The end! (and the beginning!)

Well it is all over! My first jump into the world of PBL!! and (inserting drum roll here) I kind of loved it!! I definetly learnt lots about what I could do better next time and am really looking forward to trying my next PBL project – Music in Advertising and creating a jingle.  Here is a link to my resources, if you happen to think that you could use any of this please feel free, and let me know how you go!!

Music In Advertising – PBL take 2!

This time I am going to try a slightly different approach with students either completing their own final product or in pairs.  I still want to encourage the 4 C’s – more conciously this time than last.  I am starting the term with a ‘skill blast’ which will have students covering very basic pitch notation including introducing them to Noteflight.  Then a small practice task based around a unit of work that I purchased from  They will use Garage Band on the ipads, and Noteflight to complete this.  Then we launch into the final project where my plan is to contact one or two local businesses and ask if they could be our ‘clients’.  Students will meet with them and create a brief/plan which they will then use the skills acquired in the ‘skill blast’ to complete an advertising jingle which they will present to the ‘client’ for final assessment at the end of the term!  The main problem I foresee at this stage is running out of time! So if some of the skill blasting takes a little longer than I planned, I will look at skipping or reducing the practice task.

I will attempt to write my updates regularly!!

Also a big shout out to The Buck Institute of Education – a fantastic site for PBL beginners like me!

Nearing the end!

Well Term 4 is here and despite all my best planning efforts to have my Year 7 PBL projects finished, uploaded to the wikispace and presented to the class by the end of last term, we are spending this week finishing everything off!!  I think the most frustrating thing, and some of the students that I have spoken to have agreeed, is that we only have single periods.  Some of the students seem to just get set up when it is time to pack up.

The highlights: I have LOVED seeing the students being enthusiastic and self motivated (well most of them!).  Learning from their mistakes and re-thinking a solution.  The questions!! and being a facilitator and directing them towards finding answers.

The lowlights:  Realising that having 10 different group projects happening in the one class at the same time was probably slightly ambitious of me!!  Not having made sure a website I was relying on was working before starting!!  Understanding the importance of scaffolding lessons, and realising that students may have created some more successful solutions if I had covered some topics to the whole class prior to starting (such as an audacity intro task, songwriting basics, keyboard/guitar basics).

I think it has definelty been a somewhat confronting learning environment to some students, our classroom has been very busy and active!! Often spilling out into our learning corridoor and any spare spaces around our classroom! I may have put too much responsibility and freedom on the students, something that I will change next time.

I have definetly enjoyed jumping in the deep end with this type of teaching.  (I think I was actually closer to it than I realised.)  Having said that I have learnt lots!! And hopefully the kids have too!

Next post I hope to provide a link to a google drive folder that has my desktop checklists, and assessment rubric and reflection survey….maybe even an example of some of the successful projects!

Next we are going to look at Music In Advertising, and what it takes to create a jingle.  My plan is to invite some local businesses to be ‘clients’ and the students will create an advertising jingle to their brief.  I thought that instead of giving the kids the choice of choosing who they work with that this and their topic, we would all work on the same brief and individually…to see the difference.

The chaos and the fun!!!

Well I know I said I was going to document my progress of my student driven projects weekly, but the weeks have flown past and I haven’t documented anything!!!

We are now in our third week of the projects.  The students had the choice of who they worked with chose a project topic from OKGO inspired Junk instruments, Cartoon Soundtrack, Writing a parody and Learning an Instrument (keyboard or guitar).  We spent a week (2 x 50 minute periods) working on a brainstorming web with a focus of what they already know about their chosen topic and what they think they will need to learn to complete their project.  I also talked to them about the design process (research, generation of ideas, development, refinement, final product), each group was required to complete a plan (I provided a template) and accompany it with research.  I am also trying to encourage them to become comfortable using our classroom wikispace.   So they had to upload their research (predominantly links to youtube clips) to their groups wiki page within our classroom site.

The last two weeks has been when the organised chaos started!! I provided each group with a ‘desktop checklist’ that outlined steps they should be working on.  But have tried to step back and let them create!

The students have responded so positively to this shift in curriculum.  For the my post part they are all using their class time effectively.  What I have really enjoyed is how students have taken the topic and suggested ways to tweak it to more suite their groups interests.  I had one student who had trouble fitting in with any of the groups and claimed that none of the topics interested him.  I knew that he learned an instrument outside of school and when I suggested that we ‘tweak’ the learn an instrument project so that he could record himself playing a song that I know he has performed before and use garage band to ‘change’ it he was thoroughly engaged!!

We have 3 more 50min lessons left before the final presentation class.  I have my doubts about some groups finishing in time and I am already trying to think of ways to better scaffold tasks for the learn an instrument project groups and the cartoon soundtrack ones.  But overall I am feeling excited because I think this is working!!


And so it begins!!

Well tomorrow is the day that I launch myself into moving further towards being a facilitator of learning instead of a teacher.  I think I have been moving towards this unconsciously in tiny increments for years but tomorrow is when I consciously start the shift!!

I asked my students last term what they wanted to learn in classroom music this semester.  I had some really great responses.  Some of them were direct responses to topics we have covered already in class, such as learn more about garage band, how to read music, creating our own ‘OKGO’ clip.

From these responses I collated them into some Project topics.  After some online research I came up with a couple of what I think could be fantastic topics which have a real audience – What’s In A Jingle – creating a jingle for a local business, including a brief given to the students by the business owner.  And creating a Radio Show for residents at our Aged Care facility to listen too during their recreation time.  But I felt that these might be too much too soon and that I should spend this term getting them used to the new learning environment and teaching them how to be collaborative learners. The topics I have come up with for tomorrow are Creating a Parody of a known song, Our own version of an OKGO clip (junk instrument construction), A cartoon soundtrack and Learn an instrument/Be a rock band.

My biggest problem has been deciding how to run these – do I split the class into small groups, each approaching a different project topic?  Or do I pick a project topic and we work on it as a whole class group?  My ‘gut instincts’ tell me go with the latter, but part of me thinks I feel that because it will be more like how I always teach!  So I have decided to go in tomorrow and ask the kids what they want to do and see what they say.  I have two Year7 classes and am fully aware I could end up doing completely different things in each class – which I will be honest – is terrifying!!!

Regardless of which option each class chooses hopefully by the end of tomorrows class they will have created a ‘web’ of what they already know of the topic, what they need to learn, and general ideas about how they might approach the topic.  If time is on my side, I would love them to also start on a timeline plan, including assigning roles.

So stay tuned, I will try and document the highs and lows as we go 🙂


Starting the shift

I am participating in a fantastic professional development opportunity called Teaching Learning in the 21C Century via NMIT University.  Lots of like minded educators all on a similar journey.  After realising that I am already well on my way to ‘becoming a learner’ I thought I would jump in the deep in and try something different in my Year 7 Music Classroom.  Sooo at the end of last term I asked them what they wanted to learn.

Here is an image of their ideas…well there will be when I can work out how to get the pic from my evernote account!! Stay tuned!!

The next step which I am right in the middle of is collating all these ideas into some projects and creating relevant instructions and resources.  I am hoping to use a new classroom wikispace I have created as ‘ground control’ for this shift.  I guess I am doing what loads of teachers have been doing for years – Project or Inquiry Based Learning, but it is new to me! I am constantly trying to make sure that what I cover in class is relevant and engaging for my students whilst at the same time teaching them concepts that they need to learn.  But this approach I am going to try is I hope the first step to me starting to step back from being The Teacher and towards becoming The Facilitator of learning.

I am still thinking through the logistics of how I am going to run several project options at the same time.  I am considering introducing a flipped classroom approach as well…maybe some Prezi’s on the wikispace that cover concepts such as copyright, appropriation in music, tips for writing lyrics etc with a quiz (will probably use ) at the end to prove they watched it!! I love the idea of them doing this at home so that they can ask questions in class.

In many ways the idea of changing my classroom from one where I am the teacher with 24 students all doing relatively the same thing is overwhelmingly frightening but I know I need to try this, and if it is a disaster, so be it.  We will discuss what did work, what didn’t work and try again.


Hello World

Hi! and Welcome to my blog! I must admit that I never thought creating a blog ‘was me’ but here I am!! I am a Secondary teacher in country Victoria, Australia with a passion for changing how I teach or should I say becoming a 21st Century learner.  I have spent hours searching the internet for what other people are doing in their classroom, specifically their music classroom’s and I have found lots of useful bits and pieces but felt that maybe the next step in my learning journey was to share what I am trying in my classes.  I love ICT and the changes it has brought to my classroom in such a relatively short amount of time.  4 Years ago I had to ask a IT technician for help in setting up an interactive whiteboard!! 12 months later I hyperventilated when the school I was at didn’t have an interactive whiteboard..I started to wonder how I had taught without one!  I look back now and realise that was the beginning of my 21st Century learning journey.  Now I reward myself with ‘twitter time’!! So here we go on my Journey to Learn 🙂

Hello world!

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