Exemplary Digital Portfolios

It’s that time again! MIE @ NEC students are working on their digital portfolios and I post links to recent exemplary ones.

All links here have been cleared with their respective authors for public sharing.

School Project Portfolios

Internship Portfolios

Seminar Portfolios

Cumulative Portfolios

The Atrium M+MI Program Choral Project (Winter Solstice Assembly 2009)

A further exploration of the efficacies of the MIENC’s ‘Music Plus Music Integration’ (M+MI) initiatives in laboratory school settings. This video highlights the work of the Atrium School (Watertown, MA) and its M+MI Choral Program, led by music director (and former MIE@NEC Guided Intern) Michael Glicksman, who is now in his second year of teaching at the Atrium School.

Atrium School Winter Solstice Assembly

At long last, we have posted a video of the violin program’s learning demonstration, presented at the Atrium School’s Winter Solstice Assembly. (Video of the choral program coming next!)

In addition to the demonstration and performance by Atrium 2nd and 3rd graders, you will also hear reflections from violin teacher Helen Liu, program visionary Larry Scripp, Atrium parents and co-principals Susan Diller and Linda Echt.

New Developments for the Atrium Violin Program

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted any new reflections or videos about our violin program… but not to worry, many new developments have occurred, and we have just been a little backlogged with all the new material to report. Since the new year began, we have made several improvements to our weekly violin sessions at Atrium.

Smaller Cohorts

We are now meeting in smaller sections of 30 minutes per session; about 4-6 students per section rather than 8-10. This improves each class because we are able to give each student more individual attention, and the students receive more teaching time per capita. It also makes our collaborative learning activities more manageable.

Words of the Week

Each week we are now ‘theme-ing’ our classes using a Word of the Week. The idea came because we wanted to encapsulate each week’s lesson with one word, giving students the ability to define those words experientially.

This week’s word is “deliberately,” which Tyler defined as “doing something with purpose,” and how Beatrice defined as “being careful.” In violin class, this means that everything we do is decisive and with purposeful intent. When putting our bows on the string and preparing to play, we do so with exemplary posture (bunny ears holding the ‘carrot’, feet in the right position, etc.) and without making a single sound.

Student Portfolio Work

Our continued emphasis on reflection has resulted in multiple venues and opportunities for students to reflect. In addition to informal verbal reflection throughout the class session, we challenge students to express themselves in written and artistic forms. As described in these two previous blog posts (11/11/09 and 11/3/09), our unit and lesson plans are organized around the ‘Five Learning Processes’ framework (a.k.a. LQCPR—Listen, Question, Create, Perform, and Reflect). Though most of our previous written reflections have fallen into the last category, we are now starting to propagate the other sections too. In fact, we filed this week’s reflection activity under the Questions & Explorations section in student portfolios because of the explorative questions it poses:

  • What does it feel like to play your violin with the bow?
  • Did anything surprise you the first time you bowed your violin?
  • What kind of sound or sounds would you like to make with your bow?

We have also started building time for our written reflection activities into our sessions. Part of this is more possible because our classes are now being taught in the Library. There’s an alcove that we use for the instructional portions of class, and then the students move to a large study table to write their reflections.

Multiple Entry Points for Rhythmic Study through Symmetry and Social Studies

In addition to using animals (zoo, monkey, buffalo, alligator) and Indian rhythms (cha, taki, gamela, takidimi), violin students are finding connections between  Violin students are using their school project heroes (e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, etc.) to explore the connection between word prosody and rhythms. More on this to come.

Reflections on the Atrium Solstice Assembly

This was a good day. Everything went as smoothly as planned (thanks to Beatrice who was a great model in the dress rehearsal) and there were many great moments which I will share and reflect on.

I don’t know if it’s because of the holiday spirit or the emotions that come with the “end of the year,” but I am truly grateful for each person on our Music Plus Music Integration Team at Atrium: Beatrice, Randy, Michael, Linda, Susan, and Larry. When we arrived at Atrium in the morning, I was relieved to find all the student violins lined up in order. This made my job easier to tune and put the shoulder sponges on each of them, which did take about 20 minutes. Randy  worked on the PA system and setting up the two video cameras, one floor and one roaming. Michael made sure the each child has a foot chart and place on the risers.

Michael makes foot charts Student violins ready! Standing positions

After everything was all set up, Randy asked Larry and I to say a few words on video, in anticipation of the event. We had a good time, doing different takes and speaking from different angles. We even got to interview a violin parent who was nervous but super excited about the performance.

Pre-assembly interview

The whole Atrium Winter Solstice Assembly program opened up with the Explorers class, and I could tell that they were really excited as we stood in line to enter the Hall. But when they got to their violins, they immediately sat down (they still need to work on their listening skills as we told them to stay standing). After a few minutes, they held their violins in rest position and started filing on the platforms. I was a little nervous for them because they had no idea was going to happen in the next few minutes. Larry, Randy, and I had made some changes to our performance because we wanted to show the PROCESS of what we are going to do. So Larry opened with vocal solfege warmup with scales and short call and response segments. The kids responded and sang very well (they have such sweet soft voices!) and to my surprise and delight, Larry took the assessment one step further: instead of having them imitate what he sang, he pointed to syllables on the matrix and they sang the melody back. Amazing. Next, I did my segment with the rhythm cups and explained to the parents the purpose of this. The culmination activity was to sing Re and La in different rhythms shown by the cups along with a recording of Pachelbel’s canon. It was a great 3 minute show and we ended with the parents singing along to a Re scale and ending with a ringing “Cha….” I loved their finishing choreography!

Program front Program

I think some cool ideas to expand on this would be to split the group into teams and have each one sing a different rhythm that ties in with the symmetry unit. Larry also suggested having them pluck Re-La but sing the scale to Pachelbel. I want them to march so their inner rhythm is strong. So many things to work on and so very exciting! Next year we will definitely tackle the bows.

This will be a compilation video made by Randy this week which will summarize and zoom in on the key points of the violin pilot program. I think it was a big hit with the school, teachers, and parents. We look forward to more violin-ing next year!

Final School Chorus

Teaching Artist Reflections: Atrium M+MI Violin Program – Week 4

Beatrice was back and we reviewed everything we knew from violin posture to lion hold to singing the matrix up and down. WeAtrium3 also learned that the unit theme for math class was symmetry and asymmetry, and tried to integrate that idea into our violin lesson. First we discussed all the visual aspects of the violin — which parts were symmetrical and which weren’t? Then we talked about our feet and violin holding posture and what aspects of those are symmetrical or not. These kids were quick to observe the details and soon we learned that most things related to the violin are symmetrical.

Following the symmetrical theme, we introduced the idea of a symmetrical melody — a melody that sounds the same when sung both forwards and backwards. For homework we asked each student to create their own symmetrical and asymmetrical composition, which will be sung in class next Friday! Maybe all of them will end up on the hallway walls in school! It’s so exciting….

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Teaching Artist Reflections: Atrium M+MI Violin Program – Week 3

This week, since Beatrice was out of town, Randy and I had the pleasure of engaging the kids in some eurythmic activities  we think will help in their ensemble playing. We reviewed them on bunny ear bow holds, violin posture, and added a reflective discussion on their practicing over the past week. Some of my favorite comments were:

I really enjoyed the “crazy practice” because I could do something the wrong way and then fix it.

I liked doing the animal rhythms and marching the beat. It was fun.

We then asked them if they had any specific questions, and it was obvious that they had answers to everything! These kids are so smart! Next we had them talking about their drawings they made the week before about how playing the violin makes them feel. One boy said: “Playing the violin is like being sucked into a black hole. The black hole is actually music and whenever I play music, I feel like it’s powerful.” Wow, that’s all I have to say to that.

I know little kids love to do things with their bodies so we came up with the idea of marching the beat or pulse. We made sure to start at a slow tempo (speed) so that when the rhythms got more complicated, it was slow enough to understand and perform them. We mostly used animal rhythms: zoo, monkey, and alligator, and interchanged them with the African/Indian system: cha, taki, takadimi. The hardest part was marching the beat and clapping or singing the animal rhythm on top of the marching. It was tested their coordination skills but incorporating their bodies at the same time.

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