Due to SXSW, Spring Break, and the blizzard, it's been a month since we last had class. As such, I was thankful for Zander's "Zip! Zap! Zop!" game - this really helped energize us and get the class back into motion.
After we discussed the updates to the syllabus, we began to share our Spark Videos. Unfortunately, only mine was working so that was the only video we could discuss. Although I was glad to share this, I was disappointed that I couldn't see how others had used the technology. Hopefully we'll have a chance to circle back on these in a future class.
A portion of our discussion today was on the first batch of articles (Content Questions #1). In all honesty, I wish students had shared a bit more of their reflections here. Zander and I had a good conversation with Armando; however, I think we dominated the discussion. I found several of these articles provocative - especially on the topics of race, culturally sensitive pedagogy, and the American black experience. In our class, however, we have four international students and three American students (all of whom are white). I sensed that our international colleagues were not comfortable discussing these topics - perhaps because they hadn't experienced them for as long or as acutely as the American students. Still, I would have liked to hear an international perspective on these topics. In fact, I think it would be helpful to hear the perspective of students who had less direct experience with these issues; or hear about issues in their countries of origin they felt were similar. Sadly, this share felt like a missed opportunity.
The last portion of class was spent on collaborative composition in Launchpad. I thoroughly enjoyed this new software and I think as a class we had a great time working together. This felt very much like something I could bring into my classroom with relatively low lift and I think most of my students who enjoy it. I loved hearing each team's work and it was interesting to see how each of us gravitated towards different sonic features of the tool.
The key with all of the technology we learn about in class is that the school must be supportive of students using tech in my classroom. As I've shared, my current student teaching assignment doesn't allow students to use tech of any kind in music class. In fact, most NYC public schools either severely restrict student use of technology in the classroom through policy or lack the resources to provide it to students. By contrast, the two schools I'm currently considering for employment are both very tech-friendly. Both of these schools provide students either with a personal Chromebook to take home or have Chromebook carts in every classroom. An interesting point is that neither are public schools. The NYC DOE strictly prohibits the use of phones in schools, and other technology such as tablets or laptops are highly dependent upon resources. My job search has shown me that private and charter schools are much further ahead of the tech curve than most public schools. My first inclination was that this was due to funding; however, the charter school pointed out that they only fundraise to pay teacher and staff salaries - all supplies, student resources, infrastructure, etc. are supported by public funds through the DOE. I realize that the conversation around charter schools is complicated, with many of my friends on opposite sides of the aisle. Nonetheless, it has been useful for me to see how technology is used in a variety of educational contexts this year, and to see what ed tech is available to our students. I can only hope that I find myself in a school that supports purposeful and responsible use of technology in my classroom so that my students and I can avail ourselves of the engaging, vivid ed tech out there that can make our lessons come to life in the digital space.