It’s a very popular thing to do in part because, um, you know, depending on where you’re teaching, principals kind of like to see, um, specialist teachers doing more traditional classroom things. I know when I was in my urban district, um, where they were — where my students were underachieving, a lot of times they wanted to see, well, you know, are you teaching them to read today? And I’m like, well yeah, I’m teaching music, and they were like, well, okay, you’re not reading any books. So as a young teacher, that motivated me to use books a lot. But as I got in the habit of using them I didn’t always have a way to vet the quality of the books I was using. I mean, I wanted to be able to answer questions, you know, like what music skills are being taught here and how do these books — how could they be sorted so that I’m not missing really great titles, and I’m not, you know, I’m not using titles that are less than excellent? So what I did was I set about creating some modules and, um, each module in my design, um, kind of summarizes a different type of book.
So when — like let’s say I’m looking at a book of — like let’s say Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Iza Trapani, which is one that a lot of people are familiar with. If I was gonna take it through the first module, what I would do is I would just get the basic book information, and then the second module would be where I would describe the book, and then in the third module — well in the description of the book — I’m sorry, I’m going to go back to module two. That would be like, you know, is it a rhyming book, is it a single song title book, what sort of children’s book is it? And then in module three, that’s whenever I would look at, you know, is there notation or a recording included with the book? And if so, how does the notation of the book compare to the traditional singing of the song? And then finally, in module four, it was an opportunity to create some pedagogical resources and lesson ideas. So those were the modules, but just because I took my library and sorted my books in that way, it was a lot of knowledge, but it wasn’t very useable.
So what I decided to do was create a database and I inputted these — the books in my own personal classroom library into a database and I sorted them by module, and then, um, I — after I sorted them by module I put them in collections. And those collections were then published on a website. And the website — and this is where I go back to, um, the information about, you know, the — how music teachers use media and the internet to gain information. I knew what was in my library, but I know lots of music teachers who use books in their teachings, so I wanted to create a way for teachers to access that information. So what I ended up with was a website that has searchable, um, tables in it, so you can go to the website I created, and you can search a title, and if it’s one that I’ve actually vetted already, then you can find that title and you can find out all the information that I have to date on that given book.
I also have a place on my website for people to contribute new books, because, you know, collections and bibliographies and lesson plan books, those all are finite and they don’t have the opportunity to grow and so I wanted something that was, um, dynamic in that it could grow as people added books to it. So I ended up going ahead and creating the website itself. Um, I will say that when I was talking to my advisor, he said, you know, this is a big project. And I said, yeah, yeah, I know. And he kind of — he was really great because he helped me to kind of get it to where it was a manageable size project instead of a monster of a project. That’s what I created, and I’m hoping that in the future I’m going to be able to invite people to add to it, so that there’s a working, living collection of books that have been rated and described, so that people can actually go there and find out if a book is useful for them in teaching what they’re trying to accomplish in their general music classroom. I don’t know if that was terribly clear, but that’s what I did.
Annie: Thank you Bonnie. I think, um, there’s a question asking, what is that website? Can we access it?
Bonnie: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s mcspaddenbooks.com for now. It’s mcspaddenbooks.com.