New ActivBoard for my room

January 31, 2007

It has been WAY too long between posts- sorry! After getting back from FMEA all-state (our state music clinic/convention) the first week of Jan. I am just now starting to catch up! Solo and Ensemble Festival/Jazz Festival coming up, etc. etc….

Last week I got a surprise late Christmas gift- a brand new ActivBoard! My old ‘board was on a mobile stand and had to be hooked up to a projector that was on a media cart (also mobile) that caused no end of frustration with calibration- having to re-calibrate the board each time I accidentally bumped into it (which was often). The new one is not only the much improved Series 2 board, but is also mounted with a nifty short-throw projector that is just great!

Now, it becomes much more an extension of my teaching when I can simply turn around and start using the board without having to set it up and get all of the connections right, etc. I now have my lesson on the board as a flip chart when the students come in (including the state curricular standards and lesson objectives that are now a requirement from the district) as well as a virtual staff board (like the white boards with the staffs on them) and any Internet resources that I am going to use for the day ready to go at the click of a pen!

It is really nice to have all of my resources in one place (including web pages, recordings, videos, etc.) at my fingertips and logically laid out so that I don’t waste time and can take advantage of teachable moments.

I included a picture of the board with this post (please excuse the messy room!) so you can see that it also includes speakers and a sub-woofer for nice sound (I still use my high-end sound equipment for critical listening).

I plan to use the new activstudio software version for Mac that includes RECORDING CAPABILITIES to enhance my lesson on critical listening. I will post about that after I do the lesson.

ActivBoard series 2 installed



To Elgg or not to Elgg

January 7, 2007

I’m still searching for partners in my distance learning project, and I happened to hear about another resource that looks promising for collaborations of this and other types is ElggSpaces.  This is the education version of MySpace without the downside of the abuse factor.

I’m a firm believer that we as a society caused our own problems with MySpace, which is not an inherently bad internet resource- we have just made the mistake of giving technology to kids with absolutely no direction.  What did we expect?

I see Elgg as a way for us to allow our students to social network (friends and all) about what’s going on in our programs.  Think of the potential- communicating with students in the way they are familiar with.  Talk about engagement!  I have set up an account for my school and am playing around with it.  I’m pretty MySpace ignorant, so it will probably be a while before I post something useful on this resource.

There are a group of “Elggers” that  are very far along with this type of project.  I have asked them for help, and have subscribed to their podcast, which is fascinating.

Wanted: Music Pen Pals! (distance learning)

January 1, 2007

As sort of a New Year’s resolution I’m going to redouble my efforts in trying to establish a distance learning opportunity for my students.  Since we are beginning preparations for our Solo and Ensemble Music Performance Assessment (held in Feb.), I thought it would be interesting to have my students who are preparing music to seek out “pen pals” from other music programs to help them in their preparations.

Basically what I’d like to do is have my students email another student (same instrument) from another school and establish a rapport.  I was thinking of using an email tool like gaggle (filtered email).  I would then record my students playing (or they can record themselves) and email the mp3 file to their pen pal for input.  They could also provide a pdf scan of the music for reference.  The pen pal could then provide feedback to my student and perhaps even model some concepts via a recording of their own.

Now, I know that there are probably better tools to do this- at one point I was considering a blog or wiki to do this- but to get it going I just want to keep it simple.  In my experience, if the students are excited about it, they will find their own ways of “taking it up a notch” via social networking.  My intent here is to start small and easy and work into more sophistication.

The only thing I need is another educator with the willingness to try this.  If any of my readers are willing to experiment with this (I’ll do all of the setup work- just need student volunteers) PLEASE email me at