Pulaski Community Middle School:
Seamless Integration of Technology in the Middle School Band
David Johnson, WMEA State Chair, Technology
(Article continued from WSM pages 46-47… Also see links to supplemental materials and photos at end of article)
Watching how PCMS integrates the daily use of their SmartBoard into their rehearsals, I see how much more efficient it is be to teach a wide variety of musical concepts to a large band than it is without one. In the main rehearsal room a Wenger Computer Music Workcenter desk holds the computer, sound system, an IPEVO USB document camera, and a VCR. The computer has a DVD drive which enables playback of DVDs when necessary. Everything is close and within reach. No time is wasted during the rehearsal watching a teacher fumble with hardware or software issues. Switching from one source to another is easy, and there’s also a cable allowing a quick connection to an iPod. The main display is a SmartBoard, its image is provided by an Epson projector with a short-throw lens mounted directly above the SmartBoard. Another feature is having a full-fledged copy machine right in the band room.
PCMS operates within a Windows-based computing environment. The speedy wireless network provides Internet access to the building for computers with wireless Internet capabilities along with enough ethernet sockets in the walls to provide access to older machines without wireless. Every practice room contains its own ethernet connection and a good computer. This Internet capability is crucial in order to be able to use this generation of software applications. SmartMusic, for example, requires a broadband Internet connection in order to run and it can’t operate without it. There seems to be a sensible balance of computer safety and security measures without compromising overall useability and access for students and teachers.
SmartBoard and SmartMusic
The SmartBoard interactive whiteboard and projector is a very recent addition to PCMS, purchased just at the end of the last school year and funded by their music booster group. Flanking the board is the old traditional dry-erase marker whiteboard with music staff lines engraved on it, which is now rarely used at all except for throwing a quick example for students to see. The SmartBoard has de-cluttered the main visual component of the room.
After a month of ‘playing around’ with the board and its accompanying software, Radkey and her colleagues immediately began tailoring the features found within to supplement their curriculum. Administrators are able to track exactly how often each of the SmartBoards in their building are being used and they are pleased with the extensive amount of use the music department has been using theirs.
“We’re doing very practical things,” remarked Mrs. Fontaine.
Vocal Music and Technology
Molly Suehs is one of the vocal music instructors at PCMS who teaches the sixth grade general music and sixth grade choir. The other vocal music teacher at PCMS is Amy Wright. PCMS’s choir room is also equipped with a SmartBoard. Some of the projects the students do in the general music and vocal music areas consist of a slide-show project using Windows Movie Maker where photos of students and their family members are arranged into a slide show and synced with appropriate musical selections of the kids’ choosing. Regular time is spent using Alfred’s Music Theory software. Wright uses the SmartBoard extensively. She uses activities such as Solfege Connect-Four where she’ll sing a solfege pattern and have teams of students try to identify the correct pattern on the display. She also uses the SmartBoard to display rhythm exercises.
Teacher’s Favorite Bands (.PPT)