Leading Notes article that was published last week.
So we have spent a lots of time working on four basic scales (C, G, F, Bb) in a number of patterns. We have also started playing songs through the keys, including Over the Rainbow and Amazing Grace.
Today I asked the students to take an iPad and create an 8 measure "scale song" using garageband. I showed them briefly how to change the key of the song and how to drag loops on to the screen. Then I told them to compose a song and include their scale improvisations on top of the loops.
Each student produced some cool versions. In almost every case as I assessed them and gave some suggestions they came back with a substantially better version. We played each version for the class (and they played for each other). Some students started laying multiple tracks down of their own playing (scales in two directions, ostinato and melody, etc..).
The iPad is so easy to to do this with. Garageband in a lab just wouldn't work for this type of assignment. This assignment involved analysis, evaluation, improvisation, and composition. It also required collaboration.