Thursday, November 13, 2014

adventures in BYOD

I have been wanting to try some BYOD lessons in 4th and 5th grade this year and I finally got myself organized enough to start with 5th grade!

I believe very strongly in building, teaching and enforcing digital citizenship so it was important to me to pass out student contracts for my kids and their parents to sign. The one I used came from Forney ISD (used and changed with their permission). I will honestly say that I haven't had much luck getting all the copies back, but I'm being tough with my students. No contract, no device use. Period. The first group today discovered how fun the activity was and that we'll be continuing next week.....suddenly I have a lot of promises for more returned papers! :)

So here's what we did! Fifth grade has been practicing reading, writing, and dictating dotted quarter/eighth note combinations, so I thought I'd use the beautiful theme from the Largo movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony. It is one of my favorite pieces of music and it also connects with fifth grade's immigration lessons. Of course, there are several ways to write and interpret the rhythm of the theme, but I used dotted quarter in 4/4 time.

I asked my kids to read the theme's rhythm for practice. I explained that it came from the New World Symphony and asked what is meant by the "New World." After talking about this very briefly and why and when Dvorak wrote the piece, I started the music and asked them to quietly get out their devices. I gave them a web address on the projector leading them to a discussion via Answer Garden.

If you've never used Answer Garden, it's a great, easy way to get short answers. It's also an easy way to share if you only have a device to two. Ask a question and get answers that end up as a word cloud on your screen. You can set it up so that students can answer more than once. In this case, I asked the kids, "If you were heading to the New World, how would you feel?" I got answers such as :

scared ~ anxious ~ excited ~ nervous ~ happy ~ in awe ~ thankful ~ scared ~ proud ~ curious ~ amazed 

It was great to get their answers quietly through their devices while listening to Dvorak's hopeful theme instead of having to wait until the end to discuss. 

After ending that portion of the lesson, we went on to something else that we had practiced in a previous lesson. We had already learned the folk song Whistle Daughter Whistle. We talked about changing the lyrics as such:

Whistle daughter whistle, and you shall have a cow.
I can't whistle mother, because I don't know how.


Whistle daughter whistle, and you shall have a                         .
I can't whistle mother, because                                                  .

We did a practice verse or two last week where I filled in the first blank with a different animal and they had to fill in the second blank. However, in today's BYOD lesson, I gave them a link to a Padlet and they were free to fill in both blanks. They could choose another animal (like the original song) or an was up to them as long as their text was appropriate. I left one more example of my own on the Padlet wall so they'd know what was expected. I should also point out that I only had a few kids with access to devices (due to turning in paperwork) so they worked in groups. Everyone contributed, but only certain students were able to handle the devices. I would normally have them work in small groups for the lesson anyway though.

As soon as they all found the Padlet website, I switched the projector over to it so they could see their answers pop up. All their answers came up in real time. I could see their faces light up as their peers reviewed their answers and smiled or laughed in approval. (Most of them tried to be as funny or clever as possible!) They ended up singing other group answers as they worked. They laughed, sang, smiled, and did I mention they actually worked? Without complaining? :) I'm going to give them a bit more time to edit their verses next week and I'm looking forward to posting their finished work on EdModo next week so they can show their parents at home.

I would say that our first BYOD lesson was a success. :)

What are some of your favorite BYOD activities in the music room?