2019 GiveOrcas holiday catalog: Chromebooks/Cart needed for OISD Music Program in new Wing 

Tra-la-la-lala!  The 2019 GiveOrcas Holiday Catalog runs from Dec 2-20, and MAG is one of 20 non-profits that are participating.  At the top of our music teachers’ wishlist is a dedicated set of 30 Chromebooks, housed in a storage cart cum charging station, that will serve the music classrooms in the new music wing.  Here, we provide a deeper explanation of why and how your gift will help the music program that serves almost 160 students in band and strings, plus K-4th grade elementary students. Thank you for considering a contribution to help equip the new music wing.  Every little gift helps!

MAG’s request in the GiveOrcas Holiday Catalog: 

Chromebooks/Cart needed for OISD Music Program in new Wing 
The Music Program needs 30 Chromebooks and a charging/storage cart for daily classroom use. Students use them for instrument practice, performance assignments & play tests. Chromebooks in other OISD buildings are heavily used & difficult to move (outdoors) to/from the Music Wing. A dedicated set of Chromebooks for the Music Department will enable our teachers to teach more effectively. Cost: $8152. 

Q & A: Why and how Chromebooks will help the music program

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What is a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are durable, inexpensive laptops that are used regularly in the classroom by elementary, middle and high school students at Orcas Island School District, OISD. Chromebooks are designed to be used while connected to the Internet.  OISD students log in to specialized online applications that help them practice and expand math learning, take mandated tests and other pop quizzes, and collaborate with classmates on science or social studies projects. 

Why are Chromebooks needed in a music class?

The 5th-8th grades band and strings music curriculum uses beginning books for each instrument that are supported by an online program called Essential Elements Interactive.  There is an option that can support 4th graders who are learning the ukulele as well.  High School musicians use SmartMusic, another suite of music education tools that help them develop their skills through efficient practice.

Screen shot of Beginning Strings books used in the school music curriculum

Our music students use Chromebooks, when available, to access these apps for play tests, music research, performance assignments, and for learning to play their instruments. With a dedicated set of Chromebooks and a storage cart cum charging station housed in the music wing, students will be able to take full advantage of all the features that these apps have to offer.

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Screen Shot of SmartMusic App Screen showing how student can use it

In a typical music period of 55 minutes, one music teacher is responsible for teaching a class of 25-30 beginning students who are each learning to play one of several instruments.  In band class, for example, students are learning to play the flute, saxophone, French horn, percussion or another instrument. In string, the music teacher is working with violin, viola, cello and bass students in the same period.  Ideally, students could be using the Chromebooks and extending their learning using the Essential Elements or SmartMusic program during class while the teacher works with individual students. Ultimately, the Chromebooks will help our teachers work with students more effectively and efficiently in a large music class.

Doesn’t OISD already have Chromebooks and carts that music students can use?

OISD Chromebooks and carts are housed in other school buildings and are heavily used by other classes, limiting regular use by the music classrooms. When available, they need to be signed out and transported to and from the music wing. Given the limited time between classes, this ends up taking away precious teaching time in a 55-minute music period. Furthermore, the teachers have to move the Chromebooks and cart between buildings, including a stretch outdoors, which adds to the wear and tear on the equipment.

The present situation is logistically impractical and limits the music students from fully using innovative online music education resources as effectively as they would otherwise.

Didn’t MAG already purchase Chromebooks for the music program?

In the 2017-2018 school year, MAG helped with the purchase of 6 Chromebooks for use with the SmartMusic online app and these are still in use as intended in the practice rooms.  These have an expected lifespan of 5-8 years.  MAG’s current Holiday Catalog fund drive is for a dedicated set of 30 Chromebooks and a storage cum charging cart that will be used in the music classrooms by classes of 28-31 students, allowing each student to access music apps during class time. 

How will a dedicated set of Chromebooks and cart improve things?

The 30 Chromebooks will be housed in a specialized cart that will safely store, charge and transport the Chromebooks.  They will reside full-time in the music wing and be available in a reliable and timely way. Our music teachers can schedule their use between band, string and elementary music classes. This means that music students will be able to take full advantage of all that Essential Elements, SmartMusic or other apps have to offer while in class, or, during extra rehearsals and for individual practice after school.  With the greater flexibility that the use of Chromebooks will bring to the music curriculum, OISD music teachers will be able to teach, and music students will be able to learn, more efficiently and effectively.