Schoology Tips: How One Music Teacher Is Keeping Learning Going
Starting in March, Schoology began doing weekly Distance Learning Meet-ups on Fridays to help our users adapt to the sudden shift to learning (and teaching) at home. Each week, a “spotlight educator” shared some tips and tricks on distance learning, followed by Q&A.
This recap is for the Distance Learning Meet-up that occurred on 4/24/2020, with Brian Bruggeman from Monroe School District in Monroe, WI. Bruggeman, a middle school band director, shared some tips for keeping learning going for non-core classes.
Providing audio/video opportunities to keep us connected
A key option to keep the learning going–especially for classes that rely upon performance-type tasks–is to use the native audio/video recorder in Schoology. Available for both students and teachers, this is a great way to have your face and your voice (or performance!) available, even when we’re not in face-to-face learning scenarios. “It's been a real good thing for us because as a music teacher, I can get the audio video recording in and it's seamless integration because it's already there in the platform. . . I can do that as an instruction and provide my voice or my video as an instruction. So, in my absence, whether it's I have a sub for the day (or now this absence), my students still see me.”
Because students have access to this tool as well, they can also record themselves in a Discussion post, an assignment submission, even inside of an assessment. For Bruggeman, this also provided a way to hear student performances and give audio feedback on that performance. “As far as feedback goes, you'll see I have a submission that a student had to play into their Chromebook. I could sit there and type it (and then I'm constantly with my fingers missing keys and going back and erasing), but this way I can just click on the audio and record myself giving them feedback.”
Interestingly, Bruggeman is also using the audio/video tool in Schoology’s Course Assessments for attendance. “One of the things that was discussed was how are people taking attendance during this time, because we have to have the kids there, but we want to make sure that they're in there–and we’ve got accurate information as to attendance. So, one of the ideas I came up with was using a course assessment. I created a one-click (or one question assessment) and I put myself in there recording a question. I did a Google search for like “65 questions you can ask your middle school student” and it was like “What did you eat for breakfast today?” And not only would I ask the question in the video, but I'd also answer it so that my students saw that I was still a real person–and doing that, I was still among them.”
Options when giving an assignment or using online discussions
When using something like an assignment, there are ways to bring multimedia content directly into the assignment so that kids can watch, listen, interact, etc. “In Schoology, one of the best tools is the insert content tool. From that tool you can grab Google Apps (or you can do OneDrive of you're a Microsoft school), you can attach video using YouTube or Vimeo. You can also insert Quizlet links, you can put embed codes in there, whatever it is that you want to do and it's all right there.”
While those options can be found in the Assignment builder in Schoology, you’ll see those options in other interactive materials in Schoology, including Discussion Boards and Assessments as well. “One of the ways I use that in my class is that the Marine band had a like March madness, but it was like Souza marches and they're battling each other. I can put a video recording or an audio recording of the Marine band playing into the discussion posts (and I actually put two in because we were challenging each other) and then I put a link in so that they could actually vote on the Marine band site! That way they were still having that educational content–that they saw good musicians doing the things they needed to do and be successful.”
Leveraging Google Drive and Google Assignments
Because Google can be brought directly into materials and assignments, many teachers can bring in Google slides or documents, either for students to view or for students to use as part of an assignment. For Bruggeman, he has found that using Google within a Schoology page is incredibly versatile. “Another tool that I use daily is the page tool and I think it's the unsung hero in the platform because of the versatility of it. Anything you can do virtually within the program; you can also do in a page.” In his case, this has provided a way use embedded Google Slides for his daily agenda–along with an embedded YouTube timer–to streamline his warm-up routine. “The Google Drive App is also a great tool too, because I can take my learning targets, put them into a Google slide, and then import the Google slide directly in so that they're there all the time. And it's kind of like I've created this template for my daily agenda. Most of it is always there, it's just what am I changing for that specific day.”
Another very popular tool in Schoology–the Google Assignments app–can also be used to collect things like student art work. An art teacher in Bruggeman’s building, for example, collects student sketchbooks. Prior to using the Google assignment app, she would have students turn in their sketchbook that she would then have to physically carry home and back to view and provide feedback. But Schoology’s workflow with Google ended up making that process easier (and lighter). She now can “have the students take a picture of their sketchbook, insert the picture into the Google document, and then submit the Google document into Schoology so that everyone was still submitting their work and she wasn't having to be a weightlifter in order to make it successful.”
Keeping Your Own Learning Going
Many educators, like Bruggman, are using some of the “Learning at Home” time to learn themselves. Bruggeman, in addition to reading some books and taking some online courses, relies heavily on being involved with groups of fellow educators to get–and share–ideas. “I really do like the idea of having that tribe and the tribe mentality. But where do you find your tribe? Well, a couple of places that I like, I use the Schoology ambassador hashtag (#SchoologyAMB) because I'm a Schoology ambassador–I watch for that. But I also like the Schoology chat (#schoologychat). There are so many intelligent people on there and I'm inspired by the chats every time I get to participate in one, and I'm constantly following more people through that time.”
Bruggeman is also an advocate for using his PLN to build upon what he does as an educator, “finding those people that inspire you to do more. Listening to that podcast or watching that tutorial to think, how can I take that to my level? How can I adapt something that this person did? But I want to take it to my classroom. Everybody's story is different and you have to take anybody's idea and kind of stretch it a little bit to make it your own, but it will work.”
If you missed our webinar (or want to watch it again!), you can watch the presentation below and follow Brian Bruggeman on social media (@bruggsb).