtech User Guide:

So far, the only music education related tools in the Gallery in  SMART Notebook software are: music notes and staff picture files, instrument picture files (some with sound), a Flash bell set, and a Flash Instruments of the Orchestra Musical Notes with an interactive keyboard. Finale and Sibelius files import as tiff files into SMART Notebook software.

You can access a more detailed overview of the  SMART Notebook Tabs and Tools (using SMART Board during session) in the session slide presentation and handout posted at theInfusing Interactive Whiteboard and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom page at the MUSINGS WIKI .

Note: The Slideshare upload of the session presentation doesn’t import as perfectly as the original PowerPoint version, which you can download here:

Infusing Interactive Whiteboards and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom Handout

Infusing Interactive Whiteboards And Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom Handout (Google Doc)

Examples for using:

  • SMART Notebook and PowerPoint Files and Digital Workstations
  • CAI, Notation, and Sequencing Music Applications and Music Notation, Sequencing, and Learning Management System Cloud Apps
  • Music Class Related Web Sites
  • Storybooks, Primary Source, and Cultural Arts Web Sites
  • Web 2.0/3.0 and Cloud Apps

with the SMART Board for music class lessons, projects, and activities are posted at the at the  Infusing Interactive Whiteboard and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom page at the MUSINGS WIKI .

“Teachers Love SMART Boards” and there are tons of awesome resource web sites for SMART Board fanatics like me. Here are a few good ones:

Music teachers also love SMART Boards and here are a few good music related  SMART Notebook files web sites:

Although the SMARTtech Training Center is the best place to go for SMART Board and SMART Notebook related training, here are some other good training web sites:

There are other brands of interactive whiteboard (IWB’s) . . .

Chad Criswell offers some tips about buying interactive whiteboards in an article entitled,  Buying an Interactive Whiteboard at his web site MusicEd Magic.com.

There are also virtual interactive whiteboards like: Dabbleboard.

And then, there’s the Wiimote whiteboard:

The Wiimote whiteboard works with infrared technology . . . And you can make one with a Wiimote or inexpensively with the following easily obtained, and cheap tools:

The software enables you to use an infrared pen as a mouse with a projected image on any white surface.

Here are some web sites with more information obtaining materials for, making, setting up, and using a Wiimote whiteboard:

Note: A new drawing tablet called the uDraw is now available. It has a holder on the left side for a standard Wiimote (from the Nintendo Wii video game system) and is intended to be used by three different video games (including Pictionary). Most probably Johnny Chung Lee and other Wiimote whiteboard champions will modify it’s use for the classroom soon after it’s release. You can read more about this device in Chad Criswell’s article entitled, New Wii Accessory May Spell Big News for WiiMote Whiteboard Fans at MusicEd Magic.com.

Here is an information video about the uDraw:

Another digital visualization tool that I use in my music classroom learning environment is a document camera. The brand name of the ones my school system uses is AverVision but there are other high quality brands of document cameras and digital visual presenters such as those made by Elmo.  Along with an LCD projector (InFocus, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Dell, etc.), the document camera projects real time images like:

  • Music Textbook Pages
  • Music Octavos
  • Other Music Class Related Documents
  • Real Life Music Class Related Objects

A great list of resources related to the document camera can be found at: http://cybraryman.com/documentcameras.html.

You can access all of the Infusing Interactive Whiteboard and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom session resources at the Infusing Interactive Whiteboard and Other Visualization Tools in the Music Classroom page at the MUSINGS WIKI .

Among the plethora of Web 2.0/3.0 resources out there for student/teacher use in the elementary general music classroom, I highly recommend an online “parking lot” cloud app, Wallwisher.

Although initially, Wallwisher’s interface presents refreshingly simple, with users posting short messages (typed in, 160 characters or less) on digital “stickies” to an online “corkboard” wall, for the innovative music educator, the app can inspire and facilitate an abundance of creative, and cognitively sophisticated (bumping into Quadrant D in the Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships Framework) learning strategies for music lessons, projects, and activities. Below are a few project models for utilizing the app in the music classroom.

Rigor/Relevance Framework from the International Center for Leadership in Education

Music Classroom Wallwisher Project Examples:

  1. Student “ethnomusicologists” post “stickies” with names and information data (including instrument audio and video) about African instruments  gathered from cultural arts web sites during WebQuests focused on West African music and dance drumming ensembles (process can apply to any music research project). Student “ethnomusicologists” then, categorize the “instrument stickies” into world instrument classifications. Same process could be applied to students creating “composer trading card stickies” for a Meet the Composers” wall (Quadrants A and B).
  2. Choir students complete definitions of music vocabulary words written (typed) on “vocal vocabulary stickies” posted to the wall, or the reverse, where they write (type) in “vocal vocabulary” words correlated to definitions on teacher posted “stickies”(Quadrant B).
  3. Students post “stickies” with short reflections about a listening of Johann Sebastian Bach’s, The Well Tempered Clavier, No. 1, in C Major, or Paul Winter’s, Wolf Eye’s (Quadrant C).  The possibilities are limitless here.
  4. Students post “critique stickies” guided by teacher posted “leading question stickies” following an in-school local philharmonic ensemble concert,  or their own student performance (Quadrants B and C).
  5. Students post “stickies” with recorder assessment criteria data (things they think make a good recorder player), then, sort the “criteria data stickies” into component categories to develop their own recorder class assessment rubric. Same process can be applied to rubrics for choir and band class. (I’m thinking this one bumps right up and over there into Quadrant D).
  6. Students post 3-2-1 “exit slip stickies” with general questions and/or comments on on “sticky note wall” on the SMART Board as a closure activity following  each music class (posts have to be managed/moderated). Can extend to posting Wallwisher wall  for student use in a school music wiki, blog site, or web site (posts really have to be managed/moderated here!).  Students can also click “stickies” to the wall (using an avatar name), then, do “quick writes” of questions and comments about music class using the SMART Board pens (Quadrant D) in the ink layer mode (I’ve already tried this). The ink layer won’t save the hand written message on each “stickie” on the “sticky note wall”, but the students/teacher can save the ink layer as a .notebook file (Quadrant D).

Wallwisher Resources:

Web Sites With Suggestions For Using Wallwisher in the General Ed Classroom (can translate to music classroom):


Apps Similar To Wallwisher:


Wallwisher Tutorials:


How To Set Up A Wallwisher Wall:

There are a number of video tutorials about how to set up and use a Wallwisher wall. Here is a popular one:

You can embed Wallwisher walls into student wiki pages. An example Wallwisher wall is embedded in the Wallwisher section of the Infusing Web 2.0 and Cloud Apps page in the MUSINGS WIKI .

Upon receiving a few information requests regarding planning and facilitating a music technology lab, I thought I’d re-post here some practical tips that I recently posted at the Music Professional Learning Network: http://musicpln.org/pln-posts/landing:

  1. First, you will need to thoroughly think through and itemize the cost of electricity, computers, Internet drops or wireless, tables/chairs/workstation furniture, piano keyboards, interfaces, etc. for your lab, as these things are very expensive.
  2. You will need to thoroughly think through and document the lab traffic patterns and procedures for students.
  3. Make sure to check out your school system’s AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) and share it with students in an appropriate format.
  4. Post your classroom Music Technology Center Guidelines on the wall by your lab. It will take some work at first, but insist that students follow these guidelines (saves a lot of noise and headache later).
  5. Your school system probably probably has a wall filter that blocks all of the common sites that are inappropriate for students, which you will both, be thankful for, and also have to work around as a music teacher. However, be sure to monitor students while they are working in the lab to keep them on the tasks and web sites you’ve assigned.
  6. Check with your school tech to see if there are any extra network folders that can be made available for students to use just for the computers in your music room, then, post the logins on labels (the easy peel off kind!) your computer desktops. Trying to keep track of all of your student network folder logins (because little kids forget them or their classroom teachers don’t assign them one) when you have 600 students just isn’t manageable. Depending on your computer logins (especially if your computers are cloned) your desktops will “refresh” every time they are logged out/in, so files WON’T be saved on the desktop or in student folders on the desktop! This is great for refreshing the desktop and dock on Macs in general ed tech labs, but doesn’t accommodate music teachers’ schedules and working style very well (class after class, “pick up where you left off” working).
  7. In addition to digital assignment/template, etc. folders on your computer desktops, keep workstation folders (the hard copy kind) on the piano keyboard trays. Print a cover with each workstation’s number (maybe cute earphone note graphic, etc. (see web site below) on the front, insert tab dividers for grade levels, and put information, assignments, and signs in it (I put an “I Need Help!” and “Ouch” sign in mine for students to hold up when in trouble). I also keep an Alfred keyboard chart on each piano tray for students to reference right at the keyboard (they’ll really use this). I also put a red arrow that fits on middle C on the piano keyboards for the little kids.
  8. Use earphone splitters (available at general ed tech supply vendors) so that 2 students can work as “Music Buddies” at a workstation. I feel that students learn more from one another than I could ever hope to teach them. However, pair the students carefully. If elementary, YOU determine partners, but occasionally let students choose partners on a “free buddies” day.
  9. Always model how to use the software you’re using as it applies to the lesson, project, or activity you’re having students do prior to having them go to computers. Create templates for them to use to guide them through projects.
  10. Create a school weblog sit for the students to post comments, journal about music lessons, projects, and activities at all times (you post templates to guide them). Great tool for assessment and for differentiating instruction. You will need to moderate student’s posts daily to avoid any legal problems.
  11. If the computers in your lab are cloned: Ah, yes . . . the clone thing . . . cloning can be troublesome, so expect some troubleshooting here. Will your school system techs be cloning your machines? If so, you will need to have a written list of the apps and updates you want on the clone image, as well as your login information and the web addresses for all of those apps. Your tech will create a clone image for your machines, which is really tedious and time consuming to do, especially if your computers are on different platforms and/or operating systems (they have to create a clone image for each operating system. Make sure to be present when the tech is creating your clone image (they like to do this back in their offices where they have their cloning computers, hard drives, etc., thinking that all teachers use the same apps, etc., and general ed techs don’t always intercept the “variances” for installing, setting preferences, etc. for music software, so be careful about this). You will need to give your software CD’s, etc. to the tech for a while, but once you’ve done this, and they have your software registration numbers, etc. in their install logs, you probably won’t need to do this again, except for new software. Be prepared to to set up your MIDI, notation app settings, CAI apps settings, etc., on your “clone machine” which will be one of your computers that the tech will load the clone image on first from an external hard drive, then, let you do the setups, then, when you both think it’s perfect, load on your other machines. Make sure that your MIDI set up and all of your apps work like you want them to before your tech clones all of your machines-it is really easy to make mistakes at this step and your tech probably won’t want to re-do the clone image! Also, don’t forget to have your tech put permanent bookmarks of your favorite sites in the bookmarks bar of the browser you use. NOTE (if novice at the cloning thing): You won’t be able to install any apps on a cloned machine without an admin login, which school system techs aren’t usually able to share with you. You will have to call out your tech if and when you want to have new software installed.
  12. Updates: My school system techs push updates remotely via the network overnight weekly. If yours does this also, your computers will take a little longer to boot the following morning, as they will then install the updates. They probably won’t push updates for any what I’m going to call “exception” software like your music software unless you access it from your school system’s main server (again, general ed apps usually rule on the server because more people use them). If you’re not on a school network you will need to check for and install updates yourself. By the way, it really pays to be patient and good to your tech, it’s the machine that isn’t working for you, not your tech.
  13. Consider a networked lab, where the teacher has a lab controller (for piano keyboards) and/or a control computer (as you would use with Smarttech’s Smart Sync software).
  14. Don’t forget to plan ahead from day one to secure grant funds for updating hardware and software for your lab and make sure that your school system provides tech support for the hardware and software you install in your lab.

I’ve posted some resources at the The Classroom Studio page in the MUSINGS WIKI . You can access the wiki using the link in the menu block at the left. Access the posted handout for the session entitled, The Classroom Studio for DETAILED information about planning, paying for, and facilitating a music technology lab.

Dr. James Frankel, Managing Director of SoundTree, the educational division of Korg USA, does a great session entitled, Planning, Preparing, and Implementing Music Tech Labs (offers it as SoundTree webinar also) and it is well worth the listen. Podcast is here: http://fams.podomatic.com

SoundTree is an excellent resource to help you plan, purchase your workstation furniture, hardware, and software, and facilitate your music tech lab (as well as great source for everything else music tech): http://www.soundtree.com Check out their latest via the RSS tag in the left sidebar.

Infusing Mus Across The Curriculum – The Dream Keeper Project

The immersion of digital tools in the learning landscape becomes even more powerful when integrated with acoustic or performance instruction and learning in rigorous and relevant collaborative music classroom projects that span multiple content areas. It’s imperative that music educators merge the mix of digital instructional tools (MIDI , digital audio, CAI, etc.), acoustic performance venues, and communication/collaboration genres (weblogs and social media) along with “across the curriculum” instruction to address the connective, collaborative, and abundant information nature of 21st Century Learning. Below is a project example that directly and comprehensively targets language arts, social studies, and the related arts (music, art, dance) content area standards.

Project Description:

In an upcoming project entitled, The Dream Keeper (in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King Day on January 17), the Haley Elementary School Fifth Grade students will access, engage, and creatively interact with the following Wordle word cloud created from the words of three jazz poems by Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper, Dreams, and Dream Dust from the book, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (Langston Hughes, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, (The Estate of Langston Hughes), 1994) as they perform and record canonic readings of Langston Hughes jazz poetry (from The Dream Keeper), sing 3 Dream Ostinatos, improvise a jazz accompaniment using Orff instruments and unpitched percussion, then, perform these elements in ABACADA rondo form. They will write about their own dreams and aspirations by answering leading questions as posted comments using the Haley Musicbloggers Weblog (as partners, in the Haley Music Technology Lab). They will create Dream Cloud visuals of their writings (posted comments in the Haley Musicbloggers Weblog). They will create their own notated jazz Dream Keeper compositions (using a teacher created Finale template). They will communicate a performance, which includes all elements (including readings of their blog posts) of the project both during an all-school assembly and in a videoconference collaborating with students from a partner school. Students will storyboard and videotape the presentation using Flip video cameras, edit the video in iMovie, then, post the edited video of the presentation is posted to SchoolTube.

Students collaborate in varying creative roles in the completion of the project: Readers (poetry), Singers (Ostinatos), Writers (weblog), Researchers (Langston Hughes) Players (Orff instruments, improvisation, unpitched percussion), Dancers (“dreamers” dance improvisations), Artists (Scratch “Dream Clouds”), Composers (notated jazz improvisations), Conductor, Technicians (Smart Board files, music technology workstations,Tandberg Machine), Videographers. They review the criteria included in the Music Project Collaboration Rubric and utilize the Music Project Collaboration Checklist as they collaborate as “Music Buddies” in varying roles in the completion of the project.

You can access The Dream Keeper Project resources on the Infusing Mus Across The Curriculum page at the MUSINGS WIKI .

More Thoughts About Infusing Mus Across The Curriculum . . .

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT STUDENTS ”MAKING CONNECTIONS”, from their own experiences, from “across the curriculum”, from us as educators, and from one another. Projects automatically become RELEVANT when students make connections.
  4. It’s important that ”across the curriculum” projects ADDRESS VARYING LEARNING STYLES AND ENTRY LEVELS. Differentiate by assigning different roles.
  5. “Across the curriculum” project activities need to GO DEEP into core curriculum content areas knowledge and skills.
  6. Students need SCAFFOLDS, PROCESS GUIDES, and ANCHOR CHARTS for effective learning in ”across the curriculum” projects.
  7. Organize ”across the curriculum” projects so that they SPIRAL DEEP into standards, and PLAN FOR CONSECUTIVE PROJECTS TO SPIRAL ONE INTO THE OTHER IN ADDRESSING STANDARDS.
  9. IMMERSION IS IMPERATIVE! Immerse the students in multi-faceted “across the curriculum” projects. THINK IN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES when planning and developing ”across the curriculum projects, not in lists. Give projects SCOPE.

Substantiated best practices in education indicate that educators address students, learning styles to ensure efficient and effective learning.  Utilizing electronic keyboards as part of a strategically selected array of digital instruction tools can assist music educators in instruction of the most basic to the most challenging concepts and skills encountered by students in the music classroom.

A savvy music teacher can infuse a digital music composition toolkit that includes electronic keyboards and/or controllers to differentiate student instruction in a variety of projects in music class. As students utilize keyboards and tool palettes in notation and sequencing software applications in order create music compositions, they interface a wide array of musical concepts and skills in rhythm, harmony, melody, form, texture, and tone color–the entire music recipe. As they enthusiastically engage in creating their music compositions, they covertly master music concepts and skills infused in this compelling digital environment.

The immersion of keyboards in the learning landscape becomes even more powerful when integrated with acoustic or performance instruction and learning (Orff instrument ensemble African drum circle, band and orchestra, choir, and yes, good ole acoustic piano instruction) in rigorous and relevant collaborative music classroom lessons, projects, and activities. Best practice now dictates that music educators merge the mix of digital instructional tools (MIDI , digital audio, CAI, etc.), acoustic performance venues, and communication/collaboration genres (weblogs and social media) to facilitate comprehensive music instruction.

You can access a brief discussion of some recent projects from my music classroom in an article entitled, Making the Most of Keyboards, by Chad Criswell, in the August 2010 issue of MENC’s, Teaching Music (sorry, article not available online at MENC web site).