Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This week’s throw-back movie about the Hudson Bay Company (Canada) and the United States was really amusing. Ethnic stereotypes and historical accuracy aside, it really was entertaining. While I am sure this was not how the Canada-US border was decided, this movie was made as entertainment. Even 50-60 years later, it still is entertaining.

Personally, I am excited to do the Hudson Bay Company assignment using project based learning. It is something completely out of the normal routine of education and it is a refreshing change. I also appreciate that after we research and present our topic, we have to link it back to education and how it would work in our classrooms.

I love the idea of using project based learning in my classroom. I think it’s something that is more typically used in a general classroom setting and I don’t think enough music teachers assign projects. I am specifically interested in incorporating this into a Senior Years music class where the students are there for a more lengthy time period and are taking the class for credit. I feel like a smaller version would have to be adapted for an elementary classroom.

Project based learning is a way to engage all students regardless of their strengths and interests. There should be clear guidelines for the students to follow and assessment in all stages of development of the project. This would work really well for a unit in a music classroom. One could use things like different eras, countries, films, genres as a broad topic. The students could then choose from different aspects of these to study. Likely, it would be the teacher’s job to facilitate the connections back to music, although that could also be incorporated into the project. As I type this, I have a million ideas floating around in my head that I’d really love to try…

Project based learning does pose some challenges. For me, the hardest would be letting go of control of the learning and letting students explore on their own. In a music classroom it would also be difficult to manage both a project and a regular rehearsal schedule. Perhaps a project would be something to consider at the end of the year, after the spring concert is over. It would also be difficult to determine proper guidelines and assessment. To find the balance between being too involved and smothering their creativity or being not enough involved and wasting their learning opportunities. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I am still absolutely appalled and disgusted by the video we watched in class on Tuesday. It interviewed three mid-teens on their technology/media usage habits. I know that this was an American study and that the film had some sort of bias, but I’m sure it’s not far off. I’m going to sound like my mother here, but I was rarely allowed to play videogames except on special occasions at my Aunt’s house, I didn’t get a cellphone until I was 17, I didn’t get a laptop until I was 18 and we were told to “Go play outside!” when we were bored. (And we walked uphill both ways to school, with no shoes in the middle of a blizzard in July…). Perhaps it was because I was the oldest of 4 children that these rules were strict. And they did become more lax as we all got older and technology started becoming more available and affordable.

However, I don’t believe for a second that just because technology is more available and more affordable that common sense and etiquette should be allowed to go out the window. I can not understand how those parents could sit there and say they didn’t see a problem with what their kids were doing. Although, I suppose some parents are as bad, if not worse, than their children. How can we expect children to know better when clearly their parents don’t? When a parent can’t put away their Blackberry or iPhone long enough to watch their child’s soccer game, they’re clearly showing their child where their priorities lie.

Technology can not be avoided in this lifetime. Common sense should not be avoided in this lifetime.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


As I sit here trying to write my first post (and finishing off some leftover perogies from our Ukrainian Christmas dinner...yum!), I can't help but wonder if technology really does make things faster. Apart from these few opening sentences, my only accomplishment since starting up this blog three days ago has been to narrow down what background image I like and what colour my fonts should be. Not to mention how long it's taking me to carefully construct every sentence so that I look somewhat intelligible to all of cyberspace.

There is no argument that technology can be an asset to any classroom. But what is considered technology? Is an overhead projector still technology? Is a DVD technology... or only if it's Blu-ray? A good friend of mine, and a music teacher of more than 20 years, has a rather real-world view of technology. For her, technology in the classroom is anything that supplements her teaching. She describes everything from her Smart Board to the xylophones as technology aiding her in the classroom. Perhaps an interesting idea to consider...

The video we watched on the first day of class (Norman McLaren - Opening Speech) starred an unassuming announcer and a mischievous microphone. It reminded me of how often we anthropomorphize technology. Sometimes it feels like it is out to get us. Sometimes it can feel like our best friend. The musician in me constantly has to remind me that computers have no thought, no feeling, no expression. They cannot feel and they should not make us feel. They are tools to help us in our lives, but they could never replace human interaction or artistic creativity. 

"Computers have lots of memory but no imagination."  ~Author Unknown