I love learning, finding new ways to do things and have always had an interest in the use of technology in the Music classroom.
In 2017, I felt I needed to find some specific professional development in Music tech stuff – practical, easy to apply, and relevant training. And that’s when I discovered the amazing MusicEdNet DAYTIME conferences (Check them out at here).
It was at the conference this year, that I had my eyes opened to the wonderful world of STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, the ARTS, and Mathematics.
Of course I’d heard of STEM! It’s everywhere. Schools left, right and center are investing in it.
But – STEAM?… This was good.
For years I had incorporated technology and science into my lessons. Students as early as Reception design and make instruments and learn how sound is produced. Older students use programs such as Incredibox, iMovie and Garageband to explore sound, and arrange and compose.
But, now I could add a new layer to these lessons and that was STEAM! (And I knew it was going to be a hit with students and ADMIN)
So, this year, my classes are undertaking STEAM units with my Year 4/5s creating Water Xylophones and my Year 6/7s about to start coding using Scratch and Makey Makey kits.
The Yr 4/5 Water Xylophone task saw students actively engaged in every lesson. They loved measuring the water, creating the different pitches, playing simple melodies, composing new pieces.
We know that our young people need to be developing 21st century skills to enable them to be successful. We know that they need the 4Cs – critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. And as my classes are working through their STEAM units, I’m watching them think critically, communicate with each other and an audience, collaborate to find solutions for problems, and, most importantly, having the space, time and courage to create.
I have long been an advocate for the importance of Music and Arts education and the power it has to teach so many important skills to students, not just “soft” stuff.
But, once again, the Arts is going to be left behind and yet it is such a key component in being able to teach our students these 21st skills!
STEM is infiltrating education from Early Learning through to Tertiary institutions, when it should be STEAM that is powering through.
By adding the Arts to STEM, you are opening up a whole world of possibilities, and the reality is, in the majority of STEM projects at all levels, the Arts plays a key role, whether it be in the creative way a group presents their findings, the drawing skills used to design a robot, the drama skills used to stand before a group of potential “backers” as you make your pitch about a new entrepreneurial endeavour. Yes, it is more than just craft and building a milk bottle igloo. The Arts filters through the whole process, just as Engineering is the overarching process.
I was recently reading an article titled, “21st Century Skills: The Challenges Ahead” (Andrew Rotherham and Daniel Willingham), and something struck me. They wrote: “We don’t yet know how to teach self-direction, collaboration, creativity and innovation the way we know how to teach long division.”
But aren’t these skills that get taught in Music and the Arts?
When will people acknowledge the key role these subjects have in the development of our students?
It isn’t about finding the next Mozart or Justin Bieber or Monet. The Arts offers so much more in developing the overall person – teaching those 21st Century skills – nurturing and encouraging creativity, collaboration and innovation.
Don’t leave the Arts out.
It’s time to STEAM forward.
PS – Subscribe to my blog to be the first to know when my STEAM units of work are available for download. I’m working on them now, so it won’t be long!
For more resources about STEAM, Scratch Coding and Makey Makey kits – head to Teachers Pay Teachers – there are lots of cool resources out there which can help you get started.
PPS – My video clip today is from the amazing group, STOMP. Their DVD, Stomp Out Loud, is a favourite resource of mine and the kids love it. It really highlights creativity and innovation! This is their Water Pipe clip. Enjoy.