I’m pretty sure you know all about COVID-19, a viral disease that is pretty well turning the lives of citizens of the globe upside down. The strongest, and most logical, advice given to prevent the spread is to thoroughly wash hands and avoid crowds. Unfortunately, the testing system for the virus is still, at this writing, not catching up with those who are carrying it. Sports events, concerts, local events, places of worship….all are canceling until further notice. One of the most obvious germ-collecting areas, of course, are schools. Not only are there students who get sent to school with a fever because a parent or guardian cannot afford to take a day off, but there are students with conditions that cause them to be immunosuppressed. For the protection of everyone, many states are calling off school after spring breaks to allow those who might be infected to be quarantined, preventing the illness from spreading further.
But, pathogens that cause pandemics aren’t the only reason to call off schools for more than a week. We have the ever-popular snow days. And if you live in a river state like Missouri, there are the ever-famous flood days. With more and more schools providing 1:1 devices for students to take home, however, there are ways to continue the learning without the students physically being there.
There is NO way remote online learning can replace in-person encounters, especially in the arts. Those cannot take the place of your concerts, music festivals, theater productions, and daily music classroom activities. The beauty of music is that the students get to experience learning in a childlike manner. In short, they get to be kids. But that doesn’t help the situation now. I’ve compiled a few ideas of my own, and some great resources that can get you through the next 2-3 weeks intact.
I’m retired, so I don’t have to go through this. But, I have situations when I was gone when the substitute was not comfortable with music. If I was in the situation many of you are now, I would utilize SeeSaw or ClassDojo online portfolio features. I am not as familiar with Class Dojo’s platform, but I had used SeeSaw for several years. With these online portfolios, you can actually record yourself presenting a lesson. The students can respond in kind with pdf assignments that you post, images, or they can record themselves. So, for instance, you can have a solfege lesson. The students can perform recorder music. You can post a YouTube video of music of another culture and ask the students to journal about. And, as soon as you look at it, you can leave instant feedback. I have also seen quite a few teachers on Facebook, especially those in higher education, mention Zoom. I have not tried Zoom (actually, I haven’t heard about it until now!), but this blog post gives suggestions for utilizing it in the classroom that you might be able to modify for your own situation. Another platform is Flipgrid.
There is a Google doc being shared on Facebook groups that includes various online learning websites that are offering free services for the next month for teachers whose schools are canceled during the pandemic. To access the list, click here.
There are several terrific music teacher blogs that have included other ideas. Here is a list you should check out:
- Using Smartmusic Remotely
- Music Teaching Remotely in China
- The Pros and Cons of Remote Music Learning
- General Information on Teaching Remotely
- Remote Teaching with SeeSaw
- Remote Learning with Flipgrid
Gathering materials at the last minute can also be difficult. Because of this, I am offering all on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for free until April 1. (One product, which is a bundle, is shown with a price because I have to leave at least one product for pay. The material for the bundle is provided for free).
I normally have Tuneful Talk Tuesdays at intervals, but I will be having one on a Sunday. March 13, 2020, at 3:00 Central time to discuss ideas on how to use some of my products as remote teaching tools. Catch these on Facebook live at https://www.facebook.com/drstaffordsmusicalcures. I will be having an Instagram live at 4:00 Central at http://www.instagram.com/drstaffordsmusicalcures.
Please feel free to share any ideas for remote teaching you have, either here or on my Facebook page. Music teachers are used to improvising. You will be fine. Just keep those students loving music, and hold them accountable. Let me know how you are all doing.