My Learning Project Part III – Quizzes

For my Learning Project, I took a few Circle of Fifths Quizzes to test my knowledge of the content. I plan on redoing these each week.

Below are the results of three different online quizzes I took on the Circle of Fifths. 

QUIZ #1

https://www.studybass.com/lessons/harmony/major-keys-on-the-circle-of-fifths/quiz/

This quiz gives you ten randomized questions. It also times you.

May 24

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May 25:

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QUIZ #3

https://www.purposegames.com/game/circle-of-fifths-quiz

This quiz tracked your time and also how many false answers you gave. The little green dots would become different colours depending on how many tries it took to get it right. After four tries, the correct answer is highlighted in purple. 

I appreciate that this test gave me a visual aid with the actual circle, so I could place notes where they belonged. 

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May 24

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QUIZ 3

https://www.sporcle.com/games/Strattosphere/fifths

This last quiz had a 3 minute time limit, which I only realized after it ran out. The quiz also told me that I’m “better than this” and that it “believed in me”. 

May 24

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These quizzes really made me realize that I had been relying on referencing a picture of the circle of fifths, and needed to work more on memorizing it if I wanted it to be useful to me. 

Quizzes are effective to a certain extent. After a certain point, I suspect that retaking these same quizzes may become a matter of pure memorization, which isn’t always a sign of knowing the content. 

Last week I posted about the lesson videos that I have been watching. In contrast to lesson videos, I’ve found that tutorial videos are much more exciting, since they go past any theory and get me learning songs right away. 

For example, here’s a tutorial video on how to play Owl City’s song “Silhouette”.

Pros of Tutorial Videos

  • demonstrate quicker results (being able to play your favourite songs and impress your friends)
  • Piano roll is visible, somtetimes notes can be seen moving down the screen Guitar Hero or Rock Band style. The new pianist learns to anticipate what notes are to be played next, (similar skill learned when you are trained to read sheet music)

Cons of Tutorial Videos

  • new pianist may rely too much on memorization and abandon the study of theory (which helps the pianist understand WHY they are playing what they are playing)
  • Many tutorial videos are not well-explained, or use poor video-quality. The lack of visual aids or graphics can lead to a very difficult-to-follow video. 

Understanding theory is very important, as it establishes the rules that govern how the piano is played. Someone who understands theory is able to then break the rules and move into improvisation, which is one of my main goals (see post #1)

At the same time, theory can become boring, and I imagine that many new pianists have quit piano merely because it felt like a drag. I’m on my fourth piano lesson myself, and I have still not played a single song yet (we’ve been doing worksheets and talking about theoretical concepts for an hour and a half each lesson).

In the classroom, I think that a good strategy would be to give your students a balance between theory and practice. 

THEORY: Teach the students the rules with textbook or article readings, quizzes, or presentation assignments.

PRACTICE: Allow the students to apply what they know about theory with cool projects, or by inviting experts in their field into the classroom to speak to the class about how they apply theory into their everyday jobs. 

BLENDING: As part of each assignment, you can help students connect theory and practice by getting them to reflect on how the two relate to each other (Ex: How did you use what you know about the Circle of Fifths to inform your performance of the song “Silhouettes” in class?)

Before I end this post, here is a video of me attempting to play “Meteor Shower” by Owl City using what I have learned about the key of D! Next week, I will take what I know about the song and combine it with what I learn in a tutorial video.

https://youtu.be/rltEMjsYZus

My Learning Project Part II – Youtube Videos 

UPDATE: I sold my MicroKorg last week. I also ended up getting my MPK Mini in the mail! It’s still just a MIDI Controller, though, and is mainly useful for simple chords on a hip hop track I’m cooking up. It’s nice, but I want a real piano.

Currently looking to buy 88 weighted keys. I’ll keep you posted.

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I began conducting research for my Learning Project by turning to Youtube. I found that the place to start for me was with basic theory; specifically, I wanted to better understand something called the Circle of Fifths. 

A YouTuber named Michael New has several great videos on this topic.

I found that his setup was best for my style of learning, as he uses a whiteboard and coloured markers to make sense of complex ideas. I’m a visual learner, so color-coding stuff is like breathing for me. 

Michael has one overhead camera facing the whiteboard from the top -down, and another camera facing himself. I like that I can see his friendly face and his hand movements in the corner of each of his videos. This and his level, calm voice make the act of learning about complicated concepts a lot less intimidating. Michael avoids using needlessly long words when he teaches, and when he does arrive at an important term, he makes sure to stop and explain it in simple detail. My lightbulbs went on especially quickly when watching the video “The Circle of Fifths – How to Actually Use It.” Just that title alone made me feel relief, because I knew that the content I was about to get into would be easy to follow and practical.

A link to the video I used is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1aJ6HixSe0

Now that I think about it, “easy to follow and practical” is probably what online learners are most looking for. Combine that with the repeatability of video, and I think Youtube is easily one of the best sources for learning a skill.

Regarding my learning, I was able to not only refresh myself on the makeup of the Circle of Fifths, but I was able to learn new ways to use it. For example, I learned that because each note on the circle represents a fifth interval, and because fifths are the frameworks for chords, I can use the circle of fifths to determine which chords belong in a key, simply by remembering where each note sits on the circle. 

It’s complicated, but I guess that means that Youtube’s working for me! It’s also helping as a supplement to the actual Zoom Call lessons I have each Wednesday afternoon. I think online supplementary learning could work really well in a classroom setting, where the teacher is able to provide the students with additional resources like videos, podcasts, or articles related to a project or assignment. To create incentive, I would give extra marks or perhaps an extra rubric category specifically for evidence of suplementary learning or use of additional resources. 

Anyways, that’s all I have to say on the topic. I’ll be back next week with another update!

EDTC 300 – The world is changing

The world is changing fast. 

My mother, who is one of the best educators I know, can feel the heat. Lots has changed in the past few months, and with many teachers having embraced tried and true methods for their classrooms for years, the new wave of remote-teaching requirements are definitely causing a bit of panic, or at the very least, discomfort. 

My mom told me the other day that after years of having a rhythm in the way she crafted her unit plans, having to teach from home on a tablet has led to a season of re-learning that she hasn’t experienced since her early teaching days. It’s exhilarating, and yet frightening. It’s new territory to tread. It’s happily terrifying. 

I’m also wondering about my future as a teacher. With internship possibly coming up this fall, I wonder what teaching classes in this environment will look like. During class last night, I heard people saying that they may have interns teach from home. I can consider myself unfortunate for having to make changes to my practice, or i can consider myself lucky for getting to work through these changes super early in my career (so early, in fact, that my career hasn’t even officially started). I can’t imagine having to unlearn decades of tradition. Then again, I suppose this is what being an educator is about. Evolve, or get left behind. Yikes. 

I think that school won’t ever be the same. We may begin to slowly meet in person again, but with the virus coming in waves, we may see students moving between remote and on-campus learning several times a year. With this kind of transience, teachers will likely become more prepared with online presence, keeping all of their assignments, hand-outs, and forms ready on an online classroom. I also predict that teachers will craft much more digital-friendly assignments and modes of assessment. 

These changes also might get teachers’ creative juices flowing again, even those who have maybe become jaded or feel like they are in a rut. For example, with many in-person avenues of presentation being eliminated during this time, I imagine that teachers will begin to familiarize themselves with online presentation tools such as Google Slides and Pear Deck, which also have great in-built tools for real-time or post-presentation feedback. 

The optimistic side of me predicts that we will begin to see more fun and engaging project ideas for students. Right now, my brother is playing Minecraft with his class and teacher each day. They complete in-game assignments like building projects, chemistry experiments and research journals, and other cool projects. To say I’m jealous is an understatement. Also, my brother’s teacher Mr. Blenkin, who had been fighting for the school IT team to set up Minecraft servers for the class, is now finally able to try it out. He is officially in my top 5 best educators of all time.

That’s all I have to say so far. I’m super curious to see what comes of these new circumstances. 

My Learning Project: Chapter 1

For this project, I will research internet learning strategies and reflect on how I might utilize them in a future classroom setting. I will do this by taking up a skill of my choice and learning it using a variety of internet resources like blogs, videos, or e-courses. 

Students are already learning huge amounts of what they know on the internet. For example, I remember teaching a grade 2 student who was already at a grade 5 or 6 reading-level. When I asked his brothers about it, they told me that they would spend hours on the internet each day looking at memes, reading sub-reddits, or playing games. This was the environment that gave him such a sharp reading and writing skill, and it was already translating into academic prowess in the classroom. Case in point: there has never been a better time for teachers to integrate internet learning strategies into their lessons.

I had a hard time deciding what skill I wanted to learn. I have way too many interests. However, after weighing the options, I have decided that I want to learn to play the piano. 

And before anyone roasts me, I am aware that the image I chose is not a piano, but a synth. I get it. I just wanted to show off my Micro Korg.

I’ll be honest. I can already “kind of” play the piano. For the past month I have been practicing to play in the key of D major exclusively, and since I already have a strong foundation of prior musical knowledge, it has been relatively easy to learn. However, my goal for this project is to become a “great” or at least a “better” pianist. I would like to be able to play confidently in any key, completely by ear, and to develop independence with each hand. I want to be able to play in multiple genres as well.

I can read sheet music, but nowhere near fast enough to be able to play it. Frankly, I’m not at all interested in learning how to play sheet music. Instead, I will be learning about the other parts of piano theory, such as the Circle of Fifths, intervals, chords, and scales. 

My North-star for this project is to be able to play either the song “Silhouette” or “Lonely Lullaby” by Owl City. Those are the two songs that made me fall in love with the sound of the piano. 

I will be posting my progress reports to this blog, in hopes that I can document the moment I learned piano from Internet-sensei. Some of the stops I plan to make are Youtube tutorials, blogs, and e-courses (I may or may not pay for one). I also might start taking lessons with a real human over a video-chat app like Zoom.

Additionally, I will reflect on the nature of the resources I used, how effective each strategy was, and how I might use them to help students learn to read, write, persuade, speak, present, or solve math problems.

Some of my reflections will be on my Twitter! You can follow me at @yohanwins (https://twitter.com/yohanwins), or find my or my classmates’ tweets using the hashtag #edtc300.

I hope you enjoy the journey!