Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Match Mine! A Musical Battleship

I have a FUN game/activity to share with you today!!!

On an earlier post, I shared about "Quiz-Quiz-Trade," a SIOP (ELL) strategy that I use.  My building has a very strong population of ELL students (we have 4 ELL teachers for a building of 550 students and about 1/4 to 1/3 are EL students, just to give you an idea)  Yesterday I decided to try something from the Match Mine: Music resource that I purchased over the summer.  So many fun ways to practice music terms and symbols, instruments, etc.

2nd Grade has been working on rhythm and learning to identify the names of the notes.  So I decided to try this musical version of Battleship. 

The kids have 2 file folders, 2 game boards, 2 sets of different colored pieces, and a paper clip.  They first need to set-up their file folders up Battleship style and paper clip the top so they stay standing.  We found that we needed to pull the folders about an inch away from each other from the bottom in order for it to stay upright.  Then each kid gets a set of pieces and a game board to set down.

One person is the "Sender" and one person is the "Receiver."  The "Sender" places their pieces on the game board in random places.  Their job is then to tell the "Receiver" where to put their pieces using describing words like "Top Middle" or "Top Left Corner," etc.  They are not only trying to identify my vocabulary, but also using descriptive words to help their partners put them in the same spot as they did.  So the students were expected to use sentences like "I put the Whole Note in the Top Left Corner."  There could be NO peeking or looking, which is why I have them laying on their bellies so they couldn't look over the barrier.  They had to figure it out using words and asking questions if they need clarification or help.
I found it was VERY helpful to model it first on the Smart Board and do it together as a class.  (I scanned the gameboard and then made my "pieces" with the SmartBoard Notebook.)  I was the "Sender" for the class and had students move the pieces to the places I wanted them to.  I reminded them they need to know the difference between Right and Left (showed them the "L" trick with their thumb and finger) and they also need to use words like Top, Bottom, Middle. 
 *Looks like Left and Right got mixed up!*
For this activity, I wanted them to practice identifying the note names.  i.e.Whole Note, Half Note, Quarter Rest, Half Rest, Pair of Eighth Notes, etc.  But you could have them use "ta" and "ti-ti" language as well.
Once they were finished, they can compare their boards to see if their partner matched their board.  Then they switched jobs.  This kept them entertained for the remainder of the class period.  It was really fun walking around hearing them using the descriptive words and using the music vocabulary that I wanted them to know!
This can also be a GREAT activity for a center as well.  I would suggest pre-teaching it to the class before making it a centers activity, then the students will understand the goal of the game better.
So glad I made this purchase!  There other game boards for Instruments of the Orchestra, Classroom Instruments, Form, Dynamics, Ostinatos, Orff Bar Placements, Rhythms, Melodies, etc.  and it has game boards designed for ages PreK through 12!  (The older activities are designed for grades 6-12, so if you teach those grade levels, this could be a fun different way to practice music skills.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Keeping Risers Returned to the Right Spot

I don't know about the rest of the elementary music teachers out there, but I know for myself, I'm pretty picky about the placement of my risers.  Mainly due to the fact that for the first couple years of my teaching, if I didn't put my risers back exactly the right way...I would hear about ALL day long for a couple days from my students about the risers being different. avoid that headache, I always try to make sure that the colors always stay in the same order and the same spot.

Since my risers get used for so many things around the building, not just my programs, but for group photo things, PTA events, etc...that I always told them to just roll them back in my room and I'll place them back down.  Well, that was a lot of work on my end.  So last year I tried putting a piece of masking tape down to mark where the front of the risers would be in hopes that they would be returned correctly.  Well, kids would pick at the tape and it would be gone by the time I would need it and I ended up doing all the work myself.

My husband, being the genius that he is, suggested to put the tape behind the risers!  DUH!  Hello?!  Why didn't I think of that?!  So, this morning I put the tape down and labeled the colors as well. 

Then custodians or others can return the risers to the right spots and the colors in the right order!!!  I pray that this system works well. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


Our school is a SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) building.  Which really is a way for ELL teachers to better aid their students.  My school has a high population of ELL students and our whole staff has done training on SIOP to better incorporate some strategies and activities to help strengthen their vocabulary.  I wasn't sure what this would offer me as a music specialist, but then realized that I gained a TON of different ways to teach music vocabulary and concepts to my students in really fun, interactive ways.
One strategy or game that I LOVE to do with my students is called Quiz-Quiz-Trade.  This week I played this game with my Kindergartners to review Letter Names on the staff (which they learned via the Freddie the Frog stories). 

NOTE:  If you are not familiar with Freddie the Frog--check him out here!  He has been a WONDERFUL addition to my classroom.  Sharon Burch is a genius!

Now, the way Quiz-Quiz-Trade work is like this.  Usually students have a flashcard of some sort.  They then face a partner and each take turns asking a question about that flashcard (QUIZ-QUIZ).  In this case they were asking "What is this place?"  Trying to get the answer for Treble Clef Island where Freddie and his friends lives.  Once each of them answered correctly (giving some clues to help if they were struggling), they would TRADE their cards and find a new partner.  Kids looking for a partner would need to raise their hand and find another kid doing the same thing.  Got that idea from one of our 2nd grade teachers and it works really well when they are looking for a new partner.  This activity can last 5 minutes if you want just a quick review for them OR up to 15-20 minutes if each kid has something different.

You can also do this activity with rhythm cards.  Part of the activity is not just about the content, but about practicing language skills...asking a question, answering correctly, etc.  So in the case of doing rhythms...I would have a 4 beat rhythm pattern fitting the age group, of course, and they would say to their partner "Say this rhythm."  or "Clap this rhythm" or "Clap and Say this rhythm."  You can do it with ANYTHING that you want students to gain more knowledge about.  Instruments of the Orchestra, Tempo Terms, Dynamics Terms, etc...the list is endless! 

Some resources that are pretty great for SIOP can be found on the Kagan Website.  They are always coming up with new strategies and activities.  Check them out here.  And they have even come out with Music Resources!!!  And I'm SO pumped to use them!  Both Match Mine Music and Cooperative Learning and & Music can be found on the Kagan Website.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oh Say! Do You Know These Words?

This year I began with teaching my 3rd and 4th graders "The Star-Spangled Banner."  I've been very excited to teach this song because there are SO many ideas of how to approach teaching our national anthem.  One of the ideas I started the unit on was found in the Interactive Now, Volume 2 by Debbie Anderson & Phyllis Thomas.  The lesson titled "The Star-Spangled Banner" Memory Game was a wonderful way to get a handle on some of those tricky terms that even I need to think twice about.  However, I modified things a bit and wanted the students to attempt to look up the terms themselves.  So I had the students partner up to complete the assignment.

 One side of the worksheet had the lyrics of the song and the other side had space for 3 terms and their definitions.  Students were to circle three terms that they didn't know and wanted to learn more about.  Next they were to write those three words on the backside and begin looking up the definitions in the dictionary.  It was a bit challenging for the 3rd graders for they hadn't had that much experience with dictionaries, so I had to take 5 minutes to teach them how to look up words.  But they really impressed with me at the effort they took to try!  Below are some pictures of my lovely students working hard to search these terms.  The next lesson we referred to the Smart Board Lesson by Anderson and Thomas and revealed the definitions in kid-friendly terms.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Classroom Tour

Well, I thought I'd be the next to post about my classroom and give a tour.  Please note that some of the things posted in my classroom are IB (International Baccalaureate) related and I'm required to post.  I lose some hanging space, however I've grown to really appreciate having these posters hung because it connects me to the rest of the school and what they are talking about in the classrooms.

I love having a very colorful room.  I've always resorted to doing things in a "rainbow" sort of fashion.  Makes it cheery and a fun place for my students to be.  Teachers in my building always compliment my room and it brings me pride and joy in my teaching space.

This is the view my students get when sitting on the risers.  I'm so lucky to have a SmartBoard in my classroom!  It has enhanced my teaching in SO many ways that I will never go "old school" again!

This is the view from the door as you walk in.  I love my colorful risers, but I also wish I didn't have them.  I go back and forth on whether not to keep them because there isn't really a place to store them, which for my principal means lets get rid of them.  Our building is packed to the gills right now and we are maxed out on space.  Luckily we're building an addition to our building starting in the spring!  So, perhaps them I can store the risers and gain more floor space!

Another view of my room.  I'm so lucky to have a lot of storage.  I basically have two walls of cabinets.  BUT, the downside is that I don't have much bulletin board and wall space.

View from the other side.  The door goes to my decently sized storage closet.  However, one section is for the PE teacher because she doesn't have much storage in her area.  

Some of my views from the front.

My supplies storage.  I need to make a sign/label for my clipboards.  The numbered boxes are my crayons and they coordinate with the risers that are also numbered.  The tray on the top that says "I Took Action!" is an IB thing.  I will explain it more in depth with my "Music In Action" wall.

Here are my classroom expectations wall.  And wonderfully they spell Music!  I got this idea from a Music K8 magazine my first year of teaching and I have used them ever since!

I'm proud of this little section.  A few of these things are Pinterest inspired and others are what I've always done, but I have made them new.  

The mailbox is where students "mail" their assignments or turn in their assignments to me when they are done.  They LOVE this thing.  There are kids who will stand next to the mailbox (without any prompt from me!) and make sure each kid turns in their paper just so they get to close it!  Ha!  It can sometimes cause problems, but I view that as a teachable moment about taking turns and sharing that it just makes me love having the mailbox all the more! for some Pinterest ideas.  I came across this idea and instantly LOVED it.  Because I see every student in my building and I don't get around to correcting papers immediately, this will be a huge help!  Before students turn in their assignments, they need to highlight their name to double check that they have done it.  And I'm sure those mailbox monitors will be taking care of this as well!

These next two things I'm also pumped about!  I've seen in a couple places the "Sharp" and "Flat" containers for pencils.  Dual purpose items I just LOVE and it totally makes me a music nerd and I don't care!  Plus I then know when pencils need to be sharpened.  The "Exit Tickets" box is another Pinterest find.  I love doing quick exit tickets at the end of a lesson as a formative assessment.  I have enough for 2 class sets because I see two classes of the same grade level back-to-back (below is what it looks like).  The students fill out the ticket answering a question about the lesson to see if they have fulfilled the objective.  The tickets are printed on colored card stock and laminated so kids can use dry erase markers on them and then I can quickly erase them for the next day.  Saves on paper and they are all set to go!

This is where my students store their recorders.  Each color is a class and the letters separates them into groups.  I have 6 risers and 2 of them equals a group.  Which this year I have hung signs above because I would like to use the groups for other grade level activities. I found these buckets really cheap at Michael's a couple years ago.  Another thing that makes my classroom so colorful!

These two pictures are my IB posters.  The top one are the Key Concepts.  Each unit should have a key concept or two or three connected to it.  They have questions attached to them that helps guide student thinking and discussion.  You can see Perspective and the question is "What are the points of view?"  When doing a listening activity, we talk about different perspectives and student points of view and how that is their opinion on the music.  There are several others--8 total.  The bottom picture are the Attitudes.  Last year our building really focused on Integrity.  We find that this "attitude" is one that will help them become a well-rounded person.  These really are similar your standard "Character Ed." terms that most buildings have, but with many more.  Confidence, Independence, Empathy, Tolerance...etc.  IB believes that these things are what makes a well-rounded individual and they are recognized globally.

Here is where I recognize when my students come up and tell me "I sang that song we learned in music to my sister" or "I went on this music website at home" or "I wrote this song at home!"  IB wants students to apply their learning in their everyday life, not just at school.  So they really like to celebrate and recognize when a student Takes Action at home because of what they had learned.  Earlier I have the "I Took Action" tray where students fill out a quarter sheet form sharing what they did, I then post it here to celebrate it! I know it seems like a huge space, but with 560 students, I need a lot of room!  Last year I was posting around and outside of the border because so many kids shared what they did at home!  How exciting!

Here is my music word wall sections.  These tall white things are our "chillers."  We don't have air conditioning, we have chillers.  Which really work amazingly.  There are little holes that air flows out of and helps regulate the temperature in my room.  They are metal, so I decided to magnetize all my letters I punched out so if I need more space or less space I can easily slide them where I need them.

I saw the "Isle of Rest" on another music teacher's blog and I really like the idea and modified for my use.  Our building is a PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) school, which basically means that we have a school-wide behavior system.  I love it.  Because now when the students come to me, they have consistent expectations!  Hallelujah!  All the classroom teachers are on the same page.  So, we do buddy rooms for behavior and the art teacher and I are buddy rooms.  This is where they need to go for about 1-2 minutes, regroup their thoughts and actions and return to art class.  I will be getting a little sand timer that the students need to use to let them know it is time to go back.  While they are waiting, they need to read through our C.A.R.E. poster to remind them how a Stevenson student is supposed to behave and then it'll be time to return to the art room.

Behind my desk is this lovely bulletin board.  Instead of handing out string for belts, this is what I do.  As students pass their belt, they pin up their little recorder karate guy on the bulletin board.  I use the clip art from Recorder Karate and created my own little guys on colored card stock.  So, when the students are passing their tests, it's a wonderful visual to see how kids are doing.  Plus some get really competitive and helps them get motivated when they see a buddy of theirs in another class move ahead!

I have this chalkboard space that I really didn't know what to do with for a couple years.  I would post some motivational posters, but just wasn't satisfied.  Then I had the idea of using chalkboard markers and writing some music quotes on it.  I wrote this one last year and thought of writing another one, but I just LOVE this saying so much!!!  Plus it looks so pretty!  

This is where I post the "Song of the Week" for my students.  The kids in the other grade levels really like looking to see what their siblings or friends in other grades are doing.  Or just remembering what they did in past years.

I don't do a ton of writing in the primary ages, but in 3rd and 4th grade we end up doing a bunch more.  This is my storage system for their folders.  Some of the bottom ones are saved for 2nd Grade to store some papers when needed as well.

This is an area of when students are done early with an assignment, they can come here and get a word find or music sudoku or other busy work that may be fun and enhances learning, but doesn't go towards a grade. Each drawer is a grade level and there is a drawer for blank paper as well.

I know many music teachers do this, but this is my Mystery Composer section.  I love doing it!  It's a great way of getting music history in.  I do a new one every other month.  And then once kids turn them in, I review who he/she is with the class.  This year the Art and Spanish teacher and myself got a grant for 15 iPads to share!  So, I'm planning on using those as the lesson the students can do for the Mystery Composers, with the aid of Prezi, which there is a viewing app for that!

This is where my Recorder Karate belt songs are stored.  When students have passed a song, they come here to grab the next belt.

I saw something like this on another music teacher blog.  I will write down lesson objectives in "I can.." statements so students can see what they should be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson.

I am attempting to do a Musical Word of the Week!  After the W.O.W. is done, I will then post it on the word wall--which is why it is currently empty.  The first word--Music!  It asks, "What Is Music?"  Yeah...I know...I'm going all deep and philosophical on the first day.  BUT--I am going to be asking students during the first lesson, "What is music?"  And I'm really excited about the responses that they are going to give.  Kids just have wonderful ways of saying the simplest things.  I think I will be blogging about that one!

More IB posters.  These are the Profiles.  These terms go all the way up to the high school level.  Not all the others do.  To be a citizen of this world, IB believes that these are the core traits or profiles that transcend cultures.  Balanced, Caring, Risk-Taker, Knowledgeable, Thinker, etc...

This is where I keep track of classroom points.  Each class starts with 100, and it is up to them to keep them.  When I take away a point value, that means they have lost those points.  The list of points do not add up to 100, it's to give me options with how many to take away depending on the severity of the actions.  At the end of the Trimester, if they have reached their goal of points, they will get free choice time or center time.

My signs for my riser groups.

This is my little Treble Clef chimes (a gift from a student) that I am using to be a mark where the line leaders are supposed to use as the front of the line.  I always am asking kids to move back so I can get to the door and this seemed like the perfect solution.  I like to be the one who opens it so I can greet the teacher and let them know how the day went.  If I don't, sometimes the teachers will just take their class and I won't get to share anything with them. Even the fun great stuff that the kids are excited to share with them!  SO--I saw this again on another blog and I stole the idea!

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom!  I love my teaching space and perhaps something here can inspire you to try something like so many others have inspired me!