Hi, I am Diane Ader. Our CIG is studying the question:
How can a 21st Century mindset impact teaching and student learning? My question is: How can I impact my students' learning but helping them to understand and use 21st century skills in our choral classroom?1, Students understand what 21st Century Skills are2. Students use 21st Century SkillsArtifacts to be gathered: surveys, reflective writings but myself and my students, audio recordings, video recordings and photos.
I currently use technology in my classroom to help my students learn music, this also frees me to work in amongst my students, on vocal technique, pitch matching, as well as keeping effort and focus levels higher, because I am free to move in and around my students. I am interested in finding out how self assessment helps students grow and learn, as well as helps them to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. Will having my students look at their own performance in rehearsal not just on the stage increase self awareness and bring the quality of learning to a higher level.

You can check out our choirs website at Our website is great place to check out our music that we are working on. (practice mp3's of student parts), information and upcoming events, also, check out our musical & students' work and performances.

12/16/2010 (Womens choirs experiment)
I want my students to understand self assessment and peer tutoring. Something as simple as thinking... 'Oh, I'm singing faster than my section or my posture is slacking...' These are self assessments. We tried an exercise today. I had my students sing a song that we have been learning and that they are fairly confident. My students were to walk around the room as they sang. They were to look at the other singers and pay attention to posture and vocal habits. As students observed something they thought was inconsistent with correct; they were to fix the problem in themselves (not point out the error they observed) We had a rocky start but they caught on. The biggest thing that changed is posture. My girls observed that others were not using the good posture and they corrected it them selves. They laughed as we processed (talked over the experience) after the experiment. They said they need books for their heads- like princess training.

Using technology to help us learn our music. I have each of the songs we are learning for our Spring term Concerts programed into a musical program called Finale. I have found that finale is a really good program to equalized student learning. First, students are all looking at a projected image where I can point out specific rhythms or other difficult things for which students need to be aware. Parts can be played separately or together with or without the accompaniment. A green line (very visual) guides the singers through the song (sort of the follow the bouncing ball idea) I have found that students who would otherwise be lost in the pages of a song, never really knowing what they were looking at or where they were supposed to be stayed with the group. Students who were slower were able to stay with the group based on the visual and audio reinforcement. I also find that my students adapt much faster to accompaniment because they have heard it along with their parts. Having parts played at the same time as the accompaniment usually requires 2 pianists, myself and someone else. Using Finale frees me to be in amongst my students, instead of being behind the piano. I can work on tone quality, I can sing next to weaker singers helping them to hear better a part. Because my students know I can be next to them, students stay on task.

Using more technology to help us monitor our voice qualities and tuning. (Q3) My Q3 is a small recording device that can record both audio or video. This device "keeps us honest" according to my students because we can hear for ourselves whether we are staying together rhythmically and are we really ? IN TUNE? Some eye opening experiences. Student can hear who sings the loudest and then we use some critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills to solve our tuning issues. We are learning that listening is one of the most important skills. I will try to upload some of our sound. Todays was not very pretty but a good learning experience

Students have been participating in and accoustical study. We have taken a piece of music and sung it in a stairwell, a vestibule, a hallway, our cafeteria, and the school swimming pool. Each place has become more accoustically diverse and brought on new challenges. Cory came today. We were singing in the pool. Students have expressed a desire to go back to the pool but they want to collaborate with the swimming students and have the students in the water create wave and ocean water sounds while the choir sings by our recording device.

Created (what I think are really good) self assessments for my students and a collaborative project that has my students using a guide that I researched and put together for the pronunciation of both french songs. Students will work in small groups to research how each word in their sentences are pronounced and then write them phonetically. Each group will practice how their sentence is pronounced and then teach that sentence to the class. Once we as a class can pronounce it we will put it to the rhythm and music of their song. Students will assess their effort in the teaching and learning process that they participated in.Today we had a 2 hour delay so we had shortened classes. We only got to research and collaborate on the pronounciation of each sentence. These are my advanced students. Each group only had time to write phonetically how their senences sound.
*Other choirs are learning music. this is a prerequisit to the accoustical study.

Enjoying the journey.
. . . Never said it would be easy but that it would be worth it.

Concert choir

Followup on the pronunciation:
My students added their phonetical pronunciations of the French songs to the Finale program. My students learned the french pronunciation on Wednesday. We worked through the pronunciation and completed a rough run through using a slower tempo to help with reading and articulating the pronunciation. On Thursday we sang the piece at the correct tempo. This is my advance students working collaboratively. They understand the goals and help in the preparation and planning stages and they have found that they learned the French faster because they did the research together and discussed it working to solve a common problem; the correct pronuncation of their sentences. They learned some common phonetic rules and they found that they did not need the phonetic spellings after the initial learning, they could look at the regular French and pronounce it correctly. I still have the Finale program displayed on the screen but the students have the music score in front of them. They have the choice to use either. The process of using either or going between the two actually helps in the memorization of the piece. My students were excited over their accomplishment and many stayed after class (it is the last class of the day) to finish the song instead of jumping up when the dismissal bell rang.

Younger choirs are working on collaboration that it requires to harmonized. The question is proposed. What kind of team work (collaboration) is needed to create a harmony or a unison? What is the effort level of each participant required to be successful? What does success look like? or sound like? Technology is used to record students as they work and to let them evaluate their work, and experimentation.
Harmonization is the first thing we experiment with the students come into class. If I do anything else first we loose the concentration and students find less success.
I have created a series of self evaluations for my students to used and then we will follow their growth. I also have evaluations that should help them evaluate the work we are doing.

2/27/2011 Entering of notes and reflections

Student Assessment
How do I balance student assessment with teacher assessment?
Students in all my classes are joining in the research on self assessments. We have learned that there are different types of assessments for the performing choral student. We have talked about the various ways of evaluating. Together we have defined terms and set the evaluations.
I have found that my students are straight forward in their answers and even come up with solutions to their own learning difficulties. My students are also curious as to how we will plot their growth and seem excited to see if they have growth.
Evaluations include:
1. Rehearsal Habits
a. Effort level
b. Attention
c. Silence/soft rehearsing
2. Physical singing habits
a. Posture
i. Feet shoulder width apart and balanced
ii. Knees soft
iii. Back straight
iv. Head & Neck is aligned
v. Ribcage lifted for freedom of breath
vi. No tension in any part of the body
3. Music Habits and practices
a. Pitch Accuracy
b. Rhythm Accuracy
c. Clear Tone
d. Volume
e. Phrasing & Expression

Acoustics study:
How did I prepare them for the experience of singing in different environments?
I actually got the idea of studying acoustical properties of spaces from my students. They were singing “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic and several students expressed when we finished that they had a strong desire while we were singing to go to the front of the class to better hear the whole group, because the harmonies are so cool.
So I thought about over night and came up with a plan and checked with the administration about trying the experiments. Once I got permission from the principal, I talked to my students about the acoustical properties of our classroom. What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? Then we talked about other spaces. What makes better acoustical space? Hard surfaces and angles were determined to be the best acoustical helps.
Space #1 Center Stairs in the High School.
1. Students stood together on center landing of stairs and sang. Sound was incredible. Students wanted to record the experiment.
2. Guys moved onto the stairs just below the landing and the girls moved onto the stairs just above the landing. Students found that the sound was bigger, because we had spread out, and now students were facing the wall of the landing.
3. Students spread up and down the stairs further in an attempt to get a still bigger sound. What we discovered was that timing had to be anticipated with the more distance between the singers. Students had to concentrate more on the beat and the rhythm as opposed to listening to each other. If you waited till you could hear the part you were late on your part.
4. What was students’ reactions? Any chance to leave a classroom is quite a welcome opportunity. Students were excited to try theories in areas other than the choir room. Student were eager to talk about how it felt to be in the sound not just behind the sound. Student questions and processing is why we tried the different positions on the stairs to see if there was any effect in the sound. What we found is that just about the entire school heard the choir singing. Some thought they were being visited by angels. The principal thought that someone had a video playing too loudly and was on his way to find the culprit then as he moved closer realized that the music was live. He seemed excited and was disappointed that we were finished before he got to hear us.
5. What kind of questions/prompts did I prepare to debrief with them afterward?
a. Could you hear all singing parts?
b. Did singing parts clash or blend?
c. Was it easy or hard to stay together?
d. What did you learn about this type of performance space?
Processing with students about the singing experiences was a learning opportunity for me. I would ask a question and then be quiet and let my students talk. They would explain what they learned/observed and ask questions that would spark comments and observations by other students.

Space #2 High School Front Entrance Vestibule (This space is rectangular between 2 rows of doors. In this area students were somewhat in a circle and they mixed themselves up so not all the parts were mixed together, instead of how we usually sing with all the sopranos together and altos, tenors and basses. Students sang a portion of the song and then were singing it again but they turned so that each singer was facing out towards a wall/door (hard surface). The volume increased. This brought out a wow from the students as well as a, “why did that happen?” from me. Short discussion ensued about sound and hard surfaces. They also pointed out that bathrooms are a great acoustical place to sing and that every sounds good in a bathroom (thus the singing in the shower) I asked them to explain themselves as to why they thought this and students replied with 1. People are in a private place and therefore feel freer to sing and 2. Because of the acoustics a person can hear themselves better and therefore sing better. ( I am always having my students cup 1 hand behind their ear so they can hear themselves better from outside their own head and intonation improves.
Space #3 Cafeteria
We tried two different sound experiments in the Cafeteria. First all the students spread out. This is a very large practically square room. There were also vending machines and other refrigeration units that had motors running. Students sang and struggled. We stopped; students said that they couldn’t hear each other. Some who were in the center of the room observed that as a group we did not stay together. We were so far apart that we needed to focus on the rhythm and each person would have to anticipate the beat for success. We tried again and students did not find the performance as satisfying as the stairwell. We moved our group together and had each section stand together to sing as we tried the experiment again. Student found that though this was better their sound was sucked away by the room and masked by the other sounds (white noise) in the room as well.
#4 Hall outside the cafeteria
Students were disappointed with singing experience in the cafeteria and decided to try out the hallway just outside the cafeteria. This space was chosen by my students, chosen because of hard tile surfaces and some mismatched angles; also there were no other noises from machines. Students found more success here, but similar to the experience in the vestibule.
#5 The High School Swimming Pool
Students Stood on the bleachers in their sections and then sang. Sound was good but they wanted to spread out and try some different combinations. (There were students in a swimming class at the time and theses students continued to swim during our experiment.) Students took up posts at each of the 4 corners of the pool. Then we sang. Time and space played a part and students didn’t feel as if they were together and could not hear the part that was diagonal to them. The further the distance and the water movement played a role in diminishing the sound. The swimming instructor emptied the pool and the students tried the 4 corner experiment again. Sound and acoustics worked better but students found greats success when we pulled all students to one corner and sang again. Students said they felt the best sound came from when they were all singing on the bleachers because they had different levels of where the sounds began. Students have asked to return to the pool to make a recording of the same song but to have the swimming students move the water in chorus for some ocean sound effects.
Have I seen a change in the quality of their singing based on this experience? The biggest change that I have seen in my students singing is that more effort is put into listening to each other to create stronger and cleaner harmonies. My students are using more 21st century skills, such as collaboration and peer coaching as they harmonize.
Student Follow-up:
1. Several of my students went to the college fair down in Pittsburgh at the Convention Center and they walked to lunch they actually did some singing and acoustical tests. They tried an alley and under a bridge. Students said both were cool but under the bridge had more angles and surfaces fro the sounds to bounce. They suggested a fieldtrip to under a bridge for acoustical experimentation. I’m not sure how to word the fieldtrip request to “under a bridge?” That is on hold.
2. Eight of my students went to the Washington County Choir Festival. During a break, I didn’t see my students coming into the auditorium with most of the other students so I went to investigate. I arrived just after they finished singing our experimental song “”My heart will go on” They had been rehearsing in the band room at Cannon MacMillan High School and wanted to test the acoustics. There were only 1 or 2 people per part but they did so well that they drew the attention of other students and were asked if they had their own YouTube recordings, etc. They were quite proud of their ability to harmonize and I find my students trying out chords and other harmonization just for fun and practice. Music triumphs they are learning some very strong concepts and building confidence.
3. We are planning to revisit the High School Stairwell to make a recording of the entire song.28 February 2011Today, students in my advanced & concert choir used peer coaching. I have explained multiple ways, what the soft palet is and how one lifts it for a cleaner sound that stays on pitch. Today one of my students was still having trouble, and while we were in warmups she ask the student next to her and the 2 of them worked on the problem together. He managed to explain it to her and she got it, but he used things from her background that she was more easily able to assimilate. It was incredible to see and when they had finished, she was so excited because she was successful. I pointed out that they were using 21st century skills. Cool moment! :0)8 March 2011Barber Shoppers - Today we were working on collaboration of students to create a single pitch. Students discussed what it takes, collaboration wise to have everyone in their group on the same pitch. Students were to try experiment. As they were singing the pitch that they were given, my students started out sitting in their chairs but they moved to be closer to each other. 2 of the groups went into football huddle positions and were very successful in matching their pitch. Students commented that it is more important to listen in order to successfully match pitch.9March 2011Barber Shoppers - We continued today to work on collaboration for matching pitch. Students are to blend are a group making a chord. Each section on their own pitch but each section has to be heard equally well. We bombed. not successful. we'll try again tomorrow.14 March 2011Barber Shoppers - Use Circle singing, collaborative listening skills to tune single pitch, Use Solfege to sing parts using vocal round exercises. Use Finale to teach new parts and circle singing to learn balance in music already learned. Still working on equality between sections. Not bad, the last 2 measures of Good Night Ladies were beautiful! The rest up to that point - not :( 24 March 2011The boys sang well today. Standing rehearsal with review criteria for collaboration in an ensemble. Concept was taught on 21 March. Boys did better they really were focused on the collaboration. April 27 2011For makeup work for the 4 hours i missed on our March 4 day at the IU, I was asked to research documentation styles and ideas for what we want our public face to look like for our final documentation. I looked at a few of the other Collaborative Inquiry Groups documentation styles and then went just in general online to checkout documentation styles. I was going through our beginning files and photos and I think that we should look at our beginnings; our paper people. What were our challenges and our goals - what is our challenges and our growth? The red cig used a wallwisher as a means of collaboration and brainstorming. I tried it out with some photos and used it as a scrapbook page for documenting my students "enjoying the journey" while working hard. Our successes.Here is an example of wallwisher that I think would be great to use.