Pro-D Day - Diefenbaker - Intro to Garageband

I was very happy to go to Diefenbaker Elementary (at the invitation of the Pro-D committee) to lead an afternoon workshop on some of the exciting ways Garage Band could be used in the Elementary classroom.

Garage Band is a great program that does for sound what iPhoto does for pictures. (In fact, I think iSound would have been a more apt and self-explanatory name!) All the labs in Richmond have this app installed as part of the default suite of offerings, so it makes sense to explore its potential.

Meaningful Integration
Any technology can be overused, or used in an unconnected fashion. In practice, we are looking for a logical tie-in with the content that is being covered in class. The trick is to always look at what your outcomes are: what do you want to students to know, to do and be able to demonstrate at the end of your unit?

GB can give a student a way to show his/her learning to the teacher, share it with the class or a wider "authentic" audience and provide extension or enrichment activities.

Where to start? Here's a copy of the handout I provided to get the conversation rolling: (click for larger image.)Literacy Extension Activities, Learning Demonstrations, Dramatic Extensions: each suggestion leads to other great ideas. Planning, teamwork, reflection, self-assessment, oral language production, story-boarding: students develop a range of skills as they complete the project. (In addition to recording their voices, students could even create ambient background soundscapes to play while they perform skits, read poetry or do creative writing. The only limit is our imagination.)

There are a great number of samples on-line for each of these activities. I've provided a few links here.

We then proceeded to look at how to build a simple podcast. (I created one earlier in the day using my voice and a couple of jingles. This allowed me to show how the elements work together. Click on the player below.)

I gave the teachers a chance to create a demo inserting their own voice along with some effects and jingles. Everyone had an opportunity to experiment and see just how easy GB is to use. (It got pretty noisy!) Hint: Teachers might want their students to bring their iPod earbuds with them to the lab. (If the school has headset/mic combinations, this would be even better.)

I've included some step-by-step instructions to work through the process here.
Garage Band 3 Steps

My impression was that teachers felt empowered to use GB with their class. Of course, it's only by playing with the app that we become confident users. Several teachers expressed interest in having me come back once they had played with the program a little more, and brainstorm with them about how they could introduce a GB activity to their students.