Skip to main content

Lync in a Snowstorm: Video-conferencing the Music Classroom

Okay, so it's not Buffalo, but one of our teachers lives out in the country and due to the recent snowstorm was unable to come to school.  Normally, that isn't a great emergency as we do our own coverages for missing teachers internally so students tend to get a teacher who can keep them moving in their subject areas.

But I was chatting with our snow-bound music teacher while she was at home and she was worried about one of her classes that she wanted to touch base with.   I mentioned that it wouldn't be a problem to quickly throw together a Lync video-conference with her students and I'd be happy to do the physical setup at the school end.

So she went to Outlook and created a Lync meeting -- it's easy if you've ever made an appointment in Outlook... click the NEW LYNC MEETING in the toolbar and it creates a conference room that everyone is invited to.  Although you set a time, it exists as soon and as long as someone logs in.
So, she sent the Invitation around to her students and me and waited for class.  I arrived with my tablet and had all the students enter the Lync room and mute their microphones.  I plugged in our Yeti microphone and set it as close to the conductor's stand as possible and turned my tablet's camera to face the students (next time, bring external camera!)

I also use the projector to display my screen.  This way the chat window and teacher video was visible when the students were performing for the teacher (and thus had tablets closed) and when the teacher was sharing her screen to go over the OneNote every student could see.

In fact, the teacher started the class by going over her Course Plan with the students, reminding them about upcoming assignments and the December Exam.  The teacher is an advocate of tagging (in fact, she's a master of it!) and so you can see how different items in the students' course calendar are "hashtagged" with meaning.  The students would unmute their microphone and ask questions and then re-mute and the teacher would respond by video. 


After discussing her plans, she turned to performance... while she couldn't conduct (she is on a slow rural wireless connection and there was too much lag) she had a student mark the time and the students played for her.  The clarity of the video and the sound was sufficient that she gave direct criticsm and praise to each student -- I have to admit to being surprised that she could see and hear how students were mis-playing.  They played and replayed a couple of pieces for her throughout the class and she gave feedback each time.  By the end of the class another music teacher had dropped by to see how things were going and he was quite taken with the setup. She concluded the class by returning to the OneNote Binder and going through reminders and then signed the students off.

Now, it's important to note that this will not be our approach to Snow Days.  In our context, Snow Days are a rare and special thing -- a Canadian treat to a boarding school that cannot be tampered with.  But in a situation where a teacher wants to directly interact with her class, the opportunity to use technology to facilitate that needs to be met.
.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Teacher Professional Development and Microsoft OneNote

During the first three weeks of July, I have the amazing opportunity to work at the Park City Mathematics Institute.  It is, without exaggeration, the best professional development opportunity for teachers of mathematics.  Participants spend three weeks thinking deeply about mathematics and mathematics education.

There are three main aspects of PCMI:

learning mathematicsreflection on practice (RoP)becoming a resource to others.I'm part of the team for RoP and in charge of the third aspect, in which participants consider a gap in professional development back at their home districts and work in small groups to help fill that hole by developing a rich PD seminar on that topic.

It is not easy to develop professional development.  Teachers who haven't written PD have to patiently learn how to write (essentially) lesson plans for someone else.

This year, I used Microsoft OneNote to facilitate the process.  We have a central OneNote Notebook through which I lay out the daily schedule…

Escape Room / BreakOut in OneNote

[[Part 2 of this article is here: Link]]

So when I was visiting Anna in Edinburgh during March Break, she showed me how she used Password-Protected OneNote sections within the OneNote ClassNotebook to help students check their work -- she set the password to the correct answer, so they knew they had it right when the Section opened up.

I figured I could use this for Math Review, so I set aside a couple of hours (turned out to be 3 hours but a fair chunk of that was solution-time) the other night to put an Exam Review together for my Grade 10 Mathematics course.  I pulled together as many multiple choice questions and short answer questions on the topics as I could Google and tried to balance each Section with a mix of topics and then threw in a couple of pop-culture questions, too.  The students worked on the problems in each section and used the answers as passwords to unlock the next section until they got to the Prize section.
Result?  Near total continual engagement for the 60 min…

So you want to hack your OneNote Class Notebook

Taking a brief break from my "Getting Started with OneNote Class Notebook" series (you can start that one here)...

This is a little advanced so if you're not comfortable setting permissions inside of Office365 you may want to avoid this.  Or set up a Class Notebook to play with so that it doesn't affect any existing Class Notebooks.  Yeah, the latter is a good option.

One of the great powers of OneNote is that you can do some really neat permissioning of the Section Tabs. When the Notebook is created, of course, it gives you an "open permissions" on the Collaboration Space and student-read-only on the Content Library.  And then each student space is wide open to each individual student.

But we've found that occasionally you want to mix up the permissions a little.  For example, you could create a space in a student section for your private notes that the student couldn't see, or maybe you want a tab in the Collaboration Space that students couldn…