Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smartboard lessons in the works

Okay, I've been making new smartboard lessons. I made a couple for some things we did at an Orff workshop in September. I'm working on some things for my Mr. Everybody unit with first graders. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to try them in my classes because my Smartboard hasn't been hung yet! It's leaning against the wall, taunting me every day. Hopefully soon I'll get a surprise when I show up to work one morning. I guess I'll be really prepared with lessons when I'm able to use it!

In other news, I had my third grade classes playing barred instruments to the "He Came with the Couch" this week. They had two ostinati going while we sang. I was able to add in guiro and vibraslap accents most of the time. In one class it sounded really good, too. I was impressed! I found myself thinking, "wow! This is almost like an Orff workshop!" it's the first time I've had a song really come together quickly and pleasantly like that. I liked it a lot, and the kids had fun, too!

I'll try to find time to get some more pictures & ideas up later this week in case anyone is interested in anything fun and festive for fall.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Smartboard Orff lesson

     A while back (last year? Maybe the year before?) I was at an Orff Mini Conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. There I was able to attend a session where the presenter did a bunch of Orff lessons based around children's books.  I love to read, and I love to see kids reading, so these kinds of lessons are super fun to me.  I loved learning them, and I've loved doing them with my kids.
     One book she used in a lesson was He Came with the Couch by David Slonim.  I immediately went out and bout the book, and I've done the lesson for the past two years. (I guess at clears up the mystery of when the conference was, huh?).
     This year, I had my 3rd graders doing melodic dictation of the first phrase before they picked out the rest of the phrases on glockenspiels.  The whole time I was writing notes on the board, I was thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if I had a little icon of the guy on the couch to use in place of notes?"  So I got to work with my smartboard software, and here's what I came up with.

     The little guy at the bottom is an infinite cloner. The original slide comes up with nothing on the staff, just the lone guy at the bottom. On this page, I was showing it to a few of my friends this morning, and from what I can figure out, there's no way to delete an image using the Smart Notebook App for iPads.
   In any case, if you want to see more of this lesson, come to our session at OMEA. There's a good chance it might be part of our presentation!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smartboards in Elementary Music Classrooms

I found out today that my friend/co-worker & I are going to be presenting a session on using Smartboards in elementary music classes during this year's TI:ME Central Regional Conference & OMEA conference! Or is it now the Ohio NAfME conference? Or would that be OAfME? Oooh, Oaf Me. That's no good. I'll stick with OMEA.

I'll let you know the details when I get the actual schedule. In the meantime, here are links to TI:ME & OMEA for anybody interested.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Beliefs & Expectations

     I heard a story on the NPR News app about teachers' expectations influencing students. I had to listen to it twice, because I thought it held valuable information.  Here's a link to the story, in case you are interested.

 Teacher Expectations Story

      I'll be honest - I've heard my own voice say the audio clip from the beginning of the story. I try hard to stay positive, but sometimes it's hard! I can honestly say from experience that when I decide to focus on the positives in students (and sometimes entire classes!), I can see a difference in them. I don't know if it's because they are reacting to my changed expectations or if I am just searching harder for the good parts. Either way, the results are positive!

     Listening to the story inspired me to think about how to keep my expectations high in my classroom, and how to continually remind the students without having to stop class all the time. I came up with an idea: I have a wall above a white board that is currently blank. I might just make posters of my expectations and hang them on the wall for the students to see. That way we can all reference it whenever necessary.
     After coming up with that brilliant plan, I then thought about what my expectations for myself as a teacher should be.  There are definitely areas I need to work on: consistency, positive energy, focus... I think it would be great for me to have some of my expectations for myself hangin on a wall opposite of my expectations of the students.

     If I actually end up making those, I'll take pictures and post them here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Star Spangled Banner Jumbles

     For the beginning of the school year, I do an intensive unit on the Star Spangled Banner with my 4th & 5th graders. We read the poem of the Star Spangled Banner from the book The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier. We talk about the story behind the poem, and how it became a song. We discuss what it means (and I "translate" it from 1812 American into current day American).  We sing it with the lyrics, then we remove vital words and sing it again. We watch people perform it. We discuss how much it annoys me when people sing it incorrectly. We watch mistakes and see if we can figure out where the mistake is and what the correct words are.

     In the end, I divide the class into groups and give each group a ziplock bag full of little yellow card stock pieces. Each piece has one word from the National Anthem, and the students have to work together to put the entire song together.

     I start them off by telling them nothing more than, "Put the words in order. The first word is Oh."  From there they get started. I walk around as they are working. Depending on how well ey are working, I play an instrumental version of the song while they work.  I tell them to sing it quietly in their group if they are stuck. 
     I do have to make sure I always tell them that if they can't find a word or they think one is missing, they should leave an empty spot and come back to it later. It's amazing how many empty spots get filled when there are less words to choose from!  

     It's also amazing how many little yellow pieces get in the wrong bags!  In order to help keep the words straight (for the kids and for me), I printed each set in a different colored font. Unfortunately, the colors didn't all come out as different as I expected when they were printed on yellow card stock!

     The students enjoy this activity because it's like a puzzle. I love it because it helps them learn the words. They have a hands on way to put the words together. They work on literacy skills when reading the words individually and in the song.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rhythm creation

     In my classes, I like to do a lot with rhythm in the beginning of the year, to bring back all of what may have been lost during the summer.  I like hands on activities, some created these rhythm making cards.  I have enough that each student in a class of 35 (none of my classes are that big, but it never hurts to have a few extra) can have two of each card.  I color coded the notes so I can do visual assessments easily, even from across the room.
     This particular set was used at the beginning of the year with 3rd graders.  I have other notes on different colors - half notes are royal blue (and twice as long so students get the visual of the two beats taken up. I also have beige and grey for combinations of eighth notes & sixteenth notes, and I have purple with triplet eighth notes.
     I do all sorts of activities with these cards throughout the year. Students make rhythms that I say using rhythm syllables, do rhythmic dictation from unpitched percussion, create their own rhythms individually and in groups... The possibilities are endless.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First post!

Okay, after introducing myself to Pinterist, I found lots of awesome blogs by music teachers where they share lesson ideas. It inspired me to create my own blog so I can share ideas. Typically, when I come up with something awesome, I email it to the other music teachers in my district and to a few friends from college. I'm excited to think that someone may come across my ideas on here and be able to implement them in their own classroom, too. I just don't know how anybody will find my blog! 

I guess it's time to get to it, while I'm excited about the idea of sharing.  

On to post #2!