Feature Article – “Choosing Technology That Will Work for You” Adapted from an article by Robert Schmidt, Hayley and Mike Winslow, Utah Music Educators Journal , Fall 2012 Part One of Two In the world of education, there is so much talk of technology and how it can revolutionize your teaching in the classroom. So we go to a conference and attend a great session about some new technology. We go out and buy a new tablet or some new software, explore it and think, “Wow this will make things so much easier!” Then we use the new technology once and it doesn’t work quite right, or it took so much time to set up it might not be worth it after all! I think all of us have been through this in the last few years, so the trick is figuring out what technology really will work for us. Just like a teaching style, how you use technology in a classroom is a personal choice and preference. Nothing works for everyone and some things will work better than others for you. With that in mind, this article will discuss some of the current useful technologies out there and practical ways you can use them in the classroom. As you explore new technology, strive to be creative in deciding how you can use it. Also think about implementation – to be effective, will it require a lot of equipment up front (a class set of IPods), or is it something you can use in your classroom without every student needing the technology themselves? Again, don’t get frustrated if you try something and it doesn’t seem to fit you and your teaching style! Discard it and try something else! If you want to use an IPad in the classroom, find one you can borrow for a few days and experiment with it before you spend up to $700 on something that might in the end become an expensive game console. Once you find something that works for you, use it often and let it become a part of your teaching style. Software/Online Tools Today, a lot of useful technology is available online, and a lot of it is free. Let’s look at some of these tools and how you can use them. Dropbox: Online file storage. This software is free to use and you start out with 4 GB of free storage. This is not necessarily a teaching tool – more of a management tool for files. It automatically backs up your files online. If you install it on more than one computer and login with your user name and password, it will sync all of the files you have automatically. If you are not online, the files also reside on your computer so you can access them. The next time your computer is online, it will automatically sync the files. If you make a change to a document on one computer, it will automatically update on the other computers that you use with Dropbox. You can also access your files from any device connected to the internet. If you make changes to a file while on a computer other than your own, you will have to then upload the file. Once you are comfortable with Drobox, you can learn how to share files from certain folders or have a shared folder. If you have files that need to be shared between teachers, files can be transferred through shared folders. The three of us use shared folders a lot. When we are working on a project or want to share something like pictures, we put them in Dropbox so each of us can copy them to our own computers. There is also an app available for all tablets that links to your account (see app sidebar). Google Drive: Online file storage Google has recently made this same file storage technology available. Previously, you had to be connected to the internet to access Google documents. Now, through Google Drive, you can have a hard file on your computer to access while not online, along with access while on any computer. Modifying documents in Google is easier than in Dropbox, because the documents (word files, spreadsheets, etc.) you create and use in Google Drive are part of the Google website. They are not as powerful as Microsoft and Apple word programs but will do most of what you need done. Google also constantly upgrades their programs. You don’t have to buy them or install them since they are web-based. Google drive and the associated Google docs, which is discussed more below, can also be shared between teachers, and are easier to use and edit as a team than in Dropbox. With Google drive, you can share a document or presentation with other teachers and instead of multiple documents, it is one document that can be edited by several people at the same time. When teacher A makes a change in the document teacher B and teacher C immediately see that change if they are looking at the document. This is a great way to collaborate on meeting agendas, curriculum maps, concert programs and anything else you can think of. In addition, there is an app available for all tablets that allows you to access and view these documents (see app sidebar). Google Tools: If you do not have a Google (Gmail) account, now is the time to get one! Google is a fantastic FREE service that provides you with some powerful organization and teaching tools. We will briefly look at some of the tools provided. Remember that all of this is free, and when you sign up for a Gmail account, you automatically have access to all of these tools. -Mail A great email service. Not a lot to talk about here, but you can video chat or IM (instant message) with other Gmail customers within Gmail. -Docs Google Docs is the SAME as the Google Drive mentioned above. Docs is an online office suite. It provides you with a word processor, a presentation creator (similar to power point), a spreadsheet creator, and a form creator which allows you to create an online data collection form. (We use this on our website to collect practice times instead of using paper practice charts.) The docs that you create are automatically stored in the Google drive so they are all online with no risk of losing them if your computer crashes. A fantastic way to use these docs is for your program notes at concerts. Sometimes these program notes can be multiple pages! Because these Docs are online, they each have a unique URL (web address). Using a QR code generator (see example), you can type your program notes in Google docs, create a QR code for that doc, then put the QR code in your program. Anyone with a smartphone or IPad can then scan that QR code and read the program notes on their smart phone instead of wasting all of that paper. For example: This QR Code takes you to a Google form practice chart! -Calendar The calendar is a great planning tool that can also be shared with multiple people. You can create a Fine Arts Calendar for your department, share that calendar with your department members; then all of you can see the events and add events to the calendar and will all see those events on your personal calendar. -Sites This allows you to create your own website. A teacher website these days is a VALUABLE TOOL for communication with parents and students. The Google sites have many designs already finished for you. You just need to personalize them. You can also add documents to your site for parents and teachers to download. Google sites is great because you don’t have to be a web designer to create your own website. In addition, you can put your Google Calendar or any of your Google docs on your website. For an example, visit www.dhthunderbands.com This website is created using Google sites. All of the tools listed above work on any computer and on any tablet or smart phone. The calendar and docs have apps available that sync with your Google account. Website Creation: For many, creating a website is overwhelming! Google sites was just mentioned, but weebly.com is another option. There is a free version and a pay version. If you want something simple, the free version is enough. The only catch is your web address will end with .weebly.com. If you choose to upgrade, you can eliminate the extra tag and have more functions to use. Google sites example: https://sites.google.com/a/dhthunder.org/dh-band-choirs/home Weebly.com example: www.dhmsbands.com Part Two of this article will appear in the November Collegiate NewsLink Chapter of Excellence Entries are due December 17 The NAfME Collegiate Chapter of Excellence Recognition was developed to distinguish chapters for their successful chapter Music Programs, Professional Development Projects, Recruitment Techniques, and Service Projects. This recognition is conferred annually and is based on the significant efforts made by the chapter to develop the NAfME Collegiate membership program at its institution between January 1 and the Chapter of Excellence entry deadline of December 17, 2012. Chapters submit a description and a Chapter of Excellence Application for each chapter activity to be considered. Activities completed between January 1 and the Chapter of Excellence deadline of December 17 are eligible for Chapter of Excellence Recognition. A committee made up of sitting NAfME Collegiate National and Divisional chairs will select the Chapter of Excellence entries to be recognized. Chapter of Excellence Categories: • Music Program (A musical performance organized and/or presented by the chapter) • Professional Development (A project organized and/or presented by the chapter to further the professional development of its members) • Recruitment Technique (Successful technique to recruit students to join the chapter) • Service (A project organized and/or presented by the chapter to benefit school or community music programs or activities.) Criteria for Chapter of Excellence Selection: Chapter Participation, Commitment, Creativity, Impact, Organization, Uniqueness, and Visibility Annually, three Chapter of Excellence activities will be selected for recognition in each of the four categories (twelve total). Each selected activity will receive a plaque from NAfME and will be recognized in an issue of Teaching Music or Music Educators Journal. Additionally, the selection committee has the option to bestow up to three Chapter of Excellence honorable mention certificates for exceptional activities not selected. Nominate a Teacher Who Inspired You for Kennedy Center Award Every year, the John F. Kennedy Center honors teachers who have made a difference in the lives of students who nominate them to receive The Kennedy Center/-Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards. Please click on the link below to find out how you can nominate the teacher who has inspired and shaped you! http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/awards/sondheim/ Deadline for entry – December 16, 2012 MEMBER BENEFIT SPOTLIGHT Collegiate Chapters and Advisors –NAfME Learning Network is a great resource for your students and your meeting programs throughout the year! The Learning Network offers pre-recorded informational videos, weekly professional development webinars, lesson plans and advocacy presentations you can share with your chapter and use throughout your career. NAfME members can enroll at a special members-only annual rate of $49.95. Completed webinars can be used toward Teacher Recertification Hours and, for an additional fee, college credit. NAfME is collaborating with the SoundTree Institute to offer this resource to you. Visit http://institute.soundtree.com/nafme for a free preview, and subscribe using the promo code “nafmepd” to receive the discounted subscription rate. Here are the next two webinars, which are free of charge! Check them out!
- Music Teacher Evaluation and Standards, Thursday, November 1, 7pm Eastern Time
- Composition 101 by Robert Deemer, SUNY Fredonia, NY, Thursday, November 8, 7pm Eastern Time
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