Topic #1: What is Multimedia and Interactive Learning and Why is it Important?

Before looking into today’s topics (and all of the articles and videos) I had not thought deeply about multimedia learning. Previously, when I thought of multimedia, I immediately thought of digital media. However, after reading the articles about using stories and interactivity to teach effectively, my understanding of multimedia has broadened substantially. One point that I think will be central throughout this course is that multimedia and interactive learning should be learner centred, rather than technology centred. I hope to delve deeper into what this will mean in my teaching practice. Technology is powerful and ever-evolving. It is important, as an educator, for me to be familiar with different tools to enhance my students’ learning experiences. However, it is vital to keep students at the forefront, rather than using technology just for the sake of it.

One example that comes to mind of using technology just for the sake of it was last semester when I was working on a PowerPoint presentation for my assessment course. At the time, I had recently learned how to insert GIFs into the presentation and ended up putting them on the majority of the slides, which I thought was engaging and innovative. Unfortunately, the GIFs ended up being quite distracting for the people viewing the slides. The GIFs took away from the text that was on each slide, and although they were funny, did not enhance the learning experience for the viewers. This was a valuable learning experience for me because it served as a reminder to use multimedia as a learning tool, rather than a “cool add-on”. GIFs have their place, just not on every slide of a presentation.

After reading the articles assigned, I have realized the importance of using multimedia in order to promote access, support, and challenge for all students. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines created by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) recognizes that each learner is unique, and therefore the learning experience will look different for each of them. Teachers can use the UDL framework when designing their instructional practice to help reach all students. The UDL framework promotes having multiple means of engagement, representation, action, and expression. Multimedia learning is at the heart of these principles. This answers the question posed in the title of today’s blog post. Teachers who are adept at incorporating multimedia and interactivity into the classroom are able to best engage, support, and challenge their students. I have included a short video below describing UDL:

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=214&v=bDvKnY0g6e4&feature=emb_title

References:

CAST. (2010, January 6). UDL At A Glance. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=214&v=bDvKnY0g6e4&feature=emb_title

Juliani, A.J. (2014). The Hidden Importance of Teaching with Stories. A.J. Juliani. http://ajjuliani.com/hidden-importance-teaching-stories/

The SHARE Team. (2018, April 6). Interactive Teaching Styles Used in the Classroom. Resilient Educator. https://resilienteducator.com/classroom-resources/5-interactive-teaching-styles-2/

Musical Growth: Final Reflection

I have finished my musical growth plan for this semester! I am happy to say that I reached my goal of learning all eight songs from Bastien’s beginner piano work book. I am impressed by my progression and I am glad that I picked more challenging pieces for the end of the semester. At first, what I was playing did not sound very musical. I was playing (for the most part) the correct notes, but the rhythms and dynamics in most of the pieces were not quite right. I paid special attention to these things for my last four songs (after the midterm reflection) and it paid off! The last two songs that I focused on — “Blue Mood” and “Hallelujah Chorus”– are by far my favourite. The chord progression in “Blue Mood” is beautiful and when I played it I actually felt like a musician for the first time in a long time. “Hallelujah Chorus” is fun to play because I knew how it should sound, so I was confident enough to play it forte!

My progression was not linear, mostly due to my somewhat erratic practicing schedule. I found it helpful to do longer practices less frequently rather than doing a short one every day. This preference changes based on my schedule. Lately, due to the current circumstances, I have had a lot more time to practice, which was convenient and helped me improve significantly in a relatively short amount of time. I have made a few goals for myself during this time of social distancing, one of which is to continue my progress with the piano. I am lucky to have access to so many beginner piano books, so I am taking advantage of that. I am also going to try to play more familiar pop songs that I can find online. Honestly, I did not think that I would continue to play and learn after this course ended. However, I think that it is a great use of my time during this period of self-isolation. I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time looking at a screen, so practicing the piano will provide a much needed break from that in the weeks to come.

“Riverboat Boogie”
“Jingle Bells”
“Hallelujah Chorus”
“Blue Mood”

Musical Midterm #3

The four songs that I will play for the final check in are “Jingle Bells”, “Riverboat Boogie”, “Blue Mood”, and “Hallelujah Chorus”. With the exception of “Jingle Bells”, all of the songs are much more challenging than the last four songs I was working on. At first, I found this challenge a little overwhelming. I have decided to only work on two at a time, on the advice of my piano-playing little brother. He says that it is much easier to focus on just a couple pieces at a time and that I will likely get confused if I try to learn all four all at once. As a result, I have been working on “Jingle Bells” and “Riverboat Boogie” for the past couple of weeks. “Jingle Bells” is short and relatively simple, but singing along while playing is proving to be a bit of a challenge (which is a good thing!). “Riverboat Boogie” is different than any other song that I have played before because of all of the accidentals, but it is satisfying to play once I get into the groove. I have found it helpful to ask my brother to play the pieces through before I start learning them so that I know what they are meant to sound like; “Jingle Bells” was the exception to this because I, thankfully, already knew how it was supposed to sound. Throughout this process, I have been amazed at how much my note recognition has improved, especially in the bass clef. I am a little bit nervous about learning the next two songs by the deadline, but I am going to trust the process and keep practicing.

Music Midterm Check In

It has been just under two months since I started playing the piano. I am happy with my practice consistency and my progress. I have been working on singing while playing, but it is still difficult for me as my piano is in a communal space in my house. I feel relatively confident playing these pieces, however I know that there are some areas in which I can still grow, like dynamics. The song that I had the most difficulty with was “Alouette” because there are some challenging rhythms in it. I also had a hard time with “Hush Little Baby” because it is written so high that I had to use my head voice for most of the song, which I am not used to. I tried singing it an octave lower, but I decided against doing that for the video because it sounded wrong. I also worked hard on getting the dynamics right on this song, but I am not sure if they are quite perfect. Although these two songs were the hardest, I enjoyed learning them the most. I knew what they were supposed to sound like and being able to recreate the correct sound gives me great satisfaction. “Lightly Row” and “At Sunset” were easier to learn as they were very repetitive. They also do not have words to go along with them, so the challenge of singing and playing at the same time was avoided. Because I did not know how these songs sounded before playing them, it added a challenge of having to figure out the notes by reading each one individually instead of figuring some notes out by ear as I did with “Alouette” and “Hush Little Baby”. I have started another song, “Jingle Bells”, and am making progress on it too. I enjoy learning songs that I already know the tune of, so I may look for more in the book I have that I already know. If I do not know a song, I am going to ask my little brother to play it for me before I start learning it so that I know what it sounds like, because i find that extremely helpful. My goal for the next half of the semester is to stay consistent on my practice schedule.


Music Check In #1

It has been a little less than a month since I started practicing the piano. I have been practicing regularly (almost every day!) and have seen substantial improvements. Consistency was hard at first, but I decided to go all-in and try to practice for at least a couple minutes per day so that I would get into the habit of playing. One thing that I need to work on is playing each hand separately a few times before trying to put it all together. Typically, when I start a new piece, I am eager to start playing both hands together right away. If I take a little more time to learn the notes before, I have more success. I also usually forget to read the key signature before playing, but as soon as I play the wrong note I check the key signature right away! I am going to work on taking it slow when I first start a new song. Another thing that I am going to work on is playing the hardest parts repeatedly and getting them down rather than playing through them incorrectly. My goal is to be able to play “Lightly Row”, “Hush Little Baby”, “Alouette”, and “At Sunset” by February 24. I think that I will be able to play all of these songs fluently by that date, but I am nervous about the singing. My piano is in my living room, so when I play everyone can hear me. This has deterred me from practicing my singing. My goal for the next few weeks up until the midterm is to practice my singing more regularly.