This past week was a very interesting one for our ec&i class. Something is becoming clearer as the class moves forward is that we are directing the learning. And why not? We have over 40 professionals taking this class and there is a tremendous amount of knowledge out there from everyone. People like Kelly Christopherson, Jennifer Stewart- Mitchell, Carmen Holota, Andrew Foreman are just a few of the people that I have learned a great deal from. So many people have been generous with their talents and skills and I have in the last month discovered so many cool resources.
While not the first time I have heard of the Maker Movement, I don't have a great deal of experience with it. As I commented in Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell's post I feel in general we don't give the older kids enough opportunity to play. In early-years education is Saskatchewan there is a focus on play and exploration. At a high school level you would be hard pressed to find many areas in the curriculum document where play is explicitly documented. Many teachers might be using play at the high school level, but in my experience I would say most don't incorporate much play into their lessons? Why is this? We instinctively know we learn better when we play so why don't we allow for exploration and play in middle-years and high school (I understand this is a generalization and does not reflect most teachers taking this course)?
This week I posted a YouTube video of me demonstrating GarageBand on an iPad. I chose to do this as I had no experience with 3D printers, make-make or other tools of the maker movement. However, I use GarageBand and I felt it followed the same principles as the maker movement. I personally have you scratch and another recording program such as logic for years. In fact, my album that I released in the summer was mostly done at home using a program called logic. I have not use these programs much in my classroom because I felt hardware was an issue. I thought it would be wonderful to teaching music class with 30 laptops or 30 standalone computers and then everyone would have access to the music program. Their practical and financial issues with 30 laptops, but what about using iPads? For the last several years I have created lengthy detailed proposals for my school system to purchase these with no luck. It was because of this that I basically gave up on ever doing the project. Imagine having an industrial arts class where none of the students get to touch any of the equipment? That is more or less the reality of what I'm talking about in my music class. It's not that we don't have instruments, but without having the tool of a computer or a laptop to use in a creative way the project could not work. I was really disappointed in this, but I understood the practical problems.
Most students have smart phones and many of these smart phones have the ability to use some sort of musical program that they can use to record music. Last week as an assignment I asked the kids to come to school the next day and we would have a concert where we perform only using our smart phones. To my surprise most everyone did come the next stay with something to play even though they had no prior experience either recording or using their smart phone for making music. It was awesome to see the level of engagement that the students demonstrated. They were so enthusiastic and having fun! As a teacher, this gave me a huge boost the morale. All I want is for my students to be excited in the same way that I am about the material and I saw that finally they had arrived there.
I am looking forward to work the teacher of my lessons might take me and my classes. Today, we had an interactive the class discussion about the rest of the semester in music class using an online discussion board. I really feel that learning these new resources or incorporating the fundamentals of the maker movement have already improve my teaching.