Day 8: Dreaming about Music & Media by @TeacherCast & @bassjen1 #12DOD

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Editor's note: Today's special post is a double post from Mr. & Mrs. TeacherCast! I hope you enjoy both post, comment and share! Thank you for participating in the 12 Days of Dreaming! Don't forget to check out the other post! Only 4 more days left!

Dreaming about the Library: 
Reimagining the Schools Digital Hub

I have often thought, "If I could design a school, how would I design it?"  This isn't a very easy task.  There are many things to consider.  First, you would have to find a great location. The layout of the school grounds would include various sporting fields and space for additional out-door activities. The school building (itself) would be designed to accommodate thousands of learners.  Second, there needs to be strong leadership that not only had an eye on the future, but a humble mind to learn from both the present and the past.  Lastly, I would build this amazing establishment with several underground tunnels and passageways leading to the worlds greatest cultural establishments so students can take a field trip at any moments notice.

At the heart of this dream is the buildings particular shape and structure.  This building would have to have a common meeting area for both students and staff to meet, work, and function in a collaborative space.  In the perfect school, this centralized location would be the Media Center.  

I have often spoken and wrote about the concept of a Media Center.  I firmly believe that there needs to be a distinction in schools between a Media Center and a Library.  A Library is a place for books.  It is concept as old as the books themselves.  It is a place for students to sit down with physical materials, put their thoughts on paper and learn.  It is a one-way place for knowledge.  For more than 100 years, students have entered libraries to take knowledge away from pieces of paper that have all the answers in the world.  The Media Center, however, is a place for students to sit down and not only gain knowledge, but share it as well.  

Students live in a world of Web 2.0.  These small but important words are often pushed around the social media markets like they are nothing, but in reality, they mean EVERYTHING to society and to education.  Web 2.0 as a concept gives students and educators the ability to do something they could never do in a Library.  They have the ability to teach the book something it didn't already know.  This concept is far overlooked as an educational option these days.  This Interactivity between content curation and content creation would be the pinnacle reason behind making the Media Center the largest social space in my dream building.

Each Media Center would be outfitted in a similar fashion to the way an Apple Store currently is set up.  An open floor plan where students entering the space can have a panoramic view of everything that the room has to offer.  In the middle, would be a series of tables, each with a tablet device where students can access a complete catalog of the Media Centers Resources.  Against the walls would be flat panel internet video screens where students would be able to approach and control by voice manipulation. Other stations would be equipped with audio and video editing stations.  The Media Center would become the Digital Hub, Social Hub, and Educational Hub, not just for the school, but for the entire community.  Students would be able to create content, and with a push of a button, upload it for the entire district to view and learn from.  This model would completely revolutionize the concept of a "flipped classroom."

Is this a possibility or an improbability?  I hope this question never guests answered. I hope that the day never comes where we have to question the desire for technological progress and collaboration power between staff and students, and school and community.  In the mean time, I will continue dreaming and pushing forward with these dreams hoping to one day make them a reality.

I'm curious to know what you think?  What would your dream Educational Hub be in your school? 


Dreaming about My Ideal Music Classroom

First thing in the morning, my students drop their instruments and music books off into our room. The 4th graders are excited and can’t wait to learn about the new note or rhythm they will be learning because it will be their first time playing it, ever. Some proudly announce which family members they gave a performance for over the weekend.My favorite responses are students that tell me which notes they need help with or what is their favorite song (after only 7 weeks). All of these conversations, student-feedback, would ideally take place in our own classroom.
My ideal classroom has space for everything and everyone. The cello rack and violin/viola rack are against the wall,to the right of the door. The shelving units for band instruments are right beside them. The chairs are ergonomic, rehearsal chairs, not tiny children-sized chairs or over-grown slouchy folding chairs. The walls would have current sound proofing technology. Opposite the instrumental storage area are two mobile storage rack for the 20 black iron music stands.  There is a bright bulletin board that proudly displays all of the new terms (English,German, French, and Italian). Another bulletin board has a colorful chart to show who is in the lead for turning in practice logs.  Between the bulletin boards is a panel of mirror on the wall that is easily accessible to students and teacher to model correct posture for performing during a lesson. In the back of the room is a small Mac computer lab that is equipped to record students’ playing tests and save the files  to their own Dropbox account so that they can have a digital portfolio of their progress that will follow them through high school and beyond.  Whole ensembles  will be able to Skype and perform for peers across the world.Along with an audio portfolio, students will blog with themselves by using an “in-house” network. They will compose short pieces based on their current knowledge of notation, theory and pitches. These pieces will be shared to the world in a Live-Binder.
What I have described above is a dream. Maybe some forms of this dream exists in some alternative to the current standard educational choices available. We all have pieces of the ideal classroom even now. Why not start kids on recorders in public school at an age earlier then 8 yrs.? As human-beings, all of us  have a fundamental need to create. If we all learn how to speak at a young age by mimicking, listening and experimenting with what our family does around us,  we can use those same skills and support to encourage a class of 1st grade violinists. What other discipline in school motivates  students to become independent learners. Even as a musician on an elementary level, you need to hear/see/feel what you need to do to achieve the desired goal. However, if you do not get the response you want the first time, you truly do need to “look in the mirror”, experiment with the variables and teach yourself what you need to change.
Our reality is that tremendous sacrifice exists in education today in both the “Forrest” and “The Tree” perspective. School districts are cutting costs resulting in an exodus of highly qualified staff. There are political causes to some of this educational distortion but it all passes because the citizens of our country speak with their vote. In the broader perspective, education is running more stream-lined but according to the students’ achievment, this is not helping them. Anything that is not ‘common core’ gets hit the hardest. The visual and performing arts, physical education, and technology curriculums are vital in developing well-rounded productive citizens. The ancient Greeks knew this. Yet we ignore their wisdom by slashing and minimizing these programs in modern education. Children need to be taught to create and utilize all of the 21st century possibilities. This won’t happen when the teachers (adults) that they look up to are afraid or not allowed to incorporate mobile devices and 21st global methods of project learning into their classroom.
I wear many hats as a professional musician and educator. Those terms are interchangeable for me. As a musician, you innately teach and as an educator you create and change the people around you. My daily goal is to teach, perform, and learn with my students as if I had my ideal classroom. The longer I teach, the more I credit my student’s success to the natural resiliency of youth. Instruments and 1st year books in hand, they will play a lesson or rehearsal any place that is available  in a school building. If my students decide to continue their participation in creating music or at least use their basic knowledge of music to have a greater understanding of the world then I know that my ideal classroom has been achieved and it has no walls.


Jeffrey Bradbury teaches in the North Brunswick Twp School District. He teaches Music Theory, Music History and has a wonderful high school orchestra that he is very proud of. Jeff earned his Bachelors and Masters Degree from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. In his free time, Jeff enjoys teaching, playing violin, conducting, web design, and podcasting. You can find him on his website www.TeacherCast.net where he writes blogs, creates Audio Podcasts, reviews apps, and provides Screencasts to help teachers learn how to use todays technologies. @TeacherCast. For Music Lovers, he can also be found at: www.BradburyMusic.com


Jennifer Bradbury is a professional musician and educator. Jennifer’s favorite performances include soloing with orchestra, the Dragonetti Concerto and Koussevitsky concerto under the baton of her husband, Jeff Bradbury. Jennifer Bradbury earned a Master of Music in Double Bass Performance from Peabody Conservatory in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Double Bass Performance and Music Education from Carnegie Mellon University. Teachers have included Douglas Mapp, Paul Johnson, Anthony Bianco, and Boris Blumenkrantz. Jennifer serves as an instrumental instructor for the Pennsauken School District. In May 2010, under her direction, the Phifer Middle School Orchestra received a superior rating at the High Note Festival in Allentown, Pa. She resides in Pennsauken, NJ with her wonderful husband, Jeffrey.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this Brett. Keep Dreaming!

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  2. Jeff and Jennifer,

    Thank you both for sharing your dreams with us! I enjoyed both of your post. Music and media are two things that are so close to my heart. We can learn and share so much through both of them. They both allow us to tap into our creative nature.

    Here's hoping that we as educators will help our students become creators of music and media, as well as consumers!

    Dream on!

    Brett

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