Analysis & Design: “99 Problems But A Design Ain’t One”

This week, I was tasked to develop and complete my analysis findings to begin the cumulative adventure towards creating an instructional systems design for a client. In other words, I have begun what I anticipate to be a long journey and never-ending cycle of reflection, implementation, and revision in an effort to create content that will have a positive impact for those navigating through it.

While that might sound like a headache for most, there is something to be said about feeling accomplished and successful as a designer when creating content that provides a solution for a very real problem someone is facing, and does so in a way that is beneficial to both the learners navigating through it and the instructors charged with delivering it.

My initial design project came out of a very real struggle that most music educators face – how on earth am I going to teach music theory and ear training in such a way that benefits my students and can be (hopefully) applied through the repertoire I ask them to navigate daily in rehearsal and demonstrate in performance?

There are thousands of proposed “solutions” to this problem as one quick Google search will tell you; I personally have spent quite a bit of time trying to find the best solution that is most useful to my students with their current ability levels, and honestly, find a way that is most useful and painless method for me to deliver to them. As the old adage goes, “Work smarter, not harder.” I think this definitely applies to instructional design; why would I not take the time to create something, that while extremely time demanding initially, fosters delivering instruction that actually lasts and is retained? Any music teacher can describe the frustration of teaching a theory concept (dotted rhythms, anyone?) and having to re-teach it YET AGAIN when it inevitably comes up three measures later, because the students only understand it conceptually in isolation, if you give the example in just the right way, and lack the ability to apply it when it really matters.

I am incredibly lucky that I work with an amazing team of music educators that seek to create a universal system that allows students to find success within our system, and foster knowledge and lay down the framework to keep kids involved in music through the transition into high school and beyond. My client is my other MS/HS instrumental counterpart, the band director, who thought it was both slightly insane and ambitious to tackle such a big problem, but willing to let me pick his brain and be the “guinea pig” for whatever system I end up with.

(And of course, I get to reap the benefits too as the content will be directly applicable to my MS choir and orchestra instruction as well, in theory. Pun intended.)

The first step in the design process is to really sit down and analysis the information you have available to you – your knowledge of the audience you are targeting, to pick the brain of your client, to unpack the problems with the current delivery system (if there is one), and to really, for lack of a better way of saying it, think. The analysis process is important because it establishes the baseline of what you know and create tangible objectives and targets that you hope to achieve for your client and the audience you are creating for. Without it, at best you might create something that works and allows the learner to achieve the desired outcome(s), but is perhaps not the most efficient or user friendly for those navigating through it. At worst, you’ll create something that fails miserably, is completely useless for the parties involved, and creates such a negative experience for the learner that they are reluctant to try again in the future.

Through the process of compiling my analysis findings this week, I have found that I can confidently say that I have spent a significant amount of time fleshing out my thoughts and ideas as far as how I hope to implement the design. I spent time reflecting on what might be the best delivery, while also taking into considerations the strengths and weaknesses of my target audience to best suite their learning needs. The analysis process is very similar to the standard writing outline process; I have gathered my information and details, in preparation for the real creation process.

I am ready to truly begin.


Personal Learning Theory

Personal Learning Theory

      While completing my master’s program through the University of North Texas, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to several predominate learning theories in the field of instructional design and education. In the time spent reflecting on which of the more predominate theories (behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism) is best applicable to my current philosophy and practice, I have realized that I believe and utilize aspects of all three in an effort to reach each and every voice in the room. In addition to these theories, I also have a strong focus in striving to meet the social-emotional needs and development of my learners to set them up for the highest level of success.


     Behaviorism focuses on eliciting a specific response from the learner when a situation or stimulus is presented, and then creating further situations or stimuli to elicit the same or similar response (Ertmer, 1993, p.57). This is achieved by consistency from the teacher’s instruction and response to the learner’s action(s), in addition to the designing the classroom environment to facilitate the desired responses (Ertmer, 1993, p.55).

This theory is present within my daily routines and procedures. From the start of the year, I spend each day solidifying the rehearsal routines until it becomes almost automatic. By the end of the year, students know the appropriate responses when asked to warmup, tune, run concert procedure, go into sectionals, and what is expected in the rehearsal process.


      Unlike behaviorism, cognitivism focuses predominately on the learner organizing the information received so it can easily be stored and retrieved when needed (Ertmer, 1993, p. 58). Cognitivism highlights the importance of prior knowledge, and that the instructor’s primary role is to serve as a facilitator to guide them through feedback and by helping establish connections to past stored information while simultaneously alleviating any misconceptions (Ertmer, 1993, p. 58-60).

Cognitivism is fundamental to my learning philosophy given the cognitive need to scaffold instruction within my field of music. So much of music is conceptual; concepts such as dynamics, musicality, intonation, phrasing, etc. must be scaffolded based on the learner’s prior knowledge. It would be obscenely ridiculous to assume that a middle school student could understand what eharmonic spelling is when creating scales without first introducing what a scale is made up of and/or key signatures. I cannot imagine providing sound vocal and instrumental instruction without first scaffolding and organizing the content and pedagogy sequence to best serve the ability of the learners in the room.


      Constructivism focuses on creating meaning from experiences; the content is guided primarily by the learner’s interests, passions and beliefs (Karagiorgi & Symeou, 2005, p. 18). Constructivism takes the content and delivers it through opportunities to allow the learner to “think as an expert user might think” (Ertmer, 1993, p. 64-65). Instead of contriving scenarios and preferred reactions to stimuli, constructivists prefer their learners to develop their own interpretation and derive their own conclusions through the lens of their own perceptions.

This theory is present in my teaching in how I approach selecting repertoire and music for my ensembles. I take into account their preexisting experiences and choose music that they get to interpret and derive their own story and conclusions for what it means to them. This allows them the freedom to create art through their individual and ensemble-wide viewpoints, enriching the overall experience to leave a lasting imprint that sticks with them beyond what a teacher-driven dialogue and lesson.

Social-Emotional Learning

     Last, but not least, social-emotional learning centers on the how learners “understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (CASEL, 2019). There is much research that emphasizes the importance of nurturing the whole child, I strongly believe that students must learn how to interact with others and manage their emotions within the learning environment that I create.

So many of the skills needed to succeed in life and the workplace, center around being able to collaborate and interact with others. Furthermore, much of the research surrounding the mental health issues of our K-12 learners highlights a need to develop and create ways for them to better understand and express the complex emotions and feelings they experience to be able to be present in the room to be successfully set up to acquire the knowledge we put forth. Without these skills, they lack the ability to focus and truly wholeheartedly engage at the level they are more than capable of.


Ertmer, P. (1993). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective [PDF File]. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–72. Retrieved from ertmer_p_newby_1993.pdf

Karagirogi, Y., & Symeou, L. (2005). Translating Constructivism into Instructional Design:
Potential and Limitations [PDF File]. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 8(1), 17–27. Retrieved from

What is SEL? (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2019, from


Real World Instructional Design

(Note: If you are following me per our Enumclaw instructional cadre experience, the next couple of months will be heavy in content required for my graduate school work. This summer I am enrolled in two classes – Online Design and Pedagogy, and Instructional Systems Design I. Both of which require quite a bit of reflection blogging, so get ready! I will also tag things like this under “Grad School Reflections” so that you can sort and filter as you should so choose.)

This week we were asked to “go out into the real world” and identify and locate two examples of instructional design, and reflect on the purpose, success and lasting impacts of the instructional systems. Instructional design is defined as “a system of learning experiences and materials that results in the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills” (ATD, 2019, p. 1)

Surprisingly enough, I found myself really having to pause to recall examples of instructional design in what would equate in my normal experience of a typical weekend spent out doing chores and unwinding. When the examples that came to mind finally were unearthed, I realized that many of these designed systems are so ingrained in daily routine and expectations that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment in which I acquired said skills; these systems were put into place, and never once did I question or try not to follow them.

The first system I identified in my normal real world experiences was standing in line to checkout at Marshalls. There were no humans telling me what to do or where to go in this system; instead there was merely a sign stating “Line begins here” and some strategically placed shelving that created a natural pathway to follow. When getting to the end of the pathway, the opening allowed me to go to a series of cashiers that were lined up in a row in numerical order.

Thinking about it now, the system was quite effective. Not once did I feel confused about where I was supposed to go to pay for my items, and even though I could have easily ignored the people in front of me and head immediately to the nearest cashier, the amount of space allowed to line up would have made that inconvenient for me to even attempt. I very easily could have gotten confused as to which cashier could help me, but each time a cashier was ready, a speaker system announced, “Cashier #__ is ready.” while flashing lights in the sign of the indicated cashier.

The second system I identified was taking my car to be washed at an automatic car wash. Right away it was clear that the system was designed to instruct the users how to successfully wash their vehicle without the aid of any human interaction. This was accomplished through a series of instructions through signage, labeling, and recordings:

  • Painted lines to indicate where vehicles should be located while in line waiting for the person ahead of them
  • A machine that verbalized step by step instructions to assist with payment and when to enter the car wash
  • A lighted sign that indicated the different steps of the car wash and which part of the sequence the car wash was on
  • A lighted sign that instructed the user to pull forward, stop/put the car in neutral, and to back up if they went to far
  • A timer indicating how much time was remaining on the blow dryers as you exited

Overall, this system was highly successful. I managed to wash my car without breaking anything nor irritating the other people in line. There was not one step in the process where I was confused nor needed additional help that was clearly unavailable given it being an automated system.

From these experiences, my biggest takeaways were that I was quite surprised by how easy and straightforward both systems were to follow and acquire the needed information, and that I was able to successfully complete an achieve my goal without frustration, confusion, or concern. If anything, it made me more aware of how many systems that are in place in our daily lives are really just examples of instructional design systems, but because they are so ingrained in our human experiences, we follow and respond as intended with minimal awareness that we are following these systems in the first place.

If anything, this reflection made me more aware of the importance of instructional design both in life and in my classroom. Instructional design exists to enhance the learner’s experience; to increase their ability to acquire the skills we actively encourage them to absorb and retain. It can also alleviate the burden on the instructor to be the primary source in charge of an individual’s learning, instead putting responsibility and ownership back into the hands of the students. If utilized correctly, instructional design can create learning that facilitates an innate response when a situation or scenario arises, beyond the classroom, into the real world.


What is Instructional Design? (2019). Retrieved June 9, 2019, from

Teaching with Respect – Inclusive Pedagogy for Choral Directors (Book Review)

Every year at the WMEA/NAFME conference, I pick up a selection of the latest music education books that are released to further my reading and keep up with whatever “tea” is up in my field.

Given our snowmageddon experience, I had quite a few hours to make up. Luckily, my admin let me “choose your own adventure”, where I opted to read a few texts and reflect on them. The first text I have opted to read is Teaching with Respect – Inclusive Pedagogy for Choral Directors, by Stephen Sieck.

Interesting/Major Ideas:

“Respect, then, is not a question of giving everyone what we ourselves want. Rather, respect is about showing everyone the kind of dignity that we hope to be shown.”

This definitely stuck with me. This I think is a much clearer articulation of what I hope to achieve in my room and relationships than what I get sometimes. I also have recently realized that the majority of my classroom environment have stemmed because I treated my room with the freedoms I would want as a student, not realizing that what I want as a student is not representative of the majority of the students I teach – I have a tendency to do the right thing with out prompting and with minimal teacher direction.

“In what ways do you see the playing field tilted toward or away from you?”

I could literally write a book about this. The ones that immediately come to mind:

  • Gender (Did you know that 98% of teachers in K-6 music are female? MS/HS is about 50% female, and collegiate/professional is about 28%. Don’t even get me started on professional orchestras with serious operating budgets – but in case you’re curious, there are under 10 in the entire world.)
  • Race – fun fact, did you know that there are 6 certificated staff in our entire district that don’t check the same box when it comes to race? Educators of color are also 58% more likely to burn out in the first ten years than our counterparts.

I could keep going, but usually people check out by this point or try to argue devil’s advocate. Which leads to the next point…

“The cumulative effect of such an overwhelming tilt in the playing field is that we take as normative the dominate represented group, and consider someone outside of the group to be in the category of other.”

This is the part that I think we sometimes fail recognize within our education system. Without realizing it, we have a tendency to label our students systematically based off a never ending list of criteria – SBAC data, meeting standards, behavior, low income, ELL, etc. Is it bad to be other? Is it not as simple as each kid is different with different needs, why do we tend to highlight only the “negative” aspects of a kiddo’s identity?

“I encourage us to remember that most singers are working from a much smaller set of life experiences than their directors.”

This is a trap I fall into a lot – the urge to teach and to help the handful that are navigating through challenging life obstacles is so strong that I loose sight of the whole picture sometimes. Which goes back to the previous question of why I am lumping kids into categories (though in this case to help a social/emotional need that is present) in the first place?

“It is easy to treat 50 singers as a monolithic entity, and very hard to treat 50 singers as 50 humans. ‘The choir’ is not a personality – it’s the aggregate behavior of multiple personalities who bring multiple positions and perspectives to the group.”

I think this applies to entire classes as well – I think of the kids that are struggling within their entire school day to make good choices, and how many times I have found myself or heard of other teachers stop and lecture the whole class over the actions of one or two kids. I wish I had more time to be able to have these conversations with kids one on one instead of making the whole class sit through it again. The struggle is real.

“I propose that we spend less time after work being frustrated by singers we think we can cure from their personal/psychological issues and more time at work connecting those singers to people who can help them with those issues.”

This is another trap I think teachers fall into – we want to save the world, but there is a whole lot going on in it. We don’t always have to be the one putting out fires alone if a student trusts us enough to be vulnerable and share information. I think that more education about the resources available to us and students who are struggling would be beneficial to helping better serve everyone involved. Obviously the counselor is always a logical choice, but I think it is important to teach kids the importance of the relationships and support network within their peer groups and their teachers. And then as educators, the importance of listening to what our students are communicating (or not) while still be an objective guiding voice to the help and support they need.

“We teach what we perceive, so let us see in each of our students the potential for future excellence.”

I need more of this happy glass full crap in my life, so I’m just leaving it here as a reminder.

“All of us – singers and directors, teachers and students – would rather be given feedback on what we should be doing rather than on what we need to stop doing.”

I totally agree with this – it is super easy to just say, “Don’t!” Versus the why/how to fix it. That release of responsibility is paramount for their success as humans. One day soon they’re going to get to make decisions as an adult and own it, and that is really hard to do if you haven’t spent much time developing your critical thinking skills.


Beyond these main more general ideas, this book also goes into some extensive detail about the “hot button” topics of choral/music education like:

  • Identity – like sexual orientation and/or gender identity (like navigating when physical properties of the voice do not align with the individual’s gender preference)
  • Religion – programming music with religious text, when musician beliefs do not allow for performance of certain works because of their religious values, etc.
    Historical significance/context of music being performed
    “Multicultural” music
    African American Spirituals

All of the commentary discussed was very insightful to some of the situations that I have come across even in my short career; it was refreshing to see someone collect suggestions towards these very real issues we all face in the world of music education and put them in one place. I am excited to have this book as a reference tool for future discussions when they inevitably arise.

Mindfulness & Therapists

Full disclosure – I have probably tried to write this particular blog topic a dozen times in the last few months, but for someone who usually processes and does best through written word, this one was tough.

Given what feels like an impending deadline with the “close of the cadre experience…for now” (though to be honest I can hear a combo of our instructional guides piping up with, “We’re lifelong learners and this is only the beginning!” Complete with rainbows.), I’m ready to embrace the crashing of waves described by Alison, despite what feels like a cacophony of thoughts still being fleshed out and only in the bare beginnings of being actualized.

The word authentic keeps smacking me in the face between our ability to repeat it when prompted and the (mildly unfortunate) positioning of it smack dab in the middle of everyone’s chest with our free Hornet shirts.

In my own vernacular, being authentic means being real. In order to be your true authentic version of yourself, you have to be real with who you are, what you stand for, and what you dream for.

This year, more so than any other so far, I have realized how much not making taking care of my authentic self has impacted my spirit personally and professionally.

Superficially, everything is going great – programs are growing, kids are loving music, we’re achieving success at the highest levels in performance, fancy new space next year, I’ve got a cat and hobbies, etc.

Internally, boy do I feel like a dumpster fire most days.

I am a classic example of a high cap kid with both the gift and curse of being acutely aware of the emotions and feelings of all those around them. I strive for perfection daily despite having a subjective medium to do so through. I’m a bit of control freak which simultaneously makes me pretty good at what I do while keeping me up at night constantly over the minutiae of every interaction that had occurred throughout the day.

Couple this with a willingness to sacrifice nearly anything for the happiness and success of others, and you get an idea of where I was about four months ago.

Right around that mid point of the year, I realized that my body was screaming at me to stop for a moment and take inventory. I know myself well enough to know that A) I will without fail get sick and B) start to be randomly unable to fall or stay asleep at night. Both decided to swing by and say, “Hello!”

Being relatively self-sufficient, I tried the usual self-care things and reflection strategies to get through it, to no avail. It took me a solid month of going back and forth and crying a lot to commit to a new therapist (given that my old one from high school and college had retired shortly after I student taught), and finally put in the effort to make my mental health a priority.

There were two big things eating at me that I can now identify: 1) the gravity and weight of all of the lives and emotional needs of my students and 2) struggling with my own ability to cope without destruction towards myself and others.

Compassion fatigue is not something often brought up in the education community given it’s not the most sunshine-y of topics. Basically, it is a version of secondary traumatic stress, typically associated with those who are caregivers – police, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and you guessed it, teachers!

Symptoms include but are not limited to – excessive blaming, bottle up emotions, reoccurring nightmares, insomnia, and denial of problems. Checkmark to all of the above.

Without realizing it, I was internalizing all of the stuff going on to the point where I was feeling like a complete failure nearly every minute as a teacher and as a person.

I never realized how easy it is to blame yourself for everything you perceive as a mistake or failure, especially when you mind naturally creates that dialogue for you as part of your “factory settings”, until very recently.

Something that has really resonated as I work to unpack and learn to “let go” (remind me to go on a rant about toxic positivity at some point…) is this idea of actively choosing to not be unkind to myself.

It is so easy to rip everything apart, examining it every which way and identify every little thing you could do to change it from what you now have and/or are stuck with. It is much harder to only hold yourself accountable for your part in the equation, and not factor in their perceptions and own issues into it as well. Doing so is unkind to you and your authentic soul – and I am just now starting to understand that. Of course that is not to say that there is cost (positive or negative) to everything that could have and ever will be in the future.

All of that being said, reading the blogs of the cadre, and talking with other professional friends, has been part of my mindfulness practice to remind me that I am not as alone as I sometimes feel in the midst of it all. There is a lot of hope to be found here and out there- and even if life feels kind of awful at times, that’s just another step in the process.

And of course, going to a therapist is never a bad idea.

Failure Box – Thanks, Finland!

Going back to what feels like forever ago, after our first Cadre day, I took a drive to Joann’s (it’s a craft store Mecca for the unfamiliar) and bought a treasure-chest like box that I covered with the most obnoxiously sparkly paint I could find and Sharpied “FAILURE BOX” across the front.

This idea all goes back to the whole “Finland is better, blah blah blah, because they see failure as the step before success and not the worst possible result in contrast to other countries”. So after letting the paint dry, I brought it into my room and told all of my kiddos about the whole concept of failure before success, and that the Failure Box was now open for anyone to put their anonymous failures inside to be read on a TBD “Failure Day” where we would celebrate that the struggle is in in fact real, but we learned something and came out the other end relatively in tact and closer to success.

Last Friday, after a brutal month of March Madness, which in musicland equates to contest assessments and recruitment (last week was literally the first week in two months that I was in-building every day between the performance/PD calendar in combination with snowmageddon and my body deciding to give up and get real sick), we finally had Failure Day.

My choir students demanded that we put on sad piano music in the background, so in order to get you in the mood, you too can experience the feels by listening here while continuing to read.

Opening the box, I had no idea what to expect – the joys of allowing anonymity and to be honest, not a lot of restrictions on content.

I was pleasantly surprised and can safely say that everyone in the room was both respectful and found joy in the moments that felt awful at the time. Some of the most notable fun ones:

  • “I tripped over a baby gate. It was only two feet tall.”
  • “I accidentally drank out of someone else’s water bottle from the Hydration Station – sorry!”
  • “I fell while trying to stand up for concert procedure.”
  • “I confessed my love for my crush on my Snapchat story – HE SAW IT.”
  • “I played a G-flat instead of a G-natural at the very beginning of a piece when it was just my section. During contest.”
  • “I sight-read my part for the combined finale piece for All-District Band. The night of the concert.”

Of course there where a few painful/sad ones that were more confessions than failures:

  • “I really hate when people look at me. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong.”
  • “I failed to tell my mom I loved her before it was too late.”
  • “I really struggle to put myself out there. I feel like no one likes me which makes it that much harder.”
  • “I chose to break up with the person I loved and still love now, because I cared so much for them it overwhelmed me.”

Keep in mind, these are middle schoolers. I always laugh when people say I’m mildly insane for teaching in general, let alone middle school age. There is something so truly rewarding about that super awkward age where everyone are just beginning to try and be people – the depth of their responses further reflects that they are often more self-aware than we tend to give them credit for.

I couldn’t help but think of my own “failures” so far this year and what I would have shoved into the box. (Or as many of my students joked, “Help, the box isn’t big enough for me to fit inside it!”).

In no particular order, the two that come to mind:

  • “Those times when I wasn’t present enough in the moment to see what was going on when a student was struggling.” – Teaching with social/emotional learning in mind is something that is a huge soapbox for me. There are some times when I am distracted by whatever needs to be done RIGHT NOW, and don’t pause to listen when they need it most.
  • “Striving to live in the present tense, not always the future.” – I have been unofficially dubbed the Queen of Logistics from the Land of the Worst Case Scenario. My brain is such that I see 4,000 different outcomes and plan for them – if I don’t, I get real stressed. As a result, I have a tendency to keep going instead of enjoying the successes as they happen. I keep going. And going. And drag them with me through it all. Something that is a life journey for me for sure.

Even though all of these feel like failures, as Finland says, “Success is the next step!” Both my failures and the failures of my students have allowed us to reflect on what choices we are making in our lives and daily practice that can lead to success – and while they hurt or were uncomfortable in the moment, we learned something.

And perhaps it is not a good idea to try and step/climb over things if you’re clumsy and awkward…

What the Tech!? NCCE – Day 1/1

Another week, another conference!

Today I have the privilege of attending the Northwest Council for Computer Education conference in Seattle. It’s a little bit weird to be here for professional conference instead of my usual anime and video game conventions – overall pretty exciting and nerdy, so here we go! Once again, this is very stream of conscious, so hang on through the roller coaster of thoughts and musings!

(Given our tech focus today, I am going to also keep a running tally of the number of times something doesn’t work, for amusement purposes.)

Session #1 [8:30am-10:20am]: BookCreator and Chromebooks

Website –

Link doesn’t work – Tech – 1, Human – 0

So the purpose of this session is to utilize an app that is an alternative way to present thinking or work. It kind of reminds me of Slides, but more simplistic. A little more intuitive, but allows for a “collection” of student work to accrue in a library that they then can view or work on collaboratively.

Oh hey, you can put a video and photo directly into the book – without using Screencastify. I am low-key super irritated with Screencastify nowadays because the quality is super low, which not only makes the recordings I’m trying to assess them with sound like garbage, kids hate doing it because surprise! They also don’t like sounding like crap. Many actually will record with their phones and then upload via the Google Classroom app because the quality their phone is usually quite a bit better.

I digress. But now I’m going to digress further, because I just had an idea..

What if I have them upload their work in this format instead of through individual Google Classroom assignments? It would be an easy place for them to be able to access their collective body of work (like a portfolio), instead of disjointedly having them in Classroom. Students could then comment or add feedback on each others work instead of me having to release the info/sharing privileges within Google Drive which can be a time consuming pain in the butt.

Hmm, you also could put a button in there to record a sound bite. Another way to give feedback, either verbally or by demonstrating the correct notes if it is an issue of intonation and/or pitch. Cool.

Session #2 [9:20am-10:20am]: Tell It Like It Is – Giving Effective Feedback on Digital Work [Theron Hayes]


This guy wins tech cool points for using a wireless keyboard to control his presentation instead of the click-y remote.

Learning Target: Learn Google tools that help with the speed and differentiation of how feedback is shared to your students.

  • Insert Comments in a Google Doc
  • Use Suggesting mode in a Google Doc
  • Use Google Classroom for feedback; Comments Bank and private comments
  • See Doctopus + Goobric + Google Doc to get a rubric and audio options
  • See the Talk and Comment Google Chrome Extension
  • Screencast with Screencastify or WeVideo to make videoed feedback

So I used strikethrough for what I’m familiar with, and then made new-ish or unfamiliar things in red.

Insert Comments in Google Doc – “It’s like a digital sticky note.’

  • The idea of the “Reply” option – opens the door to further questioning and thinking, instead of just reading it, leaving it, and then asking for a grade.
  • Start small – a simple compliment. Changing it to a few compliments, then a command. Transition it to a question – if they don’t respond, ask it again. And again. And again. Until you get a response.

Suggesting Mode in a Google Doc – “It depends on the level of maturity of the audience.”

  • Can result it in a shut down or just a lot of eye rolling and in-action
  • Also can result in a conversation or other questioning similar to the comment option

LMS = Learning Management System – I just learned something!

Google Classroom for Feedback – Comments Bank + Private Comments

  • The ability to comment and leave feedback in the same format as a Google Doc, and private comments directly to the student for more impact or additional attention
  • Comment Bank – it creates a database of responses that you can select or access if you want; also, you can create a database of mini-lessons with videos or links that relate directly to the comment (I really like this idea for performance assessment videos – I could easily link a technique video if I see something looking weird in their playing or singing.)

Doctopus + Goobric + Google Doc

  • I already do this which is pretty cool – we’ve also made an effort as a district to streamline our rubric language 6th-12th for performance assessment between Paul, Ben, Sarah and I.
  • It does take a boatload of time to set up – but the nice thing is that once you have it set up, it is there forever.
  • I also really like the audio option – it’s super easy to lay on my couch and watch videos, record a quick audio response of me telling them how to improve, and then send it immediately back to them.
  • The biggest struggle is taking the time to grade them all. A class of 40 takes about an hour to record feedback for, score, and then input it into Skyward.

Talk and Comment in Google Chrome Extension

  • Using the chrome add on, I now have a link that then directs to an embedded audio clip (I also like this – could easily do that when making part recordings…)

Link failed to work again – Tech – 2, Human – 0

Screencastify for Video Feedback

  • I still irritated with Screencastify. The quality is pretty crappy if you don’t have a premium account which is frustrating.
  • However, can be used as another way to give directions or feedback.

Session #3 [10:30-12:20]: Break Out! Escaping the Doldrums of Teacher-led Instruction

Constructivism – very hands on, exploratory approach to learning through discovery; high student engagement; collaborative experience; teacher directed

I’m a little bit wary of this, because I’m a little bit OCD and hate group projects by default because I’m a millennial. Plus I’m sitting next to two strangers and my urge to introvert is strong. (Bet you didn’t know that I’m a closet introvert!)

After solving the breakout room – my brain hurts. It was fun to experience, but I’m not sure how much I actually learned. I’m more of an observer in this kind of scenario, that chimes in every once in awhile with a really out of the box train of thought.

I’m actually pleasantly surprised to see that there are quite a few packs for music specifically. There’s also quite a few options for the more normal subjects like math, science, and ELA. Kind of cool, but the price point hurts me – $275 for two boxes and a set of locks. Ouch. Being the dollar store diva that I am, I feel like I could figure out a cheaper version…maybe.

There also are quite a few team building options. Also handy since 98.5% of my job is getting kids to work together at the same time. Without killing each other and/or doing something that requires me to fill out paperwork.

Session #4 [1:00-1:50]: Listening Comprehension – Strategies and Tools for Digital Learning

Link –

Fun fact, I kind of suck at listening. Yes, I teach music. What I mean is that I am very visual learner, so I definitely do not succeed in situations where I just have to sit and attempt to retain by listening. I also am a chronic multi-tasker, so I constantly am doing several things at once – interestingly enough, I cannot focus and get work done if I have music playing in the background. (That’s why I get so irritated when people put “spa” or “classical” music when giving me work time during a meeting or session. I’m sorry that I can’t focus on breaking down learning targets when you have Peruvian pan flute going on simultaneously…)

Anyways, according to research kids tend to understand and comprehended content more so by listening up until about middle school age. Interesting to think about – I wonder how emotional maturity and social-emotional age factors into this. My less mature students absolutely struggle with basic listening skills – there is a huge focus for them on their own self and world, not necessarily the classroom and instructor/instructions presented before them.

The presenter had us look at the listening standards to see how successful we are at teaching listening comprehension. I would actually argue that I am pretty close to grade level, just by the fact that kids are constantly listening to themselves, reflecting on their performance, by the very nature of what we do. Even the beginners have to do this to some degree, constantly. Usually the second they stop listening is the second they, “Start sucking.” (in their own words, not mine). Perhaps I can incorporate technology more frequently, but it actually is probably good for them to get the listening comprehension piece in a different way than other content mediums.

Next, we did an example of back-channel conversation, which essentially is a way for students to ask questions or share thoughts, and a way for everyone to view the sheet and respond to another’s thinking.

Not going to lie, I got super distracted from all the typing that was going on, instead of listening to the video they were asking us to ponder. I did appreciate the strategy of pausing midway through to allow us to time to type – I just couldn’t focus because there was too much stimuli for me personally.

Session #5 [2:00-2:50]: Digital Citizenship with Patrick Green

Suggested books to read – Danah Boyd “It’s Complicated – The Social Lives of Networked Teens”; Jordan Shapiro “The New Childhood”

Beginning with a really dark topic – how many young people are diagnosed with internet addiction? Surprise! Not something that is diagnosed. Not really shocked there – despite the increased amount of screen time, we still don’t see it as something “wrong” with people because it is so socially acceptable.

“What are you doing?” – Starting with a compliment to approach them.

I like this idea. One of the ways I make connections with kids is talking about whatever they were looking at if they were off-task. (Usually it is looking at YouTube content when they should be doing something else – they have yet to realize that it is a dead giveaway when they start laughing or pointing something out to their neighbors…)

“Ask students what works. What are you on?”

I like this idea. Goes back to my self-regulation soapbox – developing skills that work not just in my room, but in life. I

“Be Aware of Bias.”

This makes me sad. Being a product of video game culture growing up, there are so many benefits to gaming that we tend to write off because of lack of understanding or unwillingness to even try it because it is viewed as “pointless”.

I’d love to get a group of teachers together and teach them how to play a MOBA or MMORPG. It would be highly entertaining to watch, and a good way to get them to experience the collaborative and social aspects of gaming.

“How to determine what if screen time is good? What is it replacing?”

I think that’s a pretty legitimate question to filter through whether or not the screen time is more beneficial than the non-digital version.

“Misuse is not a tech issue – it is a behavior issue. There is no tech solution to every issue.”

Can I get a YAS from the back? One of my biggest annoyances is when parents say that tech is the evil thing making their child do bad things – NOPE. Your kid is making a bad behavior choice, and using tech as an avenue to do it – the tech didn’t choose to send a message telling another kid that they were ugly, THEY DID. Also, instead of asking for something to prevent what you see as an issue, teach them why that is a poor life choice to do that. Good gravy.

Sorry, that topic makes me so angry…GRRRR.

Session #6 [3:00-4:50]: Computational Thinking Through Music



“Build a bridge between computer science and the Arts for ALL.”

“How do music and computer science relate?”

  • Computational thinking – the process involved in using algorithms to solve problems
  • Music can be defined as the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a compostion having unity and continuinty.
  • There’s an order and there’s a language.


Everything this woman is saying is the most life affirming moment for everything I believe and do as someone who truly loves both the Arts and Computer Science. Sorry while I cry in a corner with my blanket of validation.

What connections can you make?

Computational Thinking/Computer Science Terms:

  • Sequence – the order of statements in a computer program
  • Procedure – a pre-defined bit of code that tells a program hot to do something (e.g., “draw a square”)

Music Terms:

  • Melody/Rhythm – the order in which notes appear in time
  • Phrases – sequence of notes/themes/motifs heard repeatedly in a composition (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.)

Holy crap, I never thought of the similarities – I wish that both parties (music and tech) would talk more so that we can focus on what we have in common, not be annoyed/scared/ignorant of the other.

“If you are not specific in your instructions (like in algorithms), there will be an error in the end result. The same applies to music – if you don’t follow the specific instructions in the music, then you end up with an error/incorrect version.”

“Letting kids have tinker time is one of the most important things they can do.”

Sound stops working – Tech – 3, Human – 0

I’m going to need to play with this. BUT IT’S SO COOL – my brain hurts a bit.