Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shake the Snow Globe...3 Ways to help kids PROGRESS during snow days

By Mark T. Burke

Sitting in the heart of the latest Northeast Snow/Ice storm, all of the surrounding schools in my area are closed.  Musical activities can quickly become faded memories this time of year. After coming off a long holiday break, snow and ice closures start to impact programs beyond our control.....WAIT....but we CAN be in control. Music teachers are resourceful...right?  We're smart people, clever, organized....innovative.  That's right! 

Ok...that felt good.  I needed a pick me up this morning.  Last year I posted "Snow Days Defined: A Musician's View." In that post, I defined, or at least attempted to define, the euphoria we experience at hearing "SNOW STORM" during our local weather. Point back to that post when you have a minute. 

With online course access in the hands of your kids, snow days can become productive days where musical skills can PROGRESS rather than REGRESS. How?  Here are my top 3 (or maybe even a few more) ways you can prepare students to make progress during snow days. (If you don't yet have online courses in your program, send me note).  

1.  Before the day comes (yes, we almost always have a warning), engage the students in a conversation around their progress in the online course.  Keep the course access fresh in their mind. Review sections together in band or music class prior to the impending storm.  This activity will increase the likelihood of students logging in and using the online course during school closure.

2.  Create an assignment where the students submit their recordings to you (as they are instructed) as well as send them to a friend.  Encourage the students to share their music skills using technology on days when they can't meet face to face with you or their fellow classmates. 

3.  Plan a time when you will be online and use the classroom tools to talk with your students about a specific musical topic.  This doesn't have to be long, 15-20 minutes, but a little is better than nothing. Before you hold the session, get a few really active online students and schedule a time with them.  Have them grab their friends and encourage them to participate.  When you return to school, talk about the session and what the students who participated accomplished. 

4. EXTRA :-)  Send an email to parents before the day mentioning how glad you are your school provides this service and thank them for supplying a computer and the right environment to practice at home for their kids.  Let them know how valuable having online access to the courses can be during snow days and encourage them to support the online activities of their kids during their "day off."

Now....time to shovel and then back to work.  Enjoy the day.

For more information on viaAcademies, visit us online using the links to the right.  Write to me, Mark Burke with any questions you may have about online music instruction or just to say hello. Mention this post....I appreciate your support. 

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