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Music education with the iPad and Doceri, at Rivesville Elementary/Middle School in West Virginia

Oh I woke up this morning, and I ran out to the bus
Well I woke up this morning, and I ran out to the bus
I forgot to comb my hair, and my mama made a fuss


Second graders at Rivesville Elementary/Middle School in Rivesville West Virginia are learning about the blues. Hands on. With iPads.

Now in his second year at Rivesville, music instructor Gregory DeVito has developed the music program into a thriving part of the school’s overall curriculum – including extensive use of Doceri with his iPad to keep students engaged, encourage visual learning and maintain classroom management.

DeVito-Class-1Teaching kindergarten through eighth grade, DeVito takes a slightly different approach depending on the grade level, but the fundamentals of note reading, rhythm and counting are a curriculum staple that ties into math instruction combined with song patterns and rhyming activities that support language arts.

After Winter break, DeVito began using the Doceri whiteboard, remote control and screencasting app on his iPad in all of his music classes.

“Especially in my kindergarten and first grade classes,” says DeVito, “I’ve seen a big improvement over last semester, before I used Doceri. They are now picking up on the terminology and learning to read notes and count rhythms much faster than before.”

After receiving his classroom iPad at the beginning of the year, DeVito was looking for an app that would do just what Doceri does. He tried the whiteboard app Educreations, but he knew that he would need to create his work on the app then load it to the computer to use it and display lessons class – and that cumbersome process was not attractive.

“As soon as I saw Doceri’s ability to connect the iPad whiteboard wirelessly to a classroom computer and projector – and with a built-in music staff background – I knew I’d found the solution I was looking for,” he says.

DeVitoClass-2All 400 students at Rivesville, kindergarten through eighth grade, have music classes with DeVito. He teaches in the multi-purpose room, with desks scattered around a large area. Using Doceri to project his lessons for everyone to see, he can move around the room to keep an eye on the work students are doing at their individual stations, and use his presence to manage potential discipline issues before they start.

“I love handing my iPad to a student at their desk to write an answer that appears on the screen,” says DeVito. “They can participate right from where they are, and the chance to use the iPad is really exciting for them.”

Back to the Blues…

In his second grade music class, DeVito is using the 12-bar blues progression to teach students about rhythm and rhyme. He opens a Doceri document and write the opening line “I woke up this morning and ___________” and invites students to fill in the blank. He explains that the first two lines will be the same, and the third just needs to rhyme with the last word in the phrase they’ve chosen. He opens a new Doceri page and writes as the students brainstorm on rhyming words, then another as he encourages them to come up with a final phrase.

When their new blues song has been written, he opens Garage Band and sets up a 12-bar blues track with a haunting organ in Em on the magic piano. The student’s take turns soloing between lines using Garage Band.

DeVito-Guitar-Chords“The students have a blast with it!” DeVito says.

“And for my seventh grade acoustic guitar class,” he says, “I was easily able to create my own fret board background in Doceri to teach chord positions.”

When students are absent, DeVito records the class lesson. Using one of the classroom video iPods, the student can view a short lecture of ten minutes or to get caught up, then join the class on the next activity.

“The great thing about recording live in class is that the student who was absent has the benefit of hearing not only my lesson, but any questions that were asked by other students. It really gives them a good perspective so they can catch up more quickly,” says DeVito. “I’ve also recorded short quizzes using Doceri, which means when students are absent they can just take the quiz when they return.”

As editor of the state music educators journal Notes a Tempo, DeVito has more plans for Doceri as the group gets its YouTube Channel up and running this Spring. Doceri-based lesson videos are in the works, and he plans to share what he’s learned about using Doceri in music instructions at the upcoming West Virginia Music Educators Association Conference at the end of February.

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