Thursday, February 4, 2016

Atlanta Families' Awards of Excellence in Education

I am still very honored to be a member of the Altanta Families' Award of Excellence in Education winner circle. I had the priveledge of speaking the night of our award ceremony this past fall and wanted to share with you my speech on WHY music education is important to me and how my students impact my life. Check it out below!

Good evening fellow cohort 2015 winners, past winners, and friends and family. It is a real honor to be invited to speak on behalf of my cohort and an even greater honor to be selected as a winner of the Atlanta Families’ Award of Excellence in Education. My journey is much like most of us here today. We graduate college with the dream of becoming an educator and impacting students’ lives while sharing the joy and love we have for our craft. It was only after years of teaching that I had my own “ah ha” moment. Teaching is so much more than what I could have ever imagined.  

As an elementary music teacher, I have the ability to impact hundreds of students yearly. In addition I have the honor of teaching these students for sometimes up to six years consecutively. Then I have the privilege to teach siblings and who knows, one day those children's children! Within this time frame I am able to build relationships with my students and their parents unique to other teachers in my building.  I am able to personally watch them grow as I take part in molding their path along the way.  I teach children to discover who they are and develop them culturally. Through my students I am forming relationships with parents and the community and helping them see music through the eyes of their children. This impact on a community is not taken lightly. I not only teach my students the skills necessary to meet and exceed music standards, I am also teaching them the value of cooperation, teamwork, success, failure, problem solving, creative thinking, and critical thinking while tying in relevance from across the curriculum. Music is culture and lends toward developing the whole child in a way that academics cannot possibly compete. I strive to educate the community to become more culturally well rounded. I also aspire to continue to bring the global community into my classroom with music professionals from all around the world while sharing our work with the world as well.  

As a music educator in today’s heavily academic-driven world, our time is often spent demonstrating and advocating for the placement of music in our schools.  To our advantage, research supports that musically trained students show gains in math and spatial reasoning, reading and verbal skills, as well as social and emotional development.  Music truly is the universal language as well as an outlet for cross curricular learning.  Not a moment goes by in my classroom where we aren’t making some connection to language arts, math, science, or social studies. These connections are a natural fit and make learning more meaningful to my students.
What you might not know is music is most commonly displayed through performance elements and project based learning.  What is unique about music class, is the ability to master a concept.  The only way to truly show mastery is to practice, adjust, evaluated, analyze and finally perform a polished production for an authentic audience. I am proud to say that each child in my school has this opportunity on a regular basis to perform for an authentic audience.  

If you aren’t familiar with music performing arts, you may not realize that in order to successfully make music, you must first learn to work together.  To prepare my students for this collaborative effort, I start from the kindergarten up with musical performances.  Each student has a special role, costuming, and part assignment from the very beginning.  We learn to work together as a team to present a perfected, well-rehearsed performance for the student body and the parents.  Music defines collaboration. Mutual respect among classmates builds a collaborative team, allowing students to make connections with one another in a unique way different from their classroom environment. This common goal creates an inviting, non-threatening classroom environment in which students are able to take risks without feeling failure while building teamwork and developing interpersonal skills.  Among the one hundred and twenty fourth and fifth grade student volunteers in my afterschool choral group, teamwork is evident as we look out for each other, we build each other up, and we talk through Edmodo to provide support for one another much like a family. We are our biggest cheerleaders.  You know that students are part of a true community when they clap for each other during rehearsals to show their support. 
Through social media and personally written letters, I have been able to keep in contact with many of my students. However, one student in particular will always stand out in my mind. I will never forget working with my little kindergarteners on their musical, EIEI Oops. Out popped this amazing small voice. Vibrato and all! I don't think I have ever heard Old MacDonald had a Farm sound so beautiful, and I probably never will! I knew then there was something special about this young lady. In 3rd grade, we featured a soloist, and as luck would have it, she rocked the audition!  Right away, she discussed how nervous she was when performing in front of her peers and a large crowd. I told her what I tell most of my young vocalists, “just look right at me and I’ll help you through.” She sounded like an angel on Greece is the Word.  The next year, she joined my chorus group as a 4th grader.  This was the first year I was able to get a sneak peek at her true talent. She auditioned for a simple solo in our winter school performance.  She had an amazing ear and could sing in tune with such ease. It was inspiring.  I added a special part just for her! Her voice soared over the top of the chorus in her own improvisation style for our closing piece.  I don’t often get goose bumps, but every single hair on my body stood on end.  And between you and me, I may have even teared up a bit! She again earned a solo singing a very difficult role in the spring show.  Her confidence was building each year, but the nerves still existed.  I was able to convince her to look just past me to her mother in the audience, getting one step closer to acknowledging the audience as a whole.  Brooke really showed her talent off her fifth grade year when she sang the solo “Where the Boys Are”.  It was always a joy to watch the audience react when she was on stage, both peers and adults.  A calm, quiet hush would come over the crowd, as if they didn’t want to miss a single moment.  Brooke taught me a valuable lesson. The lesson that I really needed to find those gems in my classroom and help build their talent, offer opportunities, and hone their craft. Laying the foundation for success starts with us as we mold these young students. Finding each of their talents and guiding them at the very beginning is key. I keep in touch with Brooke. From elementary age to now I was always heard saying the same thing. She would be able to quote me…. “Remember me when you are famous”.  This young lady is simply amazing!  Last year my little student who I met singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Brooke Adee, made it to the live rounds of The Voice! Talk about a proud teacher moment. In recent contact, she paid me with one of the most incredible compliments an elementary music teacher could ever receive.  “You inspired me to be a singer”. 

We must never take what we do for granted. We must live each day to our fullest. What we do DOES matter. We are building our future. It is my dream that my passion for teaching spreads to other educators so that we have a strong network of leaders to care for the next generation. It starts with us! Thank you for being on my team! 

Thank you Atlanta Families' for allowing me to impact so many students through the adoption of Quaver's Marvelous World of Music in our school through my project! 

~ Until next time!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Quaver's Marvelous World of Music!!!!

Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music… a one stop shop for all your music education needs? I’ll let you read through the evidence and form your own opinion!  

Curriculum Overview:  Aligned with the national standards and customizable with state and district standards, the curriculum’s content will enhance student learning through tech integration and higher order thinking skills in connection with Blooms Taxonomy.  Each lesson incorporates singing, moving, playing, composing, listening to, analyzing, and describing music with consistent updated content. Moreover, students will be exposed to relevant current popular trends as well as exposed to real world experiences through creating and composing with enhanced digital learning tools.
In my classroom, I strive to provide my students with current music content.  Quaver’s team is on target with this request and consistently updates their content based on feedback.  The curriculum offers students the ability to transfer teacher-led instruction toward student-created tasks. With the Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music curriculum, students will be completing authentic tasks that align with those of professionals in music production and composition. With the connection of mobile devices built into the curriculum, the implementation of iPad sets per classroom, students can create projects and collaborate in groups to manipulate interactive websites in a meaningful way that aligns with state and national standards. In addition to participate in connected assessment pieces built into the curriculum to collect data and measure student growth.

So, how will students demonstrate achievement?
-          Through this tech tool with modern tracks to folk music, Quaver original tracks, and the quirky lovable character Quaver himself, students show increased engagement in the learning process and retain more knowledge.
-          Due to the increase in interest, there is a decrease behavior problems.
-          Through ClassPlay, which is also included as part of the curriculum, multiple intelligences are included through visual, kinesthetic, tactile, and auditory skills in each lesson.  The curriculum incorporates listening, moving, playing, and singing options for each piece in connection to the content.
-          The curriculum boasts of including blooms taxonomy, or higher level skills in their lessons which is evident through the Class Toolbox. Teachers are able to dissect music theory within each song for a microscopic look at a piece of music. The ActivBoard in conjunction with the curriculum’s draw function makes writing on music easy.  This increases student’s ability to analyze and evaluate written music.
-          The curriculum has assessments built into the curriculum as well as customizable options to include additional resources. These assessment pieces include music theory, analysis opportunities, as well as auditory listening examples.  All of the assessments, whether Quaver made or teacher made are linked to the Teacher Admin Panel and can be easily sent out to mobile devices using a QR code. Tracking student data in a timely manner with over 700 students will be manageable and enable higher measurable student achievement. In addition, at the completion of the assessment, students are able to view and review their responses either individually or as a class for feedback in the moment.
-          Through Quaver’s website and applications, students can complete project based learning & compositions at all levels and submit them through the teacher panel. The curriculum also supports project based learning in the upper grades with built in assignments that tie into the curriculum with tools available through the website providing students with real world, authentic tasks to better train them for future careers in music.

How can the curriculum build student self-esteem?
-          The curriculum incorporates a teacher administrator panel in which teachers can enroll students, assign work, and grade work.  Data is stored in the teacher’s grade book.  For each grade, a section is listed for instant feedback with the ability to add detailed descriptions pertaining to the student’s work. Students are then able to resubmit their work.  This type of mastery and quick feedback instills a sense of self-worth and ultimately builds self-esteem.
-          The program provides a new modern way of composing and sharing digital arrangements of full scores at all levels in addition to traditional compositions on instruments. This will help with student choice enabling self-expression and interests that build pride and self-confidence.
-          Building a sense of community and pride for polished student performance pieces or project demonstrations. Students will be able to share via the ActivBoard their digital synthesized compositions or if able, play their compositions for each other on a classroom or orchestral / band instrument.

How will collaboration will be impacted?
-          Students will pair and share tech tools for a hands-on approach following the release method of teacher-led to student-led classroom management based on diagnostic assessments and informal assessments through the unit on a daily basis.
-          Student group projects, or project based learning assignments included in the curriculum will offer students the ability to work together in groups for a common goal.
-          With the option for printing or saving work as well as downloading MP3 version of student work, final presentations or compositions can be posted online for parent and homeroom teacher collaboration and feedback.
-          As commonly practiced, Skype calls from Quaver and his team are available to aid in providing the professional perspective to student concepts.
-          Quaver himself offers a monthly webinar for teacher collaboration through UStream which allows for real time chat sessions to ask questions and get answers or feedback as needed.
-          Screencasts and Tutorials for teachers and students are available through a host of many websites, blogs, or venues all located their main page.

Competitions and gaming opportunities are also incorporated through the website to demonstrate student knowledge and skill. These competitions are with the entire Quaver community nationwide.

A highly functioning music room is one that encompasses all aspects of music making including singing, moving, playing, creating, listening, imitating, exploring, experiencing, analyzing, classifying, sharing, and performing. What is missing from my current content driven classroom is a unified way to bring these pieces together in an engaging, relevant way that provides opportunities for my students to reach out to the real world and create authentic tasks.  Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music Curriculum sequences and paces each of these tasks in a logical pattern that includes all facets of learning.  My students would be missing out on a wonderful opportunity for a unique, individualized learning environment without access to this project.  I am so excited to say that my school will be a part of the “Quaver nation” through our purchase of the Quaver Curriculum thanks to the Altanta Families’ Awards of Excellence in Education!

Still worried about “too much screen time”? J With products like these, students are not only learning music, but having FUN! Here’s to hoping for a musical future for our young learners through molding these young musical minds!

Until next time!

Megan Endicott

Friday, October 2, 2015

Virtual Field Trips with Nearpod!

Virtual Field Trips with Nearpod!
Finding ways to maximize the potential of every moment of class time, reach each and every student, and engage them in a meaningful activity seems like the most difficult task in the world. Luckily, the team at Nearpod is consistently working to improve their product to reach learners of all ages and abilities in ways that inspire imagination and curiosity. 
As a member of the Fulton County Vanguard team, I have the opportunity to work with the teachers in my elementary school as a coach to seamlessly integrate technology into the classroom. Nearpod is the tool my teachers gravitate toward, from kindergarten through fifth grade.   
At the beginning of the school year, I participated in one of Nearpod’s incredible “webinears” in which they unveiled an exciting new feature, Virtual Field Trips! I was so thrilled at the idea of using a field trip as a back to school activity. I had to experiment right away! Working together with a fellow Vanguard member and 4th grade teacher, Tammy Felton, we took the challenge head on.
To kick off the lesson, I used a picture from my backpacking trip to Zion National Park as the title slide with the learning objective for the lesson.
I followed this by briefly telling the students about my incredible canyoneering trip including rappelling, hiking (and sometimes swimming) through the Virgin River, and describing the tall canyon walls.  My favorite part was that when I moved to the next slide I was able to SHOW the students what I experienced through Nearpod's Virtual Field Trip feature.  Students were able to hold the iPad and move around 360 degrees to see and experience what it was like in the very same canyon that I hiked through! Following that slide, I showed the view from the top of Angel’s Landing, the most popular hike in Zion National Park.  This breathtaking view is not for the weary of heights (like me!)!   I have been to Zion National Park two times and never gained enough courage to make it to the top of Angel’s Landing.  So, we all experienced the view virtually in a safe environment thanks to Nearpod! I was able to gain a deeper understanding of our students based on their heartfelt confessions about their fears of heights.  

Yes! That’s a road and huge building WAY down there! And notice the chain and handrail assistance for the narrow path? (picture from Google 360 screenshot)
Through Nearpod’s polling feature, students are offered the opportunity to drive the lesson. We asked our students, “If you could take a field trip with your classmates, where would it be: Where you were born, where you have traveled, or where you want to travel?” The students’ selection guided the rest of the lesson. Our students selected, “Where we have traveled”. On the following slide, a link was placed to Google Maps.  Students typed in their destination for a closer look. From here, we were able to use the images attached to the location to find the perfect representation of their trip from the summer. Students took a screenshot of their pictures and on the following slides used the Nearpod Draw It assessment tool to add their picture and text explaining the location and a fun fact.
Part of integrating technology isn’t the tool itself, or the concept of replacing the traditional classroom environment with technology, but rather, using the technology to accomplish a goal that could not have been done in a traditional way.  Nearpod allows teachers to to create offline learning opportunities where students times work in groups or step away from their devices. This lesson offered that chance for each student to share their Draw It activity on the ActivBoard in the form of a presentation. This lesson offered students a chance to tell their own story about their vacation spot.
We all want to give each child a chance to participate and to hear their voice, but finding the time can sometimes be daunting.  Nearpod is a great tool to provide the platform for each child, no matter their personality type, to have a voice. Virtual Field Trips was a great way to kick off the year while letting each child have a moment to share a little bit about themselves, as we all know they are so eager to do!
I hope to tie in a Nearpod's Virtual Field trip feature with one of my second grade classes as we begin our journey of learning about Georgia regions. Nearpod is a great tool for comparing and contrasting the past and present while never leaving the confines of our own building!
Until next time!
Megan Endicott

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


I am so very excited to begin a new adventure of sharing technology integration with the global community.  My interest in technology began as a youngster with a tech savvy father.  As the lead position in sales at an influential scientific company, my father was "hip" to technology and often times brought home computers to rebuild to ensure top quality performance in the company.  This sometimes has it's drawbacks as our basement went from entertainment for family and friends to "computer graveyard"! Regardless of what was going on, my dad was always excited to share his knowledge and I was always eager to learn more.  Most recently, I chose to go back to school to earn my masters degree in Educational Technology to quench my thirst in seeking out innovative ways to seamlessly integrate technology into my classroom and foster a personalized learning environment. Within the last two years, I was honored to be selected for the Fulton County Schools Vanguard Team where I serve with a team as a mentor for teachers in my building to aid in tech integration across the school.  The most interesting part of coaching, honestly, has been getting to know the K-5 curriculum! I look forward to our online sharing and welcome comments with YOUR successes and experiences!  Please consider following me on Twitter @EndicottSpot and Instagram @dolvinmusic. 

Until next time....

Megan Endicott