Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Three Stars and a Wish {3-17-14}

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone! I'm just getting back into the swing of things after being away for a long weekend. The hubby and I had a family wedding to attend in Florida so we turned it into a four day mini-vacation! To top it off, the rehearsal dinner for the wedding happened to fall on my birthday!!!

So, it's been a very merry weekend indeed, and I am still trying to come back down to planet Earth. I figured I would ease my transition back to real life with another edition of Three Stars and a Wish. If you'd like to linkup, simply download the template here and use the inlinkz button at the end of this post. 


Three Stars:

* Spring is finally around the corner! It seems that we are finally done with the winter weather for this year. Today I was very happy to be able to enjoy an iced coffee outside in the sunshine after school. (McDonald's offers free coffee to teachers in my metropolitan area every Tuesday. It's basically the best perk of my job.)



* New teachers were invited to a meeting after school today- since I am in my third year, I still qualify. Our advisor reviewed some key points to being an effective teacher as outlined in "The Harry Wong Book." Our county gives every new teacher a copy of the book at new teacher orientation their first year. I will admit that I did not read this book when it was initially given to me. I wish I had because the information that I have come to gain from it at workshops and seminars is invaluable. If you've never heard of the book, The First Days of School... you NEED to read it. Or, if your attention span is too short, you can find tons of Harry and Rosemary Wong videos on youtube with a quick google search. He is a GREAT speaker and educator.



* 40 of us music sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers have collaborated on the release of four eBooks throughout the month of March to celebrate Music in Our Schools Month. I contributed to the one that was just released yesterday: Instruments of the Orchestra. Each contributor has offered teaching tips and links to freebies that will enhance your teaching of this concept. I have already gotten a ton of information just by reading what my co-contributors have put in! It is FREE to download, along with the other three ebooks: Rhythm, Listening Lessons, and Melody (to be released next Monday).



A Wish:
As I'm sure most teachers would agree, the number one thing I seem to always be lacking is time. Time to collaborate, time to plan, time to grade, time to decompress... I have a pretty well-balanced schedule this year with ample planning time built in to my week. What I wish I had more time for is actual face time with students. I keep finding more and more resources and lesson ideas that I want to try out and there just simply aren't enough class sessions to do it all! I see my students twice a week for 30 minutes at a time, which is plenty for elementary schoolers, but I still don't get to do all the great things I want to do with them! I have to remind myself occasionally that it's more important to teach fewer things WELL than to just touch on a million different concepts. 

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That's my Three Stars and a Wish for today.
Have a great St. Patty's Day, everyone!
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{Three Stars and a Wish, or 3SW, was inspired by a popular method of peer critique: you point out three things that worked well and one thing you wish for improvement. I use it as a means for personal reflection of my teaching. If you would like to share your own 3SW, download the template here.}


Sunday, March 8, 2015

March is Music in our Schools Month

It's here! It's here! My favorite month of the year!

March is my favorite month for a few reasons... First, and most importantly, my BIRTHDAY is in March- and I'm still young enough to be excited when my birthday rolls around. This year I'm looking forward to traveling to Florida for a family wedding that happens to fall on my birthday weekend. I am definitely looking forward to a nice warm respite from snowy Maryland.

The second reason I love March is because it includes the start of Spring. In like a lion, out like a lamb... As much as I have enjoyed having some relaxing time to myself on these snow days, I am so ready for some spring weather. I have half marathon coming up at the end of the month and would really like to get out on the trail to run without slipping and making a fool of myself!

And of course, the third reason why I love March:



This year I am starting a new tradition at one of my schools: a MIOSM sing-along. I am so excited to introduce this to my students! As we begin a stressful season of standardized PARCC testing, I wanted to make sure that my students had something positive and low-pressure to look forward to. Our sing-along is NOT a performance! It is a community event where the whole school will get together to share in the joy of making music.

Actually, because of the size of our student body, we had to split it up into two assemblies... one for PreK through 1st grade, and one for 2nd through 5th. So it's not quite an "all school" sing-along as I'd hoped... but the good thing is that it allowed me to tailor my song selections to the two age levels.

What it will look like:
For each sing-along, all the students will gather in our cafetorium and sit the same way they would for a performance or assembly. I am preparing powerpoint slideshows with the lyrics to the songs for each sing-along. These will be projected on our large screen in the front of the room. Therefore, our sing-along meets cross-curricular standards by promoting literacy. (See? Reading is fun!)

How are we preparing in general music class:
I selected the songs for our sing-along to cover a wide variety of musical styles. Many of the songs were suggested by NAfME as part of their "largest concert" repertoire. My kids love the idea that schools all around the country are learning these same songs in their music classes.

Since we just switched this year to Spotlight on Music for our curriculum, I also used this as an opportunity to showcase some of the fun new songs in each grade's book. I included one song from each grade level in the sing-along. 

How we are incorporating the theme:



The national theme for MIOSM this year is "Music Makes Me _____!" I decided to incorporate that in a few ways. I ordered these stickers from the NAfME website... I got enough for each student to wear one to the assembly. I plan to put the stickers in each classroom teacher's mailbox a few days before the sing-along so that they can put them on right before. I figure it will help get them excited for it! 

The other thing that I am really excited about is a video I am working on:

I asked my students to respond to the prompt "Music makes me ___" and write their answers on index cards. Next week I am going to film them reading their answers in a short, inspirational video. I will play this video during the sing-along for the whole school to see!

Here are some of the fantastic responses I have gotten so far:




I can't wait to see how it all comes together!