Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Managing Behavior: The Basics - Positive Reinforcement

With my once a week schedule, it is essential that I spend very little time on behavior management. I think positive reinforcement works well, so I try to utilize that in my behavior management systems. In fact, it works so well in the weekly music class, I wrote a whole post on it here!


My students earn everything in my class. Every day they have a chance to earn a game (or learn about it by watching others play) and earn towards a class goal.

In Kinder-3rd grade, I write a goal on the board, and students can earn "stars" throughout our class.


At the beginning of the year, the goal is set low (five stars) and I make sure they reach the goal the first 4 or 5 weeks. Every grading period, the goal goes up by one (until I reach ten).

They can earn stars for:
- coming in quietly
- helping others
- answering a hard question
- the entire class singing correctly (with hand-signs!)
- remembering to do something without being reminded (sitting in correct position, lining up correctly, raising their hand, using their head voice, patting the beat)
- letting someone else have a turn without complaining

The possibilities are endless!

I have a music staff on the other side of the board:

It has 24 magnets, each with the initial of a teacher. When they reach their goal for the week, I move their magnet up to the next line or space. As you can see, some groups get to move every time, some groups are behind the others. 

When they reach the top they get something fun, like:
- Kinder - gets a sticker and a silly song
- 1st - gets a sticker and a silly (and 2nd semester - 2 silly songs)
- 2nd - gets a silly song and an extra game
- 3rd - gets a silly song and an extra game (and 2nd semester - double games)

For 4th & 5th grade, stars are a little too young, so they earn points. I choose a student "point-keeper" at the beginning of class and they hold the clipboard and write down points as I call them out. I try to keep it in multiples of 5 so that it's easy to count up at the end, but sometimes if it's a minor infraction, saying "minus 1" really drives home the point without taking them too far from their goal.


The "point-keeper" is essential on days that we play recorders because in my room, "If you play before I say, you will put your instrument away.... and we lose 10 points." Every. Single. Time. This keeps the extra noises to a minimum. Usually all it takes is losing points once and they stop making extra noises.

When they reach the top of the music staff, rewards include:
- 4th - gets a game day + choices (2-3 games, vote for which games)
- 5th - gets a game day + choices or "Choose Your Own Adventure"

I also include instruments as a reward if I have a cool song or activity that's coming up in their current concept. 

What do you do in your classroom to keep everyone on track?

Want more? Check out my post on Digging Deeper here - we discuss building relationships with students, the role of planning on behavior, and I share a hack for storing all of those student contracts! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Hug!

One of my favorite things to do is play music games with my students. Building relationships is so important as a teacher, maybe even the most important thing that we do. You might be the only adult in their life that cares enough to play a game with them. 

My students love to play Cut the Cake (Clap Your Hands Together)! It's a fantastic game that we learn in 1st grade and continue through 5th grade. One student walks around the circle until the end of the song. On the last beat, the student "slices"the cake between two students. Those two students then race around the circle, until they get back to their spot. 

Today I was playing with group and I was sliced! I ran around the circle and tied with the girl I was racing. In my class, we do "rock, paper, scissors" in case of a tie. We faced each other. Rock-Paper-Scissors ---- ROCK! Tie. Rock-Paper-Scissors ---- ROCK! Tie again! 5 "rock" ties later, I snuck in a paper and the class went wild when I won! The girl was a very good sport and we shared a hug. It was a great day with a normally argumentative group. 

There are so many things you can teach through simple music games: good sportsmanship, working together, kindness, supporting each other. I love teaching music, but more than teaching music, I teach life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Had a Little Rooster

My Kindergarten students love add-on songs, so when I heard Jill Trinka's version of "Had a Little Rooster" I couldn't wait to share it with them! This version has vocal exploration with animal sounds.

I created a slideshow to go along with the songs - very simple words, adding a picture for each verse. It's available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

We like to do hand motions as well while we watch the slideshow.

Rooster - hand on top of head (sticking up like a rooster comb)
Cat - cat paws pawing the air
Dog - hands bent in front
Duck - arms flying
Pig - finger smooshing nose
Sheep - two fingered ears on sides of head
Cow - five fingers spread on stomach (sticking out like an udder)
Horse - head shaking





Monday, April 21, 2014

Kindergarten Graduation is Coming!

The last performance of the year (for me) is the Kinder graduation ceremony. We have seven weeks left of school, so we are starting to learn our Graduation song. It's from an old MusicPlay CD I have and it's to the tune of "She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain." Any recording of this song that has an instrumental/accompaniment track will work. Enjoy!

These are the cards for the "regular" words.
On the back are the "graduation" words -
we start those next week!
Here are the lyrics:
We had fun in Kindergarten, lots of fun (repeat: "Lots of fun!" shouted)
We had fun in Kindergarten, lots of fun (repeat: "Lots of fun!" shouted)
We had fun in Kindergarten, fun in Kindergarten, fun in Kindergarten, lots of fun (repeat: "Lots of fun!" shouted)

We all learned to write our letters, ABC (repeat: "ABC!" shouted)
We all learned to write our letters, ABC (repeat: "ABC!" shouted)
We all learned to write our letters, learned to write our letters, learned to write our letters, ABC (repeat: "ABC!" shouted)

We all learned to write our numbers, 1-2-3 (repeat: "1-2-3!" shouted)
We all learned to write our numbers, 1-2-3 (repeat: "1-2-3!" shouted)
We all learned to write our numbers, learned to write our numbers, learned to write our numbers, 1-2-3 (repeat: "1-2-3!" shouted)

We all learned to draw in art, we can draw (repeat: "We can draw!" shouted)
We all learned to draw in art, we can draw (repeat: "We can draw!" shouted)
We all learned to draw in art, learned to draw in art, learned to draw in art, we can draw (repeat: "We can draw!" shouted)

We all learned to sing in music, sing a song (repeat: "Sing a song!" shouted)
We all learned to sing in music, sing a song (repeat: "Sing a song!" shouted)
We all learned to sing in music, learned to sing in music, learned to sing in music, sing a song (repeat: "Sing a song!" shouted)

We are movin' to the 1st grade, yes we are ("1st grade!" shouted)
We are movin' to the 1st grade, yes we are ("1st grade!" shouted)
We are movin' to the 1st grade, movin' to the 1st grade, movin' to the 1st grade, yes we are ("First grade!" shouted)

And we'll have a great big party when we're done! ("Yeehaw!" shouted)
And we'll have a great big party when we're done! ("Yeehaw!" shouted)
And we'll have a great big party, have a great big party, have a great big party when we're done! ("Yeehaw!" shouted)







Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's going on in my classroom?

Last week my first graders visually prepared "la." I love this part of the unit because it shows me exactly who "gets it" and who doesn't.

My students get four unifix cubes and are instructed to "create a representation of phrase one of Bounce High." We have already tapped the beach ball contour on the smart board, gone over aural questioning and even placed magnet beach balls on the board. This is the last step in the preparation stage and most of them get it.



This is a great chance for the ones that don't understand to get some one-on-one time with me. I go around and sing the way their blocks
would sound and help them find the correct contour. (If that doesn't fix it, we go back and do our kinesthetic activities again!)


Have I mentioned I LOVE unifix cubes?! They are perfect for rhythmic units, especially, since you can connect the blocks and make "longer" and "shorter" sounds.

What is your favorite manipulative?


Friday, April 18, 2014

Welcome to Sweet Sounds!

Entering the blogging community is quite daunting to me. Who knows if anyone wants to read what I have to say. Nevertheless, here I go!

Who am I?

My name is Lori and I teach elementary music, Kodály style. My husband and I live in Texas and my favorites include curling up with a good book, eating Mexican food, and playing with my sweet boxer, Penny.


In 2004 I started out as a band director at a small school in Texas. I took over another teacher’s elementary music duties about halfway through the year and discovered that I love teaching little ones!

Currently, I teach Kinder-5th at a small elementary school with about 530 students. I see my kids on a 4-day rotation, so I get to teach them 7-8 times per grading period, for 50-minute classes. My principal does a fantastic job protecting our limited amount of time, so we have been flying through concepts this year.

Since it’s my first year at this school, the grade levels aren’t where I want them to be, concept-wise, but we have spent a lot of time building relationships, teaching routines and reviewing basic concepts to analyze their needs.


Through this blog I will share the triumphs and struggles of my classroom as well as the crazy ideas I tried. I hope to create a place where I can mentor and be mentored, inspire and be inspired.