Saturday, March 10, 2012

Google Apps Project, Week 1: Essential Questions

Day 1 of a technology project and we stayed far away from the computer lab on purpose.

Our concert was just a week ago, and I wanted to create a "bridge" between our concert we just finished and the composer website project we are about to start.  So I posed three questions to the students:

1.  What is a musician?
2.  Are you a musician?
3.  What defines "success" for a musician?

These are what we might call "Essential Questions" and they are the questions I want students to keep in mind as we go through this project.  We used these as a writing prompt the first class of the week, and discussed the answers the second class period this week.  We recorded the answers using online stickies - - which is one of my favorite web 2.0 tools for recording and guiding student discussions.
Part of our discussion on
The answers for question #1 (What is a musician?) were fairly typical - it was the softball question.  The answers to question #2 varied greatly.  Most said "yes", but amazingly enough, some said "no".  These are kids I've had in music class twice a week for six years.  Interestingly, there were even a few "maybe" responses - kids who said they were musicians when they were in class, but when they left the room they were not musicians anymore.  

For the third question, we talked about Bach, who was not famous until 100 years after he died (poor guy) and Stephen Foster, the American composer of songs such as "O Susanna" and "My Old Kentucky Home", who died penniless (really poor guy).  In that light, what constitutes "success" for a musician?  We compared success as a musician to success as an athlete.  We talked about goals and practice.  Great discussions.

My plan is to save these writing prompts and have the students continue to reflect on them as we move further into the project.  In the end, each student will have a page on his/her website answering these same questions.  My purpose behind this project used to be learning research skills and music history.  Now, we use will research skills, music history, technology, and 21st century skills to teach bigger concepts and character traits.  

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