Cardiff School of Education gets the latest music technology

img_2354One of the most important roles of the Department of ITE is to ensure students are at the cutting edge of practice in education, whatever subject they teach. Music is a subject that moves particularly fast, and technology has made the subject accessible to more and more young people. Gone are the days when you needed to read music and have lessons on an orchestral instrument to succeed – now pupils can use a dizzying range of equipment to create and perform music that reflects what they listen to outside the classroom.

That’s why Professor Dan Davies, Dean of the School of Education (and an accomplished bass guitarist himself!) committed £40,000 to ensure that student teachers can be at the leading edge of music technology. Our specialist Technician Demonstrator, JC, has spent the last year ordering, testing and installing the latest equipment, and the results can be seen in the specialist music rooms on campus.

 iPads and Apple TV

A set of 10 iPads have been set up with music-specific apps and the ability to airplay directly to the big screens in D0.12 and D0.18. This allows students to investigate music-making using the ever-popular GarageBand app, and to collaborate during classes – a vital part of the new Digital Competence Framework for Wales.img_2356

iMacs with GarageBand and Sibelius

More and more schools have moved from the PC platform to Apple Mac, and we have reflected this with a complete classroom of iMacs loaded with GarageBand and Sibelius software. Students can investigate how to compose using these very different packages. Importing video as a composing stimulus adds an interesting cross-curricular aspect!

PCs with Cubase

Cubase is a very powerful tool used by professional producers tocreate pieces of music blending synthesised sounds with audio recordings. Our small classroom in D0.23 has four brand-new workstations that run the very latest version of Cubase so that students can produce musical projects on this important software platform.

Jamhubs for bands

Jamhubs allow a band to plug in and play, wherever they are! Several players can all hear one another, rehearse together or practice by themselves, all using headphones to avoid the noise levels becoming impossible. Schools are using these so that large classes can form six or more bands, all rehearsing in the same classroom with no noise problems – ideal for band carousels and informal learning! Now our students can become proficient in this new technology and take the ideas and techniques out into their placement schools.

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Teaching Chemistry to PGCE Physics student teachers – perspectives from alumnus Nathan White

chemFrom left to right: Nathan White (Chemistry teacher), Ellie Jones, Angus Ferraro and Rhysian Jones (Physics student teachers)

As a student teacher, life was a delicate balance between lesson planning in preparation for lessons, attending and completing university assignments and trying to fit in a social life as well.  I have always wondered, how, even with a reduced student teacher timetable how ‘normal’ teachers managed. During my PGCE at Cardiff Met, I had the privilege of having ‘real’ teachers coming in and teach lessons in a university setting to help me think about putting theory into practice. On 31st October 2016, I had the chance to be the ‘real’ teacher by returning to Cardiff Met to teach Chemistry experiments to PGCE secondary Physics student teachers.

As often is the case, learners come into lessons with misconceptions about a topic, especially in Science. It becomes the role of the Science teacher to challenge these misconceptions by experiment, whilst embedding appropriate AfL techniques to demonstrate visible progress in learning during a lesson.

It was great to be a part of the thinking process that student teachers often go through when setting out to plan a lesson. Do they have an idea of what the end product will look like? What types of learning objectives might apply to a highly practical lesson that promotes a high level of challenge but also caters for low achievers too? Having done the experiment themselves, they could see that the original success criterion they had set required change. This reinforced a few points to me. Firstly, Science teachers should really practise the experiment beforehand to identify any possible problems with the experiment before learners attempt the practical. This helps with questioning at certain points during a lesson in order to demonstrate excellence by challenging the misconceptions those learners entered the classroom with. Secondly, with them questioning whether the criterion was correct in the first place meant that they had visibly demonstrated learning during the course of a lesson. It is okay as a learner to go back and correct work as it shows learning in action. Seeing it from a university mentor’s point of view was different, but they are the same points ‘real’ teachers should be embedding into their everyday practice and is something Cardiff Met gave me a solid head start in doing from the start of my PGCE.

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