Using Google Chrome Music Lab's Song Maker as a Schoology Discussion

Google Chrome Music Lab's Song Maker as a Schoology Discussion image with records in background

One aspect of my job as a staff development specialist that I truly enjoy is the ability to work with a variety of individuals in the field of education. Although a large part of my position is mainly working on the “techie” side of education, my position often lends itself to the “other duties assigned” realm of things. For example, one day I can be working with a class of Kindergarteners with robotics and coding, the next assisting teachers with curriculum mapping for middle school manufacturing classes, the following day reviewing science standards and storylines with a science department, and then the next pulling data for a school board presentation. Aside from dabbling in educational technology as well as “this century” instructional practices and pedagogy, I do a LOT of work with art and music educators. Honestly, when I do, it is like a home-cooked meal; it is very comforting for me, since I started my career as an art teacher.

I worked with an elementary music teacher for a few weeks on infusing educational technology and student agency into her lessons. The premise of these lessons was not for her to teach the technology tool to her students, but rather to have them discover through exploration, play, and teaching one another before the formal lesson began. As her students had not done this before in a formal setting, I had to ensure them (and one classroom aide) that they were not going to break the Internet, despite all of their efforts. Once that hurdle was crossed, using Google Chrome Song Maker became second nature to the 4th and 5th grade students.

Then it was time to work. As a class, we discussed tempo and mood of music; playing a variety of songs and describing how they made us feel. My recommendations? A mix of current music (instrumental versions) and old. Meet the kids where they are. And besides, it’s fun to hear their interpretations of Lizzo’s music. When that was said and done, it was then the students turned to creating their own songs based on their own individual moods.

Child using Google Chrome Music Lab's Song Maker as a Schoology Discussion
The only unified instructions we gave them were as follows:
  • Your song needs to reflect the current mood you’re in. (Think → tempo)
  • Your song needs to be thoughtful and have a pattern. (Think → you want to compose a song that clearly expresses yourself and your feelings in a way that other people would understand.)
  • You must extend your song to 16 bars in length in the settings.

Face to face, we set up the students' devices so they could easily move from one to another similar to that of musical chairs (except nobody is out in this game!). For about 3 minutes at a time, students listened to their classmates' songs and then continued to add to the creation, extending the mood of the song, before they moved on to the next device. After four rounds were completed, the students went back to their original device to hear and to save their completed song. We then held a group discussion. Did the other composers (AKA classmates) emulate the mood they were trying to portray? Did they capture your feelings when extending your song?

This can easily be done as an online activity as well.

The online portion of this lesson is specifically geared towards using Schoology as a Learning Management System (LMS). Please know you can do this in another LMS.

Using Google Chrome Song Maker and Schoology discussions, students will learn about tempo and mood by exploring music. Please watch the attached video for a in-depth explanation:

***As I write this, many schools, businesses, sporting events, etc. are putting themselves on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning today my county in New York State has issued all schools to be closed for the next few weeks. As many educators, administrators, and let's face it- parents, prepare for the uncertainty... many incredible resources are available online and many amazing Ed Tech companies (such as BrainPOP, NearPod, Minecraft, etc.) are offering their services for free due to school closures. As the questions arise surrounding distance learning, I figured I would share what I have been working on with an elementary music teacher.***


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