Winfield Scott School No. 2
Technology has been playing an increasing role in the success of the K-8 General Music and 4-8 Chorus programs at the Winfield Scott School No.2 in Elizabeth, NJ, under the leadership of Annice M. Benamy, NBCT. From grading to group learning, the MusicFirst Online Classroom has been her technology partner for the past few years, with yearly expansion that has enabled the schools’ music program to grow.
Benamy’s school includes a particularly large number of students spanning nine grade levels, so it’s imperative that she has a reliable system for grading and organization. “I chose the MusicFirst Online Classroom,” she explains, “to bring music technology to the middle school general music program. I like being able to add music content imbedded into assignments. If a student is absent or needs to make-up an assignment, it is on the LMS for the marking period.” As she also shares, “I moved our middle school quarter tests to the assessment feature on our LMS. Not only does it cut down on grading, but I can imbed MusicFirst software into the assessments.”
Benamy’s students embraced the MusicFirst Online Classroom from the start, and as a result, she has expanded the program to additional grades. “Students have expressed positive experiences with the composing and improvising software,” she notes. “I started with one grade and each year added another grade. I plan on surveying my eighth grade students—who will have used MusicFirst for three years now— to get their impressions. I also plan on increasing the LMS more into my middle school program.”
As for incorporating software into her learning modules, Benamy uses Soundation, Music Delta, and Noteflight. “It is important to me that my students have improvising and composing opportunities,” she says. And she’s created a system that works well, both for her and her students. “I found it easier to teach them first and then let them experience those concepts using Soundation and Noteflight. With that software, they are able to record their own original pieces, experiment with different instrument sounds, and experience what it’s like to be ‘composers.’ I’ve also noticed that the students are collaborating online.”
Expansion and flexibility are other key elements of the MusicFirst Online Classroom that Benamy has found helpful. As she explains, “Music Delta is useful for teaching history. Many years ago, I created a ‘Rock and Roll and Rap’ unit, and I can easily incorporate the Music Delta files and listening examples into it. Plus, she adds, “I can teach whole groups or have the students work in smaller cooperative groups where they listen to a topic and then work on a project or assignment associated with the content.”