Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Milestones Worth Celebrating

Today David Row is having a "Milestones Worth Celebrating" linky party and I'm linking up!

I have 7 days of school left - summer is almost here! What a perfect time to think about the past year and reflect on the bad and celebrate the good. Here are some of the highlights from my 2013-2014 year.

School Highlights


-       This fall, the 2nd and 3rd grade Veteran’s Day program was a hit! We invited our local veterans to be honored with a poem and a flower and all the kids wanted to get their pictures made with them after the show. I’m bursting with ideas for next year’s Veterans program – songs and pictures and slideshows and maybe even taking our show on the road!

-       The choir had a fun Christmas sing-along – and with 76 members, it was all we could do just to sing along! The best part is that the kids are super excited about choir for next year. I’m hoping to do a 4th & 5th grade girls choir, plus an audition-only Honor Choir. I’m also hoping to add a recorder club to the mix, and invite all three groups to perform together. 

-       After a slow start, my first graders got really far on their concepts! We are working on 2/4 meter the last few weeks of school. This is a very immature group, so it seems like a miracle that we got anything done.

-       I have a great specials team and a really supportive administration at my new school. I can’t wait to see what next year holds. 

Professional Highlights

-       I applied for my first TMEA session with my dear friend Lauren! Even though we didn’t get chosen, I learned about the process and the ideas are churning for future sessions.

-       A few years back, I was honored to get to work with two of my favorite Kodály gurus (Houlahan and Tacka) on a Kindergarten Kodály curriculum – and it’s finally been published this spring! I can’t wait to see their finished product.

-       Last month I created a blog, a Pinterest pagea TPT store and a Facebook page! I’m still trying to learn about stuff like linky parties and how to make your Facebook page public, but I’m having a blast! Thanks to the Teachers Pay Teachers Support Group - it has really been helpful.

-       I have 50 followers on Teachers Pay Teachers! Yay! 

Personal Highlights

-       My husband and I moved to a new town and started new jobs. It seems like there's an adventure around every corner.

-       We worked (a tiny bit) with the Leadership Training for Christ (LTC) choirs at our new church and they had great performances over Easter.

-       Jon and I went to our first concert since moving – Casting Crowns! It was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait till they come back to the area!

-       We celebrated our 9-year anniversary by taking a Disney Cruise over the Christmas holidays! It was a blast and we are saving up so we can go again soon! It was amazing!!! Disney really knows how to take care of people, which is why I love taking bands to Disney World - it's a world class experience. Next WDW Band Trip - March 2015!


What are some of your highlights for this year?

Click on the image above to return to the linky party.




Monday, May 26, 2014

Managing Behavior: Positive Reinforcement - Blue Note

My favorite thing that I did this year was an idea I borrowed from a music teacher in Austin. One of my friends put a picture on Facebook that caught my eye. It was a positive note home from her daughter's music teacher!

It was a short checklist that the teacher could quickly check off things that he had noticed about that student during class. It also helped communicate to the parents what was expected in music class - things like singing out, working with others and using their creativity in class.

I got really excited because I had been looking for ideas to motivate my extremely young 1st graders as well as Kindergarteners!

I re-created it as a word document that I print on blue paper and cut in half.



The kids love the "Blue Notes" and even remind each other during class to use "blue note behavior." As I'm passing out blue notes, I encourage the kids to cheer each other on, saying things like, "Great job, Jose!" This helps keep their little hearts from getting sad about not getting a blue note that week. 

We also practice saying, "That's ok," and "Maybe next time," ALL the time in Kindergarten, so it's super cute when they use those phrases unprompted at blue note time!

Some of the classroom teachers use it as an extra incentive and students that get a blue note get to "move their clip up" when they bring a blue note from music. 

As I started to use "Blue Notes" I realized that I needed to keep track of how many blue notes each kid got. I have a terrible memory, so I have to write everything down! So I got a class roster for each class, which I keep on a clipboard next to the "Blue Note" clipboard. I just add a check beside the name/s of the kid/s that got a note that day. (And it helps the kids that haven't gotten one in a while to know that I am keeping track and I notice that they haven't gotten one recently.)


It literally takes 2 minutes as they are walking out the door. And if I am running late or their teacher is in a hurry, I "deliver" the notes later during my conference or at the end of the day.

Hope you try out this idea and let me know how it goes!






Sunday, May 25, 2014

Top 10 Things I Want to Do This Summer

It's a linky party! I'm linking up with Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class to bring you the Top 10 things on my Summer Bucket List.


Top 10 Things I Want to Do This Summer

10. Spend time reading books! I have a stack of books on my nightstand at all times. Here is one of the books on the stack for this summer. What's on your summer reading list?


9. Spend a day at Kodaly training at Texas State University. I can't wait to get a refresher in all things Kodaly. And every time I go back, I have a deeper perspective on the things they are teaching and why they are teaching them. 

8. Speaking of Kodaly, I have BIG plans to update my Kindergarten music plans, using this new great resource that I (sort of) helped create! My friends Alyssa, Lauren and I got to work with the manuscript, pilot the concepts and write lesson plans. I can't wait to see the finished product!


7 & 6. Spend time with family and traveling! I love having the summertime to relax and see family members that don't live nearby.

5. Eat snow-cones and Mexican food! Our mini metroplex has hundreds of restaurants and I can't wait to try them all! This will be our first full summer here, so we have plans to use up all the coupons in our band fundraiser coupon book and try not to gain too much weight!

4. Spend time making cute stuff like this for my house!



3. Spend time with my church family. This is the first summer that I have EVER been able to go to the Ladies Bible Class and I'm so excited!!!!! Usually they take a break during the summer, but not this year!

2. Clean. My. House. Yes, that should definitely make the list. And I got a new vacuum cleaner (thanks, honey!) so I really, really want to get the house clean...er than it is during the school year.

1. And number one thing to do this summer - RELAX!!!! My husband is a high school band director, so I don't see him much during the year. In the summer, we try to do one thing as much as possible.... NOTHING. 

What are your plans for this summer?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Surviving the End of the School Year and a $2 Tuesday Flash Sale

We're almost there! The end of the year is so close! I have 4 weeks of school left - aka 17 days! My husband is a lucky one with 13 days. (Thanks honey for not rubbing it in!)

I'm linking up with Amy Abbott and other music teachers to bring you tips for the end of the year and a $2 Tuesday Flash Sale!


In my class this week, we are wrapping up our final units for the year. The last three weeks will be filled with disruptions like testing, graduation, awards assemblies and field trips, so I'm not going to make myself crazy attempting to start a new unit now. It's way more beneficial to practice and solidify the concepts that they have already learned, as well as prepare for the first concepts of next August and September.

In Kindergarten we will spend most of our time finishing our beat vs. rhythm unit. Thanks to Pinterest, I have tons of ideas for rhythm and beat to use with my Kinder babies! We will be making a list of our favorite songs from the year and then practicing beat and rhythm with those songs.

Here are my visuals to use for Kindergarten concept assessment. You can also use them in first grade for review!


High-Low melodic was the last concept we did, so we will be doing one of my favorite things to practice high-low. Using 2 of the temple blocks, the kids will walk to the beat when they hear the low sound and bounce in place when they hear the high sound. This lets me assess one last time who really "has it" and who is copying their friends.

5th graders will be starting centers on Thursday and Friday (after the STAAR test retakes). For my fifth grade centers, I made lots of hands-on manipulatives including sets of "Go Fish" cards, folder games, memory games and magic squares for composition.

A bunch of music teachers are getting together with Amy Abbott and having a $2 Tuesday Music Flash Sale! To find out what's on sale, go to Teachers Pay Teachers and type in $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale in the search bar. So many great items to choose from!

For the $2 Tuesday Music Flash Sale, I included my Hogs in the Cornfield Prepare and Present set!


These slides are fantastic for assessing kinesthetic prep to see if your kids are ready to move forward to the Aural Questioning stage.

It becomes very obvious who can do it and who can't - and my kids still love trying! I use a rainbow colored mallet or a SMART pen to tap on the smart board, depending on the skill level of the kids.

This song has a great game for the end of the year. Students pair up and "shake hands and stick like glue." Then they put the insoles of their shoes together (right to right, just like the hands). When we finish singing the song, I play a note on an instrument to signal "go" and they get about 20 seconds to tug-of-war. The first person whose shoe moves is out. Usually they don't argue because they know we will play again. Occasionally they argue and it moves to rock-paper-scissors. Remaining students pair up again and the game repeats until there is a winner.

I haven't added instruments yet on this campus, but that's my next step - if you're out, grab an instrument and play along (either beat or rhythm or ostinato) while we finish the elimination rounds. This makes it a lot nicer to be "out."

How do you keep your kids on track and busy for the last few weeks of school?






Monday, May 5, 2014

Must Have Monday

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

I'm linking up with Amy at Music a la Abbott to bring you Must Have Monday!


Click on the picture to go to the linkup!

This linky party will showcase some of our favorite things that we have gotten and some things we hope to get during the Teachers Appreciation Sale from Teachers Pay Teachers on May6-May 7! 

These are some of my "must-have" items!

1. From my store, I can't live without my presentation slides! It helps me organize my thoughts (and my visuals!) as I go through the final stages of presentation. One of my favorites is my set for Paw Paw Patch!


My students love this game and it's an action-packed song with plenty of usable material.  

For the game, students line up in a long ways set (double line) facing the front. One student skips around the entire set and back to their spot for the first verse. The students in one line of the set follow the leader around the set for verse 2. In verse three, students link elbows with their partner and follow the head couple around the set. At the bottom of the set, the head couple makes a bridge. Other couples go under the bridge and back to their spot, with a new head couple at the top.

In the slides, students can tap the beat, tap the little paw paws in the rhythm of the focus phrase, label the form and work on writing the new rhythm.





After presentation students can practice their new rhythm with a few form and part-work exercises. My second graders are learning this right now and having so much fun!!

2. My "must have" from another teacher is the slides for "Who Has Seen the Wind?" from Lindsay's Kodaly-Inspired Classroom.

It is a beautiful song that gets stuck in your head. Great for teaching low la and half note. My 4th grade students really got into this song and loved adding their own lyrics as their "ticket out the door." 

I got this set of slides as a part of Lindsay's Kodaly Level 2 Mega Bundle. I got it on sale and with a discount! What a great deal!

3. One "must have" that is on my wish list is this set of super cute clip art! I love Little Red's Clip Art. These products are always finding their way to my shopping cart.



I hope to use these in upcoming products, like a beat chart for "We are Dancing in the Forest," one of my students' favorites. 

What's on your "must have" list?









Sale Tomorrow!

The Teachers Appreciation Sale is tomorrow! I've been getting my wish list together because many of the stores will be 20% and an additional 10% off from TPT! That's a huge savings, especially on some of the bundled items.

Everything will be 20% off from midnight tonight until midnight on Wednesday,
plus a bonus 10% off from TPT if you use the code TPTXO!


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Three Days and Counting!

It's (almost) three days till the Teacher Appreciation Sale at TPT!

Tonight, I'm going to highlight three of my products that will be discounted from May 6 - May 7.

The first is my rhythm flashcards - super quick to print, cut and laminate & get ready for all the fantastic activities in your music classroom. These cards can be used with any reading, writing or improvisation activity. I have also used them in a game called "Steal the Rhythm" and as a form labeling activity. There are so many possibilities!


This is a "Level One" bundle that includes rhythms patterns with quarter note, beamed eighth notes and quarter rest patterns. I have them divided into two sets so that you can print each set on a different color of card stock if you like. 



Number 2 is my brand new Dance Josey slides. One of my students' favorite all-time game is "Chicken," as they call it. It's a fabulous silly song with a great game that they can play for hours. And talk about packed with music possibilities!! This song can be used in so many ways - reading takadimi, learning low so, singing in canon, adding ostinatii, labeling form, introducing extended pentatonic scale. This set of slides will help with the preparation and presentation stages, as well as some extra beat practice and part-work thrown in. 


Last but not least is my Dynamics Posters! I can't stand how cute these are. I will be sending these to our print shop on Monday. They are color-coded from cool tones (soft) to warm tones (loud) in fun polka dot prints. Every music classroom needs the dynamics spectrum displayed for those educational moments that pop up. When I posted my first dynamics spectrum, I was teaching low E on recorder. The very next day, one teachable moment after another cropped up as we discussed the physical restrictions of plastic recorders, trying to play low E. It's such an easy thing to squeeze into almost every lesson, or at least when they are lining up to go!



Stay tuned for more products that will be available Tuesday and Wednesday!!