One teacher has made digital technology the focus of her professional development and it has made her teaching load more manageable.
On a challenging teaching day, spare a thought for Danielle Lyons who teaches 470 students in her part-time role as a specialist music teacher.
Her students are between 5 and 13 years old, she is a mother of two, and runs a blog called The Music Spark.
Launching in 2017, it began as an outlet for her creative interests.
Her blog’s motto is “inspire creativity and innovation”.
Upon returning from maternity leave, following the birth of her second child, her then principal informed her that there was no role for her to return to, the reason being that her replacement was doing a fantastic job implementing digital technology within the curriculum.
This scenario gave Lyons the determination to improve her technology skills.
She intentionally sought out PD to fill the gaps in her knowledge.
When determining which technology suits your teaching style and classroom, Lyons advises that “…if something’s not working, try something else.Most educational apps have a free option; try it, document it and take it to your administration”.
One of the applications that Lyons discovered through Music Ednet sessions was Showbie.
This cloudbased application endorses the paperless classroom and is a fitting solution for Lyons’ classroom management.
It is a collaborative platform for sharing work, showcasing portfolios, and it allows Lyons to give her students timely feedback.
Showbie can also be used in conjunction with popular applications such as Garage Band.
In a blog entry dated September 3, 2017, Lyons posted a how-to guide which can be downloaded as a PDF. Lyons’ school has a 1:1 iPad policy.
With each student having access to a tablet device, she uses the Book Creator application with her students to create digital notebooks.
Students can combine text, images, video, and audio to create an interactive portfolio.
Lyons also recommends the following free apps: Toca Band; Musical Paint; Music Sparkles; Musila; and Musila DJ.
“I like them because they offer fun, music tech activities in the classroom. If you only have one iPad to the classroom but can project the image to a Smart Board, these apps can be used with a whole class”, Lyons tells Australian Teacher Magazine.
“[The apps] allow students to compose and explore musical concepts in a fun and engaging way.
"I also find them especially good for students with high/special needs, for reward time or even as an activity they can complete and you can assess.
"I have used these on iPad, so I can’t comment on how they work on other platforms,” Lyons adds.
Furthermore, if you need free music notation software with similar features to Finale and Sibelius, MuseScore is an excellent alternative.
Version 2.1 is the latest and it works on major operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
It is open-source and does not require the purchase of multiple licenses, therefore it is cost-effective for the music budget.
“You have to constantly be upskilling.
"It’s so important for your growth. You can’t keep doing things the same way,” Lyons says.