Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inspire Me!

 I'm a person who enjoys words and inspirational quotes.  Perhaps that makes me a nerd, but really...I don't care.  It's sometimes what helps me get through a day or gets my thoughts down the right path as I'm getting ready for the day.  I wish I was better with creating all of these thought provoking sayings, so I resort to using other people's inspirational thoughts.

Now, how do I get these little words of wisdom.  Pinterest is a great place to find these quotes, but I wanted to use them in an effective way.  I also wanted this to be a way to add a little more personality to my classroom.  I made a frame for myself and my student teacher to write inspirational quotes on that would sit at our desks.  I bought cheapo 4x6 frames from Wal-Mart and found some scrapbook paper for the backgrounds.  I use a dry-erase marker to write on the glass.  And VOILA!  Instant inspiration on a budget!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lesson Plan Form

Hey all!

I'm attempting to get started on TeachersPayTeachers.  First of all, what a GENIUS idea for a website!  I know I've benefited greatly from it, as I'm sure many of you have!  I'm working towards getting some of my stuff up there so y'all can enjoy some of the things I've created.  Plus, I will attempt to give you editable forms so that you can make it your own.

What I would first like to share is my lesson planner form.  I made it in Excel (which is how I've posted it on TpT).  The pictures below gives you a good idea of how I use it.  I'm a person that if I do not have things written down, I tend to be forgetful.  I know my weakness and try to compensate for it.

So, the "Daily Teacher Tasks" is a section that I designated my daily things I need to get done during any prep time that I have so that I can stay on top of things.  (SOW=Song of the Week, WOW=Word of the Week)  I even put down write something for this here blog.  Ha!  Perhaps I will stay more on top of it!

Below are some snapshots of how I write my plans down.  I have it organized by grade level across the top (enough for 5 grade levels.)  If you know how to work Excel, you can adjust the cells where you can fit in extra grade levels if needed.  I then have the days of the week listed vertically.  The "Day" part is for writing down what day of our specialist cycle we are on.  I actually have two different cycles (a 4-day rotation and a 5-day rotation)!  UGH!  So, I highlight GREEN for one cycle, and BLUE for the other.  It works...it would be nicer to have everyone on the same cycle, but due to numbers and how many teachers of each section we have, and specialists...this is what works for our building.  I also write the date in red along the side as well.

I also have sections along the right hand side of the form for planning choir rehearsals, any building events or concerts coming up, and then a section for notes to help me remember anything coming up such as field trips, meetings, observations, or anything else that I would need to be aware of.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Click here to get the blank template!

 *Disclaimer:  the font I used is "Huxtable", so if you have issues with the font or size of the font, it may be due to not having that particular font.  Just make the needed adjustments.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cupcake Rhythms

My student teacher and I have been working on teaching 2nd grade the correct names of notes and rests (Quarter Note, Whole Note, etc.)  Instead of "Ta" and "Ta-a-a-a."

This year my goal is to move towards have a centers-based classroom approach where kids are doing more application of what they are learning after some direct or whole-class instruction.  Basically, I wanted to provide more differentiation for my students.  (Ooo!  An educational buzz-word!  I feel so smart and "teachery!")  Over the summer I began collecting items that I thought would work well for a centers activity.  These cupcakes were one of those items.

It's a very simple activity.  Match the name of the note with the picture of the note.  Done!  I made 4 sets with the stack that I purchased from Lakeshore Learning.  Here is what one set looks like:

So, I wrote the name of the note on the top and drew the symbol on the bottom.  I then cut them apart and laminated them (for longevity!).  Here's what it looks like cut apart:

ALSO...I thought that this could work well as a tool for an assessment.  (Which might be nice for special ed students as a way of identifying the term with the symbol with manipulatives vs. writing.)
I'm excited for the kiddos to use them!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making a Student Teacher Feel Special

I love my job.  And really, I see job as a bad word and I don't really feel like I have a job, I have career that I love to do.  I also love sharing how I teach and how I do things, hence my blog!  But I wanted more!  So I decided that I wanted to start having student teachers.  Mr. Resley comes from University of Northwestern-St. Paul, my alma mater.  I've been wanting to have them send me student teachers for a little while, so I emailed an old professor of mine last year to let them know I was interested in having my school be a placement for them.  She replied back wanting to send Mr. Resley to me to do 28 hours with me.  Hooray!  I finally could give back!  Because Northwestern did such a wonderful job of preparing me for the classroom and I wanted to give back to them in some way by helping raise the next generation of teachers.

So, this year is my first year having a student teacher! I'm SO excited. After Mr. Resley did some methods hours with me last year and requested to do his full-time student teaching with me this year. I was ecstatic. When he did his methods hours with me, he taught a lesson or two and I was incredibly impressed. I felt like I could turn over my classroom to him right then and there. He has a natural gift. 

Over the summer I tried to figure out what  I wanted to do to make his time here enjoyable.  I remember when I was student teaching at my elementary placement that my cooperating teacher had a special desk area for me that made me feel like I had more ownership there.  I felt like a real teacher.  I wanted Mr. Resley to feel the same way.

So I redid my counter space and made it a special desk area for him.  Over the summer I made a name sign with some scrapbooking materials and a picture frame.  This is a gift to him that he can take with him when his experience here is finished to perhaps someday hang in his own classroom.  I also provided a magnetic whiteboard, a pegboard, a tray to hold papers of any sort, a pencil cup, small set of drawers to hold post-its, paper  clips, etc.  I also have a picture frame with scrapbook paper in the background that I am going to write inspirational quotes on.  The first quote (Found through Pinterest of course) is: "The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters.  The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day!"--Todd Whitaker

Friday, May 17, 2013

Music In Action

Hello all!  Well, of course...the life of a busy music teacher and it once again has been ages since I've posted last.  I need to do better!

Here's a quick post on my Action wall that I mentioned in my classroom tour.  I absolutely LOVE having this in my room year round.  A chance for my students to share what they do at home that was inspired by things we learned about in my classroom.  Whether it was a song we learned and they sung it to their family, a website we visited that they wanted to learn more about, drawing a musical picture or pursuing performaning groups or lessons because they love music so much!  Below are some pics of my wall towards the end of this year and how it has been filling up!

This is a picture of a student creating a city out of music notes.

This is a picture of a bunny man...or something...again made entirely out of music notes and symbols!

A close-up on the Action Sheets.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy Music In Our Schools Month!

I love this month!  I love creating an atmosphere in our building that is celebrating music all month long!  I'm curious what others do to celebrate?  Here's what's happening this month in my building:

1.  Announcements:  We have a C.A.R.E.S. model to our daily morning announcements.  Each day is a different focus on the following words, but this month will have a music theme added to it: 
                  *Cooperate (Mondays)
                  *Appreciate (Tuesdays)
                  *Respect (Wednesdays)
                  *Empathy (Thursdays)
                  *Success (Fridays)

2.  Trivia Contest:  This is something that I did with a colleague of mine in a different building years back that I have carried on to this building.  It is a school-wide trivia contest that is a weekly thing in the month of March.  Monday the new question is revealed, along with the previous week's winners.  I typically choose 2 winners per grade level and the win a very simple prize like a toy instrument that I usually can find either through Oriental Trading or a local Party Supply story like Party City.  Questions are along the lines of "How many keys are there on a full-size piano?" or "I am known as the 'King of Rock 'n' Roll'.  Who am I?"  The first question this week is, "What is the most sung song in the United States?"  The last week is the Stevenson Mystery Musician.  I have some talented staff who at one point have played an instrument!  So, why not share that talent with the building?  So I record the person playing their instrument and then the kids have to guess which teacher or staff member played that instrument.

3.  Journaling:  I have each grade do a grade-level appropriate writing assignment for me. 
  • Kindergarten actually colors a music note to decorate my room with.
  • 1st writes down their favorite song and draws a picture to go with it.
  • 2nd grade actually does a performance this month, so no writing for them!
  • 3rd grade writes a journal entry to focus to respond to the question "What would the world be like without music?"  This is an AMAZING writing assignment.  I LOVE reading their responses every year.
  • 4th grade writes about what music means to them.

4.  I Love Music Because...:  I am going to be recording kids sharing a sentence or two about why they love music.  This will then be aired on the broadcast each week.

5.  Display:  Lastly, I have a calendar of "This Day In Music History..." displayed outside my classroom that I also did with my colleage at a previous building.  Everyone in the school loves reading it each year and it's a great way to start conversations about music with kids and staff.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bass Clef Bean Bag Toss Game

So I'm a fan of the Freddie the Frog books.  For several reasons. 

1.  For elementary kids their imaginations are so AMAZING, stories and characters are a wonderful way for them to connect to pitches on the staff.  So I LOVE that "F" on the treble clef is Freddie!  "E" is his best friend Eli!  And then each place on the staff is a character or place on Treble Clef Island.  Sharon Burch, YOU, my friend, are a GENIUS!

2.  I love that there is a story that teaches "D," "middle C," and "B" below the treble clef staff.  Those pitches were always a challenge for me.  Again, Sharon...GENIUS.

and 3.  The Bass Cleff Monster book is AWESOME.  I love how it is set-up to prep kids that it looks familiar, but it's NOT Treble Clef Island anymore...You're in Freddie's dream and all the spots are different, but then you get the kids to noticed the Freddie's ABC's are still there, just in a different order and with different names.

OH! and of course...these books get introduced in Kindergarten!  So my little tykes are growing up with the knowledge of pitch names already and it will be second nature to them when they are reading music.  And, Hello?!  Bass Clef in Kindergarten.  Awesome.

Did I mention that I'm a fan of these books?!  So awesome. 

Well...I wanted to do some fun things to practice the Bass Clef pitches for the Kindergartners to get them more familiar with them.  So, I did a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade (I posted earlier about this activity).  We did a Simon Says game on the staff (that I taped on the floor) for the Bass Clef.  "Simon Says step on the Dragon....Grass...Annie the Ant..." etc.  That was fun.  We filled out a worksheet coloring all the different places specific colors to label them.  But I was looking for one more thing that was age appropriate for Kindergartners.  Some of my resources for Bass Clef were ok, but meant for older kiddos.  What to do...what to do...?

Well, all this time of practicing the Bass Clef I had the staff taped on the floor for the time being.  Then I started thinking of a game that involved doing a Bean Bag Toss.  Here's how it goes:

1.  I divided the class into 6 teams, which ended up being 3-4 kids on a team.
2.  The team gets 3 tries to toss their bean bag to the correct spot for the Bass Clef Monster.  I would say "Toss your bean bag to the Frog Log.  Ready...GO!"
3.  1st try earns their team 5 points. If they get the correct spot on the first try, then the team sits down and they are done for that round.
4.  If they did NOT get it on the first try, then the first person rotates to the back, and the next person gives it a shot.  If they get it then on the 2nd try, they earn 3 points for their team.  Again, if they get it correct, the team sits down and they are done.
5.  If they still did NOT get it on the 1st and 2nd try, they get one more chance to try.  So the person rotates to the back of the line and the 3rd person tries to throw.  If they get it on the 3rd try, the team earns 1 point for their team.
6.  If they did not get it at ALL, no points.  At which at that point, I have someone on that team place their bean bag on the correct spot to show me they know where the Dragon, or whatever, was.
5.  After all teams had their 3 tries, everyone stands back up again and we do another round.
6.  The team with the most points, WINS!  (Which means I give them a little music sticker to wear.)

FYI:  I put little strips of tape down with numbers for their teams as a starting line AND each team had a different colored bean bag to help me keep the teams straight because of course Kindergartners didn't throw straight every time! 

The kids LOVED this game!  They got excited when they tossed it to the right spot and encouraged their friends to get it on another try...and they worked together to help their neighbor through it to the right spot if they didn't know where the "Dragon" was.

I was so proud of myself for coming up with this game last minute like I did...thought I could start hanging out in the ranks of some other music teachers that I really admire!  Ha!

Now, being the Techie person that I am, I also created a SmartBoard file to go with this beautiful game.  I'm working on a TeachersPayTeachers account to get that file available to you if you feel so inclined to download it and use it in your own classroom.  SO...stay tuned for that file!

I hope this game inspires you to try a new game or two with your kiddos! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Agents of Change: A 2nd Grade Musical

Each year I brave an attempt at writing my own programs.  Both 2nd and 4th grade perform a program each year, 4th Grade in November and 2nd Grade in March.  When I write my programs, I try to stick to writing just one a year because it's a ton of work to do.  I then decided to alternate between 2nd and 4th grade each year.  That way when they were either in 2nd or 4th grade, they got to do an Arundel Original program!  Last year I wrote a program called Feelin' Good for 4th grade.  And this year it is 2nd Grade's turn. 
Note:  On the "off years," the kids do a "canned" program, which I often end up modifiying some or adding to again...I just can't help it!  I love musicals and performing with these kiddos!

How do I pick themes to write about? 

Well, with being an International Baccalaureate (IB) program here, the classrooms have planners (in depth units) based on a certain central idea/theme (Who We Are, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, etc) .  These themes are a great for basing the themes of my programs on.  With the 4th grade program, Feelin' Good, it was focused on living a balanced, healthy lifestyle (a How We Express Ourselves planner). 

Side Note:  IB asks specialists to try an make at least 1 quality connection to these planners to help strengthen these broad ideas into all subject areas.  I really enjoy making these connections because as we all know, Music is connected to EVERYTHING!  And I LOVE showing kids that particular feature of our subject area.  Now, granted there are some planners that it is a S-T-R-E-T-C-H to connect to, so I choose not to make that connection. 

This year I am writing a program for 2nd Grade and it is focused on how even ordinary people can help to make a change in this world (a Sharing the Planet planner).  In their classrooms, the kids are collecting old crayons and melting them to make new crayons to sell.  Their profits are then going towards Heifer International to buy a goat for a family in Africa.  SUPER COOL! 

What's exciting is the songs they are learning for this program are strengthening this idea of making a difference and the kids are fully on board and super-charged to put it all together!  All my songs that I pick for my programs comes from Music K8.  What a fabulous resource!  I love it solely for writing my musicals.  I usually can find enough awesome songs from these magazines and build a program around them.

So, when I came across the song "Agents of Change" in Music K8 Volume 18, Number 3...it was PERFECT for this theme!  And from there, I found a TON of others that I really had to narrow it down and came to a list of about 7 songs total.  I then began writing the script with the idea that there is a group of Secret Agents who go around the world making a difference.  AND teaching those they meet how to make that change on their own.  The agents mission is always to make the world a better place and they are always trying to fight off Dr. Nemesis (Dr. Nem) who goes around with his whisper machine making people be selfish, rude, uncaring, bully, etc. 

The kids have LOVED the idea of Secret Agents and all want to be this role in the program.  What I've been sharing is that they ALL can be secret agents right now!  That they can start making a difference in the world around them!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BBC National Orchestra of Wales Instrument Family Introductions

Have you guys come across these?!  I'm working on putting things together for my 1st Grade Instruments of the Orchestra Unit and wanted to see what YouTube had to offer.  And I came across 2-3 minute videos of each family section.  They are simple and briefly play most of the instruments of each section.  A gem of a find, in my humble opinion!



Monday, January 28, 2013

WOW! Where did I go?!

Hello all my fellow blogging friends!

I know it's been a while since I've written here, but holy cow!  Over 3 months is ridiculous!  I had a goal of blogging something once a week!  ...I think I fell a little short....  I only dream to be like all my fellow music educators out there who blog almost daily.  I don't know how you do it! 

So...here I go again, trying to attempt to get the ball rolling again.  This week I will try to blog about the following topics:

4th Grade Recorder Centers!
3rd Grade Pentatonic Compositions (on Finale Notepad!)

Gosh, that seems crazy...2 topics in one week, I know, I know.  I don't want to get too crazy!  Ha!

I figure if I declare it to you out there in cyberspace, I might actually follow through with it!  I believe my actual problem is the taking pictures portion.  I forget to get my camera out and then actually snap a shot of all the awesome things my kiddos are doing.  They're amazing and I want to brag about it with y'all!

Hopefully see you sometime this week!