This is a guest blog post written by Greenwood Elementary School’s Music Specialist, Mr. Brian Westgard. Our team of Specialists recently planned and organized an amazing experience for our students. The entire evening was a HUGE celebration of student creativity. I asked Brian if he’d be willing to provide a snapshot of the “Passport to Passion” event and he graciously agreed. Mr. Westgard is newer to Twitter, and you can connect with him at @MrWestgard.
Unpacking Passport to Passion
The “Passport to Passion” event was created to highlight the student talent and achievement taking place in the specialist subject areas of Music, Art, Physical Education, Technology, Spanish, Media, and Vision 21. In the weeks preceding the event, students spent time working with their specialist teachers to prepare material to showcase and share with family members, friends, and guests who were able to attend. The name “Passport to Passion” was derived from the process in which students shared their experiences with their guests throughout the evening. Upon arrival, students were issued a “passport” to use as a guide for the event. The passport was a folded piece of paper containing learning objectives for each subject area. While visiting a particular subject area, students were awarded a star sticker for their passport if they were able to explain the learning objective to their guests. As students and guests made the rounds throughout the evening, their goal was to successfully fill their passport with stars for each subject area.
The event as a whole was beneficial to all parties involved. While students had a chance to showcase their hard work and achievement, teachers and staff members were in turn able to interact with parents and family members regarding curriculum and the learning process. For specialist teachers in particular this opportunity was incredibly valuable. Every experience as students and guests traveled from area to area was something new, as each subject area prepared and showcased material for the event in a different way. For example, the art department worked with students to feature artwork, sculptures, and other creations. Media and literacy teachers prepared a scavenger hunt throughout the media center for students and their guests.
As the music specialist, I wanted to prepare students for the “Passport to Passion” event by utilizing technology to work with students on the concepts of steady beat, rhythm, and teamwork. This year, our technology department introduced Sphero (a spherical robot controlled by a mobile device) to aid students in the learning process. While collaborating with our technology specialist I became aware of Sphero’s ability to illuminate, and the ability to manipulate the color and timing of of the color change by tapping the mobile controlling device with a finger. In music lessons leading up to the event, I worked with 3rd and 4th grade students on their ability to change Sphero’s color with regard to musical beat and rhythm. I composed and recorded a song to go with the lesson (aptly titled “The Sphero Jam”), and assigned students a variety of beat and rhythm patterns to coincide with the musical nature of the song. Throughout the lessons I captured various video clips of students learning and working together in an effort to succeed. I then compiled the video clips and arranged them into a video presentation for students and guests to watch when they arrived for the music subject area portion of the “Passport to Passion” event. I also made available a handful of Sphero devices for students to demonstrate to guests how what they were seeing in the video was done.
The link to the video is included above. Though I was involved primarily with the music subject area of the event, “Passport to Passion” led to a destination for all specialist areas of academic excellence for students, staff, and guests alike.
Brian M. Westgard
Music Specialist – Greenwood Elementary School