Monday, October 3, 2016

Mindful Music Moments


My school has started doing an awesome program this year called Mindful Music Moments.  Each morning after the announcements we listen to a piece of music.  Students are supposed to listen silently, feet flat on the floor, hands in their laps, and eyes closed (or focused).  They hear a short mindfulness prompt then the same song is played for an entire week so students really get to learn the piece. 

For this program the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Opera teamed up with the creator of this program-Stacy Sims of City Silence- to provide quality recordings to give students and staff at schools a chance to "just be" during the  mornings before having to think about the stress of the school day. 

Students are asked to think about and focus on different things while listening calmly each day. While the piece is playing, we listen for tempo, mood, instruments, and more. Each piece is also connected to our school wide PBIS expectations- The Wilson Way.  I LOVE this program. The students are getting exposed to music we might not have listened to, learning about the music/ composers/ history, and most importantly they are getting valuable tools to help relieve the stress of school.

Some of the songs we have listened to so far are:
Fanfare for the Common Man - Aaron Copland
Flight of the Bumblebee- Rimsky-Korsokov
O Mio Babbino Caro- Puccini

Check out the website or watch the video below to learn more: City Silence-Mindful Music Moments

After students listen in the morning, I reinforce the weeks music during music class.  Sometimes I show a video, or I read a story to go along with the music. We often do movement- with and without props. Students LOVED being bees and flowers during Flight of the Bumblebee and watching the Luminocity Video for Fanfare for the Common Man (See below).  We also have talked about opera and watched opera scenes, as well as watched videos that show the music notation in a fun, iconic way.

In addition to the ideas above, I went to a workshop this past weekend (yay for TRIKE- Tri-city Kodaly Educators!) that gave me many more ideas for reinforcement of these great classical pieces in music class- aside from just listening and coloring or listening and journaling.  I now have built in listening lessons (in addition to what I was already doing) which is great! A friend from Undergrad, Jenna Swartz, gave a one hour workshop on great listening ideas she has come up with and I LOVED it!   One idea was to pair a wordless picture book with a piece of music.  Jenna really has a knack for finding the PERFECT song for books. She showed us 3 that fit perfectly and I plan on doing all 3 in my classroom this year. 

She also gave us ideas for the ever-popular "freeze dance"- or as I play it "musical bumps" (where students sit when the music stops instead of freeze because it is easier to see who is out!).   For this game, to make it more aligned with the curriculum, Jenna always uses THE BEST music (usually classical) and tells the students they MUST dance like the music sounds.  They also have fun describing the song during the pauses.  Jenna will call on a random student at each pause to say one adjective that describes the music and then at the end of the game, the class votes on which 3 words describe the song best. Perfect.

How do you incorporate listening lessons into your classroom?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Music Classroom Tour

I am FINALLY linking up to Tracy King's Music Classroom Tours post with my room pictures! It is week 5 of school so we have been going for a while, but I am finally able to breathe after assemblies, popsicles, rehearsals, walk-a-thons and more.  I think this is the first week where none of my classes will be interrupted. YAY!  Don't forget to hop back over to Mrs. Kings Music Room blog to get more great ideas from teachers all over the country.  It is never to late to add something or change your room up- your students will LOVE it!

My school is under construction this year (well, they are building a BRAND NEW SCHOOL behind our old school) so what better theme for my room than CONSTRUCTION!

I got this great set from The Bulletin Board Lady- Tracy King Construction Themed Music Room Bundle.  I used the Music Builds a Strong Foundation board, the solfege and dynamics posters, and more to bring my room together with a super cute theme.  I also have a safety vest and construction hat hanging in the room as well.

I had to rearrange a lot this year, as I used to have an entire modular classroom to myself (one side for chorus, and one for general music) but this year I am sharing with OT/PT.   My desk and many other things have moved into the GM side to make room for their balance beams, mats, and more! I still have a piano and a few cabinets in the chorus side, as well as the risers, because, well, we couldn't squish it all on one side- or there would be no room for students!  It seems busy and squished but we are making it work!

This view is from the back of my room- I call it the boomwhacker wall.  I have my boomwhackers attached with velcro to the wall (I used sticky velcro AND stapled it to make it extra secure) and then my Instrument Family Flags above (From David Row over at Make Moments Matter).  There are currently also dulcimers and drums along this wall, but the dulcimers will be going to a new home soon.

One of my favorite new things this year is the "Story Throne".  I have had this throne for a while because I needed it for a musical we did a few years ago.  This is the first year that I am using it in class though.  I sit in it every time I read a story to the kids.  I have also used it during a few games (like Queen Queen Caroline) and as a "photo booth" at the beginning of the year as students shared wishes for class this year.

Along the next wall is my orff instruments (and a desk students can choose to sit at if they don't want the floor during work time).  I try to keep the instruments organized on these shelves (the center shelf is empty because of a ceiling leak).  Above the instruments is my word wall.  It is so fun for students to find their vocabulary on the wall during the year.  You can also see my FAVORITE painting. It was a donation from a former student- it is the last page of the book Giraffes Can't Dance and says "We all can dance when we find music that we love..."  (There are empty shelves because my ceiling sprung a leak. Things got scrunched so they don't get wet!)

In the "front" of the room are my tempo posters, Small Instruments, Hand drums, SMARTboard and dry erase board.  Students face this direction most often.   I also have a xylophone visual (from the Game Plan Resources), music anchor charts from Music with Sara Bibee, a note values chart, and a large treble clef staff visual along this wall.

In front of the staff is my new bookshelf- I love it! it is so great to be able to see all the titles of the books.  All of my song-books and other commonly used books are on the top shelf.  Less used books are on the lower shelves.  Also on this wall I post a Joke of the Week.  Older students LOVE musical puns so I thought I would do this for them.  The little ones often don't get the joke, but that's ok.

Finally I have my desk and other classroom storage.  I have solfege, dynamics, standards and more posted on this wall as well as "musical art" above my desk. My picture says "Some people dream of meeting their favorite musicians, I TEACH mine" and has a musical clock above it.  My desk stays messy usually- I just can't keep it clean.  In between my desk and filing cabinet is my "information station."  This is where I keep pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, dry erase markers, marker boards, and paper- anything a student may need during class. We are still working on putting things back exactly the way they started- but we are getting better! This station keeps it semi-organized and students always know where to go when they need something.   Next to the door i have jump ropes and umbrellas hanging so they are easily accessible any time they are needed.

In the center of the floor is my music rug.  We use the rug for so many games and it really helps the little ones keep their circle nice and big.  It is one of my favorite parts of my room.

In the next picture you can see my future music room... well the foundation of it at least.  It is so fun to be able to watch the progress of the new building every day! I can't wait for the new school, new room and a little more space to spread out so the room looks less cramped and crazy!                                                                

What is your favorite part of your room? Share in the comments below!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tuneful and Trendy

I am so excited to join this linky party with Christine over at Elementary Etudes.  It was a great first day with students (more on what I did today later) and choosing an outfit for the first day is still just as fun as it was when I was a student in Elementary School.

In first grade I always read "Music Teacher From the Black Lagoon" where it mentions the music teacher has music notes on her shoes, on her shirt, and on her ears.  So, for the first week of school I like to have at least one of these covered each day.  It is so fun to see the kids faces when they notice that I have music notes on my shoes, or my shirt, or my ears :)  I also love to show my personality so I wear a lot of bright colors, and skirts/ dresses. I plan on wearing my music shoes and earrings all week. I wore shorts today because it is HOT and most of the school is un-airconditioned AND I have bus duty before and after school.  Check out my fun outfit!

Yellow Shirt- Stitch Fix
Shorts- ModCloth
Shoes- Toms
Earrings- Birthday Gift a few years ago from Claire's.  I wore the Beamed 16th Notes today :)
Necklace- Mothers Day gift from baby Henry (it's his birthstone and his initial)

Many of my pieces are from Modcloth OR Stitch Fix.  I LOVE Stitch Fix- 5 pieces come to your door, you try them on and if you like them you keep them (and pay) and if not you send them back (they give you a shipping envelope so it is super easy).  There is a $20 styling fee, but it goes towards your purchase if you choose to keep something (and I ALWAYS do).  You can also get a discount if you purchase all 5 items, like I did with my last fix. Check it out!

*I am NOT being compensated for mentioning stitchfix- I just LOVE it so I thought I would share!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Terrific Teacher Tips to Motivate and Energize your New School Year

Have you started your new school year yet?  I still have a whole week before students come (though PD started already).  Our district is doing a lot of construction so this year and next year have a delayed start date for students.

In my planning for the new year, I have thought of a few things that I think will really help to keep students engaged and joyful during music.  I decided to link up with Sandra Hendrickson at to share!  Enjoy- and be sure to go back to her blog to read all the great tips from music teachers all over!

Here are 3 of my tips for the new school to keep you motivated and energized all year.

1. Celebrate! I have decided this year that instead of a regular "reward system" we are just going to celebrate when the time is right.  Students get all the answers in a game correct- 2 minute dance party. Behavior is awesome?  The following week we might start with a game I know is a favorite of that class. Students perform outside of school in a recital or other special event? Let them play during class to share and celebrate their successes.

2. Get the wiggles out. This year I am starting each class with a listening/ movement activity.  Students will enter and receive their prop (if need) such as scarves, ribbons, plates, or cups and we will go right into our movement.  After we will talk about the song for a second and if it was the same as the one they hear on the announcements that morning for our Mindful Musical Moments (see more HERE).  I am hoping that giving students the opportunity to MOVE right when we enter the room will help them focus when it is time.  Does this mean we won't move at all for the rest of the class- no way! We will still be learning other folk dances, playing singing games, playing instruments and more.  This will just be a way to focus students bodies and minds to get them into a musical mindset.

3.  Keep YOUR joy by reflecting, being kind, and having FUN! Students feed off of the energy of the teacher, so be sure you are teaching in a way that brings YOU joy.  Choose songs or projects that you love, and keep asking yourself if you would like to be a student in your class. Reflect on your lessons with questions-What worked in your lessons and what didn't this week?  Why did you become a teacher in the first place? Did students teach you anything this week?  Bring joy to others by random acts of kindness or silliness through-out the day/ week.  Have a joke written on the board. Do the WAVE after students sing a song really well, bring a fellow teacher coffee.  Need more ideas? Check out my 30 Days of Happy Teaching- Specials Edition- It's Free!  I plan to do it over and over and over this year.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer Reading List

I LOVE summer.  I love hanging with Henry, hiking outside, and I love that I have time to READ.  I read for professional development and pleasure- striking a nice balance.

Here are 3 books I am reading this summer- 1 professional development book (well 2), 1 new song book, and 1 for pleasure book. What are you reading this summer? If you blog- link up and share! Directions are at the end of the post.

1. Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome

I am totally counting this awesome book as professional development this year.  There are so many great ideas to lead a more Awesome life.  Even just skimming through, I have already found joy through what is written on the pages.  The page that hit home most so far was "Put Down Your Phone"! I am always trying to take pictures of Henry (or my classroom during the school year) so I am not fully present in the moment. I have been consciously trying to leave my phone in another room and it is so fun to just experience every moment and take "brain pictures" rather than trying to capture it with my camera.

Chapters in the book include:
Life Is What Happens When You Put Down Your Phone
Focus on the Awesome
Wanna Be a World Change? Be a Day Maker!
Be a Party!
It's Okay to Get Discouraged. It's Not Okay to Stop
Change the Future
and MORE!

This book will help me be a better teacher by helping me to laugh, find my light (and share it) and most importantly, focus on the Awesome (all of which are SO IMPORTANT when connecting with kids).

Another professional development book I will be reading is:
Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students by Pernille Ripp

This book is geared towards Gen-Ed teachers but I still think it will have a lot of great ideas/ practices to make my classroom a better place.  It was tweeted by my principal and because our district slogan is "Engage. Empower. Excel." this book could not be more perfect.  From the Amazon Description, this book will help you to:

• Build a working relationship with your students based on mutual trust, respect, and appreciation.
• Be attentive to your students’ needs and share ownership of the classroom with them.
• Break out of the vicious cycle of punishment and reward to control student behaviour.
• Use innovative and creative lesson plans to get your students to become more engaged and intellectually-invested learners, while still meeting your state standards.
• Limit homework and abandon traditional grading so that your students can make the most of their learning experiences without unnecessary stress.
• And much more!

I am so excited to get started on these books. 

2. Roots and Branches

I got this book this summer and I can't wait to read/ sing through it to find new multi-cultural music for my classroom. Not only does the book have the musical notation, but also cultural context including maps, photos, and narratives.  There is a CD included as well so you and your students can hear an authentic recording of the song! There are songs from so many countries/ cultures- Korea, France, Ireland, England, India, Puerto Rico, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan, Cambodia, Mozambique, Israel, Navajo and many more.

3. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

Yay for reading for pleasure! I read so many YA dystopian future books in the summer, but this year I am also getting in some non-fiction.  Dick Van Dyke is one of my favorite performers and it seems he led such an interesting life. I am hoping this book is "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" :)

Other books on my summer reading list:
Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas
The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
First We Sing- Songbooks 1 and 2 by Susan Brumfield

Don't forget to link up and share your summer reading list. Happy Reading!

To link up here are the directions:
  • Save the "Summer Reading List" graphic to your computer, and include it in your blog with a link to this blog entry.
  • Blog about your summer reading list- including professional development and for pleasure books. Include pictures with links when possible.
  • Submit your information by clicking on the button below.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

5 Favorite Pins of June

Today I am linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share my 5 favorite pins of June! Be sure to hop on over to her blog as well to get so many more ideas!

You may notice a theme with my pins- they all have to do with room set-up/ organization.  Can you tell what I am thinking about for next year already???

1. Fabric Bookshelves

The first is a great idea for shelves in my room.  The one in the pin is attached to the wall, but I acquired a freestanding frame at the end of last year that will work great for my music room.  I LOVE that you can SEE the front of the books.  Right now by books are stashed in a filing cabinet and this will make it so much easier for myself and my students to find the book we want! I did shelves like this in my sons nursery and I love it!

2. White Board Station

I also love this Mobile white board station from Mrs. King's Music Room.  Right now my white boards are stashed under a piano bench in my classroom.  This will make passing them out, putting them back, and keeping them neat so much easier!

3. Plan, Copy, Prep, Grade Post-it Organizer

This is such a great idea! I am definitely a list person and this organizer helps keep everything, well, organized so that it is easier to break down and prioritize tasks.  I am horrible at using my plan time wisely because sometimes it can get overwhelming with ALL THE THINGS that need to be accomplished.  I think keeping tasks broken down into groups will really help!

4. Construction Music Room Décor Bundle

Ok, I won't lie.  I pinned this just so I could include it in this post.  I am SO excited about this bundle! My school is under construction right now (well a new building is being build behind the old building), and teaching in a modular unit (AKA trailer outside) I will be hearing and seeing the construction daily.  I thought this was the PERFECT theme for my room this year!  It is so cute and has EVERYTHING I could ever want to decorate my room.

5. Small Instrument Storage Tips

Finally, I loved this blog post on Small Instrument Storage tips.  It helps this year, in my small room, and will help when I am setting up my brand new classroom for '17-'18.  Organized Chaos even has links to some other posts she has written specifically about Hand Drums and Triangles (which I need a solution for). 

In preparing for next year and getting my room organized, I am also organizing my digital files- and I have so many more to organize because of the awesome 4th of July event going on over at TPT right now! A bunch of music sellers got together to share freebies, discount products, and put whole stores on sale!

For July 1-4 there are a ton of freebies available!  Search #LetFreedomRingMusic and you will find everything available.  I have a new freebie up that is great for summer AND the school-year.  The 30 Day Happy Teacher Challenge- Specials Edition will give you ideas for activities to de-stress your life and make your teaching joyful.  Check it out!

For July 2nd only- there are a ton of products marked down to only $2! I put my "Hello My Name Is... Music Symbols" game on sale.  It is a great review/ ice-breaker game for the beginning of the school year.  Students each get a card taped to their back, and then have to find their musical partner by figuring out their symbol with Yes  or No questions only.  So Fun! Search #RedWhiteand2 to find all of the great products on sale.

Finally, on July 3 and 4 my entire store will be on sale for 20% off! Many other stores will be on sale too. 

Happy Shopping and have a great long weekend!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Three Summer Goals

Today I am linking up with Aileen Miracle over at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share 3 of my summer goals. Summer is such a great time to rejuvenate, spend time with family, and get ready for another great year.

Goal #1
Experience Music
Teaching music is so awesome and is my dream job, but sometimes I am so busy TEACHING music that I forget to experience music through performing, listening, and dancing.  This summer I plan on doing all 3 with my 6 1/2 month old.  I am performing in Wizard of Oz in August with a local community theater group and it is a lot of fun to get back to singing and dancing.  I am also going to a Mommy and Me music class each week with Henry.  We went for the first time today and he LOVED it!  We got to sing familiar songs, play with instruments and dance, dance, dance.  So fun! Along with the scheduled classes/ performances, I hope to also have MANY impromptu dance parties in the house with my little man.

Goal #2
Make and Revise TPT Products
It has been so hard to keep up with TPT since having Henry but I have a lot of ideas in the works and hope to get a lot of new products done this summer.  I am having a former student come over to be a "Mothers Helper," which basically means that she will watch Henry while I get stuff done.  I hope to make new products and revise some old ones- at least getting new covers on many of them so they are less cluttered.

Goal #3
Organize My Classroom
I have one more year in my current classroom before we get a new building (YAY!). I really want to spend some time this summer cleaning, purging, and organizing so that moving will be nice and easy when the time comes. I have so many manipulatives and worksheets that need to be organized more efficiently.  I also have a lot of unused, broken, or out-dated instruments/ materials that I need to go through and reflect on if they are worth it to keep, or if they should  be donated/ thrown away. 

What are your plans for the summer???

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Tips for Making Your Next School Year Easier

During my first official week of summer, I thought I would link up with Linda over at Floating Down the River to give some tips on making your next school year easier.  These are just some quick tips so next year can start as stress-free as possible. Here are my top 3!

1. Organize your thoughts and reflections from this year.

I have an email folder labeled 2016-2017 school year and I have been sending myself emails about what I need to purchase next year, what concepts I got to, which concepts I didn't get to, ideas for next year and any other important info.  Then in the fall, this will be the folder where I save all my lesson plans (I like to email them to myself so I always have access- even if I am kicked out of my room for bad weather).  I have tried computer folders and other ways of organizing these thoughts, but I have found that an email folder works best for me because then I am not searching next school year for what I called the folder and everything is right there and accessible from anywhere.

2. Get your craft and reading on!

I love to spend time in the summer making manipulatives, going though recently purchased/ acquired song books and reading professional development materials- especially if I can't take any classes or do many workshops.  Making manipulatives is fun for me, so it doesn't feel like work and then at the beginning of the year I am already set and organized.   On the list for this year are Symbols Football materials, Popsicle stick games (matching solfa/ rhythms and other games), and more.  I am on the lookout for great books to read so send me your favorites- especially on classroom management!

3.  Take time off!

I try give myself much needed time to relax and spend time with family before thinking too much about next year. The first week of summer I spend doing easy things that will make the beginning of the year easier- like noting where we left off, making 5th and 6th grade schedule groups (they are grouped by Band/ Orch/ or no instrument), and noting what will need to buy right away in the fall. After that week,  I don't like to do much school work at all unless it's fun (see #2).  Then in August I am back adjusting my year plans and songs lists, making retrievals for new songs, etc. This summer I am especially excited to spend time with HENRY- he is now 6 months and starting to crawl.  We are going to hike, play in the water (maybe- he HATES it right now), go the park and classes at local play gyms and more! Yay for family time!

Me and the Family at the Butterfly Exhibit

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"The Day The Crayons Quit" Program

Holey Moley! End of the year already?  With a 6 month old time has just gotten away from me.  I do have a "mothers helper" this summer though (one of my former 6th graders) so I will be able to make new products and get many blog posts started over the summer.  Teacher-moms who have been doing it for more than 6 months- you are AMAZING!

I promised a post on my 2nd grade program this year, so as I am in my room cleaning up after our last day with kids yesterday I figured I would get it out there.

Can I just say I love Facebook?  If you aren't a part of the many music teacher groups on facebook- search and join them now! I get so many great ideas from these groups.

One such idea was using the book The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt as the inspiration for my 2nd grade program this year. The book is super popular with students and parents and it lends itself perfectly to a program for younger grades.

If you don't know the book, it consists of a bunch of letters from crayons to their friend Duncan explaining to him why they have had enough and need a break.  Some are over-worked, some are under-worked, and some just frustrated with other colors arguing.  Such a cute book! Some people who have done this program this year did a lot of songs that mention the color names, but I decided to go a slightly different route.  Instead of using only songs that mention the correct color names to match the page, I looked at what the crayons were talking about coloring and used a lot of songs to go with those objects.  Many of these songs were already in my curriculum for 2nd which means less "teaching to the test" and more exploring with songs we would be learning anyways! I am big on making programs that showcase what we ALREADY do in music class rather than taking a lot of time out of the curriculum for the year to teach song that students will never sing again in music class just because they fit with a cute them.  I like to make my programs more "informance" than "performance" so even though there is a theme tying everything together, parents are seeing how music class typically works.  Sometimes I even like to pull parents in the audience to help play or accompany a song on orff instruments, etc. It is so much fun to have students teach their parents what to do and parents love it too!

This year I also made a booklet in addition to the program explaining how we learned each song, concepts it teaches, etc. There is vocab, staff notation, stick notation, etc.  After the program is over, students can use it to help teach their parents AND as a fun song book in the future.

My plan for each performance is to have all classes introduced during the first songs and then have some that they all sing as well as some that feature one class moving/ dancing/ playing instruments. For this show, a child read the letter from the crayon and then we performed the song to go with that crayon. I have listed the songs below and described each activity did in our program.

Costumes for this program were especially easy- Bright Solid Colors! (And a paper crayon hat if a student wants).

There were also book pages, as well as song info projected on a screen so families could follow along.
Students performing "Snowflakes"

Red- Apple Tree with orff percussion accompaniment and class made up interludes to introduce all classes :)  
               This song was performed in RONDO form.  All students sang the song each time 
               and then each class made up their own "Apple" 8 beat ostinato to introduce their
               class. Ostinatos are something we are always creating in music class with many songs 
               to practice the rhythms we are currently working on. Students love to take ownership of 
               the patterns they create and figure out how to accompany them. This was a totally 
               student led activity! 
              Some examples of our ostinatos for the show include:  
              Apples falling from the sky, Soon it will be Apple Pie   AND I Love Apple Pie, It is Good! 

Purple- I thought about doing Flying Purple People Eater
               Unfortunately I thought about this song too late and we did not have time to learn it well-
               but it would be a super fun idea if you choose to do this program at your school!

Grey- movement to Carnival of the Animals, Elephant- 1 class
               For this song, I made up movement to the Elephant section of Carnival of the Animals
               by Saint-Saens. Students have a lot of fun acting like Elephants with their movement! 
               If you want to learn the routine- check out my TPT Crayons Quit Starter Pack! 

White- Snowflakes (from Game Plan) with glockenspiel accompaniment as well as creative movement- 1 class
               This song was performed by one class.  The song is a short, simple s-m-l song so 
               having students play an ostinato during the song on Xylophones and Triangles 
               (I Love Snow z) and then glockenspiels during the B/ C section really brings it to life! 
               This is performed in RONDO form where students sing and then a few students 
               improvise movement during a 16 beat interlude using white and blue scarves and 
               then we sing again for a total of 3 times. Each child got to choose which part they do- 
               Xylophone, Metallophone/ Glockenspiel or Triangle.  Then those who wanted to 
               got to do scarves as well. 

Black- Black Joke Contra in Chimes of Dunkirk.  1 class will perform
               The version in the video below is actually a little trickier than the version in 
               Chimes of Dunkirk but it gives you an idea of how the dance works.  

Green- Our Favorite Frog Songs- sung by all.
               For these, we just learned a few frog songs and sang them all.  We did
               Frog in the Meadow and On a Log, Mr. Frog and maybe another. Mr. Frog was 
               sung in a round which made it really fun. 

Yellow and Orange- You Are My Sunshine sung by 2 classes and then Mr. Sun sung by two classes.
               In the book, Yellow and Orange are arguing over who is the TRUE color of the sun. 
               For the program, I will have students read the yellow page and then 2 classes
               sang You are My Sunshine. Then the Orange Page was read and the other 2 
               classes sang Mr. Sun.  Quick and easy and most students knew these songs already 
               so even though I do not typically teach them in 2nd, we did not take too much class 
               time to learn them. 

Blue- Rain, Rain Go Away with rain storm body percussion - A few students with instruments (thunder tubes, metal sheets, etc.) 
               For this song, there was be audience participation.  I had the students AND 
               audience create a rainstorm with their bodies (just like in the popular video below)
               but a few students also had have instruments to make the thunder sounds.  
               They used thunder tubes, metal sheets, rainsticks etc. After the storm gets started, 
               all students sang "Rain Rain Go Away" (a great s-m-l song again!) and then we 
               phased out the storm sounds. I barely had to talk to parents to get them involved 
               and it was so cool! One parent even commented that they got chills- it was Awesome. 

Pink- Pink Panther plate routine- 1 class (decorate plates!)
                For this song I made up a cute plate routine to the Pink Panther theme song.  Each
                set of plates was decorated in pink by the students. It would also be cute to decorate
                them with Pink Panther Paws.  If you want to learn the plate routine- check out my
                TPT Crayons Quit Starter Pack! 

Finale song- All classes just stood and sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow together beautifully to end the program! 

For the program I decided to skip Beige, Brown and Peach just for time sake.  The program was already pretty long as even though many of the songs are short- transitions, etc. can add some time AND our un-airconditioned gym gets HOT after about 15 minutes- so 25-30 minute programs are key. 

Have fun with this program! Check out my TPT starter pack for this program here: Crayons Quit Program Starter Pack  

The Pack includes: 
         Titles and performance ideas for every crayon color- sources included where applicable- 
         Many are well known and loved songs! 
Apple Tree Chant Teacher Pack (beat charts, ideas for use, etc.) 
'Elephant' From Carnival of the Animals Ribbon Routine 
'Pink Panther Theme Song' Plate Routine - an UPDATED version from the one in this post! 

Editable Save the Date Cards (PP)

Editable Foldable Program (PP)

SAMPLE parent Letter 

2 Editable PowerPoint Slide Presentations you can project during your show 

Crayon Protest Signs - print and use to decorate your performance space! 

NOTE: A Script is NOT included in this program starter pack. When I did this program I just used the pages of the book as my script. 

YAY SUMMER! Take the time to relax, spend time with family and get ready for another great year! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

First Year Flashback

Today, I tried to link up with Shelly over at Pitch Publications to reflect on my first year teaching and how far I (and my students) have come! Click her blog name above to read her post.  I am in my 7th year teaching, which may not seem long- but my teaching style and lesson planning sure has changed! I know her post was a while ago and I can't officially link up but I thought it was still fun to reflect. (This blogging with a baby thing is HARD!) :)  Still head on over to her site to check out the other posts of those who did link up in time!

What Subject and Age Were You Teaching??

Luckily, I am still at the same job I started in because I LOVE IT! I hope I can stay at my "Wonderful Wilson School" for my entire teaching career.  I started out (and currently) teach 1st - 6th grade GM and 5th/6th Chorus.  Soon Kindergarten will be added.  At first I had students for a total of 60 minutes a week (bigger kids 1x for an hour, and littles 2x for 30 minutes each).  I now have each group for 50 minutes 1x a week. 

What Was Your First Classroom Like? 

My first room was a normal sized classroom smack dab in the middle of the building.  There was no air-conditioning, but I convinced them to give me a wall unit. It was pretty tight for the big kids and no fun having to be quiet during testing days, etc. Right now I am in a portable and actually really like it because I can control my temperature, be as loud as I want and I have a whole portable (2 classrooms) to myself. In 2 years we are getting a brand new building and it will have a music wing! I cannot wait to see what my new classroom will look like! I wasn't too picky with the plans- I just said there needed to be room to dance, sing, and play (and of course, store all the instruments and equipment I have). 

Were You Given Supplies and Materials?

I came into a WONDERFUL program.  I was given many resource books, story books, manipulatives, music and a full classroom set of orff instruments, drums, and other classroom percussion.  I also had an Ipod given to me- but I never used it. 

What Do You Remember About Your First Day? 

Absolutely nothing.  I do remember a lot of good, and not-so-good moments from my first year though.  I was probably terrified, but excited- as I never student taught elementary (only High School and Middle School Choral). I knew after my methods class I was meant to teach elementary, but I did not have a ton of experience with it- I am so lucky I got this job! The best memory from that year was my first chorus concert- for the schools 50th anniversary (can you tell why we are getting a new building now?) We did songs from each decade the school was open and it was so fun. My parents even came to watch :)  I am sure those 5th and 6th graders thought I was crazy, but I got a lot of encouragement from staff and parents and then I felt like I
could really do this job.

What Was The Hardest Thing About Your First Year?

I was following a music teacher who had retired from over 20 years of teaching at my school. Luckily there was one year of another teacher as a buffer, but there was still a lot of backlash from parents when I accidentally tried to change things (like the chorus uniform, etc.).  There were things no one told me about that I learned were traditions through pages long emails from upset parents. I now finally feel like these kids and this school is mine, as my current 6th graders were in Kdg. my first year.  I am also kind of shy so many it was kind of isolating that first year. I am so glad I wasn't in the modular classroom that year because it would have been so much worse! I remember my 3rd or 4th year being excited about getting a new washer/ dryer deal while eating dinner during conferences and a teacher told me it was the first time she had heard me talk! Crazy! 

What Was The Best Thing About Your First Year? 

Oh man.  This one is hard- there were so many great moments.  It was just amazing to finally be doing what I had wanted to do since middle school (after I had an AMAZING chorus teacher).  I had so much fun singing, dancing, and playing instruments to share the joy of music with these kids.  

What Did You Discover In Your First Year That You Did Not Learn In College or Student Teaching? 

Classroom Discipline looks WAY different for younger kids than it does for older kids. Wow. Having to change gears so often that year from teaching 6th to 1st to 4th, etc was hard.  Luckily now, my day starts with 6th and I have 6, 5, 4 in the morning and then 1, 2, 3 in the afternoon.  I am still working on classroom discipline a lot- and am always looking for new strategies- if you have ideas- please share!  I also realized that while melodic and rhythmic concept planning is a strength, teaching about composers, other more obscure music vocab is something I have to work really consciously about to make sure students get what they need in those areas. 

Where Did You Draw Most of Your Lesson Planning Inspiration From?

I referenced my elementary methods notes SO MUCH during my first year.  I did have great mini-Kodaly training from my college (go Capital!) but I barely ever touched the orff instruments that year- mainly because I hadn't figured out an efficient way to get them off the shelves.  I also was supplied with many great books that were left by the previous music teacher- some gems that are barely sold anymore or out of print- such as the Simple Gifts Resources, Song Garden Books, 150 American Folk Songs and more.  I used these books so much.  I rarely touched our text books (and still rarely touch them).  Still though, look back at many lessons from that year I often wonder "what was I thinking??" 

Is There Anything You Taught Your First Year That You Still Teach Now? 

I use a lot of the same folk songs, but in new, better ways along with a lot of new folk songs as well. I have learned many more ways to make reading and writing music fun with manipulatives, board work, SMARTboard files, TPT games and much more.  We are more active in every aspect of music learning now.  

What Is One Thing You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

I wish that I knew that it would be ok if my students didn't get as far as I thought they should in my sequence.  I felt really "behind" my first year (and 2nd and 3rd) but not seeing my students in Kindergarten AND only seeing them for 50 minutes a week (and sometimes not even that) makes my ideal Kodaly sequence really hard.  I now focus on making sure students are really confident with rhythms, solfege, vocabulary, and composers that we are working on and while I have goals of concepts to get through- I don't stress when a group takes a little longer to get something solid.  My students are already learning more than I learned (or at least remember) in elementary music so I just need to meet them where they are at and push forward- while still making music a JOYFUL experience. 

This was so fun to reflect back on my first year. Be sure to check out the Pitch Publications post as well as all the others who have linked up! 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Music Maternity Leave- Plans for the Sub

My final Maternity Leave post is on the plans I left for my substitute, Katie. 

I only had to leave 2 weeks and I fully trusted Katie with my students, as she has a music degree and seems very organized as well as receptive to my teaching style.  I do know that others have to write plans for their entire leave but hopefully this post can at least help you get started with a few tips!

-Write them early! I had to finish writing plans the week after Henry was born because I wasn't finished.  I had one week done, thank goodness, but still had to write the 2nd week.  Everyone had been telling me to get them done but I didn't think Henry would decide to come at 38 weeks and thought I had plenty of time!

-Make your plans as similar to the way you teach as possible while still leaving room for your sub to make them their own.   This can help ease the transition for students. I was also able to use a combination of the plans I left for Katie my first week back to see where kids were and then I didn't have to worry as much about finding time at home to plan for my 1st week back- I just had to adjust what I had already written.  This made my first week back in my classroom much less stressful.

-Give time limits for each activity as a guide, but also make it clear that timing is flexible.  Especially the first week, when Katie was introducing herself, outlining her expectations, etc. I aired on the side of over-planning and figured whatever she didn't get to in the first 2 weeks she could use later!

-Link all needed files directly to the plans document. Because I was leaving Katie my school computer I was able to link SMARTboard games, youtube videos of dances, etc. directly into my plans so she didn't have to go searching through my computer (though I did leave an explanation of how to navigate my folders as well). 

-Be very clear about what students know and what they need to know so that your sequence and year plan can stay as close to on track as possible.  I made sure to always mention what we were calling rhythm patterns and unknown solfa in every place possible in the plans as a reminder.

-Leave a lot of easy review games to get the sub started.  This way students can get used to the sub, but the sub can get a feel for what my students knew and how successful they would be with each concept at the same time.  SMARTboard games or matching games (like Stacks Of Love or Do You Wanna Build A Snowman from my TPT Store) are a great way for the substitute to informally assess the students. Some concepts had just been presented a week or two before I left because baby boy came early so the review games gave her an opportunity to see what aspects of these concepts really needed to be worked on.  They can branch off as they learn more about your students and use their own musical background to help. I am hoping to learn a few new songs when I return.

-Leave information on where things are located directly in the plans so your substitute doesn't have to search all over the room!

-Give access to all your favorite lesson planning materials.  I made sure that all my favorite books- like 150 American Folk Songs, American Methodology, my Susan Brumfield and Jill Trinka books, Game Plan and more- were all at school so Katie could use them as needed.

One final tip with your plans- be okay with letting go.  It is hard for a lot of us music teachers to let go of our classes and be gone for 2 months- worrying about the pacing of the curriculum, etc.  While I was in contact with Katie my whole leave, I also had to just let her teach (and she did great)!
She was able to focus on what she is really good at teaching, like instruments of the orchestra, rhythms, and vocab and my students did not suffer one bit from her different teaching style.  My students had so much fun with her and are always really excited when she is subbing in the building for another teacher! If nothing else, you want students to LOVE music so that when you come back they are still excited about learning to read, write, play and move- and finding JOY in it all!

I hope these tips help!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Music Maternity Leave- What to Leave for the Sub

Welcome back to my 3 part series on how to plan for a Music Maternity Leave.  Post one was on questions to ask the potential substitutes in the interview.  Check it out HERE.
This post will be on what to communicate to, and leave for the sub.  I ended up making a binder AND a dropbox folder for my substitute so she had a hard and digital copy of everything. 
What I left:
Procedural Information
Schedule- in my IDOCEO App on my IPAD
Seating Charts- in my IDOCEO App on my IPAD
Emergency Procedures- Fire, Tornado, Lock-down, Shelter-in-place, etc.
Bathroom Procedure- this one is important because I teach in a modular classroom so students need a special pass to get back in the building to use the restroom!
Pertinent Student Info like serious allergies, behaviors to watch out for etc.
Music Room Rules and Behavior Management Plan-We use what is called "The Wilson Way" at school so I outlined this plan and shared how I implement it in the music room. 
Phone numbers, emails, etc. of Important people- This includes contact info for people such as the piano tuner, the ordering contact (we have a specific person all orders go through that is not the school secretary), the PTA treasurer for concert accompaniment payments, the accompanist list, etc.
What To Teach
What I had already taught-I left her information on where students were including concepts known.
Song Lists- This included songs students already learned this year as well as songs for the concepts they are working on that I typically teach and Master Copies/ Retrievals for them all. There was a separate list for each grade with songs already known and then I also attached my master song list that is an excel sheet with a tab for each grade and concepts the song helps teach marked.
Where students should go- I left very specific information on what I wanted her to teach.  This included an overview, my year plan, and a document called "What we know and Goals For Sub" that went into much more detail.  Check out my quick 3rd grade info below:
3rd Grade: 
    What We Know-
Solfa: m-s-l (working on do but calling it Low) Rhythm: Quarter, eighth, quarter rest, and tika-tika (4 beamed 16th notes- just learned!) Forte vs Piano, repeat sign 
What we need to work on while you are here
1.Music Math (know number of sounds/ beats for each rhythm they know- all are 1 beat, but all have a different number of sounds) 
2.Continue to prep (and maybe even present) do.  –Hometone- need to approach from Sol to do and mi- to do as well as do-sol before they are ready to learn name. Also need to be able to read (both staff and solfa notation), write (using manipulatives), and aurally ID (can you hear it type games) 
3.Practice Tika-tika- just practice practice practice so they can really read, write, hear and sing this pattern really successfully! Jazz Pizzicato and Mozart’s Rondo alla Turka! 
4.Crescendo and Decrescendo, mezzo 
5.Start to talk about tempos (Extreme tempos first- Largo and Presto) 
6.Use classical listening examples when talking about dynamics, tempo, etc.
Needed information for Chorus-Because I not only teach General Music for grades 1-6 but also chorus I left a specific document for chorus with information on our upcoming concert.  I did not plan a lot for this concert because I was gone from one week after the previous concert until 2 days AFTER the winter concert happened.  I started a few songs and left some suggestions, but really I left this concert to the sub and allowed her to make it her own.
Access to SMARTBOARD Game files and other manipulatives- I made sure to leave my school computer and give Katie access to all the game files she might want to use through use of this computer.  In my plans for the first 2 weeks, I even linked the files directly into the lesson plan so she didn't have to search at all. 
Lessons for the first two weeks- I made these lessons basically what I would have done for these two weeks.  I gave time for introductions and added a lot of review games, but also made sure there was lots of singing, games, and dancing for the sub to teach the students and the students to teach the sub.  I hope they worked out!  The 2nd week was planned fairly quickly cause little man came early and I wasn't quite ready! More on my plans will be in the next post. 
In addition to the above documents, I also gave my sub access to the Chorus email list (not my email account) and my schoology account (though she hasn't used it).  Communication during my time off has also been key.  Katie has emailed me once or twice a week since I took off and I have no problem responding to those.  Though some may prefer to not be involved at all while on leave, I loved having that little bit of communication to reassure me that my classroom was in good hands.
Katie and I also talked a lot about my teaching style, and while one student told her mom "the sub teaches different" I know that Katie is doing her best to respect my teaching style while adding in her own personality. 
Comment if you think anything else is super important to leave for a long-term sub!