EDLD 5305: Bringing It All Together

Categoriesannotated bibliographyarts educationEDLD 5305innovation planinnovation proposalliterature reviewTagged , , , ,

With a nod to Harapnuik’s 2015 blog post “The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been,” and its breakdown of Bloom’s cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains as “head, heart, and hands,” I present the anatomy of an innovation plan.

Innovation Proposal – The “heart”, or “why” of the whole idea.

In this proposal, I outline to the performing arts curriculum specialist for my district why I intend to establish an online version of the Technology-Assisted Music class that I currently teach face to face. I explain how this class will be aimed both at students for academic credit as well as teachers for professional development. I also elaborate on some of the particular district and state-level concerns that this plan aims to alleviate.

Literature Review – The “head”–research and data to support the proposal.

I present research related to the growing focus on deeper learning and its benefits, and also on the many ways that arts education taps into deeper learning concepts and makes them engaging and relevant to students. I also highlight research on the ways that technology could provide ways to offer arts education to more students even as resources dwindle or are reallocated, and how a class such as the one I propose may help inject creative elements into music education that aren’t always found in traditional performing ensembles.

Innovation Plan – The “hands”–getting down to the business of actually driving some change.

I provide a timeline for the implementation of my innovation plan, including the different areas of focus for the professional development version of the course versus the high school credit version. I also present long term goals (18 months and beyond), including using the course as a pilot program for district-wide implementation of eportfolios, and establishing a blended learning component to the originally all-online course.

This assignment, which really encompassed the entirety of the EDLD 5305 course, was an eye-opener for me in many ways. In trying to decide what sort of innovation project I wanted to implement, I ended up taking a good, deep look at the needs of my students, my colleagues, my district, and myself. I came up with a few conclusions.

Starting with myself, working on this project confirmed for me that I am on the right path in my graduate studies. I’m in my twentieth year as a music teacher, my seventeenth in my current school, and it’s becoming ever clearer to me that I am personally in need of a change. I love music, and I love my students, but at a certain point, even when trying to constantly improve, one finds a need for a fresh set of challenges. Fortunately, I believe trying to implement this plan will give me just that. It’s an idea I believe in, and it has a lot of room for expansion down the road. 

My district seems to be in need of some shaking up when it comes to educational technology. We are fortunate in that we have a reasonable amount of technological resources, and the will to innovate seems to be there, at least in theory, but one of the reasons I began pursuing the DLL degree in the first place was that I feel like there’s a lot of wheel-spinning and “$1000-dollar-pencil”-ing going on. And the first step toward being part of the solution is diving in and understanding the problem. I’m hoping that the plan I’m putting forward will be a “back door” into implementing some of the broader ideas of the DLL program. Kind of like getting a dog to take a dose of medicine by wrapping it in a piece of cheese.

My colleagues (and I) are constantly clamoring for professional development that is meaningful and useful. It’s always troubled me that professional development for teachers does not often seem to apply the practices we are always trying to model in our classrooms. I’ll never forget the time I found myself in an auditorium of 500 teachers, listening to a lecture on how “sit and get” lecturing was ineffective. That’s not a feeling I want to repeat. I’d like to provide teachers with something that they can use in their classrooms as well as in their lives, and that they’ll actually enjoy doing. (The dog and cheese principle in action once again?)

My students. My students, my students. This was a challenging part for me. One thing I slowly realized as I worked on this plan is that, even though I am a creative person teaching a creative subject to wildly creative kids, a lot of music education as it exists at the secondary level is decidedly uncreative. In a performing ensemble, it feels very disingenuous to tell a child to express themselves, and then turn right around and say, “But you all have to play this exact note at this exact time in this exact way, or it won’t sound good.” To be certain, there is value in group creativity, and in coming together for a common goal, but it’s easy to lose the individual in that process. This realization has made me resolve to do some things differently going forward, especially with my beginning guitar players. It’s time to put a lot less emphasis on the group product and much more on individual growth. Call it an experiment: my hypothesis is that the personal will improve the group product all on its own. If it doesn’t, well, I’m finding that I can live with that outcome better than the reverse.

So, speaking of going forward, what’s next? I came across a lot of material as I researched this project that I set aside for a deeper dive later on. Some is directly related to the revelations I mentioned earlier, some is further exploration of concepts covered in my first DLL course back in July (which feels like a thousand years ago), and some is just stuff I came across and thought, “I need to look into that.” Without further ado, I present to you my future reading list (AKA my annotated bibliography).

I am excited about beginning to implement this project. It’s work that needs to be done, for my students, my colleagues, and for me. I look forward to tackling the next phase with fresh eyes when my next DLL course begins in a week.


Harapnuik, D. (2015, January 9). The head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?s=head+heart+hands

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About the author

I am an instructional technologist for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in Richmond, VA. Before that, I spent more than 20 years as a public school music teacher in Chesterfield County, VA, primarily teaching guitar and music technoogy at the high school level. I hold a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Richmond, and a Master of Education degree with a focus on Digital Learning and Leading from Lamar University. I believe that every person has the need, the desire, the ability, and the right to learn, and that as educators we must meet our students wherever they are, and help bring them to where they want and deserve to be.