I am embarking on an adventure to make the use of technology easier and not such a big deal in my classroom. The easier and less time consuming it becomes then the more useful it will be for learning and the less time it will take. With that in mind, here are some choices that I am making.
1. I always put music first. – Personally, I am drawn to technology, and because I enjoy it almost as much as music, I find that when I get a classroom full of eager students ready to use computers I can very quickly and without conscious intent sacrifice our musical experiences to the demanding nature of technology. I have to remind myself that in my classroom, technology is intended only a supporting actor, not the lead role. Nothing can replace our collaborative musical experiences and I’ve noticed that while teachers all over campus are using technology, it is almost always only in music class where students engage in musically aesthetic experiences. By carefully refining my use of technology with students I can deepen the rigor of our interaction with technology while conserving, hoarding and dedicating as much of our time as possible for socially interactive, live, interpersonal and tactile music.
2. Get on, engage, and get off. – IF I don’t plan my use of technology carefully I can accidentally spend an entire lesson teaching my students how to log in or how to type a search term into Google Those are all critically important things, but who has time for that? Certainly not a music teacher who sees her students once every 6 days!
I’ve let myself off the hook by realizing that while it is sometimes prudent and expedient, it is not always necessary for ME to be the one who teaches those discreet technology skills. Only sometimes and under very specifically well planned circumstances will I go into all of those details.
3. Safety First!
Last year I started work with my 5th graders developing a project that I could do with them that would be fairly quick and would use technology. I had the students create a VOKI which would speak about a musical career that they found interesting. I liked the products but found the research to be weak primarily because I limited the 5th grade to visiting one site.
This year I decided to amp up the research to give students more information and more opportunity to explore. I’ll admit that I was a little freaked out about wandering the internet with a classroom full of lightning fast 5th graders whose favorite internet pastime is stealing images off of Google images. I remembered a technology sharing session I had attended and decided that what I needed was a Symbaloo account. THAT way, I could do the research ahead of time and the 5th graders wouldn’t just follow the links to good places that I trusted.