Reflection: 2015 IBA Conference

I typed this post shortly after the conference ended on May 16th, and then forgot about it with all the business leading up to graduation and the end of the school year.

Over the past two days, hundreds of Iowa band directors descended on the Marriott Hotel in Des Moines for the Iowa Bandmasters Association 2015 Conference. This is the tenth conference I have attended, and it was the best overall. There wasn’t a single hour in either day that there wasn’t a clinic or performance I didn’t want to attend. Let’s try that sentence without all the negatives: There was something I wanted to attend every single hour of both days of the conference. IBA President Jacqui Meunier hosted outstanding clinicians and performances throughout. I wanted to get my thoughts out on “paper” quickly, so I could begin to implement them in my classroom.

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Reflecting on Implementing the Common Core in My Classroom

For the past three weeks, my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in the Common Core World, has been looking at how to implement the Common Core State Standards in the music classroom. We were provided a wealth of resources to begin our study in the first week. The second week focused on the specific implementation of the English Language Arts CCSS. This week focused on the implementation of the CCSS of Mathematical Practice. At the end of each unit, we are asked to reflect on what we learned. Continue reading “Reflecting on Implementing the Common Core in My Classroom”

Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in my Classroom

This week marks the end of a three week unit of looking at how to implement the Common Core State Standards into our music classrooms. Last week, we focused on the implementation of the English Language Arts standards. This week, we are focusing on the implementation of the Standards for Mathematical Practice. Continue reading “Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in my Classroom”

Reflecting on Teacher Evaluation

Over the past five weeks in my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, we have been working through the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) Workbook, Building and Evaluating Effective Music Educators in the School Ensemble, as well as the new National Core Music Standards. The workbook and the process tie the NAfME expectations to the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. As a conclusion to this part of the course, we were asked to reflect on the process with the following prompt:

Complete a comprehensive reflection paper. Include a recap of the concepts and strategies learned from the assignments that you completed over the last four weeks. This will fulfill part of the VanderCook College of Music exit assessment requirement. Take your time and thoroughly reflect on what we have covered over the last four weeks. This document needs to be worthy of 10% of your overall grade for the Teacher Evaluation unit of your grade.

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Takadimi and Solfège – Tools for Teaching Music

As part of the Curriculum Review process our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) went through in recent years, the K-12 Music PLC chose to specifically use takadimi and solfège to teach rhythmic and tonal literacy in General Music, Vocal Music, and Instrumental Music (we do not have an orchestra program in our district). Before delving in to the details of these tools, I want to emphasize that these are only tools. They are not necessarily the way, the truth, and the light. They are a means we use to teach to our power standards. This is my first year teaching using these tools in band, but it is our district’s fourth or fifth year of implementation. Students in fourth grade or below have received nothing but these tools in their instruction. Students in fifth grade or above have received a mixture of these and other tools. From my personal experience teaching vertically in a 6-12 Instrumental Music PLC, the consistency is the key. Because students have received a consistent method of instruction on rhythmic and tonal literacy, they are better at decoding the musical symbols on the page. So how do we use these tools?

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Vertical Teaching

I am very excited to be part of a new team teaching instrumental music in a vertical setting. In our feeder system we have four (soon to be five) K-5 elementary schools, one 6-7 middle school, one 8-9 middle school, and one 10-12 high school. In terms of band directors, there are currently ~3.0 FTE for 5th grade, 2.0 FTE at the 6-7 building, 1.0 FTE at the 8-9 building, and 2.0 FTE at the 10-12 building. The same system is duplicated for the other feeder system on the other side of town. I am not sure of the reasoning nor the history, but our school district does not have an orchestra program. Our music curriculum includes K-5 General Music, 5-12 Instrumental Music (Band), and 6-12 Vocal Music. Continue reading “Vertical Teaching”