Monday, October 24, 2016

Digital Stories: Telling stories with short films!

When we were given our digital story assignment, I was immediately excited.  There were no parameters -- the story could be any story we wanted to tell in two to four minutes using digital technology.  I thought of multiple stories right away: should I tell about how my family bought a 1926 bungalow in terrible condition three years ago, and show the renovations we have done with our own hands?  Should I give a window into my classroom and all the music-making projects the students do each week?  Should I make a movie about our trip to California last Spring Break to visit my sister?  Then I realized my younger son, Michael, and I had a weekend alone together, and we could turn the weekend into a story.  And that was what we did!

I mapped out our day, and explained to Michael that everything we did needed to be recorded with a video or a picture.  He was all for it.  In fact, I ended up with enough footage of him eating and saying, "YUMMMM!" that I could have made an entire film of the foods he ate.  It was easy to take the pictures and videos, but harder to sort them and decide what to keep and what to throw out.  We had 20 minutes of dolphin footage alone!

I had been planning for the movie to cover the whole weekend, but there was way too much material, and frankly, it started to get boring.  So, I narrowed it to just one day, and tried to create symmetry between the beginning and end, starting with  'Good Morning' and ending with 'Good Night.'

If you would like to see Super Saturday!, click the arrow below!

After going through the film material a number of times, I wrote a script to accompany it.  I loaded the pictures and videos into imovie, and tried to speak my script while the movie played.  I found this very tricky.  I had written a great deal, and I didn't have time to fit the words in without ruining the flow of the movie.  So, I began to edit, chopping out sentences until I had a script that was one third of the original.  I wanted the script to match the pictures, so I had to lengthen and shorten certain pictures and video within imovie, from 4 seconds to 3 seconds, for example.

I was amazed at how easy it was to use imovie.  I didn't do anything especially fancy, but I could fit in transitions, different captions, fade-outs, and titles with no trouble at all.  Fifteen years ago, I tried to use the program while student teaching, and the computer in the school computer lab would crash every five minutes!  Now, the technology has come so far that I'm able to make the movie from a lightweight wireless laptop with no crashes at all.

I don't know that I would use the technology with my students, because the time we have to make music together is so precious.  But, I would definitely use it FOR my students, and in order to promote the music program.  It would be a wonderful way to introduce general music at Open House, for example.  I also need to make a movie sequel with my older son.  He doesn't want to be left out of the family movie archives...

In the highly visual world of today, digital stories seem like an exciting format for kids to share their ideas, in addition to more traditional venues, such as written reports.  I look forward to using the program again soon and encapsulating more memories in this format.

Monday, October 10, 2016

PLN's: My experience with Twitter!

I had certainly heard of Twitter (mostly on NPR) and knew that one of my music colleagues loved it as a way of advertising her program.  She felt it gave parents a window into the great things going on in the classroom.  I knew about it, I just hadn't taken the time to find out more!

Now, I have a Twitter account @d90monamann and I am following a number of teachers in District 90, as well as music educators and educational organizations around the United States and beyond.  At first, I was a little surprised to find that there isn't more of a presence of Orff-Schulwerk teaching and learning on Twitter, but each time I found someone new to follow, it led to other followers, and gradually, I started finding my Orff-Schulwerk colleagues around the country!

One of the most useful educational resources I found on Twitter (to date!) is the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, the heart of my own Professional Learning Network.  You can find them at @ORFF1968  I did not find AOSA through someone else's post.  I had to go searching... But, the first name I saw is a friend from our Chicago chapter who is now serving on the National Board!  There are so many resources and ideas here, I won't want to 'miss out' on checking this weekly.

I also participated in my first Twitter chat on Monday, October 10th, at 7PM CST.  The reason I point out the CST is that the previous week, I logged in to the chat room at 8PM, only to find the chat ending -- it was 8PM EST.  So, check your time zone when you want to do a Twitter chat!  The chat was an interesting experience, but would have been better for me if it were more geared toward general music teachers, specifically Orff-Schulwerk teachers.  It was mostly band directors, and focused on the topic of whether students should be involved in setting their own goals.  This is an important consideration for band and orchestra directors who need their students to spend a good deal of time practicing outside of school, but the goals of general music teachers are different.

My First Twitter Chat on Setting Student Goals in Music
Still, when I go to the AOSA National Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey in November, I will start asking around about Twitter chats for Orff teachers.  I would love to participate in a discussion around issues in the general music classroom.