Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My New Educator Website- a consolidated way to share files with students, parents, and colleagues


Hopefully this new way of file sharing works better.  I have started a new website both for friends and fellow teachers through Wix.com:

The domain is: http://emilychurch86.wixsite.com/emilyskodalymusic/forcollegues

Screen Shot of the New Homepage!
If you go to the site and click on colleagues you can find a link direct to a special folder with all files I will ever share on my blog (blog domain stays the same).  I will still post the links here as well, but hopefully this alleviates some of the problems people have been having with getting to the files.   Right now there are only a few things in the BLOG FILES section: I will be going through old posts and finding other SMARTfiles and files that I have posted and adding those as well sometime this week.  This website is still under construction and I will be making improvements over the next few weeks, but wanted to make it live so I could start sharing files easier right away.  Ultimately, I hope to also post SMARTfiles that I use frequently.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Linky Party- Manipulative Monday!

 Hey friends,

Here are some manipulatives I am using in my room this week.  Hopefully a at least a few are new ideas for you! If you want more ideas, click the picture above to be taken to another "Manipulative Monday" blog post from another great music teacher - Lindsay over at Pursuit of Joyfulness!!! She will post all blogs that are linked up.   Right now the picture links up to her blog homepage, which is last weeks Monday Manipulatives, which is linked to A LOT of other great blogs. 

1.  Solfa Popsicle Sticks.  I write patterns on the popsicle sticks and the students have to put them in order to write out known songs or write their own.  I try to keep the choices to a minimum.  Those in the picture were made pretty quickly- but I plan on making more- and making them much prettier! A great idea for ease of reading would be to type on the computer then modgepodge the paper to the popsicle stick-that is much more work though!

2.  Rhythm cards.  I got this idea from Tiffany Berting and even use her SMARTfile when I use these so my colors correspond to her file, which you can get HERE.  I printed off a page of each note using the MUSICED font and then cut them to size so that the size of the card corresponds with the number of beats the car equals.  Then I have beat strips that the students use in different time signatures so they can be sure their pattern is the correct length.  Students write out the rhythm of a song, do rhythmic dictation, or compose their own.  Once a student is right, they can go up to the SMARTboard and show the class their answer.  (This is very similar to the Legos I also use, which you can read about HERE)

3.  Staff cards with Bingo Chips.  Many of us use laminated or felt staff cards.  I chose laminated with see-through bingo chips because then students can see that "on a line" really means that the line goes THROUGH the note, rather than like in normal writing when "on a line" means, well, on top the line :) I sing a pattern either on solfa or a neutral syllable (or even the words of a song) and the students have to decode and write it out using their chips.  I tell them where do is for each question.

Enjoy these manipualtive ideas and stay tuned this week for more ideas from Hungary, and possibly even 2/4 Tuesday (if I get  myself together tonight) which is another "linky party" where teachers share 2-4 ideas they are using in their room that week and link to other great blogs.   Have a great Monday!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hungary Workshop 2- Tips to teach boys

So, it just so happens this year that due to the way band pull outs work I have a 25 minute 5th grade class with ONLY boys.  The flute and orchestra girls join us halfway though making the full class 50 minutes long.  I can already tell this group will be a challenge, not because the boys misbehave, but because I have never taught a class of only boys before.  While I think it will be great to get them to sing out more (because they won't be embarrassed to sing in front of the girls) it also makes me nervous because I know that some of the games, song lit, etc. will be harder to sell to them without girls to love it first. 

This is the perfect year for this to happen because in Hungary, not only was my Musicianship teacher- Arpad Toth a teacher who typically teaches only high school boys, but I also went to a workshop during the symposium that dealt with this very subject.  Jason Goopy gave some great tips in his workshop for working with boys. 

Jason stated that boys elicit the pedagogy they need and they can respond to ineffective teaching with disengagement, inattention etc.  As teachers, we need to make positive trusting relationships with the boys so that they can learn to be the men they want to be. 

When teaching boys we must "Keep it Calm and Keep it Real"  - which reminds me of those Keep calm and... t-shirts and posters floating around.  Boys need literature that is not only interesting to them, but that is sensory, cognitive, and physical.  One tip I got was to use body percussion MUCH more- seems simple but it is a really easy way to get boys moving.  Finding different literature for boys that appeals to them from many musical identities is also very important- you may have rockers, theater kids, future politicians, or future sports players in your midst and music should appeal to ALL of them.  

Great lessons for boys have a transitive factor with lots of games, motor activity, team work, open inquiry, surprise AND personal realization ALL while keeping a focus on literacy- which is something we should insist on AND be persistent with.  With all of this said- remember music should be FUN and (at the VERY LEAST) we want our boys to grow into men who aren't afraid to sing Happy Birthday, or sing a lullaby to their new baby.  Of course we would love it if our boys grew into professional musicians, music teachers, or community choir members, but ensuring that they know that music can bring joy to their daily lives will leave a lasting impression on them all. 

A few specific examples of things Jason did in his workshop were the "Long-legged Sailor" song with motions on the descriptive word which changed each verse.  (Long, Short, Bow.  He also had some great rhythm dictation that turned into body percussion with multiple levels.  We wrote the simple rhythms down and then performed them in groups to make a really cool body percussion piece.  (see the picture below for what we did- I did this in my chorus and they LOVED it!)

I plan on extending this activity to include all different types of rhythms that my 5th grade boys know.  He also mentioned using songs from movies boys love like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc.  Using this music is also a great time to talk about careers in music ASIDE from professional performers. 

Things I am planning on doing for my all boys class this year are not only changing up the lit a little to work on the same concepts as the rest of the 5th grade- but with songs more appealing to the boys, but I also plan on bringing in a few extra speakers or skyping men who have music as a career or hobby to talk to them and sing/ play for them etc.  Hopefully I will have more boys than ever leaving my room saying "wow, that was fun today". 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8 Elementary Pedagogy Week 2 Goodies

Yes, I am still going on about Hungary.  I seriously learned so much and am still trying share everything. 

Just a few more tips from the Elementary Pedagogy class I took. If you missed the first Elementary Pedagogy Post you can check it out here.   Some of these many of you may already know and they are just good reminders- while others may be brand new. ENJOY.

1. Everybody works all the time.  While one student is writing or decoding something on the board it is a great time for individual, small group, or whole group singing.  Keep all students thinking and on their toes! This is something I definitely need to work on. 

2. When sight-reading for the first time have students read using their "thinking voice" but be sure to keep a steady beat and have students all sing the last note.  Hopefully they all end together  :) I have tried this with a few classes (using songs they learned last year, but hadn't done in a while) and it worked better with each class as I learned to explain it better.  Be sure students are centered in the correct key and, if it won't be too confusing for them sing the beginning of each phrase or point to beats to help them track.  I love this because it gives students a chance to think through the song before putting sound with it AND having them singing the last note forces them to actually think through the song and be ready.  I challenge my students do "do it better than the class before them" saying things like "a few other 3rd grade classes had people late on the last note" or "some of the other 4th graders forgot to sing the last note- or they accidentally sang all of it- can you be the 1st class to do it right?" Just this little bit of competitive motivation encourages them to really try hard and they are super successful.  I even sometimes challenge them to do better than themselves.  This works really well too.

3. Also when sight-reading, practice rhythm and melodic difficulties BEFORE they read the song.  Use manipulatives, flashcards, solfa ladder, etc. so that when students read out loud for the first time they are still being musical and reading both the rhythm and solfa simultaneously.  Never have students just say the solfa- solfa should always be sung.   Once a song is learned on solfa- move to the intermediate step of singing LOO (or another neutral syllable) before you add text to be sure that the melody is solid in a students brain. 

4. Improvising in the music classroom can be easy.  Some of my favorite ways (reinforced by my teachers in Hungary) are to give students a specific melody and have them improvise a rhythm or vice versa- give them a rhythm and a tone set and have them improvise their melody.  For the latter, start out with a small tone-set like m-r-d or d'-l-s and slowly expand it as they get better.  This can also be transferred to orff instruments too. :)  Another way to improvise is to s/r a melody and then challenge students to change just one little part- change the rhythm or one measure to make it their own version.  Or have them s/r the beginning of a phrase and ask students to finish it in a way they think it should sound- you can start this with a neutral syllable and then push students to use known solfa. 

5. Folk Songs = fun and are for the Love of Music and to perform if your school does grade level shows.   Use things like Kodalys 333 book for technical practice.   This does not mean that students should NEVER analyze folk music for its rhythm, melody, or other musical aspects like dynamics, repeats, etc. 

6. Try to get kids to always give a reason for their answers.  Why are they answering that way?  This should alleviate the random answers kids start to yell when they are getting impatient- or just trying to be silly- and makes kids use critical thinking skills!

7. FUN rhythm practice! This game is great for partwork and individual assessment.  One student reads the rhythm  they see (a great song would be the first half of Tideo) out loud while another plays the triangle (or other fun percussion instrument) on the X's.  Notice the X's are not always on the same beat of a measure.  Students have to play close attention.  You could also have half the class read the rhythm out loud while the other half claps the X etc.  

8.  Early Partwork.  We did this sequence with Pease Porridge Hot in Hungary but it could definitely work with any song.   
             Class sings the song while the Teacher plays So on the downbeats
             Split the class so one half is singing words while the other is singing the So on the downbeat
             Change the So to a Do
             Alternate between So and Do with the song
             Have students try to follow handsigns in parts (at first keep one hand sustaining a pitch, while the other group moves- then switch.  Kodaly has many great 2 part pieces that are awesome for handsign work.)
             Feel free to use different timbers- T can play the accomp on orff instruments, recorder etc.
             Also try to use different timbers when introducing a cannon. 

Stay tuned this week for another post on tips for teaching a class of all boys (yes, I have one this year).  These tips are also great just to keep boys engaged during music even when both boys and girls are present.  :)