Saturday, August 29, 2015

Puppets, Props, and Pretty Little Things, Part One coming up..........Stay tuned.............

So what are these cute little bee erasers for?



Stay tuned for Puppets, Props, and Pretty Little Things, Part One. You will see some first graders in action using the bees in the bottom picture!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Love My Room....Again!

Tonight was Open House. In preparations, the teacher candidate who is working with me decided we needed Starbucks, so while she was out getting our fortification, I sat and surveyed my room. I said this last year, but I love my room. I love it even more since I minimized...well, as much as a ratpacker such as myself can minimize.

Fixing the Travails of the Falling  Boomwhackers

I love the look of Boomwhackers on the wall. I do not, however, like the look of a Boomwhacker space or the clunk that it makes when falling.


                            



After musing how to make the Velcro play nicely together, my friend Betsy Carter came up with a brilliant suggestion: hotglue the Velcro that adheres to the Boomwhacker before attaching it to said Boomwhacker.

Wah-lah!




Colorful walls. And so far, all of the Boomwhackers have stayed up for at least 48 hours. I love this arrangement because I don't use Boomwhackers very much. This way, I have more floor space, and the kids can get the concept of sizes and pitch. I do have extra Boomwhackers that wouldn't fit on the wall, which are stored in magazine racks.

This year I also made a switch. Instead of ending up with messiness with my children's lit, like I had last year:



I moved the children's lit, in white dollar store bins, to the cabinet you see pictured under the Boomwhackers and moved my instruments to the white bookcases in my room. I sent my 18 year old music series to storage at the administration building and used that bookcase and the children's lit bookcase for my instruments, which used to be in the cabinet. Last year, during an observation, I was smacked a little for taking too long for first graders to get the instruments out, something that had always bothered me as well. I eliminated a tall metal cabinet I had, threw a lot away, and stored small manipulatives in the cabinet with the children's literature. I color-coded the children's literature by these categories: concepts, poetry, songs with stories, stories about music, biographies/reference, books that inspire movement, and oversized books. Thanks to the brilliant idea of my friend Tina Morgan, I used a notecard, put a corresponding colored dot on the card, laminated it, then punched a hole in it and looped it through a book ring. I then looped the book ring through the holes of the basket. I had worked to inventory all my books in Excel, so they were color-coded in there as well. AND, this provided more space for me to stack chairs to have greater movement capacity. All the rearranging yielded a room that looks like this:







(Psst! You can purchase this bulletin board set-up!)

(Vocal Football will soon be updated and available at my TPT store.)




And outside my room: my "What is your music superpower?" board.



I asked teachers and staff to write in their music superpower. Not all of the teachers got a chance to, but I loved the result!

If you have pictures of your room you'd like to share, please let me know. I will post them on a future blog.

Have a great year!



Saturday, August 8, 2015

What Is Your Music Superpower?


As we look forward to a new school year, there have been some hopefully exciting changes coming from the Federal level that can be good news for music. The bill, at this writing, is in negotiation with the House and the president and is in rewrite stages. If this bill passes, music and art will be considered core classes, listed individually. Could be exciting times!

With this recognition, it might be time to help your colleagues and parents recognize their own music talents. This attitude can be passed on to your students. Broach the subject with these adults in your students' lives. As we well know, an adult with a negative attitude towards music can inadvertently pass that attitude on to children. Nothing is more frustrating during open house than to have a parent of a new child pass on one of these challenging gems:

  • I never liked music in school and I can't sing.
  • Little Junior never liked his other music teacher, and I didn't either.
  • Little Junior doesn't have much music ability. Hope you can help him.
Time to break out the music superhero comments!
  • I'm sorry to hear that. Music has so much more to offer than just singing. It's never too late to discover your own music superpower. What kind of music do you like to listen to? (Leading them to describe details so you can point out that good listening skills are music superpowers).
  • I'm sorry to hear that. We do a wide variety of activities. With active participation, I'm sure there is something Little Junior will discover as his music superpower.
  • You know, we all have a music superpower in us. Listening skills and music appreciation are great musical gifts. I'm sure there is something that Jimmy will excel at.
And what about your teacher colleagues? Consider these dampeners to music superhero attitudes:
  • I'm sorry. Joe Cool needs to miss music this week to catch up on his work.
  • I wish you hadn't taught that song. They won't quit singing it, and it's disruptive.
  • Why do you need a bigger budget (or more money from the parent's group?) You don't see these kids every day.
Superhero comments:
  • Hopefully we will have a new Congressional act to back us up on these. If not, explain to theIn  teacher that the arts are listed as core subjects and provide learning opportunities and outlets that many of these kids who are behind need. Compromise if necessary, but do not consistently cave. If it is an issue, you might ask to have a united meeting with your administrator.
  • Explain to the teacher that the singing may put the students in a good mood. Ask if there is an opportunity to allow them to sing when they are not working. Thank him/her for providing them with a time to enjoy their music.
  • Explain to the teacher that, although you do not see the same students for the entire day, you need (in most cases) the entire student population, often for consecutive years. Remind the teacher that when you purchase supplies and equipment, 100 or more students will benefit.
Often, these adults are uneasy or negative about music because of their experiences. Sad were the days when kids were told to "mouth" the words because "they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket". Sad are the days when the same students get the singing solos, or performance opportunities. Sad when the focus is JUST on worksheets, or JUST on singing from a textbook, or JUST watching videos. But it's not too late to educate these adults that music superpowers do not necessarily have to do with performance.

Listening skills are crucial. We all know those who do not play instruments, but have discerning ears when it comes to listening to their favorite music. We know adults who love to dance and can cut pretty good moves. These are music superpowers just as much as the gifts those who can compose or perform have. These superpowers need to be noted with adults whenever possible. Once they realize that there is more to music than a pretty singing voice, hopefully attitudes can change.

How can you do this? There are several ways:
  • In notes home, ask parents to listen to child-appropriate music with their children and journal what they hear: the instruments, the mood, the tempo, the style.
  • Ask the parents to put on good old oldies and cut a rug with their kids!
  • Ask parents to note positive music experiences with their children. Have the children conduct an interview with their parents, neighbors, family friends about their positive music experiences.
Another way to let your students know about the music superpowers of the adults in their lives? A bulletin board display would be great! The adults can write down their music superpowers to share with the students and anyone who sees the bulletin board.

If you would like a premade kit for this purpose, I have the What Is Your Music Superpower bulletin board kit. This kit includes a template letter outlining to adults what their music superpowers can be, sets with superheros and pre-made music gift "capes" in red, green, and blue, and music symbol clip art to cut out for accent. You can purchase the bulletin board here.