Reflection: IBA 2018

This year's conference for me was bittersweet as it could be my last for quite some time. Unrelated to my departure, I found this conference to not hold a lot of very practical take-back-immediately kind of learning for me, but instead, learning that provoked a great deal of thinking. I wanted to get much of that thinking out quickly after the conference so I didn't lose it. Here is what my schedule looked like this year:

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Developing Small Ensembles

Developing Small Ensembles

A few years ago, we began implementing a student-run Ensemble Project for the time between the last concert and the last days of school. The linked blog post goes in-depth with the implementation of that particular project. As noted at the end of that post, I wanted to dig deeper into implementing our district's instructional framework, specifically focusing on the productive group work aspect of the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR). This year, I used small ensembles throughout the year to help develop these skills.

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Thinking About Standards

I just got back from an excellent conversation about education with a colleague and friend, and I want to capture my thoughts both "on paper" and "out there" in the world. A lot of our conversation comes from the experiences we have been having teaching this year. Personally, it is a lot of different things coming to a head for me. Whether it is leaving next here, missing out on the curriculum review process, and thinking about my legacy at Centennial, or the professional learning we are doing as a staff and district, or the new beginnings I will have in Charlottesville and as a DMA student in music education at Boston University. I guess you could call this a more evolved version of my "philosophy of music education." Here goes:

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Multi-Tiered System of Supports in Instrumental Music

Multi-Tiered System of Supports in Instrumental Music

As part of my school's professional learning this year, we have been looking at integrating a Work Habits tool into our instruction. As part of our district's transition to standards-referenced grading, we have removed behavior from the academic grade. The Work Habits tool is a means of assessing behavior. Our staff's learning around the science of behavior, collecting and analyzing behavior data, and responding to behaviors has been fascinating to me. Specifically, we have been looking at how our academic AND behavior standards fit into the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework.

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Starting a New Adventure

Well, we told the students today, so I guess that makes it "official"... This year will be my last at Centennial High School. This past Spring, my wife completed her PhD program in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University and accepted a tenure track professorship at the University of Virginia! We moved her out there at the beginning of November, where she is doing some contracted work with NASA Langley before beginning at UVA in February. I have not yet found a job out in the Charlottesville area yet, but it is still pretty early in the process. I see three options moving forward: a teaching gig in Virginia, getting really good at riding my bike to all of the establishments, or a doctoral program in music education. Someone has to train the future music eduactors to be the funniest band directors in the tri-state area!

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Reflection: PLC at Work Institute

This past week, I attended the PLC at Work Institute in St. Charles, Missouri with many Ankeny teachers. This is the same institute that I attended in June 2014. That post has a lot of the background on professional learning communities, the structure of the conference, and how our vertical PLC was implementing practices at the time. I wanted to spend some time reflecting to better ingrain what I learned this past week. I feel like the previous institute I attended was much more focused on the fundamentals of PLC work, but that may have just been where I was in my learning at the time. This year's conference, I was able to better target my learning with the breakout sessions I attended, and have some great ideas for moving forward in our work. Throughout I took notes and tweeted pictures of slides and quotes I heard throughout.

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A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program: Prioritizing Standards

Those previous four posts have been setting up the background for our answer to Question 1 of the four essential questions for a PLC: what do we want students to learn/know/be able to do? The answer that our K-12 music teachers came up with during the 2011-2012 school year was the following:

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Iowa Fine Arts Standards Adoption

As I updated in a previous blog post, the Iowa Department of Education announced a team to develop fine arts standards for schools. This Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team has been meeting almost monthly to:

  1. Examine all relevant Fine Arts Standards
  2. Create and/or recommend statewide recommended Fine Arts Standards in Visual Arts, General Music, Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, Theater, Dance, and Media Arts.
  3. Write recommendations about implementation of the standards through
    1. Professional learning
    2. Materials and resources
    3. Offer final recommendations to the State Board of Education

More recently, they put out a call for feedback from teachers, administrators, community members, and students on the National Core Arts Standards.

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An Update on Vertical Teaching

As I have been working on blog posts and a website for our 2017 IBA presentation, How-To: A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program, I realized a lot has changed in the how of our vertical teaching program. I wrote about it a long time ago (April 11, 2014), so lets revisit. As of the 2016-2017 school year, Ankeny has two high schools, each with its own 6-7 middle school, 8-9 middle school, and five K-5 elementary schools:

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Spring Break Reflections

As I have been avoiding my Nintendo Switch over Spring Break, I came across a sheet of paper I had scribbled things on during a professional development day earlier this year. I want to save those thoughts for later, so I can flesh them out. Specifically that morning, we were working on two different areas: our district's instructional framework (gradual release of responsibility/productive group work) and teaching behavior. Here are my notes:

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To my Republican Legislators and Friends

Dear Representatives Koester and Landin,

Dear Senator Whitver and Governer Branstad,

Dear Representative Deyoe and Senator Schultz,

Dear Iowa friends who voted for Republican state legislators in this past election,

I am writing to ask a simple question: why? What is it that we did to make you want to propose the changes you did to collective bargaining?

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Music Standards

In 1994, the then Music Educators National Conference (MENC), adopted the following music content standards (numbers) and achievement standards (letters).

In 2014, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards published new National Core Arts Standards for dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. The NCCAS developed an excellent document detailing their work entitled A Conceptual Framework for Arts Learning.

States have developed their own standards for music education prior to, out of, or in reaction to the National Core Arts Standards. As part of the creation of the new standards, the NCCAS reviewed several states' arts standards including Colorado (2009), Florida (2009), Michigan (2011), New Jersey (2009), New York City (2007), North Carolina (2005), Tennessee, and Washington. A simple Google search will turn up results from other states.


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Iowa Core Curriculum

From our Curriculum Review Guidelines (September 2016), "each curriculum review begins with a study of the significance of content literacy to all content areas. The Iowa Core literacy standards are reviewed with each curriculum review team."

All of the Iowa Core literacy standards are based off the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. Specifically, they identify College and Career Readiness (CCR) Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. These standards are made more specific for each grade level from K-5 and in strands for grades 6-8, 9-10, and 11-12. There are also specific Reading and Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects for grades 6-12. Because our PLC focuses on grades 6-12, I am going to focus this post there.

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Curriculum Review

Every K-12 music teacher in Ankeny went through the curriculum review process in 2012-2013. As part of that process, they developed a Music Curriculum Review Summary upon which we based our work as a data-driven professional learning community. This year (2016-2017), we have been reviewing our decisions, ensuring we are adequately answering the four fundamental questions of a high-functioning PLC:

  1. What do we want students to learn/know/be able to do? (Standards)
  2. How will we know they have learned it? (Assessment)
  3. How will we respond when they have not learned it? (Remediation)
  4. How will we respond when they have learned it? (Extension)
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The New SmartMusic Web

This year, we have been using the new web-based version of SmartMusic with our 10-12th grade students. We were awarded a grant for our 5 teachers and 116 teachers to have SmartMusic Teach subscriptions. Dr. Christopher Russell has a description of the different platforms, but here is a brief summary:

  • TEACH Free: Allows teachers to try out the new SmartMusic Web prior to purchasing. Library is limited to SmartMusic's free catalog (Free Selections 1 & Free Selections 2).
  • TEACH: 3 teachers can assign repertoire from the full library to 50 students for $399. Students can only access materials that are assigned to them. Each additional teacher is $40. A block of 5 additional students is also $40.
  • PLAY: Upgrade individual student accounts to access the full library. $20/account.

I should preface this post with the statement that the web-based version of SmartMusic is not yet a finished product. They are continuing to add and refine features, to take feature requests, and to provide quality support for the new product.

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Recording Assessments in Year 4

Our professional learning community has changed some things for this coming year:

It looks like Keith Ozsvath has beaten me to the punch with a post on using Screencastify, but I'll still detail what we are doing:

Our district is 1:1 with Chromebooks for students in 5th-12th grade. Each of our ensembles has its own Google Classroom. In it, we have created an assignment for our 12-Week Assessment.

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Collecting Data in Year 4

Our Vertical PLC is doing things a bit differently for this coming school year (16-17). I've written about what we did in Year 1 (13-14), Year 2 (14-15), and Year 3 (15-16) as well as a presentation at the 2016 Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Part of our decision to change in the coming year was out of a desire to better communicate student progress in Infinite Campus to students and parents. Our district has also set the following goal for high schools:

By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.

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