10 uses for Typedrummer in the classroom

Being a teacher who always looks for ways to creatively capture students attention, I was extremely excited two weeks ago when I found this awesome website which works on both computers and tablets www.typedrummer.com


First I planned to use it as an introduction activity for my first music lesson of 2016, however during the lesson my students inquired, investigated and morphed the activity into a lot more, showing me the potential this website has for not only the music classroom but for use in other subjects as well.

Here are 10 ways to use Typedrummer, the first 9 are general classroom uses, number 10 is a classroom music lesson.

1. Welcome messages – I had this displayed on the data projector as students came in.



2. Spice Up boring content – The most boring time in the classroom is setting up your rules and boundaries at the beginning of the school year, this year I presented mine by typing each one in typedrummer.


3. Instruction List – type a list of instructions for students to follow.



4. Instruction step by step – type each instruction as students complete them, This I found to be an awesome tool for packing up instead of raising my voice above the noise of the class.


5. Names – teacher/students introduce themselves typing their name, investigate different combinations, first name, last name, full name.



6.  Answers – ask your students a question, ask them to answer it in typedrummer.



7.  Presenting a statement – maybe this is the answer to a question, the start of a presentation or the introduction for an exposition.


8. Spelling activity – change one phonogram at a time or practice your spelling words.


9. Question and Answer  – one student asks a question, the other answers. In this example it is a Maths question, note that type drummer does not have sounds attached to numbers, therefore the words need to be typed.


10. Music Lesson – investigate the different sounds and loop combinations created when typing letters and changing the text structure.

  • 1 letter, 2 letters or 3 letters
  • reverse the word


  • put each letter on a new line




Teach to transform!


Digital Portfolios: Assessment in the iPad Classroom

digport_cover_400In 2015 I have been presenting this workshop around Australia and New Zealand receiving great feedback from those who
have attended.

At the beginning of October 2015 I launched the above title as the first in my series of Virtual PD publications. It is 90 Minutes of accredited Professional development containing video tutorials, step by step instructions on creating Digital Portfolios using Explain Everything, Book Creator, GarageBand, iMovie, Dropbox and QR Codes. All extra resources needed to complete the same examples are provided on a USB.

Below you can view the introduction video and read all about creating Digital Portfolios.

Being a primary/elementary teacher, the examples I use are straight from my classroom with real examples from my students. While the examples are music and at a primary/elementary grade level, having taught as a primary classroom teacher, I believe you can take the same structure and apply it to other subjects and grade levels too.



Digital Portfolios grew out of the following two needs:

The need in my music classroom to gather evidence of student work that I could assess after class and provide for parent viewing.

For gathering evidence I found in the lower grades that Book Creator was the perfect app for students to write, take photos, audio record and video record in, and now we can even insert the GarageBand songs we create as well. This gives myself as a music teacher a perfect way to gather evidence in a performance based subject. The evidence I gather I can view directly after the lesson and then later to assess for mid year and final year grades.

One of the best outcomes and feedback I’ve had from using Book Creator, is being able to provide parents with comprehensive evidence as to why their child has been given a certain grade.

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The a request from a teacher to display my Year 6/7’s music projects at their IB Exhibition

To achieve this request I looked at the apps on the student iPad’s and found that Explain Everything allowed the students to display on 1 screen:

  • a pages document showing their rewritten song lyrics
  • a screenshot of their GarageBand arrangement
  • the GarageBand sound file to play their recording for people to listen to

IMG_0969What this iPad set up in Explain Everything also allowed the students to do was have an interactive display on their Exhibition stall, where parents could play and listen to the student’s song.

This project started me on a journey to implement Digital Portfolios for all my classes.

So what are Digital Portfolios? 

Digital portfolios, electronic portfolios or e-portfolios, are the latest trend in education. They are a way of collating or presenting digital work samples.

The positive outcomes of Digital Portfolios:

  • all work samples and files can be placed in one spot for assessment and viewing accessibility
  • students have different modes available to them for creating/collecting work samples; word processing, photos, images, audio & video recording
  • they provide the opportunity for assessment samples to include not only written samples but also visual performances of their work or skills in the subject areas that require demonstration of skills (such as The Arts, Physical Education and Science)
  • students with learning difficulties can engage better in their assessment opportunities due to the multiple options available to them
  • sharing files via email or apps such as dropbox and google drive means that not only can the teacher and school have access to them but parents can also have access
  • they provide students the opportunity to increase their technology skills in every subject area
  • they provide educators a wider scope for integration of general capabilities across the curriculum

Digital Portfolios have different uses in the classroom. They can be used for formative and summative assessment and to present work.

Formative Assessment Digital Portfolio

To collate and show the student’s progressive learning throughout the unit of work.

This is used to inform your teaching and planning for subsequent lessons.

Summative Assessment Digital Portfolio

A collection of work samples and files for students to be assessed by, at the end of a unit of work, against the learning outcome and curriculum used. This often results in a final mark for reporting.

Presenting Work to an Audience

Digital Portfolios are a great way of presenting work for display or sharing with parents.

Collating work into one app by sharing files into the one presentation allows for easy sharing of the entire project without the audience having to move between multiple apps.

The types of work samples you can gather are

  • written/word processed work
  • photos
  • screenshots
  • audio
  • video

There are many ways teachers and students can create digital Portfolios. Here are some apps that are available.

Collect/Collate Files

Class Management (LMS) Apps

Presentation Apps

When using the presentation type of apps in the classroom there are 3 different types of Digital Portfolios.

Individual Portfolios

In a 1 to 1 device or BYOD classroom, students create individual portfolios of their work. If you have shared devices, e.g. 1 between 2 or 3 students, it is still possible to do individual portfolios. Pair students up to work always on the same iPad. Some activities allow for working together on the same task, e.g. videoing each other. Alternately have 2 tasks on the go, i.e. one student on the iPad; one student performing another set task.

Group Portfolios

Use the portfolio method to share and record group work, e.g. group compositions.

Class Portfolios

Instead of students creating individual portfolios for a project, the teacher can create a class portfolio for a specific activity or a summative task with a sample of work from each student on each page/slide.

In My Classroom digital portfolios have transformed the way I gather evidence. They have also made assessment and reporting so much easier as I can review the work samples multiple times. Another positive outcome to gathering work samples in this way has been when parents have questioned their child’s semester grade. In this instance I have been able to email them the Digital Portfolio for them to view and my assessment along with it, the parents really appreciated it as it gave them an insight into their child’s development.

If you would like to learn more about how to create Digital Portfolios in your classroom go to my Music Room Tech page at Bushfire Press.



Teach to transform!


Music as Non Verbal Cues in the Classroom

Do you grab kids attention without having to speak?

music_teacher_poster-r58d48b53b63c41418316df56c0b436b3_w2j_8byvr_324As music teachers our voice is our instrument, we need to care for it and therefore we need to be diligent in finding ways we can communicate using non verbal cues to conserve the use of our voice. Not only this, but it lightens the mood in our classroom and creates positive behaviour cues.

before I get to the use of music here are a few VISUAL CUES I’ve found helpful:

  • hand in the air and count down from five using your fingers (my students know if they do not have their attention on me by the end they get a warning)
  • hands on heads
  • using actions – pat head, roll hands


Have you tried RHYTHM PATTERNS to grab attention?

  • clap a rhythm and the students repeat it
  • use an action song – without singing it e.g. Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • as students come back from grabbing instruments teacher plays rhythms & students copy until all students are seated every so often changing the rhythm or playing the side of the instrument or even stopping and placing mallets or instruments on head or shoulders and eventually on the floor in front of them to indicate it’s time to listen


My Favourite – use a MUSIC TRACK as a cue for a specific task

Sit Down Songs

To come back from a group activity play a song it could be any song that you have told the kids to listen for and when they hear it they need to be sitting on the floor by the end of the song or extract. For example:

  • maybe the latest popular song like Katie Perry’s “Roar”
  • The theme song for the lesson you are teaching – “12 Bar Blues”
  • A ‘sit down’ song  you establish for the school term. Some examples could be:
  1. Stand Up, Sit Down” from Roar Like A Lion by Patty Shukla
  2. Stand Up, Sit Down” from Action Songs: Wiggle and Shake by Tumble Tots

Pack Up Songs

Havin fun with Bert & ErnieAt the end of my music lesson I have a pack up song: “Put It Away” from Havin’ Fun With Ernie & Bert – a 1972 children’s classic. It goes for 2min20sec and the kids love it – and are always finished packing up by the end & sitting down singing along. Unfortunately this song is extremely hard to get hold of and I picked it up on Ebay as a cassette. It is not available to download in mp3 so I converted it from cassette to mp3.

some other songs you could use instead are:

  1. Clean Up, Pack Away” from Let’s Learn by Debbie Doo
  2. Pack Up Time” from Cave Baby by The Mudcakes

How to cut an extract from a song

I use a free software called Audacity: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

Audacity is available for both Windows & Mac it is a fantastic tool which I use all the time to edit songs.


It’s features include

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.

learn more about it: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/

You could also use other programs like Garage Band on Macs & Apple devices.

Have some fun creating non verbal cues for you students and see how it brightens your classroom.



Teach to transform!


Classroom Organisation

In the 6 years I have been teaching Classroom Music I have tried to find the most efficient way to organise my classroom

I would like to share how I have set up my classroom this year, hopefully it will help you and I would love to hear how other people set their classrooms up.

I was blessed this year to be given permission to buy some furniture so off to IKEA I went!

The Expedit 2×2 shelving units & Drona boxes were perfect for storing instruments



Instrument storage
Instrument storage

My labels are laminated and stuck onto the boxes with velcro sticky dots.

download my posters here percussion_instrument_posters.pdf

images used by permission from Music Room: A development classroom music program by Bushfire Press Pty Ltd

Group name sheets
Group name sheets

During my lessons I have my classes split into 5 groups. Each group has a group name card which has check boxes next to the students name. Each week I check the next students name on the list and they are my ‘Leader’ for that lesson. Their job is to get any instruments or materials needed, pack up and put away things or even cast the deciding vote when doing a project!

download my proforma here  group_organisation.docx

images used by permission from Music Room: A development classroom music program by Bushfire Press Pty Ltd

class set up ready for Lesson
class set up ready for Lesson

I have enough percussion instruments in a box to cater for 1 group. When using percussion instruments with my students I will give each group a different box of instruments and these boxes are rotated clockwise around the room by the leaders of each group. My rule is that when you are the leader you get to choose which instrument is given to each student in your group (works most of the time although you can’t stop some children from trying to buck the system and complain 🙂 ) .

positive reward chart
positive reward chart

For positive reinforcement I award house point stickers for good behaviour, being on task and showing they are ready to learn (the school is split into 3 House Teams for sports day & points are also awarded for being good students in the classroom and around the school)

download my template below

house points chart

How do you organise your classroom?



Teach to transform!