Our 5th grade students are supposed to have the opportunity to explore careers in music as part of their “Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills” or TEKS…..  This has always been a challenge for me to teach for two reasons…..

1.  There aren’t very many resources, printed or online ……that are both comprehensive in scope as well as simple.

2.  I don’t have loads of time with any group of children, so sometimes it’s easier to just talk about composers and music teachers one day out of the school year and call it happy…… except…..

There are MANY different types of jobs that one could potentially pursue if music was your primary interest.  It was time to get creative!

Although I use technology all the time in my classroom, I’ve never been good at creating student products with technology, but I was recently inspired when I came across  Mrs. King’s Music Class Blog and found that she had successfully used VOKI to help her 6th graders report what they had learned about world music.  Their products were enough to tempt me to try.

I planned to use this project at the end of the end of the day when my students came to “extra specials”.  During this time I see larger groups of children because my co-teacher has traveled on to her other school.
However, as it has worked out, because of Stanford testing, we’ve been flipping the 5th grade to the afternoon, so between the “extra-specials” time and the double music classes, this project has moved much more fairly swiftly than I had planned…..I thought it would take us all spring…..
Day 1 – 
I have 6 music Macbooks and I borrowed 10 additional  Macbooks from our school library because I knew I was going to have bigger classes
Students divided themselves into groups of 2-3…..
Each group had a piece of paper divided in half, a lap board, a pencil and a laptop.
Even though I use a PC and my students were using Macbooks, with my computer projected so that everyone could see, my students were able to follow my lead as I lead them through our district website, to our library resource page, to our search engine page, to google safe search, and then onto the page we were searching for which was Music Professions
This site is not flowery or flashy, but it is clear and concise. My favorite part of the site is that the jobs are categorized and none of the descriptions are more than a paragraph long.
I asked students to answer two questions about 2 jobs.  For a total of 4 questions.
1.  What does a person with this job do?
2. What kind of education is required for this job?
They didn’t have to copy the questions, they just had to take notes on what they were reading.
In my district only students with parental permission to get online actually have log-in credentials, so by allowing them to work in groups with assigned jobs I created opportunities for some of my “non-credentialed” students to fully participate.  I also had plenty of paper articles that I had copied both for additional information AND as a back-up for students who might be too rowdy for computers.
By the end of Day 1 everyone had a few notes or a couple of paragraphs about two music jobs.
Day 2
With my computer projected so that everyone could follow me, I went back through all of our steps to get to the Music Professions site…. I encouraged the students to leave that site open in order to complete their research or to go back and refer to it as they completed their project.I showed them how to log in with the account I had created for our class.
I am currently using a free account, and it has worked fine so far.   I created a VOKI while they followed along, and they repeated the process but added their own text.   Voki are created randomly and the creator is allowed to edit by choosing another character, voice, background or even accessorize their VOKI. My students were so excited to try it, but I made one demand on their time for DAY 2…. No one was allowed to “play” with their VOKI until their group had typed in their report telling about what they had learned about a music job of their choice.
The best part of VOKI is that it reads the text, so students can hear what they have written…. this helps GREATLY with their ability to spot errors.  This is particularly helpful because the majority of my students are second language learners and part of learning a language is learning to distinguish when something “sounds” wrong.Here are a few examples of student work.