Sunday, August 15, 2010

Personal Goals for Reading Literature

In order to maintain the learning momentum started this summer, and to keep my brain muscles working out, I am going to read and interpret a variety of books with the intent of summarizing their impact on Music Education, moving through chapters and topics synthesizing what Music Educators can infer from the reading. I've put together a list of books from my shelf, some new and some I will be revisiting. They are:

"Constructing a Personal Orientation to Music Teaching" ~ Campbell, Thompson, Barrett

"Sound Ways of Knowing" ~ Barrett, McCoy, Veblen

"On Musicality and Milestones" ~ Zimmerman, Campbell

"A Philosophy of Music Education, Advancing the Vision, 3rd Edition" ~ Reimer

"Transforming Music Education" ~ Jorgensen

"In Search of Education - The Case for Constructivist Classrooms" ~ JG Brooks, MG Brooks

"Frames of Mind" ~ Howard Gardner

"5 Minds for the Future" ~ Howard Gardner

"Psychology of Music" ~ Seashore

"The Inner Game of Music" ~ Green, Gallwey

There may be more added, but this is the tentative list. This blog will be used to record reactions, wonderments, inferences, and impacts gleaned from the reading.

Stay tuned!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Diagram of the Facets Model
view original at:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Project 2: Curriculum and Context Prospectus

Melinda Feldmann

Project 2: Curriculum & Context Prospectus

This project gives me the chance to outline basic curriculum ideas. This is the first sketch and will be filled out in time.

1. Basic Idea

I would like to develop a year-long curriculum for K-6 general music based on Umbrella Big Idea terms. I’m considering the Many Roles of the Musician as the Umbrella term, with the Big Ideas being Listener, Creator, Critic, Performer, etc. Lessons will relate back to these roles and establish continuity while providing a framework for project based learning.

2. Focus

I want a general plan to follow to eliminate the stress of “coming up” with a curriculum. With these ideas as my focus and the focus for the classroom, it gives me a starting point while not limiting me to a structured routine that is planned months in advance. For example, I may know that I will be doing a project under the role of listener and creator, and that a project for being a performer may follow, but I don’t have to define that the performer project starts October 5th. It also allows for overlapping roles, the connections are constantly being made, but there is a primary role being focused on.

3. Identify the Scope through a Rationale

I would like to attempt to outline a year-long curriculum, and begin filling in activities within the curriculum. I have taught for 3 years and would like a plan of action for the year. I believe I’m at the point where I can attempt a year-long curriculum for K-6 general music.

4. Identify and Describe the Context for this Curriculum

I am working in a triple graded pre-k through 6th elementary school in a community where three different towns are combined. There is a wide range of income levels and socio-economic situations, from very poor, to farmers, to middle class, to very wealthy. There is a very tiny percentage of minority students. There are 3 elementary schools in the district, and one combined middle and high school. I will be the only music teacher in the building, save the teacher that comes in for 4th grade beginning band. I will be in charge of general music, chorus, and 5th and 6th grade band. Chorus and Band meet once a week for 30 minutes. I will see each general music class once a week for 40 minutes. Pre-k I will see for 20. I will have my own room, with a Promethean board and an Elmo, along with one computer and general music instruments and books. There is no set curriculum at this time, and I have relatively free reign to explore ideas in class.

This is a new district that I will be working in, so I am not familiar yet with the inner workings and dynamics of my particular building, but I have worked for this district as music director for their high school musical for the past two years. I would like to cultivate a sense of self-motivation and curiosity that will lead to exploration of the world on their own, rather than having things fed to them. The community at large is also quite conservative, and I worry that too much change will be met with resistance. The position I am taking is a combined position of the general music teacher with the band teacher, both of whom were there for 30 years or so. I am stepping into an environment that has not seen big changes in 30 years.

I think students will benefit from my curriculum ideas with a new sense of interest and personal importance of music. I think they will discover how to learn and experience music in a new and beneficial way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I am increasingly becoming aware of the importance of context for music education and education as a whole...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Significant Seven Project Response

This Post is a response to Janet Barrett's Significant Seven Project.

The purpose of this project is to give music educators the chance to map out curricular needs and interests in light of where you've been, where you are now, and where you think you'll be soon when you return to (or move into) the classroom, drawing on experience, readings, conferences, presentations, and any other source of insight you may have.

  1. Autobiographical Reflections as a Learner

Positive and negative experiences have helped shape my history of learning. Looking back at the strongest positive memories, they were centered around achievement or personal significance. It feels good to succeed in learning and explore the world, and that helped me with my frame of mind as a teacher. “I remember how I felt when…” is a phrase I’m sure most teachers have spoken in regards to their reaction to given teaching circumstances ~ both positive and negative. Your personal learning history is the context from which you have come. I use my insight to have understanding, compassion, and empathy for my students.

  1. Treasured Values as a Teacher

I believe in creating an experience for students that will help them succeed in their musical goals. I love to help students find their niche in music, whatever that niche may be. I believe in pushing students to be at their best level, whatever level that may be. I stress individuality and personal journey in music. I value being and teaching how to be a good person, modeling and guiding students on what it means to be a kind person, and how to show respect. I love exploration, trying out new ideas and exploring new topics with my students. I love helping kids find interest in music. I wish to continue with these ideas, and deepen the personal connection my students develop with music. I want to create new ideas and projects from which students can find new avenues of exploration within music.

  1. Fresh perspectives and New Ideas

I love project-based learning. I walk away excited about what it can mean for my students, and ideas are rolling in my head for applying the practices and beliefs of project-based learning. I love the idea of student-centered curriculum, with broad ideas that develop over the course of the semester through student inquiry. I really like the idea of criteria vs rubric style grading, and I am interested in exploring how to apply that to my classroom. I’m interested in connecting with other classrooms via the internet to share ideas and take our thoughts outside our classroom. I am excited about developing change regarding the relevance of classroom music, improving the connection for students’ lifelong learning in music.

  1. “Disposal Site”

I am ready to leave behind my lack of reflection prevalent in my teaching. I haven’t used reflection enough in my classroom, and didn’t fully understand the significance nor the benefit of reflection. I am ready to leave behind the idea of curriculum as purely content to be transmitted to students.

  1. Influencing your particular field of teaching

I have an imaginative and open mind regarding topic ideas for my classroom, and my energy and enthusiasm for creating a learning experience for my students can contribute to the learning environment at my school. I have patience and good humor, and listen to what people have to say. I can discuss differing opinions without getting angry or confrontational. I am younger and technologically savvy, and am willing to spend extra time to share what I know with my fellow colleagues, as well as take time to learn from them with respect. Through inquiry/questions, I can also lead them towards topics that may change their way of thinking in regards to how they teach music.

  1. Relating your work to music education as large

I am hoping that I can create ideas that will inspire other educators towards more creativity in the classroom. I want to find more ways of sharing ideas on projects, strategies and ideas with other educators, both in and outside my district. I would like to eventually house student teachers, and possibly provide observation opportunities for pre-service teachers, as well as possibly working with a partner to co-observe other in-service teachers. I’ll start with what I can do, and hopefully branch out and connect with like-minded as well as non like-minded teachers in the hopes of making a change in the underlying philosophy of music.

  1. Forging a focus for this semester

I would like to develop key big ideas from which I can gather ideas for projects. I want to establish my big picture, and how to help my students develop their big picture of music. I would like to create project samples that I can walk into class in the fall and use immediately. I would like to change my understanding of what curriculum means, and the potential for what it can be. I would like to develop criteria examples for projects. I would like to explore different methods of reflection. I would also like to explore how to bring the traditional classroom into the 21st century, and brainstorm to find ways of making the traditional ensembles etc. relevant to modern students.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sharing Insights and Becoming a Resource for Others

The purpose of this post is to articulate a plan for how I can influence and be a resource for other music educators.

How will I share my project with other music educators in informal and formal settings?

The importance of a learning community of professionals prompts me to find ways of collaborating and communicating with my peers, both my project and teaching ideas in general. I would like to be a more active member in such a community. This would include a few different venues. One might be as simple as getting together with my music department and music department staff in my area to workshop my project or to just talk about ideas for learning and improving our teaching. Talking could be in person, during a conference-like setting, or online via email, forum, wiki, blog, etc. This week has made my feelings of isolation as a teacher melt away (though this heat may have helped) and I’m really dreading going back and feeling like I am teaching on an island. I really want to make the extra effort to stay connected with the teachers I have come to know, and be able to bounce ideas off of them as well as be there if they want to run something by me.

A second way might be to attend a bigger conference, or a national convention, participating in workshops etc dedicated to project learning, sharing experiences with other teachers and learning from their experiences. Another way might be to write up a paper about the project and submit it to an educator’s publication.

I am already planning on sharing my project with audience members at a concert during the year, but it could be highlighted in a school newspaper, a local newspaper, or a district newsletter.

Students could also communicate with parents via letters about what they are working on in class and how it will improve their thinking etc.

I could also let students observe my classroom and see how the project works in action, either in person or via webcam.

In any form, communicating about projects, teaching ideas, or ideas in general are important to foster a community of professionals learning together.

How will I publish my project via electronic form for both preservice and inservice music teachers?

I have already been posting on my wiki ( and here on this blog about what I am working on. I plan to continue sharing my work in this format, I think it is a great and convenient way to share ideas and projects as well as monitor my own progress and thinking. I am willing to share my learning progress and struggles/successes with my peers, and hope they will respond and share thoughts and ideas, as well as have their own ways of sharing information that I can partake in as well.

I’ve also been using a website ( now for a year with my private students, and am starting to consider putting more into the private lesson area of sharing ideas as well. I have had the fortune of working with my childhood piano studio teacher, and have learned so much from interacting and observing, and would love to expand that learning to a larger group of fellow piano/private teachers via the internet.

Another thought I was considering was having a side-blog on my experiences in learning to teach beginning band. I’m excited for the process, but I know a lot of teachers that are put into positions where they are teaching outside of their “forte” and are fearful of how they will do. It would be nice to share how I adapt and still teach music, regardless of the medium. It will be interesting to monitor progress, and I would love to get reactions from teachers in similar situations, talk about what we did, what worked, what we want to do, and any thoughts we might have. Again, becoming involved in a learning community.

How does project learning (both its theory and practices) address contemporary learners’ musical interests and social-musical involvements in the 21st century?

Project learning has the capability of addressing multiple educational goals within a single project. I find truth in what Boss and Krauss say in their opening introduction: “I’ll never go back” [Boss & Krauss, 3]. Once your eyes are opened to the possibilities and value of project learning, it’s near impossible to close them. Here are some reasons why:

Project learning addresses the many roles of music, and allows everyone to experience these roles. Music as listening, Music as creating, Music as performing, Music as an experience, Music as a business. Students explore all areas of music, enriching their musical lives and bringing the meaning they experience outside the classroom into the classroom setting. Project learning involves all learners, from the professional to the passive observer. Each individual experiences music within their own context, revisiting and relearning ideas and concepts in a spiral-like fashion, adding on and deepening the role music plays to them.

Project Learning addresses the needs of the modern learner, adopting and cultivating 21st century skills and learning dispositions. The outcomes of projects are not limited to the realm of music. Students develop higher levels of thinking, develop communication and cooperation skills, listening and questioning skills, problem solving, persistence, and the ability to think flexibly. Students learn to take responsible risks in a safe environment, learning to think independently while still functioning within a community group. Their creativity, imagination, and innovation are cultivated and inspired through project learning. Students learn to be self-motivated, and self reflective. They learn the value of looking back over their progress to help them gauge the future. To all this, they improve their understanding and use of technology in the modern world. [Habits of Mind, 30-31].

Project Learning Creates Generativity, Vibrancy, and Residue.

Generativity is the music or educational experience that has the “ability to produce, originate or generate additional or new experiences” [Campbell, Thompson, & Barrett, 2010] The students learn within the ‘need to know’ rather than the ‘told to know.’ Vibrancy is the “educational experiences that resonate with personal meaning and musical significance.” [Campbell, Thompson, & Barrett, 2010] It is the engagement of the mind and the hands on/minds on environment that stays with the student. “Residue is the ‘stuff’ that remains after an experience is over or long gone.” [Campbell, Thompson, & Barrett, 2010] It can be positive or negative, and may remain for life. We want to create positive residue that resonates with them for life, prompting them to seek out and experience music in new ways, far beyond the school classroom.

Project learning prepares students and teachers for the future of teaching. It revisits and re-invents what “preparing our students for tomorrow” means? The amount of knowledge in the world is ever growing, increasing in speed through the global network. Students can no longer survive on memorization of facts and regurgitation of information bits. The idea of project learning helps students to not only learn the information, but to incorporate self-motivation and empowerment in their everyday lives. It teaches them to seek out and solve questions of today’s world, and helps them prepare to solve the unknowns of what tomorrow may bring.

New Ideas and Influences

This is a blog on New Ideas and Influences from a wonder class I'm taking on project learning in music education:

Identify several key ideas from the readings that have influenced your thinking and discuss how the ideas would have an impact on your current practice. Cite where appropriate.

“Project design is front-loaded work.” (Boss & Krauss, 20)

I have learned to invest much more than I ever thought I could into the planning of a project, and I’m excited to see what more investing might bring. Going through my work with a fine-tooth comb, revisiting the text and learning dispositions to check that I have covered all possible angles, and knowing that when reflecting post-project, I will find many more new angles and blind spots I can improve on.

I know I am learning how to plan, and how to plan for the right things. Instead of planning for simple knowledge or motor-memory skills, I am learning how to probe deeper into the thinking and level/type of skill to teach my students.

A definite area of impact is in the area of web-based applications. During the course of this project, and prompted and inspired through the “your turn” categories in the text, I have created a wikispace and a blog, as well as created an account for surveys and a section for forums on my website. I have also investigated and viewed many online resources for creating, composing, listening, and playing with music. These sites are also a great place to create a professional learning community where I can follow and interact with people that have a shared passion for the teaching of music. It has also opened myself up for peer-evaluation, and assessing my “readiness for teamwork” (Boss & Krauss, 29). I am following the suggestions given to students and self-evaluating on how well I give and receive critical feedback, becoming comfortable with sharing my work with others, regardless of whether it needs work or not, and being honest and cooperative with fellow teachers. I am learning to “learn together” (Boss & Krauss, 30).

“Planning for rigor and 21st – Century Skills” (Boss & Krauss, 47).

Addressing the needs of students to adapt skills for the 21st century, as well as cultivate learning dispositions within the learning project, is an important topic gleaned form the text. Digital-Age Literacy, Inventive Thinking, Effective Communication, High Productivity, Life-Skills, and use of technology propel students towards success in the modern world. I am now much more invested in educating the literacy of my students on many levels. literacy boils down to learning to be independent, aware, and productive citizens.” (Boss & Krauss, 49).

Information literacy and the Big6 are goals for me to incorporate into my teaching. The Big6 skills are: “(1) task definition, (2) information-seeking procedures, (3) location and access, (4) use of information, (5) synthesis, and (6) evaluation.” (Boss & Krauss, 111). These big topics are excellent glue to bring a project to fruition.

“Taking time to reflect helps students feel good about their accomplishments, but more importantly, reflection can be the thing that makes learning really stick.” (Boss & Krauss, 147).

The final portion (just for this reflection, the effects of this text on my teaching are endless!) of the text that I will take with me and incorporate into teaching is the improvement of reflection. I am a culprit of not understanding the importance of self and student reflection, and am so excited to work it into my teaching. Not only will it wrap up what we have learned, but it will scaffold for future lessons and pack everything together in a final concept. The importance for students include growth in learning dispositions, self-reflection and monitoring, understanding of learning process, milestones in where they are, and a view of where they will go in the future.

This text really is a field guide, and it is practical and applicable to use throughout the teaching year.

Identify current practices and strategies or beliefs that you are ready to discard, retire, or leave behind as a result of newly acquired ideas.

I am willing to leave behind the old Bloom’s Taxonomy [Knowledge, Comprehension, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Synthesis] for the new Bloom’s taxonomy [Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create], and although that’s a pretty basic one, it is important in that I am discarding a majority of lower level thinking, and taking on the higher level thinking of analyzing, evaluating, and creating. (Boss & Krauss, 47). I liked the words that the text uses to equate with analyze, evaluate, and create. They are:

Analyze—examine, explain, investigate, characterize, classify, compare, deduce, differentiate, discriminate, illustrate, prioritize

Evaluate—judge, select, decide, justify, verify, improve, defend, debate, convince, recommend, assess

Create—adapt, anticipate, combine, compose, invent, design, imagine, propose, theorize, formulate (Boss & Krauss, 47).

These are great words in formulating your projects, and innovating ways for your students to stretch their hands on/minds on experience.

I am leaving being my old way of grading, of using the rubric, and putting in its place a criteria-driven evaluation process. Though I will still need to provide the schooltools grade, and on inspiration from Phil Greco, I am interested in developing a separate “report” card that focuses more on individual student progress and achievement rather than the comparison of a student to an arbitrary student “norm” “above norm” or “below norm” rating that does not address every aspect I want my students to develop.

I am also leaving behind writing objectives that are aimed at behavioral responses only, that do not address the higher level of thinking and skills that cannot be addressed simple through behavioral response. This does not mean I am leaving behind all parts of precision, accuracy, performance, technique, or literacy. Quite the opposite, I am expanding on the basic knowledge of these aspects, spiraling up into higher dimensions of music experience.

Seeds of possibility have been growing in my mind since last summer about new ideas/practices/strategies that I can incorporate into the classroom. The project format is giving me the medium to launch these ideas, and I am leaving behind my apprehension about exploring them…and what I will do with them is listed under the next heading:

Discuss how you intend to transform some past practices (activities that you have done with students) into projects.

I would like to transform my study of certain classroom songs from simply singing them. I would love to hash out a project on classroom songs where students choose a song, investigate the historical and social context, the musical dimensions, their personal meaning, and then present their song to the class. Then the class as a whole would learn from the student, and singing the song would then have much more meaning, as it would be in a stronger context. They would still be completing the national and state standards, but for their individual piece, they would have explored avenues of cultural dimension, historical context, and expression in music on a self-motivated plane, and in turn would share their findings with peers.

A second idea would be for studying composers. We could establish a type of “hall of fame” or some sort of group that composers would be inducted into. Students would be studying 1 of several choices of composers, studying their life and work. We would develop hall of fame criteria, and have students justify their choice of composer. They could research debate, or relate it to governmental voting, and base their arguments around that system. (Boss & Krauss, 48).

Another idea was what I considered for my original project: an online forum for High School band students to musically mentor Elementary band students. Elementary students would have the opportunity to pose questions regarding their instrument or music in general, articulating their question for the HS students who would reply and in turn pose questions to get the Elementary students thinking about new facets of music. Experts may also be tapped by inviting them to join the discussion, or “weigh in” on key elements or questions.

Another idea would be for students to create an expression symphony page. Students would identify songs that raise specific emotions in them, and would post the songs beneath that category of emotions. A range of songs and emotions would be gathered in one location, such as an online site or put together in CD form if need be. We could then talk about the similarities and differences between the pieces, finding if we all had the same reaction to the pieces, or if different music elicits different emotion from different people.

Another idea would be to explore sound. This one is still sketchy in my mind, but I would love to construct an experiment linked with physics to explore vibration, how it works, what happens when it hits our ears, how we respond to different types of vibration, what happens physically and mentally when our body experiences sound vibration. It would be an interesting look into the physics of music, and could be linked to a study of the 5 senses, and how senses trigger memory and feelings, like a song bringing us back to childhood, or a smell bringing a hidden memory to the surface.

These are great wonderment topics, and are taking me from what I know to what I want to know or wonder about. Hopefully as I reflect through the year, I can add to KWL with what I have learned, and be able to articulate how I learned it. (Boss & Krauss, 96).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aaaaannd again for my wiki...

Listening Arrow

This is a listening arrow I need for my wiki. Not the most exciting first blog but a necessary one :)