Making Curriculum Pop

Reflection on Dr. Kist - New Literacies in Action

I am a Junior-high school music teacher, but also a first time mother with a 14 months old son. And this is why I listened to Dr. Kist's presentation with special interest: I wanted to not only grow and learn new ideas professionally as an educator, but also have awareness about a topic that perhaps might have the biggest impact on my son's education in the near-future.

Dr. Kist's presentation was great - he practiced what he preached very effectively. The exercises he had us go through, whether it was throwing crumpled paper balls at each other with written messages and replies, or lining up by order of birth date without speaking, have very important components that any teacher should include in the classroom. They are collaboration, communication and action (moving around). While I was doing the birth date line up activity, I remember thinking what a great way the activity would be to teach music history or many other different lessons. Doing the exercises made me experience first hand how important it is to create such active, engaging environment for the students. Dr. Kist mentioned the importance of building a community. This is a very important part of the teacher’s job- to make sure that we are including everyone in the experience.

I really enjoyed the reading Dr. Kist’s book which highlights many wonderful examples of literacy initiatives being implemented by teachers. My favorite example was how the librarian at the Peacock Middle School (whose official title is Media Center Director) plays a centralized role in setting up and administering the whole system of media and technology to support the school curriculum. I am impressed that the school not only recognizes the increasing importance that various media and technology will play in curriculum going forward, but also acts on that recognition. Sounds like an ideal environment for the students!

I want to become a teacher who will be remembered by students, who will say “yes, I learned something very important from Ms. Lee’s class.” I hope to be able teach not only music theory or how to play string instruments, but life skills where it helps my students in the future. I guess this will be my ultimate goal, and Dr. Kist's presentation inspired me and increased my confidence that I can reach this goal.

Here are some links that I think are great examples of using variouis media to make learning music fun for children and adults:
General Music Theory and Knowledge with Online Community:
Music Composition:
Music Education for Kids with Performances by San Francisco Symphony:

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Comment by Jiyean Yoon on May 5, 2009 at 11:21am
Yes, I remember Dr. Kists' "snowball" activity. When he asked us to stand up and throw our crumpled papers, I was thinking to myself, "ughh~It's too early in the morning to do an activity like this. I'm so lazy! Why is he asking us to move around? we just got here!" At first, I didn't like the fact that he made us move around and do all the "excercise" we had to do. I guess my expectation was to just sit and listen to his lecture. :p But I was wrong. It was actually fun and made me wake up while collaborating and communicating with outher peers. I realized that I was having fun with the activity. I've learned the valuable lesson from this. It is very important to make the lesson creative and unique to get students' attention. Dr. Kist was right. The teacher shouldn't just lecture the whole time and expect students to sit there and listen. Of course they might not like to move around early in the morning, but it's a great way to start a day and refresh their minds. :)
Comment by Mollie McAllister on May 4, 2009 at 2:42pm
Hi Yoonkyung. I too thought that Kist had some wonderful ideas for making the learning environment something that involved active learning. He has a great way of using activities that are fun and interesting for students, but they are also learning important things. Sometime teachers can focus so much on making the activities fun, they forget that there needs to be some valid teaching and learning going on as well. He did a good job at creating that balance.
Comment by Sean Owens on May 4, 2009 at 10:42am
Hey Yoonkyung, I reall liked this post and I really enjoyed reading how you felt about Dr. Kists presentation. I too enjoyed the "snowball" activity where we lined up in the hallway. I think this could be used in a history lesson where students are specific historical figures. I love the title of "media director" for the librarian and that this school values the incorporation of this. Sadly, though some school still don't incorporate media (like Amy's). Thanks for the links!
Comment by Virginia Pourakis on May 3, 2009 at 10:21pm
Hi Yoonkyung! I'm sure you will be that memorable teacher! To play devil's advocate, even though from the educator's standpoint I want my classroom to involve the students "doing" and being active, I wonder how "open" or enthusiastic the middle- or high-schooler would be with regard to this. (Lucky for me, I teach elementary school!) I'm thinking back to myself in grades 7-12. I was pretty tired and would rather have been left alone versus being asked to engage in something more actively in class. Even as a goody-two-shoes, I'd probably want to roll my eyes and think to myself, "Do I HAVE to?" That's not to say that pushing myself to go along with it would not have its rewards. Maybe I'd be less tired, too!


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