Whether you are recovering this summer from the past sixteen months of teaching vocal music during a pandemic or currently preparing for the next year, our challenge is that we have no way of knowing what the new school year will bring.  The undeniable reality is that we will not and actually should not go back to the way things were before COVID.  We must be bold and look ahead and discover new and innovative musical learning experiences for both our student’s future, and for our own sanity. 

Each summer, I recharge personally and professionally by spending time with my family, working part-time as a boat captain for Midlakes Navigation, and reading current educational publications and music research.  Currently, I am beginning to prepare for the new school year by reading Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman.  My daughter participated in a few Professional Development days in July and recommended the book to me.  Last year, I began using Specs Grading with my students during virtual and hybrid instruction, and I am curious to see how this book might help me refine and improve my current grading system. 

Below are a variety of books and professional resources that have shaped and influenced my teaching and instructional philosophy.   I hope you will find these resources interesting and thought-provoking as you prepare for the new school year



Summer Reading

Costa, Arthur L. Cognitive Coaching Developing Self-directed Leaders and Learners. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. 

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House Publishing Group 

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 

Nagoski, Emily, and Amelia NagoskiBurnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. New York: Ballantine Books, 2020. 

Nilson, Linda Burzotta, and Claudia J. Stanny. Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students, and Saving Faculty Time. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2015. 

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 

Wiggins, Grant P., and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008. 

Research and Instructional Resources

Agile Development Instructional Framework

Ackles, Brian O., 2018.  Agile Development Instructional Framework (ADIF): A New Strategy for Student-Centered Music Education. Choral Journal, September 2018. Vol. 59, No. 2. 

All activities, rehearsal strategies, and projects developed through applying the Agile Development Instructional Framework are research-based. They contain elements of the following teaching models and instructional theories: Self-Regulated Learning, Self-Directed-Learning, Experiential Learning Theory, Understanding by Design, Cognitive Coaching, and the Universal Design for Learning.  

Specifications Grading

What is Specifications Grading and Why Should You Consider Using It?
Yes, Virginia, There’s a Better Way to Grade
Specifications grading: We may have a winner
Specifications grading with the EMRF rubric
Advocating a new way of grading

Lev Vygotsky & Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development

Cognitive Apprenticeship in Educational Practice: Research on Scaffolding, Modeling, Mentoring, and   Coaching as Instructional Strategies
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory and Contributions to the Development of Constructivist Curricula
Sociocultural Cognitive Development
Zone of Proximal Development

Paulo Freire

10 Concepts About Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy All You Need to Know
Paulo Freire (1921–1997) Conceptual Tools, Philosophy of Education, Criticism

Exit Tickets

Exit tickets’ effect on engagement in college classrooms
Understanding students, adapting instruction, and addressing equity
Exit tickets as formative assessments
Exit Tickets’ Effect on Engagement and Concept Attainment in High School Science
Understanding how teachers engage in formative assessment,   
10 ideas for digital exit tickets (and some analog ones, too) 
Keeping learning on track: Formative assessment and the regulation of learning
Keeping Learning on Track: A Case-study of Formative Assessment Practice
The Classroom is Alive with the Sound of Thinking: The Power of the Exit Slip
The Many Uses of Exit Slips

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning Cycle 
On Becoming an Experiential Educator: The Educator Role Profile 
Kolb Educator Role Profile   
Using Experiential Learning Theory to Promote Student Learning and Development in  Programs of Education Abroad 

Self-Regulated Learning

A Review of Self-regulated Learning: Six Models and Four Directions for Research 
From Cognitive Modeling to Self-Regulation: A Social Cognitive Career Path 
Developing Self-Efficacy to Improve Music Achievement

Threshold Concepts

Meyer, J., and Land, R., (2003) Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge 
Meyer, J., and Land, R., (2006) Overcoming Barriers to Student Understanding 
An Introduction to Threshold Concepts 
Threshold Concepts in Practice   
Threshold Concepts: A Short Introduction and a Bibliography from 2003 to 2018 
Threshold concepts: Impacts on teaching and learning at tertiary level 
Threshold Concepts & Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching 
Learning Portals: Analyzing Threshold Concept Theory for LIS Education 
Threshold Concepts and the Integration of Understanding in Economics 
Threshold Concepts and Modalities for Teaching Leadership Practice 
Liminality as thought and action.  
Managing the Monsters of Doubt: Liminality, Threshold Concepts and Leadership Learning
Dialogism Versus Monologism: A Bakhtinian Approach to Teaching.  
The Many Faces of Constructivism 

Crosscutting Concepts

Crosscutting Concepts     
Using Crosscutting Concepts to Promote Student Responses    
Next Generation Science Standards for States, By States (2013)     
A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas 


How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching    
The Protégé Effect: How You Can Learn by Teaching Others     
Collective Efficacy Belief, Within-Group Agreement and Performance Quality Among Instrumental Chamber Ensembles     
The application of critical pedagogy to music teaching and learning     
Critical Pedagogy for Music Education      
Music Education in the Twenty-First Century   
Educational Outcomes of Tutoring: A Meta-analysis of Findings.     
A “Discomfortable” Approach to Music Education Re-envisioning the “Strange Encounter”      
The Learning Benefits of Teaching: A Retrieval Practice Hypothesis     
Failing Forward    
Concept-Based Teaching and Learning      
On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One 


A dear friend of mine lent me his copy of Letters of Note: Music this summer.  I really enjoyed the book – it would make a great gift.

Letters of Note: Music