A little bit about me:
I graduated from St. Norbert College, a tiny gem of a school in DePere, WI with a degree in music education. I spent a year teaching in Oshkosh before heading back to the Green Bay area to teach in the Howard Suamico School District. This is my 2nd year of teaching elementary music and so far the journey has been rewarding. Personalized Learning is something that my district has adopted as an approach to reaching all learners and helping them succeed to be college or career ready. While this seemed really exciting, I felt a lot of anxiety about Personalized Learning. I see nearly 500 students twice a week for only 30 minutes at a time. How am I supposed to keep track of the individual goals, and self-pace study, how do I even find the time to make it work in only 60 minutes of contact with a class a week? I began to research personalized learning in the music classroom and found that there weren't many sites on this subject and the few that were came from music teachers in grades 6-12. So, I decided to start this blog as a way of recording my journey into personalizing the learning in an elementary music classroom. My hope is that this will be a good way for me to look back and reflect on how my students and I have grown together. I also hope that those of you who felt like me, stressed, anxious, and nowhere to turn to figure out this personalized learning thing for your music room, will find something that you can use in your journey. At the very least, I hope this site can provide you with the ability to see some real experiences of personalized learning in a music classroom.
It is important to note that I am just starting to personalize learning in my classroom. I am by no means an expert, nor have I spent a lot of time honing the culture of personalized learning in my classroom. This blog is a journey, for myself and my students, to personalized education through trial and error.
So what is Personalized Learning?
Well for starters it is not a one size fits all approach to learning. It also is nothing like a traditional classroom. Personalized learning takes into account what the learners (students) want to learn and how to use that passion in their own way to make learning meaningful. If you are reading this blog looking for tips on how to create whole group lessons where the teacher stands in front of the room gives direction and students follow along in a book and learn songs and play teacher led games, then you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for real life classroom experiences of students taking ownership of their learning and making that learning meaningful then you are in the right place! Some of what you will see here might be whole group learning first. With elementary students having voice, choice, place, pace and path in their learning all at once and for the first time can create chaos. Students first need to learn how to use their voice before they do so. They need to learn to figure out what their best learning style is and how to articulate that. They need to be given tools to help them make choices that will further learning. But once they have figured out how to use their voice, what their needs for learning are, and how to articulate this, then you will start to see some amazing progress. My goal is to get to a point where I am a facilitator of learning not the micro-manager of learning. I don't use a strictly Kodaly or Orff method of teaching. You will see a lot of mixed methodologies. My philosophy is to always strive to do what will keep the learner passionate about music. If the student has a passion for music, then the technical aspects of music making will come when they are ready for it.