Sunday, November 30, 2014

TPT Cyber Sale Linky Party



December is here! The holidays are near! That means it's time to celebrate with some festive songs and activities in music class. Fortunately, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Cyber Sale December 1st and 2nd. 



I'm participating in Amy Abbot's Linky Party to promote some of the awesome cyber deals that I'm going to be taking advantage of during the sale...


  1. From my store:

    When I looked on TPT for some Chanukah resources, I was not too impressed with the results that came up. So I figured I should start to make my own! This is a slideshow with the lyrics to The Dreidel Song, along with instructions on how to play the dreidel game. The instructions should be simple enough that even someone with no prior experience with the holiday should be able to teach it and have fun! You will need to supply your own dreidels to play the game.
  2. From Joyful Music:



    Joyce Moore of Joyful Music created this awesome pack of activities related to Tchakovsky, which of course is PERFECT for this time of year. I will be teaching my students about the Nutcracker Suite and I absolutely LOVE the fact that she has written these cute lyrics to sing to the tune of the March from the Nutcracker.
  3. From Creative Clips:



    Krista Wallden of Creative Clips is selling Snow Buddies, an adorable set of winter themed characters. I can't wait to use them in some of my upcoming work. I found some great treasures of hers as freebies from her last holiday themed giveaway. Now I look forward to supporting her by purchasing this awesome set.

I hope you find something you like on Teachers Pay Teachers for the holidays. Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Five Favorite Pins of November



As November comes to a close, I am linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share my five favorite pins. Here are some of the fun things I've found on Pinterest this month.



30+ Fun Ways to Teach Notes on the Staff

As I begin to teach/review treble clef notes with my intermediate students, I am going to be using centers. I can't wait to utilize my school's chromebooks and ipads as part of my centers and play some of these fun games. 
Percussion Clothespins Clip Activity

I love the idea of writing names of instruments on the clothespins to create a great labeling activity. This would be a great end-of-the-year review after I've taught about the instrument families.


A Have A Little Snowman

I love how the lyrics to this song are color-coded to match the boomwhackers. I just introduced my pre-k students to boomwhackers last week as we talked about melodies going up and down. I think they would really love whacking along to this fun song. It would also make a good review of colors for this age group.


Cup Game for Trepak from the Nutcracker

I'm collecting fun activities to go along with the Nutcracker to teach this December. I love how accessible the rhythms are in this activity and it will be such a great way to introduce form.

My Favorite Christmas Movie!

"Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Music Teacher Showcase

Good morning! Only two more days until Thanksgiving. Who's ready for some much-needed family and relaxation time? I know I sure am!

I'm happy to share that my blog was recently featured on The Music Teacher Showcase by The Yellow Brick Road!

http://www.yellowbrickroadblog.com/2014/11/music-teacher-showcase-november.html

Thank you to Jennifer for including me in this month's installment. I am so honored to be listed along with these other creative music educators.

Please be sure to take a look at the showcase and see some of the great ideas being shared!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thankful Thursday


Edit: 
Molly Patrician invited me to her Gratitude Linky Party. Please join the party and link up with five things for which you are grateful!

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Thanksgiving is just one week away, and I thought I would get into the spirit by listing some things that I am feeling particularly thankful for this year:

My Family
I just got married in July and I feel so loved by my husband and both of our families.

My Job
No one can say that teaching comes without its struggles. But I am thankful to have a job that challenges me, inspires me, and allows me to be creative. Every time I hear a student humming one of our songs walking down the hallway, I remember why I love my job.

My Pet
Buddy the Bearded Dragon.
No further explanation necessary.

Fitness
I think running is the thing that keeps me sane when everything else in my life feels crazy!

This Blog
I love having an outlet where I can be reflective of my teaching and share my highlights with the rest of the techie teaching community.

What are you thankful for?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Three Stars and a Wish 11-18-14

Happy Tuesday! It's hard to even believe, but there's only three more student days until Thanksgiving! Next week we have parent conferences on Monday and Tuesday, which means plenty of time to get prepped before the December music madness sets in. Here's my Three Stars and a Wish for the day.

If you would like to share your own "Three Stars and a Wish," you can download the template for free here. Please share the love, and don't forget to link back to my blog! 




1. I always know I have a hit on my hands when I actually hear a student say, "This is fun!" I saw this song posted in the Music Teachers Facebook group, but I can't remember who came up with the lyrics. If you know who this is accredited to, please let me know in a comment.


To the tune of "Charlie Over the Water:"


Turkey in the barnyard.

Turkey in the tree.
Turkey in the kitchen
But you can't catch me! 

This was perfect for my primary students, especially since my first graders learned "Charlie" a few weeks ago. I slightly modified the melody to end on low do since that's what I was presenting in the lesson. (As I've mentioned before, I'm not a trained Kodály teacher, but I do try to use the three p's as much as I can in my teaching.)


2. In the past, I have saved center activities for the end of the school year as a sort of lighter way to review concepts. This year I have a class of 33 5th graders. I'm finding that doing too much teacher-centered instruction with this large of a class just does not work. So I decided to change the way that I would normally teach the treble clef by adding centers. I picked six activities that I'm very excited about- one of them was painstakingly handmade by me and I hope the kids enjoy it! I'm going to start introducing the centers when I see that class on Thursday, and I will blog more about the centers after I've implemented them.


3. Since I am an itinerant teacher, I am not the music specialist responsible for chorus at either of my schools. For me, as a graduate of Westminster Choir College, this has been kind of a bummer. 


Fortunately, this year my colleague at one school wants to add all third graders to the winter chorus concert. (The regular chorus is a 4th and 5th grade pullout program.) Since we both teach third grade general music, we collaboratively taught our classes four songs for the concert. 


The kids are thrilled to be included in this special performance. I used to think I hated the idea of a mandatory all-grade chorus, but now that I'm teaching it I actually think it's a great thing because it exposes students to the experience so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want to be in chorus next year.


A Wish: At one of my schools, I teach in two different portable classrooms on the different days I am there. (Everyone who was involved in making this decision knew that it wasn't ideal, but it was the only option.) Today was our first real freezing, windy, day. The students have to transition outdoors from the gym to my classroom, and.... let's just say I will be reminding them to bring their coats to music class for the next few months!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stretchy Band!

On Thursday afternoon I was in the school office and the secretary said, "This came in the mail for you... I have no clue what it is." 

It was the stretchy band I ordered!!!





Needless to say, I was super excited and tried it out with almost all of my classes on Friday! Two kinder classes, two first grades, and two second grades, and two third grades. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done it all on one day because using it can get exhausting, but I was just so eager to share this new learning tool with my students. 

And they LOVED it!




I started planning by collecting activities to try on my Pinterest. I couldn't find too much on there; I've heard great things about Artie Almeida's Parachutes book and I think I might order it soon to try some of those. If you have experience with this book or have other stretchy band activities you like, please let me know!



Here's some of the things we did yesterday:

  • Third grade was learning Liza Jane on solfege, so as a class we decided where the stretchy band should be for each pitch.
  • In the primary grades we showed high and low sounds by holding the stretchy band over our head and in our lap.
  • We practiced bouncing the band to a steady beat and counting measures in groups of four beats.
  • In first grade, we listened to Elgar's piece, "Faeries and Giants." I asked the students to make a prediction about what the faeries would sound like and they voted by holding the band high or low.

I also told my students about my favorite part of using the stretchy band: putting it away! We counted down "3-2-1-GO!" and all let go of the band at the same time so that it snaps into the middle of the circle. What fun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Stick to Staff Solfege Activities




I have been working on solfege with my students for a few weeks and now I am starting to transition them from reading stick notation to the treble staff. Last week we played this awesome game using stick notation by Aileen Miracle, and today I started using some things I created.

Stick to Staff Writing Activity

I created some flashcards with solfege on them and had students transfer it onto large laminated staff paper. The thing I am most excited about is the fact that I differentiated the examples and used colored star stickers to organize them by difficulty. Now I can see exactly what level each student is at and can facilitate learning of all different levels within a single class.

Click here for a free download of my Stick Flashcards. I pasted them onto index cards and laminated them to last longer.

Catch That Turkey

My next step is to play this stick to staff review game that I created for Smart Notebook. I got very into the thanksgiving theme and when you click on the different turkeys, the correct answer will actually GOBBLE. Sound effects make everything more fun!


You can purchase this turkey game from my TPT store.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Three Stars and a Wish

One of my personal goals when starting this blog was to give myself opportunities to be more reflective of my teaching. So far I have loved participating in Positive Thinking Thursdays, courtesy of Mrs. Laffin's Laughings, and I thought that I would try to incorporate another method of reflecting on my days. I designed this template based on a tool that I use with my students for giving constructive peer criticism: three stars and a wish. The rules are simple. You list three positive things and one wish for improvement next time.


1. Who doesn't love free coffee? The Baltimore metro area McDonalds locations give free coffee to teachers with ID every Tuesday for the entire school year! As a vegetarian I don't usually make any trips to McDonalds, but I'll happily do a lap through the drive through if it gets me my favorite beverage for free.

2. I "auditioned" singers today for a special performance for Grandparents Day, coming up next week. I am new to one of my schools this year, and fortunately the other general music teacher was fabulous about getting music together on short notice. She found some great selections from Music K8 for our 1st and 2nd graders, including one song with a solo section. It was these kids' first audition experience, and (for the most part) they handled it very well.

3. Students had a two hour early dismissal today and teachers had a PD related to the new PARCC assessment being used in Maryland this year. I was expecting to have to sit through two hours of a session that- let's be honest- didn't really relate to my content area. Instead, my administrators decided to differentiate the PD and allow the cultural arts team to meet separately. We created our own set of content-related questions in the style of what students will face on the PARCC exam. We came up with some great examples for music, art, PE, and media that challenge students to find details in their text, whether it is a painting, musical composition, physical activity, etc. I can honestly say that it was an excellent use of our time. 

A Wish: Because I found out about our upcoming Grandparents Day performance at the last minute (it comes with the territory of being at a new school), I had to put my other plans for students on hold so that we could learn the songs in time for that. In the future I hope to foster better communication with administration about when students will be asked to perform. That way I have time to make sure they do their best.

If you would like to share your own "Three Stars and a Wish," you can download the template for free here. Please share the love, and don't forget to link back to my blog! 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Community Building and Fitness Fun!

Happy Monday!

This weekend was probably the busiest one I've had this school year... Some highlights included winning tickets on a radio show to the DC Cooking and Entertaining Expo (SO MANY FREE FOOD SAMPLES) and running a 10K across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.


In addition to these fun activities, I also did some wonderful things with my fellow teachers this weekend:


First Annual Panda Prowl


At one of my schools, the PTA sponsored a 5K race for the first time. I love running (I also volunteer with my school's chapter of Girls on the Run) and could not wait to get involved! There was an amazing turnout of teachers, parents and students. Here I am with some other members of the cultural arts team before the race:



(I'm second from the right in this photo)

It was so great to get out and share an activity that I love with my coworkers. And as an added bonus, I won an award! I placed in my age group for the first time in a race, so I was feeling very proud.




Paint Nite

Yesterday I got together with some of the teachers from my other school and attended Paint Nite! If you've never heard of it, it is so much fun. The events are held at various restaurants so you order food/drinks and are guided through the process of creating a painting. Making art is one of my other favorite hobbies and I really enjoyed getting to know some of my coworkers through an activity outside of school. 

(I'm up there in the back row, 2nd from the left)

Whew! I can't believe I did all of that in one weekend. The best thing about it was being able to spend time with my fellow teachers outside of the trenches. We all work so hard, it is important to have fun together as well. What did YOU do this weekend?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Music Should Be Fun!'

Repeat after me... Music should be fun!

This weekend I attended a FANTASTIC workshop hosted by MUSIK (Maryland United Specialists in Kodály) at Loyola University. One of the clinicians made us all repeat that phrase a few times during his presentation, and it really set the tone for the entire day. Music should be fun!

I have no formal training in Kodály, however I myself am the product of a Kodály education, and as a result of being brought up learning music this way, I relate to it now as an educator. After this workshop, I feel inspired... I'm planning to pursue my Kodály levels as soon as possible.


Each of the clinicians presented a slew of excellent games and folksongs to foster a love of music for students of all ages. Some of the songs and games were old favorites but many were brand new to me and I can't wait to test them out in my classroom. I am still decompressing all of the information from Saturday, but I was able to try out a few of the ideas in my classroom this week. Here's one of my favorites so far:

Vocal Exploration
In a session on pre-literacy aged students, presenter Len Langrick demonstrated how he uses animations on PowerPoint to encourage young students to sing in their head voice. He showed us how easy it is to make animated paths go up and down, so I made my own version!  I used a theme of hot air balloons and gave each child a print-out of a hot air balloon to move high and low.

Click the image below for a free download of my animated PowerPoint.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/p7bts9cn44753tk/melodic%20exploration%20hot%20air%20balloon.pptx?dl=0

(I do not claim ownership of any of the photos in this presentation.)


I can't wait to share more success stories as I try out more of the great activities I learned this weekend.