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Showing posts from 2016

Movies to watch whilst wrapping gifts

Hello, everyone. Quick update: I love my job. All is well. Here are some awesome videos to binge while you wrap gifts. I'll post more when I get some free time.

When leaving a job is less than perfect

How do you leave an old job when you are very proud of what you built there, but ended your tenure with a bitter taste in your mouth? The discord could be from anything: a difficult administrator or colleague, an unfortunate parent situation, financial stresses, sickness or death in the family, divorce, disability, anything. Sometimes the association with the school is just timing. Other times it could be terrible events in your life necessitated a move, and you associate the bad time with the school.

What do you do?

The best thing is to move on. But how do you do that?

When events lead to unpleasant feelings, the best thing to do is exactly what you do if a lesson goes awry. You reflect. Was it the school? Was it me? Was it the interface between the two? Exactly which people were the source of the discord? Where did that come from? Is that because I'm being overly sensitive or because they have some personal issues to work out?

Then you leave it behind. If teacher after teacher ha…

The end product of a country with great music education

Impromptu Delights

We had our dress rehearsal for our Spring Concert yesterday, and a wonderful surprise happened afterward. The students were a bit chatty, so I put on Justin Bieber singing "Love Yourself," thinking that, if the kids sang in unison, they could be herded out of the auditorium more easily than if we tried to quiet them completely.

But when the kids started to sing the song, the teachers didn't usher them away, instead, we all sang together. One of the teachers asked for some Justin Timberlake, so I played Mirrors.

Then we danced to The Fox

By this time, everyone was sweating, but they still wanted more. Some of the teachers had led their kids back to classrooms, but we still had some who wanted more dancing. High-stakes tests are over, and kids need a break. I went with it. We did The Cupid Shuffle

Now I was tired. I played this, but they STILL kept dancing.

In the end, I just had to turn the music off. We all left in an excellent mood and had an amazing day. I hope you h…

Reading on the staff

These worksheets are really nice. I feature one of them in the video objectives.

I've made four, basic rhythms conscious and used a variety of materials for practice from Denise Gagne's flash cards to Lamar Roberts's First Grade Book to my own homemade posters and worksheets, many of which I've already featured in posts.

We've added solfa to the stick notation (in Third Grade we've added note names for recorder) and practiced this a lot. (2 months or more) I didn't want to move too quickly to reading on the staff. After a couple tries with the recorder kids, there was a lot of resistance. Attendance at recorder club almost vanished. Kids were overwhelmed by the idea of reading notes on the staff. It wasn't a fun game. It was just scary.

I needed to dial it back. 

No matter what, I needed to keep my students' love of singing and playing alive. I spent the last couple months teaching improvisation. Students make up music on given rhythms. They still r…

On Deck: Teaching active observation

I can explain, demonstrate, have a student demonstrate, and reinforce a direction until my eyes turn blue (they are brown) and still, 3-4 rotations into our work, students will forget or "not know" what to do.

So that's my objective for the week.

This posting is for an adult who might come in. I'm giving these aurally this week.

After an opening song, I  go into a rhyme. Let's choose one that most students know such as "Jack and Jill."

We clap the rhyme. We learn the rhyme so well that we can accent the yellow ("water" and "after"). Then we clap ONLY on those yellow words. Two people who do this correctly are chosen to go to the "D" tone chimes and play the yellow "water" and "after". Both tone chimes have yellow stickers on them. I point this out and draw the connection between the yellow in the rhyme and the yellow on the bar.

A person is chosen to be "on deck." This person has to closely wa…

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

Two videos my colleague shared with me that I don't want to misplace. Hope they help you too.

Are we lying to ourselves? Do we actually have a growth mindset?

Orff Instrument Playing Rubric

Rubric for Barred Orff Instruments
Unwilling or unable to complete the tasks.
Examples would be:

an autistic child who becomes so overwhelmed with sensory input that they cannot rotate instruments or even begin to complete the tasks of the lessonan emotionally disturbed child, who had a run-in with another student prior to music class, attends to the goings on in the room, but chooses to sit in the reflection chair for the duration of the lesson Children who receive a "U" assessment are children I don't hold responsible for their failure to complete the tasks assessed.

Rotation: student sometimes rotates through the instruments smoothly
Rhythm: student does not play the expected rhythm
Pitch: Notes not accurate
Improvisation: student not yet playing at the right time, ending the right time, beginning on tonic note, ending on tonic note, keeping the intended rhythm, or stopping when the pattern is over
Citizenship: Student needs frequent reminders of behavior expectati…

Dialing it Back

I have gone from teaching children, aged 3-13, of affluent, professional parents to children, aged 5-9, of mostly poor and working class  parents. Significant numbers of my new parent cohort struggle with addiction. Some are or have been incarcerated. Many of my current students were born addicted to heroin. Some suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Some students just never got enough love.

My Kindergarten classes are closest to being at grade level. Two of them are doing nearly as well as my affluent kids were. Grades 1, 2, and 3 are on roughly the same curriculum.

It's frustrating.

Guilt and shame just don't work. You can't say,
"You should be able to walk into a room and sit down without yelling."
"You should be able to pass papers and sit in chairs."
"You should be able to tie your shoes."

What good do such statements make?


Nobody has taken the time to show these children how to tie their shoes. Third graders walk around with untied la…

Playing a known song on Orff instruments

I'm going to post my lesson plans in the next few months. My goal is to post them all, but I probably cannot do more than one or two per month. My goal is to apply some of the lessons I'm learning through experience and reading Classroom Instruction That Works as part of my building's professional development. 
With this lesson, I'm reinforcing what we did last week, deepening the singing skills that are ongoing in our classroom, and introducing the playing of a known song on the Orff instruments. 
Though my students are developing normally, they are beginners in my Orff/Kodaly classroom. Therefore, Grade 1, 2, and 3 learn First Grade curriculum. The following is my current lesson plan.
Opening Song: [Goal: to establish good singing, a group musical effort, and practice good diction.] Grade 1 and 2: {new} Humuhumunukunukuapawa'a: Music K8 Volume 17 #5 Grade 3: {repeat} Hart Times Come Again No More by Stephen Foster            Students really responded to this song las…

Writing Objectives

March 2016: I've been working with objectives for a few more weeks now. I did another Star Wars Crawl and noticed what works and what doesn't. Here is this week's objectives video. (No, I don't do one every week, but it's fun for me. Whenever I get another "aha" moment with objectives, I get so jazzed, I make a video.)

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm refining the whole process of objectives in my mind. Our school is using the book, Classroom Instruction that Works, as our professional development base text for the year. I still don't see a substantive difference between "know" and "understand." I don't think kids will know or care about it either, so I just don't do it. I ask myself...

What is the core skill area? What specific skill will students explore in depth? What activities will we do to exhibit that skill?
This week the answer are...

What is the core skill area?
What specific skill will students explo…

The Harman/Kardon Onyx Studio 2 speaker

Do you have a couple hundred dollars left in your budget for the year? GET THIS SPEAKER!

1 pound or thereabouts. It is very very lightSuperb sound, like the tripped out car banging its way down Hollywood Boulevard rattling everything in its path from its tripped out speakers--loud! It's got a woofer on the back that vibrates with the bass. Yes, there is a small male aux input for this speaker! Don't believe the video below. YOu can get with or without that feature. I paid $199 at Best Buy and got the aux. I believe the first iteration of this speaker didn't have that feature, but the current one does. Great, easy bluetooth pairing5 hour battery life, so you can keep it plugged in in your room and unplug to bring it to chorus rehearsal or out for field day! Awesome bass. Loud enough to fill a cafetorium and still not be at full volume.

My new job is going really well. I love the kids and the school, and they seem to love me--so much so that they asked me to start a chorus. …