PULSE Teacher Spotlight: Lindsey Stefanski

Lindsey S 270x150Lindsey Stefanski has been a teacher at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, Pennsylvania for six years. In addition to teaching K-8 general music, Lindsey also teaches guitar, voice, steel drums, and music enrichment courses (Little Kids Rock and PULSE-driven extracurricular classes for students). Lindsey earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education with a concentration in Piano from Geneva College. When Lindsey is not teaching, you can find her pumping iron at the crossfit gym, where she received her level one certification.

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center offers a world-class arts education. Located in Western Pennsylvania, Lincoln Park Arts encompasses Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, and the Henry Mancini Arts Academy, reaching students from 8-80 years old from all walks of life.

Do you use PULSE with a projector or just individual student computers?
I have used PULSE in various formats over the years depending on the classroom and resources available. I’ve worked with multiple handheld devices as well as projectors, smart boards, and PCs. I keep binders of printed pages from the PULSE site for substitute teachers as well as for students who do not have internet access at home.

What PULSE games do your students gravitate towards?
The students find the games really engaging. Whenever I teach reading music and rhythmic notation I always have the students practice rhythm values by playing Beat Balance and Music Match for Treble and Bass clef. The Music Match game gets harder with each level, creating a higher level learning for the student without them even realizing it. The Music Match game also plays the note audibly for the student which is ear training, again, without the student even realizing how much they are learning.

Describe your experience using the Noteflight program.
My music students cannot believe they have access to Noteflight. I have hundreds of scores that have been shared with me by students, both informal assignments that are meant to teach concepts to full fledged symphonies that 7th and 8th graders have created with their access! Noteflight is phenomenal because not only can your students create scores, but they have the ability to share them with you rather than printing them out, eliminating the need for a printer. You can also make comments and changes to a score. I also use Noteflight to create exercises and assignments to share with my students which they can then access through their Noteflight account, make the changes, and then send it back to you. Noteflight is very similar to Google Docs, but with scores!

How has PULSE helped you plan lessons?
PULSE has been a big part of our curriculum over the years.  Many of the required assignments in my classroom utilize PULSE assessments in the study room (quizzes, flashcards, games) and Noteflight for composition. PULSE has made it easy for me to be worry-free when it comes to explaining any musical term because PULSE has it all: terms and concepts taught through popular music, engaging games for students to connect with individually, and several levels of knowledge for any student who wants to take it to the next level either alongside their teacher or on their own, not to mention the amazing world of Noteflight where students can create their own music.

You’re the first teacher to earn both certifications from PULSE and Little Kids Rock. How do you utilize both the PULSE and Little Kids Rock resources to enhance your music classrooms?
I am able to bring both iconic notation and traditional music notation together using both of the programs. Little Kids Rock (LKR) gets the student to immediately begin playing an instrument, while PULSE is able to bring to light what the student was just able to accomplish. One lesson where I merge the two resources is when we learn about the blues.  We explore the blues resources on the PULSE website and then take the songwriting lessons in the Little Kids Rock curriculum.  As a culminating experience, I have the students write and play blues songs for the first time. They write music and play chords all while having a blast making up their own blues songs and learning about a very important genre in America’s music history.

Describe one interesting project you did with PULSE. Any recordings/photos/portfolio-esque items you can share?
We have a fun lesson based off of the improvisation unit in PULSE. I have my students create percussion instruments from anything around the house (rocks in a water bottle, rice in a tupperware, spoon on a bowl, etc). We explore the various lessons in the improvisation unit, learning about the different styles and terms in level 1 (call and response, improvised solo, dynamics and articulation).  We create a drum circle and those students who feel comfortable take turns leading the class in an improv experience… there are no right and wrong choices. The feedback I get from the students is always, “This was the best music class ever!”

You have set up a lot of student and teacher PULSE accounts over the years, what is your process as they move into different grades?
I have set up hundreds of students with individual PULSE accounts since being introduced to PULSE. I have also set up about 20 teachers with accounts to utilize PULSE in their classrooms at my schools.

Each year, I take my student rosters lists and set up their accounts so that they are ready to go with their own access for the classes where I utilize PULSE.  For returning students, they just continue to use their already set up accounts. Account set up is quick and easy and is important to track student assessments and progress. Student individual access is important because it gives the students access and the ability to explore the site on their own. They are also able to turn in assignments electronically through Noteflight by sharing their scores with you and they can also share assignments with each other and collaborate on the same score using the sharing capabilities just like google docs. Student access allows students to work at their own pace and also gives the advanced students the ability to work ahead and explore other units that a teacher may not cover.

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