This whole week, I’ve written all about online learning in the music room. You might be wondering, now that you’ve read these posts, gathered information from groups such as this one, or watched helpful tutorials such as this one, how you can put this all together.
First of all, take a deep breath. You do not have to figure all of this out immediately. It will take time. I’ve been exploring tools such as PearDeck and SeeSaw, and have given myself permission to take time to learn everything I can (and when I have a handle on it, I’ll write more blog posts!)
After you’ve done that, consider the following:
Which Platform will I use?
Whether you use a platform such as Google Classroom or Schoology that your district provides, a platform such as Google Sites, or you’re simply working with something as simple as a Google Doc or Google Slides (or even an email!), make sure that it’s a platform that you feel comfortable with. Remember, you can change to a different platform, as you familiarize yourself with other ways of communicating. Just make sure you check in with the technology department to verify that whatever you’ve chosen is approved. For example, in my district, we are allowed to use Schoology video conferencing and Skype, but we are not allowed to use Zoom or Google Hangouts. There are so many companies waiving fees right now, which is great, but make sure that whatever you’re using is something you’re comfortable with AND something you’re allowed to use.
What might this look like?
So far, I’ve communicated student work through a Google Doc for my younger grades, and Schoology with my older grades. We’ve done work with moods in music, instruments of the orchestra, coding, and more. (Check out this blog post for more information.)
As I write this, we are out until at least April 6, but it's possible it will be quite a bit longer, so I’ve started to plan for the weeks after spring break. I’ve decided that for those lessons, I’m going to do some videos of me teaching, with my face to the camera, so we can actively make music (not exactly together, but as close as we can get!) I could just send links to those videos, but I’ve decided to put everything together with these slide templates, which you can download for free here:
Some of the slides will have videos embedded, some will have text, and some will have links. For the embedded videos, you could simply find a YouTube video and insert it, or you could upload your own video to Google Drive, then insert it. I like that everything will be seamless and unified. I could send out a link to the Google Slides for each grade level, or I could send out a link to a folder with sub-folders, with different grade levels, and update it each week, keeping the same link. Students would have access Sunday evening to the next week’s lesson, and if they get behind, they could reference last week’s lesson. I’ll also upload the materials to Schoology, especially with my older grades, who are very comfortable with Schoology.
If you're wondering how to keep track of what you'll be teaching in each lesson, which materials you'll need to make or send, etc., I have made this free distance learning lesson planning template for you to use. Simply edit, fill out, and create what you need!
In my future lessons, I’m trying to pull out some of the important concepts I had planned to teach, as I wrote about in this blog post. And most importantly, I’m looking at using platforms such as Flipgrid and Peardeck to interact with students, check in with them, build relationships, and virtually make music together. Feel free to comment below with any of your ideas, and happy (online) teaching!