Hello! My name is Joe Andria, and I am a choral music teacher at Albert Gallatin High School. We have two primary vocal ensembles at the high school: chorus and choir. I also teach a piano class, and for the first time this year, I have a beginning Voice Class. In addition to these duties, I also assist with our annual spring musical (which happens to be Seussical).

This is currently my third year teaching, and its incredible how time seems to fly! My feelings on teaching and curriculum have evolved in the past several years, and it becomes more evident that continuing my education plays a vital role in my student’s “educational” well-being. I am so glad that I found Arts Educator 2.0!

Oh…and by the way… when I’m not teaching or working on “school stuff”, I spend time fixing things in my new house, trying new recipes, walking the dog, rehearsing with the church choir or my men's gospel quartet, and driving around in my Subaru!
J



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Our Wondering...
How do we engage students of diverse backgrounds and learning styles through technology, art therapy, special needs strategies, independent learning strategies and classroom management?


Our Wondering as is pertains to my class….

I plan to focus my time and efforts on student engagement through classroom management techniques. Often times, I feel that my students are “zoning-out” of the rehearsal. I try to engage them as much as possible through varied rehearsal techniques and choosing quality music, but it is time to inject something new and vibrant into my daily rehearsals.






My Trials & Errors:

After some brain storming and researching, I developed several “Action Plans” to use in my classroom that would directly address my classroom management issues through student engagement. What follows are some brief overviews, samples, personal observations, etc. of my “Action Plans”:



#1) ACTION PLAN : To NOT take attendance at the beginning of class

As a general rule in my class, attendance was taken at the beginning of class. It usually included me sitting at my piano, in the front of the classroom, filling in the attendance grid in my grade book. As I was researching, however, I found an article explaining how crucial the first several minutes of class can be. This made be realize that the first several minutes of class should be more productive and not a time for the students to “hang out” and chat.

The premise was clear: instead of using the first several minutes of each class with taking roll, I would use that same time to provide instruction. As soon as the late bell would ring, I would be at my piano beginning daily warm-ups or providing importance announcements.

The results: surprisingly noticeable. The first several days were a bit difficult, as is any change in routine in the classroom. The lasting effects throughout the rehearsal, however, could be noticed. As the students were more quickly engaged in the lesson, they seemed to remain slightly better engaged through the lesson and rehearsal. I have come to realize and am now a firm believer the first several of minutes of class is a crucial time and will set the tone for the remaining class time.




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​ This is my gradebook. Before, I would start each class with marking down the daily attendance in this book. Now,
I begin each class with engagement and useful instruction!








#2) ACTION PLAN :
Use of the Zoom Q3 Recording Device

The main idea of my wondering encompassed better classroom management through student engagement, and as I looked at my daily rehearsal routine with a critical eye, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of variety in my rehearsal procedure. Sure, to reach the final goal of “performance ready music”, you must plan daily rehearsal around learning and performing the repertoire. But I felt that I needed to inject something into this routine that would both interest the students and still help up reach our goal of performing a concert.


PResenting, mr."q3":

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This handy little device captures quality…and I mean quality…video and audio recordings! It’s small, lightweight, easy to use and easy to transport. And best of all, the kids love it! They love to record themselves singing, and the love to hear themselves played back on huge speakers. I would recommend this device for any teacher – not just those in the performing and visual arts.


In all honesty, this has proven to be a very valuable teaching tool. I love to see the concentration on my kid’s faces when they are singing their best because they know it will forever be digitally saved. I also see the potential in using this device on a long-term and consistent basis for my singers to listen themselves and assess their performance and progress.



THANK YOU q3!

The following are audio samples recorded by my students. After the recordings were captured, the students then listened to their singing. We discussed various musical concepts and in what ways we could improve our sound:


Period 4/5 Chorus - "River of Dreams"



Period 9/10 Chorus - "River of Dreams"



Period 3 Choir - "Don't Stop Believin' Warm Up"











#3) ACTION PLAN :
CHANGE OF LOCATION

The location of my classroom within my building has its definite perks – one being its close proximity to the auditorium. It’s a lovely space with great acoustics, and presents a very different rehearsal and performance space for my students.

In my attempt to present a more varied daily rehearsal schedule that would hopefully result in longer lasting and better student engagement, I developed the “CHANGE OF LOCATION” Action Plan. The main idea of this plan is fairly self explanatory: simple change the location. I figured that a change of scenery would be nice and would add interest to the rehearsal. Also, the challenge of a new acoustic space would vocally push my students a bit further.

As used two separate spaces within the auditorium: a section in the auditorium seats and the stage. The results varied depending on the class and the location within the auditorium. I believe there was success in student engagement, for the students liked and appreciated a change in atmosphere (as you can see in the survey results). However, I believe the challenge of the new space was a little overwhelming for some, and in some cases, resulted in frustration. Despite this, I will continue to use this method in the future because I do believe this has musical and education value and potential.




Classroom to Auditorium Tour from Joe Andria on Vimeo.






After the above Action Plans had taken place in the classroom, I surveyed my student’s reactions and opinions on taking part in these new activities. I wanted to hear from them and discover if they were truly noticing any difference in their singing and performing. Also I wanted to know I was creating a positive or negative cha


The following graphs represent a sampling of several of the questions asked on the survey:



In Question 1, students were asked if they noticed a difference in their own singing after reviewing class recordings. The survey results show that more than two thirds of the students noticed some sort of change in their singing.

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Question 3 asks if students detect an improvement in the overall sound of the group after reviewing class recordings and making changes based on the recordings. As you can see, many agree that this practice is improving the overall sound of the group.
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I also wanted to know if moving the location of our rehearsal in an intermittent basis was improving the quality of our sound. In Question 6, students overwhelming agreed that changing the location of our rehearsal showed great promise.
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In this final sampling, I asked students how often we should change the location of our rehearsal. Many felt that changing our location more often than not would be most beneficial.

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The results of all the survey questions and the survey itself can be found here:









The following files represent the two main forms of documentation used throughout this project. The first is a collection of “Action Plan Assessments”. Whenever one of the above Action Plans were used in the classroom, I documented the day and period, some general observations, and things that I might try differently the next time. Secondly, I tried my best to maintain a journal throughout. I have always found journaling to be helpful tool…especially as a teacher!








The following is some original brain storming from the beginning of this project. I though it would neat to leave this on the wikispace so that you and I can see the development that has taken place since the start.

In order to better “manage” the classroom time, I would like to try and implement stronger teaching and engagement strategies at the beginning, middle and end of each lesson - almost having 3 “check points”:

Beginnings:

In my method classes in college, it was always stressed that the beginning of every rehearsal is incredibly important. Both the singer’s voice and brain must be warmed-up and engaged for the following rehearsal. Proper stimulation of both the voice and the brain should ready the students for a productive rehearsal.

Currently, I perform basic warm-ups that prepare the students for a daily rehearsal. I believe I must find varied warm-up and engagement strategies to better ready my students. Hopefully offering more at the beginning of each rehearsal will keep the student’s “zoned – in” for a longer period of time.


Middles:

By the middle of each rehearsal, student’s attentions (and minds) will start to wonder. This is also the time when talking among the students increases and forward progress is slightly halted. I do my best to move at a fairly rapid pace and plan a varied rehearsal (usually including rehearsal on at least 4 different tunes), but I still normally begin to see blank stares toward the middle of rehearsals.

I want to find and implement strategies that will “bring back” any minds that have wondered. Maybe some sort of brief physical activity, a 1 minute break or quick assessments that would involve small groups singing a recently rehearsed section on the music.



Ends:

What will they remember tomorrow? Will they execute this section the next time we rehearse it? What will they take away? Some rehearsals feel like Groundhog Day where I ask myself “Didn’t we already learn this”?

The ends of my rehearsals are nothing too stellar. I try to end each rehearsal with the whole group singing something together, but I usually don’t recap anything from the rehearsal (concepts, important breakthroughs, etc.). The most I will give is what’s-on-tap for tomorrow.

I want to find someway that will “wrap-up” the rehearsal. Something consistent that will allow the students to honestly think about what was accomplished and what work is left to be done. Maybe this will give the students more of a sense of direction and self-motivation…..


Sectionals:

Usually one or two times a week, I have “Sectional Rehearsal”. This is where I will meet with each section (sopranos, altos and guys) for approximately 15 minutes each to rehearse and assess their individual parts. Unfortunately, as I am rehearsing one group, the other students are asked to “find something to work on”. So far, I have never had any “major problems” with this practice. Yes, I suppose that I should have been coming up with extra activities and assignments for the students to complete during these times, but I have come up short (there are only so many hours in a day).

I would like to attempt to implement something that would make better use of this time like assigning some sort of long-term group project (or something else….).