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    Emily wrote a new post

    What You Thought You Knew

    Dear Colleague: Recently, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE Stem at Lehman College. In one of the courses this Summer, I learned about Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind, Pat Carini’s Descriptive Review of a Child protocol, and multimodal composition. I had some...

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    • Hey Emily,

      Really cool stuff here! First off, I like how you’ve used the formatting that Marina incorporated in her original letter that we looked at. Secondly, and most importantly, this seems like a really solid unit plan. Getting students to use YouthVoices as a way to finalize their project seems like a great way to get them to start thinking multimodally.

      (I also like the Men in Black clip as a motivator. Fun, funny and definitely relevant to learning anything in today’s world… You don’t know what you think you know…)

      I’ve been struggling to incorporate the many useful platforms that we’ve covered in these sessions into music education. It isn’t that they aren’t applicable or useful. It’s more that I’m reluctant to take away valuable and limited time in which students have the opportunity to be playing an instrument with other people. The concepts however — multimodal thinking, Habits of Mind, can certainly be used in conjunction with hands-on time.

      I wonder what you think about that?



      • Whoops, I meant to say this:

        Dear Emily:

        I am interested in  your discussion post, “What You Thought You Knew,” because of both the form and content of your material. I think you’ve gotten at the heart of what Multimodality is all about, it seems. 

        One thing you included that stands out for me is the Men in Black clip as your motivational activity. I think this is strong because it accurately conveys that existential kind of unsettling that one might feel when you’re compelled to ask big, probing questions. Maybe it’s an experience that is a little strange and scary for some, but it also means that your understanding is changing on a fundamental level. That is to say, well, you’re learning!

        Another thing you included in your document that I thought was strong was your formatting. I know that it’s more a cosmetic aspect of your proposal, but for me it was effective because it visually told me where the important information was. 

        Have you been through the Interconnected Framework for Assessment of Digital Multimodal Composition document?  ( I thought you might be interested in this because it outlines some really strong theoretical concepts for thinking about evaluating student multimodal creations. It’s worth a read through the whole doc, if you get a chance.

        I’ve been interested in trying to figure out how this can apply to the music classroom, to meagre success. As I’m sure you’re aware, precious time in the music classroom in which students can play instruments together is somewhat of a limiting factor in terms of time which could be used for the creation of digital presentations.

        Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I’m always on the lookout for new ideas as to how to get my students engaged. 


        Jesse Bartlett-Webber

        • Hi, Jesse,

          Thank you for taking the time to respond (twice)! I wonder if many students nowadays have seen Men In Black… perhaps they think of it as classic cinema at this point.

          I think there may be some ways to fit in multimodal presentations or writing in a music class setting. I recall when I was in high school, one of the other violinists broke her arm badly and could not play for months. To still get a grade in the class, she was tasked with choosing a favorite composer and doing a biographical presentation about them, including playing recordings of some of their compositions that the student was drawn to. The student in question chose Shostakovich, and it was a fantastic presentation – the whole class benefitted from it! Perhaps this could be an option for an injured student in your classroom, or for all students in those last days of the year after the final concert but before school ends? What do you think?

          Best wishes,

          • Hi Emily,

            It’s a good question about the students having seen MIB. I feel like you can never quite be certain about what students will take to that is older than their living memory… It’s always a gamble.

            Thanks for your suggestions about incorporating multimodal composition into the music classroom. The anecdote that you shared about a student who broke her arm is a perfect example of how it would be helpful to have this kind of material prepared. Also, Shostakovich is certainly a fine choice for such an activity!

            I guess it’s sort of a conundrum… For students who can’t (also who WON’t) participate in regular music instruction, it provides the teacher with a great proving ground for multimodal types of activities. But having students not being able or willing to participate in class is ultimately the opposite of the desired outcome.

            On the other hand, it’s important to remember that so much music creation happens now using personal computers, and in an asynchronous setting — beat making, music production and multitrack recording using popular DAW’s is a case in point. For this mode, multimodal platforms such as YV could be a perfect online environment for refining musical ideas.

            It is also important to note that since remote learning has really taken off in our lifetime, it opens up huge possibilities for asynchronous music creation to become a big part of school curriculum. It’s possible that minimal class time can be used for technical instruction while valuable work can be done in the form of outside of class assignments.

    • Dear Emily:

      I am excited by your proposal, What You Thought You Knew, because you envisioned an idea that will support the Habits of Mind and multimodal learning. Not only that, but your letter also shows that you are committed to encouraging your students to sharpen their skills around assessing information. This is a beneficial mindset to develop in our fast-paced and media-filled world.

      One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: “If we want our students to be critical thinkers, they must be prepared to inspect information or ideas before accepting new information as “fact.”” I think this is a significant point that you make because we want our students to learn how to vet their information sources and seek out multiple sources that confirm or challenge the information. This will support them as they research for academic and personal projects throughout their lives.

      Another sentence that got me thinking was: “The students will create a video that tells a story about a time when they questioned something they had previously taken at face value and came to a greater understanding about the world or themselves in the process.” This stood out to me because you are inviting your students to reflect on their past experiences in order to determine a bigger idea or concept that they can apply to life, history, literature, art, music, etc. This is not only great work for building the habit of Question and Problem Posing but can be a good segue into work on theme. Additionally, it could also support a bridge into other literacy strategies such as the Notice and Note Signposts such as “Aha Moment” and “Memory Moment.”

       Have you seen this blog post from WeVideo: How to Use Video to Promote Student Discourse?  I thought you might be interested in this because Dr. Nathan Lang Raad encourages the use of videos as a meaningful and relevant way to engage students in their learning. Additionally, he offers some tips ( think-pair-on air, which I am definitely going to try). He closes out the post by saying, “This student discourse video experience provides students with multiple opportunities to share, compare, contrast, reflect, revise, and refine.” I think this statement applies to the proposal that you created as well. It is incredible to think of all the skills and experiences that you will offer learners by allowing them to share their stories of Questioning and Posing Problems through a video recording.

      Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing some of these videos and hearing more about where the project took you and your learners.


    • Dear Emily:

      I am excited by your proposal, What You Though You Knew. I liked how you present this topic because it clearly explains the idea of what the habits of mind and multimodal learning can be supported. Also, you support your argument with facts that have proven its impact among students and people in general.

      One sentence that you wrote that stands out for me is: “I believe that an effective way to guide students toward greater self-understanding is through studying the Habits of Mind”. I would like to say that up until now, I wasn’t familiarized with the habits of mind and how most of the time we are led by our emotions when facing a situation without the proper knowledge. 

      Another sentence that got me was:” Questioning and Posing Problems is one of the Habits of Mind, and I think it is a valuable tool for students who are on the verge of entering adulthood. If we want our students to be critical thinkers, they must be prepared to inspect information or ideas before accepting new information as “fact.” This statement is so accurate because most of the time children are forced to become part of learning stages, they are not yet ready to embark on. Like you I believe they must prepare beforehand and provided with tools and the knowledge to face such high-level functioning towards responding to new situations. 

      Have you seen this? I thought that you might be interested in this because it explains the importance of asking question when don’t know the answer. Asking questions shows you are curious, and you care, it shows that you want to learn and understand. Through asking questions, a person learns the most important aspects of communication.

      Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next as I would like to hear good stuff about this proposal.


    • Dear Emily: I enjoyed reading your proposal, “What You Thought You Knew.” I think this will be a good proposal to implement with students because it will help them realize the importance of habits of mind. This activity will also serve for them to reflect on their experiences and use the multimodal approaches we learned during sessions. One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is, “Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent.” I think this is an important point the “Habits of Mind” document raised. This is something that I learned while reflecting on the activities because it made me realize the habits of mind I use the most when faced with a problem and the habits that I need to work on. I like how the document provides strategies to implement when you encounter an issue. Another sentence that I found interesting was: “The students will create a video that tells a story about a time when they questioned something they had previously taken at face value and came to a greater understanding about the world or themselves in the process.” This stood out for me because it provides students with an excellent opportunity to reflect on the habits of mind you proposed. This will be a beneficial and fun activity for students to complete. Have you seen this article? Question and Posing Problems. I thought you might be interested in this because it talks about the importance of posing questions and how beneficial it is for students to learn this habit of mind. I thought it would be helpful because it relates directly to your activity. Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because your proposal was very detailed, and I think it will benefit the students, especially those who are entering adulthood, as you mentioned.

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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