CEP 811 – Week 4

A good lesson plan is worth its weight in gold. With the nature of what I do as a band/orchestra teacher, my lesson plans look very difficult than the average teacher. The scope is on larger units and rarely are capable of having the detail necessary for detailed activity such as the one outlined below.


I had a lot of fun playing with Sonic Pi this week while creating this lesson. There are so many great examples of work that have been completed using this free piece of software! This lesson plan activity is very different than that created in Week 2. Earlier this week I participated in a creative “think tank” where I was able to talk through my maker project with my colleagues in CEP 811. They were very supportive of the direction I began to take with this week’s activity, however they had great feedback about limiting the number of variables in the composition project so that students would not be overwhelmed by the scope of this rather larger project.

Within the lesson plan you will find links to all the materials necessary to complete the activity. It is my hope that teachers will have access to Raspberry Pi modules so their students can enjoy the full spirit of the maker movement. However, I am very happy that Sonic Pi is available for both OS X and Windows, so this is a project that is possible for all instructors, even if Raspberry Pi’s are not available at your school. I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to provide feedback – it is a living document! Click HERE to see the lesson plan.


Technology Toys

CEP 810, Teaching Understanding with Technology, has been a wonderful introduction to the Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology from Michigan State University. Coming into the course I had generous experience with various technology tools used in education – I would even call myself a technology geek! What I was lacking, were the theories and academic evidence to guide and support technology integration in the classroom.


What I Have Learned (A Few of My Favorites)

Frameworks: TPACK

Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a theoretical framework that can be used to examine how knowledge, technology and instruction intersect within learning environments. We learned how technologies are often formed with an initial purpose, but as history progresses, the way they are used are transformed and manipulated to fit the needs to those who use it. For example: Photographs. Photos were initially meant to capture people, places and events for historical archive or art. Now, photos are used in a multiplicity of ways. I use photos as reminders, a communication device, for note taking, attendance, and more. We are innovating the ways that technologies are used to fit the needs present in our lives. As educators, we must do the same with technologies at our disposal. Though phones were created as communication tools, the smartphone provides limitless utilities and opportunities for our students. I highly recommend viewing Dr. Mishra’s introductory video to TPACK.

Common Creative License:

During my academic and teaching career, I have avoided adding photos, videos, and other media to my projects and powerpoints due to fear of violating copyright laws. This result were submissions that were not engaging audiences in the manner I desired. In Week 7, I finally gained insight into the world of Common Creative License, including the concept of “transformativeness”. With this tool in hand, I now feel more comfortable not only integrating media in my own work, but guiding students through creative projects that integrate the curriculum with media. The greatest discovery was this listing of sites to find creative commons media.

What I Will Change

To keep it simple: I will be more creative in how I have students utilize technology within the instrumental music classroom. Next year I have already committed to expanding my use of google voice playing tests to the high school level, allowing students to submit playing tests using their cellphone or landline. It is my desire to encourage students to utilize their phones as tuners and metronomes while practicing in individually and in small groups. The final integration I would like to try this year is having weekly music history lessons posted on my website in which students can access interactive content from their personal electronic device. In this project, I do not want it to simply be text on a page, but rich with photos, videos, and linked content.

What I Want To Learn

With the culmination of this course, I will continue with EAD 811 & 812. In the instructional environments I have found myself in previous years, I have lacked basic classroom technology such as media projectors and speakers. Though some of these needs are slowly being remedied using my school budget, I hope to learn grant writing strategies and sources of funding to enhance technology in the classroom.

Furthermore, I will be continuing my educational journey this summer by becoming Google Certified. The content area exams were re released a few days ago, so the end of EAD 810 signals a wonderful time to complete the certification program. Google Apps for Education has been a wonderful resource for me as a teacher, and I am looking forward to completing this process.

Final Thoughts

I entered EAD 810 knowing a lot about technology and strategies for integrating it into the instrumental music classroom. Throughout the course, however, I found myself humbled by the number of educators who are pushing the envelope of educational technology and seeing amazing results with their students. I am excited to continue growing my educational technology Personal Learning Network and to continually explore new technologies as they arise.

Thank you to Emily Stone, and Ron Houtman for your wonderful guidance through the course. It was a fantastic experience!

Week 6 – Cooking with TPACK

Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a theoretical framework that can be used to examine how knowledge, technology and instruction intersect within learning environments. Developed by Dr. Matthew Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra, faculty members at Michigan State University, this framework moves beyond discussions of technology integration and talks about technology innovation.

An important misconception that is addressed by the TPACK framework is the concept of what constitutes “technology”. Many of us would consider technology to include devices such as computers, phones, tablets, digital projects, SmartBoards, etc. Mishra and Koehler broaden this definition to include almost any device we use in the classroom – pencil, paper, chalkboards, whiteboards, books. These are all inventions and technologies that have been developed and have served to expand how knowledge is disseminated.

TPACK uses the concept of technology innovation as a critical basis of the framework. Technologies are often formed with an initial purpose, but as history progresses, the way they are used are transformed and manipulated to fit the needs to those who use it. For example: Photographs. Photos were initially meant to capture people, places and events for historical archive or art. Now, photos are used in a multiplicity of ways. I use photos as reminders, a communication device, for note taking, attendance, and more. We are innovating the ways that technologies are used to fit the needs present in our lives. As educators, we must do the same with technologies at our disposal. Though phones were created as communication tools, the smartphone provides limitless utilities and opportunities for our students.

Car Swing! Who want’s to make me one?!

To demonstrate how tools can be repurposed and “innovated” to fit any context, we did a little cooking – TPACK style. Check out the video below:


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf

Week 5 – Technologies to Enhance Learning

When integrating technology into the classroom it is imperative that the work aligns with the curriculum. If the activity fails to align to the content standards of the subject, the activity is diminished and detracts from the purpose of meaningful technology integration: engaging students through 21st century mediums.

The “American Composer – Twitter Profile” project that I have developed is built upon the principle of play as presented by Thomas & Brown (2011). Students are asked to:

  • learn not just about the composers, but where to access credible information on the subjects.
  • create content that represents what they have learned.
  • understand how they are generating new understanding of the topic through unique representation of the material.

Furthermore, the project incorporates all five areas of Hobbs’ five core competencies of fundamental literacies:

  1.   Access. Finding and sharing appropriate and relevant information and using media texts and technology tools as well.
  1.   Analyze. Using critical thinking to analyze message purpose, target audience, quality, veracity, credibility, point of view, and potential effects or consequences of messages.
  1.   Create. Composing or generating content using creativity and confidence in self-expression, with awareness of purpose, audience and composition techniques.
  1.   Reflect. Considering the impact of media messages and technology tools upon our thinking and actions in daily life and applying social responsibility and ethical principles to our own identity, communication behavior, and conduct.
  1.   Act. Working individually and collaboratively to share knowledge and solve problems in the family, the workplace, and the community, and participating as a member of a community at local, regional, national, and international levels.

Students will research influential American Composers utilizing online resources of their choosing. Research will be done utilizing both personal devices and school computers. Students are then asked to translate their research to 140 character tweets that illustrate important events or information about the composer. Through the “People to Follow” and “Trending Topics” categories, students will gain insight and context into the life and times in which the composer lived and operated, bringing deeper understanding to the subject and the music they composed. Students will then again engage in technology to create an electronic version of their profile utilizing a template. Lastly, students will complete a “gallery walk” of the completed profiles through interaction with actual tweets on the part of the teacher. Students will view the tweets and the attached composer profiles utilizing personal devices.

Please visit the following links to access the materials for “American Composers – Twitter Profile”

Creative Commons License.

I encourage you to be creative and formulate a technology supported learning opportunity for your students. Though it takes thought and time to set up, it is something that can adapt and grow as technology advances (as will your students!) Have ideas on how to make my project even better, please share! I would love to hear your thoughts!


Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.

Networked Learning Project – Final Post

Networked Learning – Calligraphy

This is it guys. Please don’t shed a tear, but this is the last public post related to my calligraphy learning journey. I have had a lot of fun learning something new in through only YouTube videos. In my traditional learning process, I buy an informational text related to whatever I am wanting to learn. There is something about a physical book that says “I am invested” (physically and financially). Even when I learn how to do something on the internet, I usually find myself printing out the material to have it on hand physically. You cannot print a YouTube video (that I know of…3D printers will probably be able to do that next week). I personally found myself less invested in learning the task and desiring to go to the local book store and buy a book on calligraphy.  Without a doubt, I will continue utilizing networked learning to discover new things, but I believe there will always be a part of me that will desire a physically book to guide my learning process.

Networked Learning – Thoughts and Considerations

Networked Learning is a great process. The internet has such a wealth of information if one knows where to look. YouTube Videos, Wiki sites, Forums, Blogs, Pinterest. The internet is full of people willing to share their knowledge and passions with the rest of the world – it is our job to utilize all that they are giving us. I think Networked Learning is a great place for people to begin their learning journey – for the amount of information available is staggering! Best of all, it is FREE.  I will certainly continue encouraging people to use the internet and YouTube to acquire new knowledges and skills.

Networked Learning – Implications for Students

YouTube has always been a great asset for my music students. There are a wealth of videos by both professional and semi-professional musicians on topics ranging from beginning basics to more advanced techniques. For my 5th grade students, I share videos to reinforce what has been taught in class and share knowledge of correct practice with parents. For more advanced students, networked learning allows me to teach the basics of a technique, then to refer the student to other resources to continue advancing their ability. YouTube is a great reference for individual and ensemble recordings, allowing students to hear model performances of pieces they are learning inside and outside of class.

Networked learning is a model of effective practice. It allows masses to collaborate and gain knowledge like never before. I vote YES.

Calligraphy – Brought To You By YouTube!


Origin: Greek (Kallos = beauty, graphein = write)

I cannot say I have ever considered my hand writing ‘beautiful.’ Like many male specimens, my handwriting can range anywhere from ‘precise’ to ‘requires cryptographer and rosetta stone for deciphering.’ As such, I made myself a little nervous when I set my online learning challenge as learning calligraphy.

My journey began with looking up resources on the basics of calligraphy – the pen and paper. The first video that was of assistance came via Scribble on YouTube. Appropriately named, “How To Start Writing Calligraphy,” the video set up the basics of nib with, line guides, and angle of the pen. With the basic principals of set-up in my pocket, as well as the promise of a cultured European accent at the end of the project, I went to gather my tools.

For paper I turned to my favorite site for printing staff paper for my students: PrintablePaper.net    There were so many paper guide options to choose from! Thankfully, my fancy European friend had taught me well and I was able to zone in on an option with the proper writing, waist, ascending and descending lines that I needed.


The pen was more difficult. I originally intended to purchase a nice ink pen online from Blick Art Supplies, a Detroit based art company. With sincere dedication to the art of procrastination and laziness, I waited too long to order the pen I had researched and needed to go to the physical store to pick one up. The PILOT PARALLEL. YouTube reviews on calligraphy pens consistently placed this guy at
IMG_1498the top. I NEEDED this pen – in every color, nib with, and any accessory I could get my hands on. On the day I went to Blick, I walked into the store extremely excited to get my Pilot Parallel (think iPhone release day excited). Almost immediately my hopes and dreams were dashed as I was informed they did not carry the item in store. After drying a few silent tears from my cheek, I swiftly bought the cheapest calligraphy marker on the shelf. A $2.50 Moya double header.

With materials gathered I finally began YouTube learning adventure.

For learning lowercase and uppercase letters I used the following videos by the channel MonkeySee. Though the videos were long and required a little bit of organization to ensure no letters were being skipped, the videos were the most informative of the options I previewed. Many of the videos on YouTube were simply an individual writing the alphabet with little to no explanation. MonkeySee provided additional information that was helpful in learning my new skill!

Lower Case Letters
Lower Case Letters
Upper Case Letters
Upper Case Letters

I have a long ways to go, but I believe that things are improving. Here is attempt at a little project that I think everyone will appreciate!

Though I still need practice, I would like to continue to learn a cursive style script. Fancier and more difficult to do well, it is a challenge that I would like to meet. Thankfully, YouTube has some great resources – stay tuned to see how this all ends!

Work in Progress!
Work in Progress!

Evernote – The Return of a Friend


A beautiful note taking app that has taken the educational, corporate, and personal world by storm.

Now, Evernote and I have a bit of a history. The program Evernote made its debut in 2008, my first year of undergraduate studies. Like many college relationships, Evernote and I dated off and on throughout our four years of college. As much as I loved the interface and ease of use, I consistently found myself using Microsoft Office and an elaborate system of folders to create, archive, and organize the digital material in my life.

When Google Drive entered the market, I instantly fell in love and have been an avid user ever since. I love the ability to utilize multiple accounts over many platforms including Mac, Windows, iOS and internet browsers. The honest truth is  almost every file I have is stored in Google Drive – in fact I have never opened my school provided personal drive.

This week in CEP 810 we are exploring workflow management utilizing the principals from David Allen’s, Getting Things Done. We have been asked to select and live with one technology that can assist with our workflow. As a technology junky, I have, at one point or another,  dabbled with a large majority of the tools that were suggested as options. Microsoft OneNote has been a terrific resource for organizing and collaborating. My travel packing list, coupon listings, shared to do lists and other items all reside within OneNote. I would stick with it if not for the release of the single iOS app that has changed my life: Scannable by Evernote.

In a paper free world, Scannable is helping me cut clutter and lead a more organized, eco friendly life. The beauty of Scannable is that, as an Evernote product, it seamlessly uploads scans automatically to the Evernote notebook of your choosing. WIN. So with the luxury and allure of Scannable on its side, Evernote is one again creeping its way back into my life.

My Review

Interface: 4/5 stars

Very clean and easy to use. The program looks great across platforms. The Windows application looks slightly dated.

iOS App
iOS App
Mac application
Mac application
Internet Browser Interface
Internet Browser Interface
File Types: 5/5

Evernote can handle almost any type of media possible and can even record voice notes!

Speed of Syncing: 5/5

Fast and reliable. Period.

Usability: 4/5

Creating folders, stacks and notes are all easy and intuitive. Minimal clutter means technology newbies and experts alike can use this application with ease and enjoyment. Seamless switching between accounts requires Premium account.



This past weekend I used Evernote and Scannable to digitize every receipt I have collected since January – June 2015. 243 receipts to be exact. The process took a few hours but it simultaneously eliminated a shoe box of wrinkled, fading receipts (i.e. clutter) while making them searchable and organized!

The Results!
The Results!

As for my work life, I have created “To Do Lists” for each of the major events that happen throughout the year, which, as a high school instrumental music teacher, is a lot. These lists can be accessed from anywhere and can be cleared and reused each year. As an organization junky, I am excited to utilize these lists!

As for larger organizational systems – I do not wish to attempt to begin using Evernote for storage – Google Drive and I are in a committed relationship that cannot be shaken. The beauty of Google for me has been its ability to seamlessly switch between my personal, work and grad school accounts without having to log out and log in. This is possible in Evernote, but only on Premium Accounts ($5.99/month).  Am I willing to pay $6 for this convenience? Maybe. Is it an arduous task to log out and log in to switch accounts? No. Do I still find it incredibly  annoying? Yes.

Will Evernote stay in my life? For personal receipt storage – absolutely. As to its application to my workflow professionally – the jury is still out. For now, I will continue exploring.