Molding a Musician: 30hands Tips from a Music Teacher

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

“Lots of my shy students have started to become emboldened to sing louder and with more confidence as they’ve had chances to hear what they sound like.”

Kerrie French

These are the words of Kerrie French, a music teacher at Conant School in Acton, MA. Kerrie has credited technology and 30hands with bringing out the best in her students and strengthening their confidence, be it in performance or academically.

She said: “With the older students, the more academic-oriented projects have allowed those who struggle with singing or other musical skills to find other ways to contribute and shine in my classroom. It has also motivated some of the older students to be more active participants in group-work because they all want to use the iPads to create the slides.

“It can sometimes leads to arguments,” she chuckled, “but learning how to work well in a group is a very important and life-long skill.”

Project-based learning is something the 30hands team encourages and sees great benefit in.

Kerrie first heard about 30hands from her district’s educational technology specialist, Peggy Harvey, who taught a professional development class on digital storytelling. She played around with it and noted it was a quick and easy way for her students to record themselves singing.

As a music teacher, she says, it can be hard to share what goes on in her classroom with families outside of performances. Kerrie saw 30hands as a great opportunity to share her students’ voices with their families and the school community.

“I teach approximately 450 students each week,” she said, “so the ease of doing so quickly and even having students be able to do it themselves was very appealing.”

Kerrie has always been interested in classroom technology. She has participated in Acton-Boxborough Regional School District’s Innovative Learning Program which is aimed at supporting teachers who are using technologies in new ways in the classroom. She has also sponsored a group of students to present at the Student Showcase at the annual MassCue Conference.

She believes that technology is a great motivator for students and engages those who are “otherwise not as ‘into’ what she is doing in her classes. With 30hands, music students can easily and quickly record and listen to themselves singing or speaking, as well as provide a platform for self-reflection.

Kerrie says this is something her students enjoy and benefit from.

For example, her 2nd graders use the song “Down by the Bay” to write or illustrate their own ending.  Then, they record themselves singing that ending.

Kerrie’s 5th and 6th grade students work collaboratively to research composers or countries using 30hands. She said that while they receive a set of helpful questions, she leaves the content of each video up to the students.

She enjoys this project because it allows students to dig deep into a topic and take control of their learning. Kerrie used to do this project with Google Slides but has enjoyed the switch to 30hands because it makes students think a lot more about the visual interest of their slides and how much text can be said versus typed.

She says: “This project helps them learn how to focus on key words and themes, and to script what they want to say instead of talking off the cuff. The final products are so much more polished and thoughtful!”

Now in her eighth year teaching at Conant School, Kerrie looks forward to exploring more classroom ideas with 30hands, including as an assessment tool with her older students.
“I’m sure there are many other ways that I will eventually be using 30hands,” she admits. “The hardest thing about switching to more technology in the classroom is that there are so many possibilities just waiting to be thought of and explored.”
And advice to other teachers who are hesitant about classroom technology? Give 30hands a try!

30hands encourages collaboration in the classroom.

“I would definitely recommend 30hands to other teachers,” she said. “The possibilities for use are endless and the app can work just as well with younger students as with older students. For teachers who might be apprehensive about using technology, I’d say you have to just jump in.  When I first started using iPads with my students, there was so much I didn’t know and the only way I figured it out was by doing it.”

Kerrie French is in her eighth year teaching music at Conant School in Acton (Acton-Boxborough Regional School District). She holds a Masters degree in Music Education from Gordon College in Wenham, MA and a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Providence College in Providence, RI.
She was a flute major in undergrad, and studied abroad in Ghana as part of her Masters degree (African drumming). She is a member of the Educators Advisory Council for the BSO (Boston Symphony Orchestra), and the Assistant General Music Coordinator for the Eastern District of the MMEA (Massachusetts MusicEducator’s Association).
Check out our popular Digital Storytelling product for iPads, 30hands Storyteller Pro, and our new browser-based version for laptops and Chromebooks, 30hands Storyteller Web!

Share this Post