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Hybrid Teaching in the Music Room

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Man sitting at desk with video camera

Have you been asked to teach students in person…at the same time as teaching students virtually? There are many names for this model, from hybrid teaching, to concurrent teaching, to “Room and Zoom”! Whatever you call it, this model has to be very challenging! In this blog post, I've collected great ideas from fellow music educators, who are teaching within this model. Thanks so much to these music teachers, for their valuable input:

Carol Koksal, from OH
Becky Lucarelli, from WA
Lindsey Smeenk, from NY
April Reeder, from NY
Becky Hall, from OH

What have your challenges been?

  • Getting Admin and other teachers to realize how much time designing music lessons for online lessons are.
  • Not seeing students regularly. Planning online content for those at home. Not enough time in the day to learn the many platforms!
  • The amount of work involved…as well as keeping track of students out for quarantine, etc.
  • Modifying plans to keep streaming students engaged.
  • I am never “all there” for either group. I am constantly scanning the room and looking at the screen.

What have your successes been?

  • I am logged on two devices – 1) my Boxlight board – which the in person class can see and I can share my screen to those on MS Teams and 2) my Surface, logged onto Teams so I can see students at home. This has worked well for me.
  • My team-we plan remote lessons together and divide up the work.
    I’ve been working this way with 1-6 grades since September.
  • Listening lessons with movement are the best. I sent small xylos ($16 from Lynn Kleiner) with about 20 of my older (consistently streaming) students. This helped them play along. I suppose my biggest success is seeing kids come back every week. It’s exhausting, but worth the effort to help them feel a part of the school.
  • I’ve learned a lot about the various platforms I’m using. Google suite, Schoology, Seesaw, Quaver Music, Screencastify. But getting better at these has helped make my lessons accessible to both groups.

Which tech tool has been the most helpful?

  • Hovercam for camera, stereo microphone for amplification in room AND it goes through to the students online. All the many resources wonderful teachers have offered up freely on multiple FB groups for google slides, virtual field trips, YouTube content galore, rhythm play alongs, movement activities. I also use Flipgrid and Peardeck.
  • SeeSaw has been great.
  • I have my web cam on a tripod with a long USB extender, so I can move it around. Best purchase was a cheap 32 inch TV to use as a computer monitor. This made it easier for me to see the streaming kids while I was teaching and helps the in class kids see them, too. Also put my display on a movable arm, so I could see the students easier.
  • Extend screen to monitor to view grid on monitor…duplicate laptop screen to projector or promethean board.

Which classroom management strategy has been the most helpful?

  • Slow down and teach a few things well.
  • Make sure all kids are participating and exit ticket to make sure all students came away with something.
  • Having a way for students, whether room or zoom, to message me regarding assignments, etc. I have made sure to respond as soon as possible, definitely the same day. To be honest, my students’ behavior has been truly fantastic throughout the past year! They’ve been super and I’ve been relieved of the daily struggles with disruptions.

Which songs and activities have worked well?

  • Revising dances for solo movement.
  • Love the movement activities that many PE teachers have created and shared online; the rhythm play alongs have been great; Virtual Classroom, Chrome Music Lab, Little Kids Rock – for guitar and ukulele; Musicplay Online has saved me a ton of time.
  • Lots of composition, listening activities, Pear Deck, boom cards, Kahoot
  • Plainsies, Clapsies went great last week! Listening lessons, like Blue Danube, Trepak, where kids can grab thing at home to play along with. Listening lessons for younger kids with movement (Syncopated Clock, etc). Stories with instrumentation. Did a ball bouncing routine, bucket drums. Did a meter sort game and put all streaming kids in a group with a couple of in class kids. Lowered the camera and tripod down to the floor, and the kids worked as a group.
  • For my older students, anything that I can do with Google. Google slides activities that I can assign through Schoology and easily grade and track have been the best. Lots of manipulating rhythms, etc. Also for older students, more critical listening and analysis of musical elements. The more “academic” aspect of these has made students take them more seriously this year. For my younger students, movement! Anything to get them out of their seats. Body percussion videos have been lifesavers.
  • Sarasponda stick game modified for one person , Quaver tic tac toe. Home vs. in person, TpT Interactives

What do you wish you had known?

  • (I wish I'd found) more Youtube videos. 
  • I wish I knew how to put together these rhythm play alongs that stream so well on YouTube.  Keep the students learning and really hone in on the essential things that you want them to know. Make it a seamless transition for when they come back/in and out of remote. (Note from Aileen: Check out these rhythm play along videos!) 
  • Lose the curriculum guilt. Kids truly need to have fun in class and leave smiling. Don’t stress about who can read their ta’s, and titi’s perfectly. You’ll work it out next year.

Take a deep breath and smile. It'll be okay.

  • Avoid lessons where the kids at home sit and watch you (circle games, folk dances). This is what they’re doing all day long. Music needs to be different. They need to be engaged. Don’t place the camera only facing you. For some kids, they never see their class. They want to see their friends! Also, not everyone will come to online class. Don’t be discouraged. Just focus on who you have. Some classes will be tough. When the kids at home are trying to talk to you, and the kids at are walking in, you might think you’re going to lose it. Take a deep breath and smile. It’ll be okay.

Thank you so much to the teachers who contributed to this post! I hope this is helpful to you, if you are teaching with this model. Happy teaching!

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