Course Redesign




Web Pages

I use web pages (like this one) to teach my classes.  Some are for in-class use and some are resources for the students outside of class.  Here are some additions that I constructed to use in the fall semester in conjunction with my course redesign. 

Since preparing for the class is so important in order to take the content out of the class, I prepared this web page as an introduction to that process:


I am going to spend a bit of time at the beginning of the semester talking about how to read the textbook, in order to take more content out of the classroom.  One suggestion that I picked up was to occasionally ask a student in class what they underlined or noted on a certain page or section, to monitor their ability to identify important points and hopefully to encourage accountability in doing their reading.  Research shows that one of the main reasons that students do not read is that students believe (we have taught them this!) that teachers will cover all important material in class.  This may be a hard lesson to 'unteach' but this is my goal.

One document that I read that was particularly helpful is 11 Strategies for Getting Students to Read What Is Assigned  I plan to incorporate some of these suggestions as CPAs (Class Preparation Assignments).  This is the same concept as TIDs (Ticket in the Door).  I think I had sort of given up on expecting students to read, but am inspired to make it happen!  I will refer to the textbook as "your other professor(s)."

Note the Rubric at the bottom of the Reading Webpage.  This is a 3-point assessment that  can be done quickly and applied to most of the CPAs.  I was happy to find this, as one of my concerns was the amount of time it would take to assess every CPA, with the understanding that this would be necessary to ensure student accountability.


I want the students to understand the different levels of learning so they can begin to devise their own questions in each level.  One of the TIDs that I plan to use is to have the students write one question on every level of Blooms based upon the textbook reading assigned.  These questions could then be used in the games templates (see below).


This is the course I'm redesigning.  Of course, once you start on this path, it's impossible not to let it affect the other classes as well   This webpage is also in progress, but I guess this is a progress report!


Game Principles

When I was in Minnesota this summer, my step-daughter and a friend came to visit.  Her friend was a very bright and articulate college student.  As I was asking him about his major, future plans, etc., he related that he totally bombed one semester in college because he was obsessed with playing a video game.  I had already read some articles about applying gaming principles to learning, so I picked his brain about his motivation and why he spent so much time on that game.  His answers were along the same lines as the articles I had read, but I guess that conversation, coming from a real college student, inspired me to look further and to include games in my course redesign. 

Since this project (coming up with the games and populating them with course content) could take more time than I have before the course begins, my plan is to have the students in my fall course create the games as a group project.  The principles that must be present (according to the research) are below.  These are the factors that engage students and motivate them to spend more time in the process:

1.  there must be immediate feedback

2.  there must be levels to accomplish; the questions or goals on each level require increasingly higher order thinking skills

3.  the student takes on an identity in the game, which increases the engagement and motivation to continue and to accomplish the goal

4.  it must be competitive, in the sense that students can compare progress

I was amazed a couple of years ago when I began using a method called "Recorder Karate" in my elementary music methods course.  The students in that course have to learn to play the recorder well enough to teach it, and Recorder Karate is a popular elementary recorder method usually used in grades 3-5.  The method basically moves students up from the white belt (simplest song) through several colors to get to the black belt (most difficult song).  They must master one level to go on to the next.  My college students were proudly displaying their belts (pieces of yarn in the correct colors that they tied on to their recorder straps) and were competing to see who could finish first.  Wow.

This concludes my report on my Course Redesign progress.  I must admit that the whole concept of taking the content out of the classroom has opened up a Pandora's Box of possibilities.  The biggest challenge is not finding new and interesting ways to do this, but to balance the amount of time it takes.  My old model was to spend way too many hours developing the material myself.  I think the key is to allow the students to help create the content.  This, to me, is the win-win proposition. 

  • The students are engaged when developing content.

  • They remember the content they develop better and longer than any that is presented to them.

  • Student content can be accumulated as resources for subsequent semesters.

Please feel free to respond with feedback to this report.  I appreciate your thoughts. ( Thanks again for the opportunity to be in this group. 

Below you will find more information about games:  no need to go any further in my report unless you are interested in my notes on games.


Game Process

When entering a gaming environment, a player adopts a character role or assumes an identity appropriate to the environment.

Once within the gaming environment, the player perceives tasks to be completed and, consequently, progress to be made.

In order to progress through the game's more complex levels, the player picks up the necessary vocabulary.

The player adapts to the gaming environment by interacting with it.

The player realigns expectations and judgments through each exploration and interaction, reappraising the cause and consequence of each experience accordingly.

Students develop an emotional attachment to the character within the application that contributes to the learning experience by helping students to perceive the application as a real, situated experience (Ryan



Ten of the Very Best Reasons for Using Classroom Games (and for Justifying Their Use in Your Organization)

Over the past 15 years, we have raised the question, "Why do you use classroom games?" to our clients and workshop participants. From their feedback we have constructed a list of the ten very best reasons for using learning games. We hope these 10 descriptions will remind and stimulate you to consider learning games as a training alternative; and, then to consider one of our fine, field-tested, fun-to-play, classroom proven products.

Reason #1: Games are Fun with a Purpose
Games create a cognitive engagement between the learner and the topic in a flowing, smiling environment. Games celebrate your topic and reward individual and group achievement. Games bring fun and energy into a buoyant learning zone, but with the focus on learning.

Reason #2: Games Provide Feedback to the Learner
Learners want and need feedback on their performance. Games give them immediate feedback on the quality of their input their successes and their errors. With the 
appropriate corrective feedback, this can become an invaluable learning opportunity.

Reason #3: Games Provide Feedback to the Trainer
Games provide a practice field where learners interact with the topic, demonstrating their 
knowledge and ability to apply the information. By observing this real-time demonstration, 
the trainer can adjust the subsequent level of lecture, readings and interventions, 

Reason #4: Games are Experiential
Today's learner needs to do and to try things on her own. Games provide an environment 
that transforms the passive student into an active part of the learning process where she 
can connect her own dots and experience her own ideas. Games also remind both player and 
teacher that energy in the classroom is a good thing. 

Reason #5: Games Motivate Learners
Games engage players and then motivate them to interact with the topic. This interaction 
drives players to demonstrate their understanding of the topic in a friendly contest where 
successes are memorable moments of shared triumph and celebration and where mistakes 
mean only that the learner is being stretched to his or her own limits. 

Reason #6: Games Improve Team Work
Games are real-time activities that bring players into teams, demonstrate the rules and 
roles of working together as a team, and underscore the value of team collaboration. Games 
give your learners a chance to know their peers as they share the same real-time 
experiences, allowing for strong networking and bonding.

Reason #7: Games Provide a Less Threatening Learning Environment
Because the game format is playful, the inherent challenge of the material, even new or 
difficult material, is less threatening. During game play seemingly difficult questions and 
scenarios are "just part of the game." And, teachers can use the window following 
classroom responses to build a bridge between the topic and the learner. 

Reason #8: Games Bring Real-World Relevance
Games allow you to present real-world information in the form of questions, scenarios, role-
plays, and so forth. In this way, players learn not only the "what," but the "why," of the 
topic from a real-world perspective. Players also observe their own behavior and that of 
others during game play. Post game debriefings give insights into those behaviors in 
thoughtful examples observed during game play. 

Reason #9: Games Accelerate Learning
Games allow you to compress your topic and demonstrated learning into shorter periods of 
time, accelerating the speed of learning. The visual presentation, oral interactions, and 
active participation of game play appeals to all of the learning styles (visual, auditory and 
kinesthetic), involves both the rational and experiential mind that helps players remember 
what they have learned. 

Reason #10: Games Give You Choices for Your Classroom 
Games allow you to add variety and flexibility to your teaching menus. Games allow you 
to do any or all of the following:

  • Vary the level of learner involvement
  • Vary the level of skill level and knowledge
  • Customize to any size of audience, even one-on-one
  • Vary the type and level of activity 
  • Vary the level of classroom control 
  • Introduce or review topics, or both
  • Vary the mix of theoretical and practical information



Class Preparation Assignments (CPAs)


Connecting to the text

Underlining key ideas and making marks and comments in the margins.  Students then go back through the reading and write 5 "big" questions on key concepts in the chapter.  They answer two of those questions or write a commentary on why they think these are the core issues in the reading.


Summarizing the reading and visualizing the key ideas

Students make a visual or graphic organizer for content in the reading.  (There are several examples in the article's appendices.)  They can also make a chart or several lists that organize and categorize ideas


Reading response journal

Here each portion of the reading assignment is responded to with a question or comment


Studying as a group

Two or three students can convene as a study group.  They discuss the readings, focusing on key concepts.  Ideas are recorded and then written up.


Create a song or a rap

Students create a song or rap about the assignment, which they then record and submit

bulletThroughout the semester, I will ask students to refer to their assigned readings and share with the class passages they underlined and reasons for their selection.  In this way, the types of thinking that accompanies purposeful, active reading become more apparent.
bulletRewrite important concepts into a notebook to identify key ideas
bulletWrite 3-5 questions to be answered on the reading material
bulletGiven 3-5 questions, prepare answers to share in class
bulletUse the book in class, turning to specific pages and discuss a key section
bulletGo through the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a concept in the reading material or use that structure for a question(s).
bulletPut the current music history concept into the context of the current political/economic/social system and what motivated them
bulletAs a result of a discussion, could have one student play the role of superintendent of schools or head of NEA or whatever in DME or have role playing of Beethoven and another character or just a monologue of a composer with synesthesia, etc.  Look up the Music Appreciation stuff I did that one summer
bulletClearly stated objective for the CPA is important - otherwise, it can be a non-directed activity.  Objectives should go beyond content learning.
bulletOne exercise could be to validate a source (use the example of the MLK website that was put there by the KKK)
bulletUse authentic questions (have no pre-specified answer, allowing students to offer points of view and use critical thinking
bulletAnother idea is for students to submit "WarmUps" before class of questions and then the class will be about those questions Just In Time Teaching JIT
bulletIdea for limiting grading time on CPAs:  Yamane only spot checks assignments turned in.  Possibly grade every one on the first few.  If students have established a "reputation," don't grade them, just give them credit and just spot check a few.  If anyone's assignment is inadequate, they are put on the grading list and will receive a grade from then on until they re-establish their "reputation."  Let everyone know that I will pull 5 papers out each time (beyond those who have lost their reputation) for scrutiny.  Maybe even start with every student given a 100 and only deduct points if assignments are not turned in or are inadequate.  That way, no grading will be required for those who do a good job and I can only deduct points in Blackboard for others.  Sarah could thumb through papers.  Any red flags, she could separate (including any that look too much alike) with a note listing those who did not turn in a CPA
bulletUse "what evidence suggests" questions to cause students to survey a chapter or draw in other sources.  What evidence suggests that Romantic composers were held in higher esteem than Classical composers?
bulletChoose one of the concepts (I will provide a list from the chapter or unit) and explain it using an animation from  ; students will share their animations with the other students during class.  Depending upon the number of concepts to be covered, students

Write questions in the margin and then get with a partner to answer the questions


Assign students to read and put questions in the margin and then answer them in class with a partner.  At end of time, students will ask and answer their questions for the rest of the class.  Those who don't do their reading will sit at the back of the class and come up with questions, but will not receive participation credit for the day


Encourage higher levels of thinking in Blooms, not just remembering dates, etc.


Give students a Wikipedia page:  they have to find an error by checking the sources (primary?)


Read your chapter.  Choose a composer (or I choose one for them).  Write a 2-pg paper on: "Beethoven (or Beethoven's music) is like [fill in modern composer or performer] because [be specific and cite p# in textbook to justify]


DME:  record yourself and check the following: um, like, you know, whatever, end of sentence pitch raising.  Have them get in pairs and give them a topic to discuss, then playback  (do this in class)


Mus His:  write a paragraph using a bland, sterile description of a piece of music, then write another paragraph more detailed and descriptive.


choose someone you think speaks well and find a YouTube to avoid "mall speak"


Mus His:  when was Robert Johnson born?  Justify your answer with multiple sources.  When did Gutenberg invent the printing press?  teaches them to verify sources and use the most reliable one


Mus His:  allow students to write about any piece composed between _ and _


Students create a "Paper Slam" presentation (only 1-3 minutes) to present their topic.  Create 1 slide and present key elements in 2 minutes.  Send in slides and I compile into 1 slideshow for class


For timelines - have students read (or study) for chronology.  Then pass out events and have them put themselves in order.   Do this in a group.  First group correctly in order gets x points.  Or, time them.  All groups get a chance with x points assigned for various times.


Put a QR code on my door liked to a website page - could use as a treasure hunt:  1/2 the class makes the treasure hunt, the other 1/2 finds the treasure


After reading assignment, in class play timed game.  Every missed question will have to be repeated.  Those who finish with the most questions answered correctly get highest scores; or, allow students to play game ahead of time as TID.  Then take quiz for assessment during class or discuss scenarios


MusHx:  You are [composer's name].  Devise scenario.  What would you do?  Students would have to know certain facts to choose.  Ex:  they would have to know composer's nationality and primary instrument to know where he would play what music.


Divide up and have students introduce the topic - or introduce the listening selection







Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson