Thursday, August 14, 2014

Remind: Uses, Fears and the Future

Remind (formerly Remind101) has been gaining tremendous popularity in the past year - and for good reason. This platform is a must for faculty, teams, and large groups. Since first joining, the free service has continually made it easier for parents and students to sign up for "classes" and receive timely information.

Last autumn, I took the Gahanna Lincoln H.S. Orchestra to Chicago and we used Remind to communicate with students while on the buses, in the hotel and walking with chaperones downtown. This was invaluable tool to maintain a flow of time-sensitive information to the students. It also kept parents at home abreast of happenings while their students were away.

One of the many benefits of Remind is that students become "informants" to their peers who may not own a phone with text messaging features. This has improved accountability in various ways in my classes. In fact, if I happen to forget about my "Week at a Glance" reminder (sent on Sundays) I hear about it the next day from students. "Where was the text, Mr. Dengel?" What started as a courtesy, in some ways, has become an expectation. As more parents and students gain familiarity with this tool and an increased number of teachers begin utilizing this service in their communications, I do have a concern.

As educators, we must be cognizant not to become overzealous with Remind. Sending only the most vital information at appropriate times is critical: otherwise, this tool becomes a thorn in individuals' sides. Imagine for a moment that a student has seven teachers and one coach using Remind. If these teachers send one text each day during the work week (a bad idea in itself), the information housed within these 40 weekly messages would lose the attention and follow-through they deserve. Although students can receive hundreds of texts each day from their friends, receiving Reminds from teachers do not garnish the same appeal.

Be judicious in your Remind-ing, and be sure to also use other viable social networks to communicate.

While I am on that point: Facebook is dead to our students. Few use it. Too many "old people" have crashed the party. It's just not cool anymore. On the other hand, parents love it! Twitter is in the process of dying. Too many adults and teachers are using it for professional development and connecting with brands. Fellow "Old people," congrats! We've infiltrated another social media platform! Students have moved on to Instagram and others.

If we've learned anything, tech-interfaces change quickly. Indeed, a few years ago I thought texting was pointless. Just call someone for heaven's sake! Now students have "phone anxiety." It's true. And adults use it as a primary means to communicate with their busy children, students - and spouses. The question now is ... what is the future of Remind? How long will texting be around? What other interfaces are out there, and/or being developed? What would that even look like?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Process above Product: The NEW National Arts Standards

In July, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) released the new National Arts Standards (SEADAE, 2014). This revision of the National Standards of Arts Education (1994) is a sweeping and necessary overhaul to reflect today's learners and educators. The former standards provided music educators a framework that kept us accountable to teach within the comprehensive musicianship model of the 1960s, and not just the performance-based machine model.

One of the greatest advantages and hindrances to the performance classroom is 'the Concert.' While this is an authentic, project-based learning opportunity, it can leave students in the "teach to the test" hamster wheel if not consciously avoided by the educator- not unlike other content areas preparing for state assessments. Within the comprehensive musicianship model, we are most concerned that students go deep into the DNA of the piece and not just surface level understandings (accurate notes and rhythms). A culture stressing performance can fall into the trap of  elevating that element to a place first-importance, above other critical, and equally important artistic understandings (e.g., composition, improvisation, connecting repertoire to cultural and historical elements, etc.) 

The culture is difficult to change, because it is sometimes challenging for educators to completely shed the paradigms used when they were a student and formative educator, even though they are in efforts to utilize researched, best-practices in pedagogy. We see this also in the general population's comments regarding education, as individuals project their own experiences from school into the current educational landscape. The good news for these overhead projectionists is that much has changed in our schools and learning communities since the 1960s ... and even the 2000s. Heck, even last year! 

The new National Arts Standards will take some time to gain momentum. After 20 years of one framework, the new paradigm places greater emphasis on the process of creativity and not the product - thought still important. Although music educators often pontificate their classroom as a breeding ground for the development of 21st Century skills (including creativity), this is often a misnomer. Without intentional learning activities to fight against the "performance is king" mindset, much of the performance-based model is purely re-creational (after all, Mozart needs to sound like Mozart, not Brahms). Music educators must be cognizant of this easy trap and provide learning that equips students with skills and understandings beyond the current repertoire.

The 2014 "re-imaged" standards take students through the entirety of the creative process: Create - Perform - Respond - Connect, with subcategories in each. I anticipate this structural change to have major implications for the kind of student schools produce, if properly executed. I encourage you to take a moment to share these standards with your district's administrators and curriculum personnel. The website is exceptionally user friendly - Kudos to the developers.

Though we have increased the number of music standards from 9 to 11 (no, this is not a This is Spinal Tap reference), the strands equip students to deeply understand and connect with how the creative process unfolds in the real world. The standards state clear, yet intentionally broad, learning objectives that provide educators and students the necessary freedom to develop their own understandings and experiences (Marzano, 2009). 

I am looking forward to the journey and unpacking these standards for my students.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's time to rename your Volunteers.

I recently completed Denise Locker's The Volunteer Handbook: A guide for churches and non-profits. This quick read provides lots of great ideas for individuals desiring to start and/or improve one's volunteer program. Below are a few of the biggest take-aways from the book that will develop AMBASSADORS. 

1. Volunteers MUST have meaningful tasks, and they must know their IMPACT.

2. Take inventory (by involving all staff) of the needs of the organization that can be filled by volunteers.
3. Volunteers' hours can be equated to "gifts in kind" on organizations' tax forms.
4. Shirts worn by ambassadors become walking billboards for the organization.
5. Video newsletters are a great way to share "insider information with stakeholders.
6. All gifts and promotional items for volunteers must have the organizations name and logo.
7. Share great photos of your great volunteers (ambassadors) doing great things.
8. Seek feedback from ambassadors after events; "What did you think about the experience?"
9. "'s what the current volunteers say that matters most (p. 28). Ensure no negativity.
10. Volunteers can be advocates for volunteering. Invite them to speak at events.
11. Develop job descriptions which detailing expectations and responsibilities for volunteer positions.
12. "Volunteers come back because of interactions with others and the perception of meaningful contributions (p. 43)."
13. Nametags. Use them.
14. Create protocols for volunteers coordinators to ensure success at events.
15. The Four Thank Yous

  • Thank You upon arrival 
  • Thank You during 
  • Thank You after
  • Thank You follow up (see 8)
16. Look for individuals that have these leadership traits to be volunteer coordinators. 
  • Well-liked by volunteers and staff
  • Good communicator
  • Detail-oriented 
  • Servant's heart 
17. Develop an organizational structure/framework to define "chain of command." 
18. Find opportunities for others to discover and use their gifting. 
19. Nominate top-notch volunteers for the President's Volunteer Service Award. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WSS: Instrumentation Breakdown

During my score study for West Side Story, I decided it would be beneficial to generate an instrument inventory. This document shows which instruments are used for each number in the show. If you see errors, please let me know! Caveat: I know the percussion is incomplete ...

WSS: Instrumentation Breakdown 

Paying forward,

West Side Story: Cuts and Alternations List

WEST SIDE STORY: Cuts and Alterations in the Show
As performed by Gahanna Lincoln H.S. (May 2013)  

(XXX) = Cut
No 1. Prologue
1.     To be played at the VERY beginning of show.
Pickup to m.134 (134-135-136)137-139
2.     G.P. (grand pause) in m. 110 will be beat as a regular measure with four beats.

No 2. Jet Song
1.     Fermata in m. 8 is not being observed
2.     Fermata in m.79 is not being observed
3.     (93-128)
No. 2a
1.     (1-19)
No 3. Something’s Coming
1.     Safety in m. 3 will be 2x
No. 3a – Something’s Coming Chase
1.     (1)
2.     Repeating 2 or 3 times
No. 4 –  Blues
1.     m.3-6 repeated. First time no accel.

No 4a - Promenade / No. 4b - Mambo
1.     We will stop with an on-stage whistle (“messily”) while percussion goes right into Mambo.
2.     Fermata at end is gone – right into Cha Cha.
No. 4c – Cha Cha
1.     M. 224 – Play beats 1 and 2 (Beats 3 and 4 – m.229 Beats 1 and 2)
No. 4d – Meeting Scene
1.     Fermata in m. 2 is not being observed

2.     Fermatas between 223-241 not being observed
3.     Repeat m.258-266 not being observed
4.     Play first beat in m. 266 (m. 266 is becoming the first measures of 4e)
a.     This is becoming an elision  into m. 2 of 4e – “Jump”
No. 4e – Jump
1.     (m.292-299)
2.     No repeat at end of piece.
No. 6 - Balcony Scene
m. 87 – in 4
m. 117 in 2
m. 121 in 4
m. 145 remains in 4
Fermata in second to last measure not being observed
No. 7 – America
1.     Do not repeat m.3-4, repeat m. 5-6 instead.
2.     At conclusion, go back to m.182 for scene change music. (replacing 7a)
7a.  – America to Drugstore (CUT)
                  Instead begin at m. 182 in America and play until cut off
9a – One Hand, One Heart
1.     At end, return to m.67 and play until m.98 for scene change music.
2.     For brass: Prep for downbeat of No. 10 “Tonight” – SLAM!
No. 10 – Tonight
                  1. At end, return to m. 134 for scene change
N. 11 – The Rumble
                  1. Fermata in m. 7 not being observed
                  2. (m.47)
                  3. Fermatas from 134 to the end are not being observed
No. 12 – I Feel Pretty
                  Safety m. 138-139 is a 2x
No. 13a – Ballet Sequence
1.     Cue word for downbeat of m.1 is “Take” (And I’ll TAKE you away)
2.     (m.39-44) DIRECTLY into 13b
No. 13e – Transitions to Ballet
1.     In 4
2.     M. 53 subito faster
3.     M.60 is molto accel.
4.     M.112-122 is 2+3
No. 13d
1.     In 4
No. 13e
1.     In 4
2.     M.175 in 2
3.     M.187 in 4
4.     M. 195 is 3+2
5.     M.213 is 2+3
6.     Fermata in m.221 is out.
7.     And end, return to 232 and play as scene change music
No. 14 – Officer Krupke
1.     M.8 safety, “Dear” is on last time.
2.     M. 54 safety, “Judge” – wait and I will give cue to proceed.
3.     M.59 safety, “Dear” is on last time.
4.     M. 105 safety, “Headshrinker” – wait and I will give cue to proceed.
5.     M.110 safety, “My” is on last time.
6.     M. 156 safety, “social worker” – wait and I will give cue to proceed.
7.     M.161 safety, “Dear” is on last time.
8.     M.231 Fermata held as two measures
No. 16
1.     Start at m. 27
2.     M.34 to end molto accel.
No. 17
1.     M.22-25 is repeated.
2.     Last three measures, beats 1 and 2 each have fermatas, and clean release between.
3.     If playing on last note, take a BIG breath before.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

PLN Blogging Challenge: 11 Random Facts

Random Owl. Enjoy. 
At the beginning of winter break, my principal (@Dwight_Carter) presented me with a blogging challenge. Below you will find my completed "homework"! 
My 11 Random Facts

1. I was a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band and dotted the i on Nov. 5, 2005 on Senior Day.
2. I have two middle names. Yep, I'm that cool.
3. I thoroughly enjoy Phineas of Ferb on the Disney Channel. It's brilliant.
4. I am adopted.
5. I'm probably the only person you know that had his ENTIRE large intestine taken out. Long story, but I always have time to share it!6. When I was little, I had an obsession with painting and magic - and then I learned to play the double bass and the rest is history.
7. On Christmas Eve (2012) I cut the tip of my finger off with a mandolin ... and not the musical instrument. All together unpleasant. Use the guard they provide.
8. I love composing and arranging music. Though I have not done it for quite sometime, I'm getting back into it!
9. I learned in middle school that I can make flatulent noises simultaneously at three locations on my body. It looks like I am having a seizure, but it gets a laugh.
10. I am a beekeeper. Yup. ... and yes, of course of been stung.
11. I have an awesome 2 year old named Ewan who randomly makes songs up about potatoes ... we think it started with his affinity for french fries.

My Answers to Dwight's Questions: 

1. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year? Critical Issues in Music Education, for my Master's degree program.
2. What person in history would you want to have dinner with? Leonard Bernstein
3. What’s the one thing you care about the most? God and family.
4. Who is your all time favorite cartoon character? Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (Phineas and Ferb) 
5. What was your favorite extracurricular activity in high school? Music. Music. Music.
6. Growing up, were you a nerd, jock, teacher’s pet, loner, or extravert? Music nerd.
7. What’s your dream vacation? St. Lucia, which was also our honeymoon destination.
8. What’s one thing you would invent that would positively change lives? ... still thinking...
9. If you weren’t an educator, what would do for a living? Compose/arrange/orchestrate music - and get stung by bees.
10. If you were to give a TED Talk, what would be your topic? Musical Literacy
11. What’s your sentence? He illustrated to students the joy of discovering, pursuing, and learning everything about something you love.

Now, For Your Homework Assignment

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate and let the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
6. Post back here (in the comment section) with a link to your finished assignment.

My 11 Bloggers
1. Christina Hank (@christinahank) fellow GLHS Alumni
2. Chris Wagner (@mrwagnersclass) fellow GLHS Alumni
3. Charles Laux (@charleslaux)
4. Sarah Mayer (@musiced20)
5. Phil Nagy (@phil_nagy) time to start a blog my friend!
6. Brooke Menduni (@brookemenduni) - who is starting a blog!
7. Kelly Riley (@klsriley)
8. Tiffany Berting (@tberting)
9. Marisa Wren (@mwren13)
10. Joe Guarr (@jguarr)
11. Angie Adrean (@aadrean) 

My 11 Questions for You

1. What (or who) made you decide to be an educator?
2. Who is the most intelligent person you know?
3. Have you watched the entirety of the music video "What does the Fox Say?"
4. If you were a giant mega monster what city would you rampage?
5. What was your first mobile phone?6. What potential talents do you think you might have if you worked at them?
7. What do you consider is the most important appliance in a house?
8. What song sums you up?
9. Name your favorite Great Lake. Come on, everyone's got one...
10. Are you a morning person?
11. What would you call your autobiography?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Technology and the Craving for Interaction and Significance

My school encourages its students and staff to be active learners, to build and connect with their PLN, and engage in responsible ‘Digital Citizenship’. Over 100 staff members in our district use Twitter for professional endeavors and model appropriate social media use for our students. While other districts have restricted smartphone use in school, our district has adopted a different policy: teach students to use the mini-computer in their pockets to enhance their learning. There have been a few instances where administration has had to intervene, due to some poor choices; however, on the whole students use technology responsibly. 

The larger picture of this technology proliferation is really the 'need for significance' being played out. Blogger, MySpace (what's that?!), Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. are a collection of individuals sharing in order to connect with others in meaningful ways. There is a small part of us that places enormous value on the number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Likes, website visits, comments, retweets, favorites, and whatnot.  We sometimes link this to our self-worth, pride and acceptance as individuals. 

Students (and teachers) thrive in engaging environments where they feel accepted, because of the collaboration, peer interactions and creativity which occur. Would your classroom be described as such? What are some ways you can move toward this? Share in the comments below! Though some say technology is reducing face-to-face interactions, arts educators are (anecdotally) seeing that this ‘technology integration’ is placing even more young people on a trajectory toward the arts and vehicles for collaborative learning. 

Perhaps it is the .... 

1.  “disconnectedness” that is encouraging more and more students (in our district) to get involved in music, art, drama, speech, (etc.).

2. "connectedness" of technology that has 'wet the appetite' for authentic involvement and collaboration. 

3.  research about music education engaging every brain region and dopamine release playing out. 

4. fact that the arts demand active learners, where "no one is safe" to sit unengaged.

5. arts' inherent quality to bind individuals into a greater whole, and express meaning across cultures and languages. 

6. requirement of responsiblity and citizenship that are cornerstones of arts education. 

... and perhaps a sundry of other reasons. 

What are you seeing in your district?