You Are The Music Makers

You Are The Music Makers

Last month, Manuel Herrera and I were lucky enough to work with teachers in the Jackson R-2 School District. One of our workshops was designed specifically for the district’s elementary music teachers. Manuel and I are both big advocates for arts education – and work to integrate the arts and creation into core classes – so we were very excited to work with this team!

One of the tools we used with the music tealogo.pngm was Song Maker. Song Maker is one of the many tools in Chrome Music Lab. The more we worked with this fun, user friendly tool, we started to see the many connections to core content areas. In the time since our work in Jackson, Manuel and I have continued to revisit Song Maker and develop some fun activities to get kids creating and collaborating around music.


writing.pngPut Music to Writing. In Jackson, Manuel and I did a Paint Chip Poetry activity with the music teachers, where they created poetry from the names of paint chips. Then, that poetry turned into lyrics as it was put to music. Song Maker is a great tool to put any student poetry or writing to music, instantly transforming students’ words into lyrics and creating a whole new piece of art!



Songs About Science. What does the water cycle sound like? Does precipitation sound heavier or louder than evaporation? Pick any process in science, and ask students to first take notes on the different parts of the process – importance of each step, speed at which the process moves, and even how they feel about the process, etc. Then create a song that represents that process.

When students in early elementary collect weather data through the week, they typically graph their observations. Take that a step further and have them write a Weather Song for the week – rain and sun probably sound very different! Can you hear the different days and weather in this song?



Soundtrack a Story. Students retell a scene or chapter from a book through a song, or use music to represent a character’s feelings. Rising action likely sounds very different than falling action! In The Hunger Games, the scene when Katniss takes her sister’s place would have a very different tone than when Katniss is in the arena.

Imagine all the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – each of their personalities or feelings would sound very different when told through music – happy, angry, excited, in love, etc.



Musical Math. When younger students are learning about patterns, have them arrange a piece of music that follows a certain pattern. Give students this handout to create their pattern first, then build it in Song Maker. Once their pattern is created, encourage them to make changes by adding or deleting in order to make the song sound better – all while staying in a pattern!

For older students, ratios can be used to compose a song. Give students ratio requirements – for every 4 red beats, use 1 blue beat – and allow them to use those ratios however they like! Give students the handout to plan out how they’ll use the ratios first, then build it in Song Maker.



Collaborative Compositions. Working in pairs, students should discuss a song they will create. This song can be content related (maybe from one of the examples above!), or something just for fun. They should discuss beats, tempo, etc. Then, have each partner fill out these pages individually – one planning the beat and one planning the melody. When they come back together, they will each put their work into one Song Maker song. Have students reflect on their work – did it sound how they planned? How could they change it?


When students are finished creating their music, they can easily share it by clicking “Save” and copying the link. The link can be emailed, bookmarked, or posted to Google Classroom. 

Manuel and I hope you can find ways to use Song Maker – and the other fun tools on Chrome Music Lab – to bring music into your classroom! Please share anything you or your students create with us on Twitter and Instagram – @sadieclorinda and @manuelherrera33 on both platforms.


Google Cast for Education

Google Cast for Education

As the school year moves forward, I am spending more and more time out in classes, working with teachers and students. In many of the conversations and planning sessions, the same topics of feedback, student voice, and sharing work continue to come up. In these conversations, I always find myself offering Google Cast for Education as a tool for the teachers and students to use.

Google Cast for Education is one of my favorite tools, because it is super easy to use and can be used in a variety of ways! To start using Cast, you’ll need to install it from the Chrome Web Store. Students won’t need to install anything (awesome!).

Once installed, you simply open Cast from your Extensions toolbar, give it a name (that’s you!) and invite students to cast.

Here’s my one page printable for Google Cast for Education!

Here’s a quick video showing how Cast works:

A few things to note as you start using Cast:

  • Students can cast just their Tab (so they can browse to other tabs) or their entire Desktop
  • You can choose to have students Request (recommended) or Present without approval
  • You or the student can end the casting session at any time
  • Cast is not based on proximity – anyone who is invited can cast. So, remember to remove students/classes by using the Share button!

Five Ways to Use Cast for Education:

  1. Fast-Paced Presentations. When pitching an idea or giving Ignite Talks, students can cast their Tab, rather than take the time to share with the teacher and open the file.
  2. Let Students Drive. Students can cast their Desktop to share their findings or walk the class through a process.
  3. Real Time Feedback. Students can cast their work to the class to get authentic feedback on content and design.
  4. Untethered Teacher. Teachers can log onto Chromebooks and cast to their own desktop, allowing them to teach from anywhere in the room and adapt on the fly!
  5. Special Guests. Coaches, TOSAs, and other classroom visitors can cast their screens to the teacher desktop, eliminating the need to log on share materials.

I’d love to hear about how you are using Cast with your students and teachers! Share it on Twitter and tag @sadieclorinda!

Creative Coding

Creative Coding

In a first grade class one day, I asked a few students “Do you like coding?”
They had no idea what I was talking about.

What they did tell me: “I made this bracelet out of rubberbands and beads.” 

The current nationwide conversation around STEM focuses very heavily on coding, programming, and engineering. Which is great, if you are interested in those things.

What about our kids who just aren’t interested in coding? 

Girls in STEM, Girls Who Code, CSforAll – a few of the many movements and hashtags that are trying to get our kids interested in STEM. Why are they so focused on changing our students’ interests, rather than focusing on their current interests?

And for some reason, the STEM movement has started sending this message that’s it’s somehow a bad thing to be a girly-girl. An entire group of us are being left out of the STEM conversation.

That’s a problem.

I started thinking “How can I take these little creators, and use their current interests to get them into computational thinking, coding, STEM, etc?”

I decided to create an activity for these little learners that focuses on patterns and codes.


Using different colored beads, students could “code their name” using the key, or create their own pattern with a few colors and repeat it over and over.

The intro to this activity was quick – we talked about patterns and secret codes for a few minutes, then they were off on their own!


I loved seeing their creativity in creating their own unique patterns. One friend asked if he could have two patterns on the same necklace. He decided to use a black bead to separate the two patterns.


The students who decided to code their names were excited to take the necklaces home and have their parents “decode” them.

I included a little card that I threaded onto their necklaces that explained the activity, and gave them some “unplugged coding” ideas to try at home.

Click here to view and print my Coding Bracelets pages.

I loved this activity, and will be doing it again in other kindergarten and first grade classrooms. Taking the students’ current interests – making jewelry – and bringing in some basic computation thinking skills worked well. They started using “coding” language and will have that in their toolbox when “real” coding and programming is presented to them as they get older.

Give Me a Minute!

Give Me a Minute!

Teachers are busy. And rarely have more than a few minutes of “extra time.”

That’s the barrier I’m attempting to tackle lately – and, as always, I’m using my Design Thinking Coaching model to do it.


How can I provide meaningful ideas and strategies to teachers, without taking up too much of their time?

After analyzing the data from my Needs Assessment sent out in September and January, it became clear that teachers prefer to receive professional development in a way that doesn’t take up too much time. An overwhelming number of respondents – over 75% – expressed interest in receiving PD through instructional videos, tutorial documents, and self-paced courses.

This led me to create a Curriculum Technology Newsletter this fall, filled with PD opportunities, videos, links to online resources, etc. Because I use URL Shortener to create links to the newsletter, videos, and resources, I could see which things were getting “clicks” and which were not. It seemed anytime I described something as “quick” or “short,” people clicked on it!

As a teacher, time is precious. Between planning, grading, conferencing with students, meeting with departments, admin, and parents – and SO much more – it can be difficult to find the time to sit and watch a 10 minute tutorial video during plan time. So, my goal was to create something that honored my teachers’ time.


What I came up with was Give Me A Minute. Each week, I will create a video or graphic of a quick, easy tool or idea that takes teachers no longer than one minute to watch or read. We’re not talking big, multi-step tutorials here. We’re talking taking tools they are likely already using, and showing them a new way to use – a feature they hadn’t noticed, a different way to use it with students, or a way to be more productive.

Give me a minute of your time, and I’ll give you an awesome tool or strategy you can use right away.

That’s my first video – using the Bookmarks Bar in Google Chrome to curate resources for a lesson. It’s nothing amazing or mindblowing – just a new way to use something you’re likely already familiar with.

Hopefully providing these Give Me A Minute resources will give teachers an entry point into other, more advanced forms of professional learning.

I’d love to hear how YOU are tackling the issue of time in your district or school! How do you deliver professional development that fits teachers needs and schedule?

Google Certified Trainer

I’m very excited.

Image result for google certified trainer badge

Yesterday, I was accepted as a Google Certified Trainer! It’s something I’ve been working towards for a while, but with having so many things going on, it’s taken me awhile to just get it done. The first week of March, I set my mind to it and just got all the application pieces together and got it submitted.
Keep Reading