306B Blog 4: The Final product

It’s true what they say, practice does make perfect. The more I played the song the more comfortable I become with the new plucking pattern and the easier the F and G transition became. After I learned the new plucking for the song, I started working on harmonizing my singing. This is still a struggle for me that I am continuing to work on. With this song in particular, my struggle is matching the tune of the ukulele. I used to sing this song while my mother played along with the piano to the chords. Singing this song to the tune of the ukulele is difficult for me because I am so used to singing it in a certain way. This is still something I am working on. However, each time I practice the song I try to sing the last hallelujah different ways to find one that sounds right.

Overall, this experience has been one I will take with me forever. By learning 2 more songs, I became more fluent with how to read sheet music on ukutabs.com, so in the future more songs will be more easily available for me to learn. I also found helpful resources like Youtube channels. Particularly Bernadette Teaches Music and The Ukulele Teacher. The experience of learning songs with more than 3 chords and that have varying sequences of chords helped me to more forward with my playing. My fingers now switch faster between chords and I can begin to play more complex songs. This has made me more confident in my playing abilities.

The skill of learning the ukulele means I can be involved in campfire sing alongs and play for others. For example, I played all the songs I knew for my parents the other night while I was practicing hallelujah. They just sat there and listened, telling me it was like listening to the radio. I played Can’t Help Falling In Love, Hallelujah, and even refreshed my memory on Riptide and played that as well. I was amazed at how quickly Riptide came back once I could look at the sheet music and remember the order of the chords. All the songs I have learned will forever be in my mind to always be able to play, with every new song I learn my ukulele fluency will keep growing.

The password for Hallelujah is: Education

Here is my video of Hallelujah 

306B Blog 3: Plucking Hallelujah

One of the challenges I found was with how quickly my ukulele becomes out of tune. I have noticed because I am constantly going between the C and D scale my strings very quickly change and the tune is off as I start to play. My singing for the song becomes harder to harmonize when this happens. I have tried taping the pegs down but to no avail, it becomes untuned.

In terms of learning the song “Hallelujah”, the chords were easier to remember then “Can’t Help Falling In Love” but plucking a pattern has proven more difficult than strumming. It helped that I could remember the chords and did not have to focus on that as well when trying to pluck. Over time, I became more comfortable with the plucking pattern and eventually was able to play the song as fluently as if I were strumming. However, recently I looked up another video on Youtube and realized my plucking pattern was wrong. When using the previous strumming pattern of G, A, E, C the melody sounded slightly off and when singing I found it hard to harmonize. With the new strumming pattern of G, C, E, A, E, C I have been able to harmonize better. I am new to learning ukulele and this change in strumming has been a difficult adjustment for me. My fingers were getting used to the old pattern and this change will take a while to feel more natural. This version of the song also includes a quick transition from F chord to G chord in one strumming pattern which I am finding difficult as well. In the next few weeks I will focus on mastering the new strumming pattern and smoothing up my transitions.

I also kept working at “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and am now able to play the whole song through until the end. For my mid- semester PLP I was only able to play the first few verses. The password is: “Education”

Here is the link to the video

 

306B Blog 2: Practice Makes Perfect

It took a while to feel comfortable holding the Ukulele and having correct posture but after a few weeks it is beginning to feel more natural. The next thing I had to work on was the chords. I found that although the chords are not hard, there is many of them and I had a hard time remembering them in order. I started by having the sheet music in front of me using this photo and just placing my fingers on the chords in order. I would repeat a line until I felt comfortable with it and move on. I felt confident with the sheet music in front of me but after a while I tried not to look at it and found that all the lines started to get mixed up in my head. I would forget what chord came next. If that happened I would go back to the sheet music and do the line a few more times to make sure I had it. This is a new skill for me because the only song prior to this that I have played contained 3 chords that repeated the entirety of the song. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” requires 6 to 7 different chords per line that have varied transitions. One thing I found to be helpful was finding a Youtube Video online of someone playing the song on the Ukulele. I followed along at first just placing my fingers on the chords and doing the transitions to practice the order of the chords. Then after a few times I started strumming as well. This technique worked well for me because the video is a good tempo to practice and at the end it feels like you are playing for a crowd of people! It was a fantastic confidence booster and way to practice for me to feel competent at this song. Now that I know the order of the chords my next step is to practice not looking at the fret when transitioning. I plan to keep practicing a few times a day to become more fluid with transitions and build muscle memory so I do not have to look by the time I record the video later this week.

I have provided the link to my first video down below. The password is “Education”

Here is the link to my video

306B Blog 1: Proper Posture

Previous to this course I had only learned one song on the Ukulele. The song “Riptide” consisted of only 3 chords and was easy to learn. This semester I challenged myself by not only learning more songs but harder ones with different strumming patterns and more chords. I started this project by learning “I can’t help falling in love with you” by Elvis Presley. Before even learning the complex chords I ran into my first challenge, playing with proper positioning. I found holding the Ukulele higher almost impossible without dropping it every time I needed to switch chords. The first few times I tried I remember becoming so frustrated I wanted to throw it across the room. I knew this technique was important if I ever wanted to play the instrument standing up, like I would do if teaching a class. So alas, through more weeks of practice it somehow got easier. Now that I can hold it properly I am focusing on the chords. I found that I can place my fingers on the right chords but remembering them in order is hard. Not only the order but also my fingers do not transition as quickly as they need for the tempo in the song. This is my focus for the next week. My hope is that I can remember the chords in order and create the muscle memory in my fingers to transition smoother.

Blogging, Twitter, and Trello

Blogging:

Previous to this class, I had never blogged before. Likewise, I never considered myself to be the blogger type. However, from this experience, of blogging about multiple topics consistently over the semester, I have come to realize that anyone can be a blogger! Moreover, blogging can be done on any topic or interest, which makes it so inclusive for readers and bloggers. By the end of the semester, I came to really enjoy the time I had to blog. It allowed me to sit down and synthesize my learning in each topic. I also like that I can now come back to my blog and see my progress of learning on a plethora of subjects. I would highly recommend blogging to others, and would implement this into my classroom to teach students how to respectively have presence on the internet, as well as learn to summarize learning and show it in a presentable way.

Twitter:

I created a twitter account dedicated for teaching. This account allows me to follow school districts to stay involved, and also allows me to find likeminded people who are inquiring about ways to strengthen their teaching practices. Through this platform I have found some great twitters that have amazing ideas which have sparked creativity for things I could implement into my own classroom. Heidi James focuses on Minecraft and how it can be used in classrooms and Rebecca Bathurst – Hunt focuses on inquiry in the classroom. These are just a few of the people I follow that I can see the great things they are doing in their classrooms and build upon them.

Trello:

I did not utilize Trello as mush as I should have this semester, but I do see the potential it has in the classroom. I saw it firsthand at the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry school when students used it to work collaboratively with each other on multiple projects. It creates a way for students to connect through multiple devices and organize thoughts and things to be done. I acts as a wonderful organizer and medium for students to create through.

QR Codes, VR, AR and more

The first half of this week we listened to multiple technology inquiry projects. These topics included, Place-Based Learning, Podcasting, and Freshgrade. I found all of these presentations to be quite in-depth and informative, as they groups have had several months to learn and master these topics and depict key aspects. The rest of the class we touched on QR codes, Augmented reality, and Virtual reality. Below I briefly talk about each and pull out some of the highlights.

Place-Based Learning:

Some great activities that can be utilized for place-based learning with a class are Questagame and geocaching. Questagame is an app that allows students to document wildlife, which contributes to an online database! Not only do children get the reward when they find species but they are also helping to track species across the world. With this app they are able to create clans to compete against other clans and learn about species. It is a fun way to get outside and explore what species the world has to offer in a way that engages the new era of tech savvy children. Geocaching was another activity that is a great way to learn navigational and critical thinking skills. This also gets students outdoors and guides them to think in others perspectives when finding the geocache. There is also the option to create your own geocache, which has students think of hints that would help someone else find it.

Podcasting:

The appeal to podcasting is that it can have very specific topics because it is designed for a narrower audience. This makes it so there is a podcast on any topic, so everyone can find one that suits their interests. Podcasts are “auditory blogs.” In a classroom situation, podcasting could be used instead of an in person presentation if a child has performance anxiety. There are also amazing podcasts that are made by middle school students for middle school students, like “the unexplainable disappearance of Mars Patel.” They are wonderful tools to learn while multitasking, for example doing chores or drawing. In my classroom I could put one on and have students draw a visual map of the topic. However, for all the great benefits it has to offer, there are a few things to consider. Podcasts can be made by anyone and for this reason are not always valid information. If used with a class, this point should be made clear so students do not think everything they hear is absolute.

Freshgrade:

One thing in particular stuck with me about Freshgrade. It’s not what did you learn today it is HOW did you learn today. Parents have the chance to visually see what their child is doing, grading is no longer an arbitrary letter to compare to others. For example, if there is a dance unit in PE the parent could look on Freshgrade to watch a video of the dance their child created. It integrates them into what happens throughout the day so that is no longer the question they are asking when they pick their child up from school. Another great feature about the grading tool is that students and parents are able to comment on work, which creates a collaborative and progressive way of learning and grading. This new way of sliding scale grading also takes away grade oriented learners that only focus on the outcome, and allows students to enjoy the process.

There has been lots of pushback with the introduction of Freshgrade. However, one of the takeaways from this presentation was that at first it is more work to document as you go for every individual student, but with practice it actually becomes easier to grade throughout the year instead of cramming it into 2 weeks at the end. Another point against it is that some parents do not use technology at home. In today’s day and age, technology is becoming more and more prevalent and easy to access. Even for the few that this relates to, it can be remedied easily by using technology in the community or even coming into the school to see what their child is doing in the class.

GAFE (Google Apps For Education):

GAFE is educational google apps that can be used in schools. It was briefly touched upon in class but one can get their google certifications for levels 1 and 2 for free to gain more knowledge into the workings of it. A great feature is that when logged into a gmail ID one has access to “classroom.” The one problem with this is that things done out of the districts server can’t be exported into school district, so one would have to start again when in a new district. However, the practice done would help strengthen understanding and speed up the process.

QR Codes:

QR codes are scalable square codes that link to other resources. These can be put on bulletin boards, worksheets, or any other similar material. An example of how to use one could be putting them on math worksheet to link to video going over topic. With them you could also link to audio or video files, record your own voice, provide answer keys, or scan for question. Here is one website that helps generate QR codes.

AR (Augmented Reality):

Augmented reality takes QR codes to the next level. With the help of an app called “HP reveal” one can create a hotspot and when that hotspot is scanned it can link to resources, helpful videos, answer keys, and other amazing links. Augmented reality goes further than QR codes. It can also create visuals that “pop” out of the page and can be seen through the screen of the phone that scanned it, and show then end product of buildings if pointed at a construction site hotspot. Argon is a browser that allows others to see augmented reality. The one downside is that the hotspots, sometimes referred to as auras, take the place of QR codes but can be missed unless you are aware they are there.

VR (Virtual Reality):

Virtual reality is similar to augmented reality however it involves a headset. With this headset students are immersed in a new environment and can move around 360′ spaces. This can be beneficial if students are studying about a certain place, it allows them to transport there and experience what it would be like. I have also heard of architecture students using VR to practice looking at dig sites around the world. The con to VR is that it should not be used by children under 13 and should be limited to 30 minutes. It can also induce sea sickness.

Skitch :

Skitch is an app that allows one to take photos and blur out faces before it is uploaded to the cloud. When using other blurring apps, the original photo is still in the cloud. With skitch, the original photo is taken on the app and blurred before it is sent to any storing space on one’s phone. Then the photo can be uploaded. This is a handy tool to use in the classroom when the faces of non-consenting participants are in photos.

I have found this lesson plan template to work the best for me personally:

Units:

Kindergarten

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Middle School

Lessons:

Kindergarten

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Middle School