It’s finished! I have attached links below to the two resources I have made for my creative project.

Here is the link to the teacher’s manual for the Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas Unit. An accompanying student iBook can be found and downloaded by following this link.

It’s been a steep learning curve but also quite rewarding to complete this project. I have copied the rationale from the iBook here to give a brief overview of the purpose behind my project.

Initial ideas:

The idea for this project was initially sparked when, working with year 7 and 8 using garageband for composing on my pre-service practicum this semester. I wanted to explore further how iPads could be used meaningfully and successfully to foster musical learning, and how students might be motivated to be leaders of their own learning. I decided to aim my project at a primary school level, as I am keenly interested in perusing music education in the primary school after graduating. Richard Gill has been largely influential in my thinking as he has been advocating for music education to be incorporated and emphasised more in the Primary curriculum through either specialist teachers teaching music in Primary schools, or through equipping primary teachers with more skill and confidence to be able to teach music. Being from country NSW myself and considering my experience of music at a small primary school I decided to develop and trial a music unit which incorporates some of the latest research about learning, particularly project- based learning, visible learning and using technology for music well.

Research overview:

After doing some initial research into how iPads can be used effectively in the classroom for music education, looking at Ron Berger’s developing philosophy of Project Based Learning and his ideas about creating an ethic of excellence (2003), I wanted to develop a cross-curricular project which connects music making with technology and other subject areas. Recent thinking and research into formative assessment and making learning visible has shown that the best learning happens when students are aware of what they are learning, and become leaders of their own learning (Hattie 2012).

“When the teaching is visible the student knows what to do and how to do it. When the learning is visible the teacher knows if learning is occurring or not. Teaching and learning are visible when the learning goal is not only challenging but is explicit. Furthermore, both the teacher and the student work together to attain the goal, provide feedback, and ascertain whether the student has attained the goal. Evidence shows that the greatest effects on student learning come when not only the students become their own teachers (through self-monitoring, and self-assessment), but the teachers become learners of their own teaching. In successful classrooms, both the teaching and learning are visible.” (Hattie, 2012)

As such, I was eager to include and to try out some of this recent research into visible learning. I have incorporated aspects from Hattie (2012) and Berger’s (2015) philosophies in order to try and make learning visible. This includes the learning goals provided for each of the learning sequences in the unit and the use of formative, peer and teacher feedback. For example, ‘two stars and a wish,’ and videoing class performances then watching them back and discussing how the performance might be improved. Other aspects of research I have incorporated into this project include the ‘flipped classroom’ learning. (Humberstone, 2016) in the introduction of the Scratch Junior app, and also in the assessment techniques. Students provide feedback to each other, and assess how close they are to reaching the learning goals, where traditionally a teacher may have provided this feedback.


This resource is intended to be accessible to primary teachers who haven’t had much experience teaching music. The iBook format is key, as it allows for the incorporation of graphic, film and audio, which I hope will provide support to a non-specialist music teacher using this resource.

The unit is written with a composite K-2 class in mind, but it could be used for students up to the age of year 3. The number of ostinati taught and the length/complexity of student compositions and performance will obviously vary depending on the age and experience of the class.

The planned activities are intended to start teachers thinking, and are by no means exhaustive. As I think about the EL and project-based learning movement, I think it would be really exciting to extend this unit into a longer-term project. In the ‘Extending the Project’ section of the iBook I list a few suggestions for expanding or building on the unit and encouraging students and teachers to pursue an ethic of excellence (Berger, 2003).


If you have any questions or comments about the unit I’d love to hear from you!