Copyright and Backchanneling in the Music Classroom

This post is another one in the series of posts originating from Professional Development Framework: Documenting for Learning

Dani Aisen, a music teacher, at Mount Scopus Memorial College, was part of a small group session with Specialists (Resource teachers) during my visit at the school in Melbourne, Australia. It was an opportunity for these teachers to question and talk more in detail about the keynote presentation (Documenting FOR Learning & The Now Literacies Through the Lens of Sharing)  and for me to share examples of how to support modern literacies in their specific subject areas.

Dani and I started talking about the role of the Music teachers to raise awareness of music piracy and the possibilities of authentic work as students fulfill the need of a school community to create their own music library, licensed under Creative Commons, to be used as background music for school projects (videos, podcasts, presentations, etc.). I shared the following blog post: 3 Scenarios to Engage Students in Authentic Tasks with her and Dani asked me to visit one of her Year 4 classes to get a conversation started about copyright and music.

Below is a short summary (documentation) by Dani of the conversation in class:

I’m a music teacher in Melbourne, Australia and the use of copyright has been an issue for a very, long time. It was wonderful to have Silvia visit us with all her knowledge in so many areas and especially in the use of copyright. Silvia joined me to talk to a year 4 class as we have a few more years with them in the primary school and hopefully make then more aware of the legalities of the digital age in the ‘music world’. The needed to know that they can listen to music, they can own music, they can share music that they have bought (only by allowing someone to listen) but they can’t use songs from youtube or other sources without permission or purchase, because it is actually the same as walking into a shop and stealing.

Silvia used the example of Christina Perri’s song ‘A thousand years’. The children were told that radios stations cannot play this song unless they have paid the companies that own the rights to it every time it’s played. The lyricists should be getting royalties. Dj’s make a living out of other peoples music, they are responsible for paying royalties.

The whole idea was to impress on children that because children couldn’t use other peoples music as it is actually stealing she wanted the children to know that they can easily become creators and sharers in music. We spoke about Creative Commons and the ability to be able to share music we have found but in saying that, to be one of those that are proud to share what they have composed and always get permission in writing to use someone else’s material and acknowledge your source.

Dani was also able to observe me modeling the use of a backchannel in another class. She was immediately excited to try it out in one of her own music classes. Below, you can read Dani’s documentation of her use of a backchannel as an assessment tool, observation of the class and comparison between classes. One, without the use of backchannel and another using a backchannel as a way to document, analyze, make connections and hold a conversation as they were watching a music video.
Here is a little background of how I used my first experience in ‘Backchannel’ and the difference it made in two classes the same topic but no backchannel first session.
The year sixes went to Canberra to look at Governance. When they returned I made connections with what they were inquiring into through lyrics in songs. The first class arrived and we chatted about their trip away and eventually I then told them we would be listening to the song ‘Dear Mr President’ by Pink. The song played and the only visual they had were the words on the smart board. At the end of the song I asked what they thought the song was about, why it might be written, what did they think? We needed to hear it again. As it was the first time to hear a song, like most people you need to hear it a few times to start to understand. It also tends to be the same children who participate in the discussion.
After viewing Silvia in front of a class (sadly I could only stay ten minutes) I was already excited to try ‘backchannel with my next year six)
I set up and asked the children to log on before we started the lesson. They had a session using this the day before so I didn’t have to say too much. The same conversation took place re the trip to Canberra, but this time when I started the song ‘Dear Mr President’, even though there was silent through the song, the conversation happening on today’smeet seriously blew me away. The higher lever of chat, questions, comments from all children, including the ones that don’t often put their hand up amazed me. Even when the song had finished and we were having a discussion the backchannel was still going on.
Two different classes covering the same material with a totally different outcome. Not because the classes are different but because the means to talk had opened up creating more conversation and comments that would not have even been brought up.
 As you can see, it was an amazing thing for me to actually observe happening in my own classroom after so many years of teaching.

Below you will see excerpts of the backchannel (as the transcript was saved in a Google Doc to be unpacked at a later time). I used Skitch, as a screenshooting tool, to be able to highlight, blur out specific student names and  annotext the document. As Dani reflected above:

The higher lever of chat, questions, comments from all children, including the ones that don’t often put their hand up amazed me.

Going through the backchannel, a teacher with a strategic mission of finding the following within the backchannel is able to unpack the quality of the backchannel use and make it visible for themselves, their students and when shared with colleagues openly for and with the world. Take a look at the unpacking of a backchannel as a tool FOR assessment:

  • evidence of understanding
    (different levels, connections being made)
  • communication skills
    (written and “learning community awareness”(engaging in conversation, asking & answering questions) ,
  • digital citizenship skills
    (appropriate use of the backchannel as an academic platform for learning)
  • visible thinking
    I think…I see… I wonder… (make use of Visible Thinking Routines to share thinking)
  • contributions
    (added value beyond “parroting”, repetition of what was heard in the frontchannel

How could YOU imagine using such a tool in your classroom? How could you use such a tool for assessment to REPLACE other forms of assessment you currently use?

Dani_Music-backchannel-unpack Dani_Music-backchannel-unpack2 Dani_Music-backchannel-unpack3