Whenever you’re feeling dismayed (snap, snap)
Or something rains on your parade. (snap, snap)
Don’t give up the ship. (clap)
Remember this tip. (clap)
With lemons we make lemonade.(snap, snap)
It was exactly that feeling of dismay and loss that inspired a new vision and learning venue for the primary music community at MIS.
Losing our face-to-face, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart daily contact with our young learners at MIS last March came as a shock to all of us. Not only did we feel the deep loss of each other but we very quickly realized that all of the resources that we used every day were suddenly gone. All of our familiar settings, supplies, equipment and props that opened up limitless possibilities for discovery, exploration and learning were suddenly gone. Just like that. POOF!
And there we were, all of us, at home, some of us completely alone, sitting in a chair, behind a computer for hours and hours and hours, day after day after day.
In no time at all, around the world, tens of thousands of educators, curriculum designers, tech specialists and parents began collaborating on social media forums, sharing every possible resource to keep our students engaged in continuing to have positive learning experiences; but now, in their new home learning environment. This summer, a majority of educators spent our summer holidays learning new IT skills and attending webinars and workshops devoted to the vision of creating a new and wonder filled virtual learning environments for students around the world.
It was through one of these courses that I learned about Bitmoji classrooms, a way to design highly engaging, virtual classrooms with many images that link to a variety of interactive learning processes and software application.
While learning to design a virtual classroom, I fell again into a dark well of disparity. I was missing our real music classroom at MIS…drums and xylophones and boomwhackers…oh my.
It was that precise moment that I remember saying out loud (please understand that I’m alone during this lockdown and now often talk to myself). “OK! So we don’t have our lovely school or our special room with all of our music instrument friends..but… we have technology and instead of making one virtual music classroom…what if we had an entire building to learn music, like a music conservatory?” Hm… and that’s when the questions REALLY started to pop.
What if we had a place where there were spaces (not necessarily rooms) designed for us to explore anything we wanted that connected creativity and music with movement, dance, art, drama, science, math, history, etc.? This is what IB-PYP calls transdisciplinary learning. What if the rooms could change according to the learners needs, passions and desires and the students could eventually design them, like Minecraft and lead the learning that happens in them? What if the rooms could go into time travel? Into space travel? What about a room that could teleport you to different cultures, countries, celebrations? We could begin to learn about any instrument in the world, past, present and futuristic. We could visit different galaxies. OH MY!
It didn’t take much time for me to understand that a building like this would have very few right angles and had to be able to transform into different shapes and designs. For that only one architecture would work..of course…a castle! And who doesn’t love a castle! So the search began for castles and rooms from around the world and throughout time.
And so began what is now evolving into the new vision of Virtual Music Learning at MIS in P2, P3, P4 and P5. In addition to having one, live 30-minute, Music GMeeting with all of our PYP learners (in India and other times zones) where we sing, share ideas, ask questions, we now also have a Castle of Creativity.
Each week, in our Creative Castle, P 2 to P5 learners explore 10+ rooms and passages, that morph every few weeks. Two of these rooms have engagements targeted at developing specific musical skills of listening, playing, reading, writing, creating/composing and performing for each specific year level. Each task presents the possibility for learners to challenge themselves and go to higher levels. Learners are taking agency by engaging in and recording their skill levels and/or evidence of learning in Seesaw. They are taking responsibility and initiative by exploring the other rooms, such as the library or instrumentarium. They are practicing an open minded approach to learning when experimenting with activities in the Healing Hall or the Listening Lounge. Their homeroom Unit of Inquiry is being woven into the castle making connections between their lines of inquiry, music and creativity.
(To activate the links, remember to click “Present” and use an MIS student login)
Just like the sign says, “Welcome Everyone” to our Castle of Creativity. If you have any ideas, music, questions or suggestions, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and there is a very good chance it will magically appear. We’ve lost our walls, for now but we’ve gained infinte possibilities.
PYP Music Teacher