Monday, June 30, 2014

Music Teacher Alert: $2 Deals on Teacher Stuff that Works

It's the first Tuesday of the month again, and that means a bunch music teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers are getting together and having a Flash Sale!

Just go to and search for: $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale (one word) and you'll find all the marked down music items. All sale items will be $2 and most of them start at $4-6! I love a good deal!

Here's my item that's $2 on Tuesday only!

This is one of my favorite songs to teach (umm... I know I say that about every song. oh well!) - my students LOVE the game and it has a nice driving beat, which lends itself well to part-work.

For the kinesthetic lesson, I have started using pointers that don't make any marks on my smart board. I know, I know - that makes it less interactive. But I found that my group of students pays more attention to the mark they were supposed to make (did it line up on the right horse? did it look like the other marks? what happened - it didn't make a mark at all!?) and they tune out the song.

I really want them to listen, (and I'm listening, too - assessment: check!) so I don't let them mark, especially the first time we go over the kinesthetic material.

After all that glorious prep (kin/aur/vis), we label the sounds. Immediately after labeling, I give the class a chance to echo me with the new rhythm syllable as a group. When I think they've got it, we play Kings and Queens.

I pull out the old bullseye (paper with a bullseye on it) and tell the class, "If you sing the correct rhythm syllables AND tap the rhythm in your hands correctly AND your voice hits the bullseye, you get to be a King or Queen of music for the day."

I take volunteers and they solo sing (assessment: check!) the new rhythmic phrase. If they are absolutely correct (I am SUPER picky with most classes) then I write their name on the board. That's it. So simple.

I did this with first and second grade for many years and this year, I tried it out with 4th and 5th and wholly guacamole, they ate it up!

You don't have to give them a prize or whatever, they just LOVE having their name on the board with the other kids that did it right.

What do I do with the kids that don't get it? I get super excited! I widen my eyes and say, "You are sooo close! I can't wait to hear you next time - I bet you'll get it!"

Next is present the notation. And on to the best part - practice the new rhythm. After reading the phrase, reading the whole song, etc., we're ready for part-work!

Start by dividing your class into groups - Group A does the rhythm, Group B the beat; then switch! After a bit of this, try adding the teacher in canon or in an ostinato. Then add a few kids with the teacher on the ostinato/canon. Add instruments! Add body percussion! It's just a great song full of possibilities.

I can't wait to see what other items will be on sale! :-)

Happy summer!

Bonus: Happy birthday to my sweet husband! I love you!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More Kodály Graduates & a Pop Sale!

My friend Corrie Box is a rockstar! She spends her summers teaching at Kodály programs around the country. This week, she is finishing up teaching at the Kodály Levels Course at the University of New Mexico.

I thought I'd share a few embarrassing cute photos of us when we were doing our Kodály levels at Texas State. :-) Love you, Corrie!

This is our Level 2 group shot!

Level 3!!! Woohoo!! Finally!!!

My favorite pic!! TMEA buddies!

You probably don't want to hear my level stories again... so I'll skip on to the good news:

In honor of her hard working students, 
I'm having another Pop Sale

All music products at my TPT store will be 20% this Friday-Sunday!

Be sure to follow this blog to stay in the loop with future sales and events, plus fun teaching ideas for the Kodály classroom.

And when you like my Facebook page you'll get updates for Flash Freebies, upcoming products and the awesome $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale (this coming Tuesday)!

Happy Kodály-ing!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

It's a stormy Wordless Wednesday! I'm linking up with Christina at Sugar and Spice.

Look what I found at Hobby Lobby!!!! This will be great to use in my class.

Burlap (print) Duct Tape!!

And an amazing find at HEB:

Hope you're having a great week!

We Love Books: Books in the Music Room - Kipper

I love incorporating children's literature into my music lessons - it's becoming an addiction of mine.

There's something magical about reading a story about someone having white shoes and blue shoes (Pete the Cat) and then going straight into a song about white shoes and blue shoes! (Zapatitos Blancos)

Kipper is a new favorite of mine, partially mostly because Kipper looks a lot like my dog! (see below for reference) At any rate, it's an adorable story by Mick Inkpen about a dog who is tired of his old basket, old blanket and old bunny so he goes out to find something new. It has a sweet ending and is a great transition to any number of dog songs! (Doggie Bow Wow Blue anyone?)

"Are you looking at me?"

**Can you see the stack of music books in the back? :-)
Shout out to Gaby and Phil and Michael! I think Lamar's book is back there, too!

Have you found any great children's books lately?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kodály Certification Program - Graduation Sale!

This week some of my friends are graduating from the KCP (Kodály Certification Program) in Austin! I'm so excited for them!

Here's a still from their celebration video on Facebook - so cute! Even Michael is getting his party on:

I remember what it was like to be so stressed out analyzing all those songs and putting together the retrieval system and teaching in lab and of course, trying to eek all the goodness and wisdom out of your teachers in the short three weeks each summer. And going to get tea from the little coffee shop every morning. And the chicken salad sandwiches at Rivendell's.

It kind of makes my heart race just to think about it. So much stress and yet so worth it in the end.

Here's a picture of my certification program at Texas State back when I finished level 3 in 2009! The KCP gurus Patti and Lisa use this pic in their add with Southwestern Musician every year. Woohoo!
That's me in the back!

No, we aren't doing hand signs, we're doing movements for an African song, led by the brilliant Lynell Joy Jenkins! And the kids in the picture are from the Children's Choir Camp that worked with some of us and our instructors.

In honor of "graduation" day, I'm putting my TPT store on sale
They did the hard work and everyone gets the benefit! 
My store will be 20% off until Monday! 

Congrats and Happy Kodály-ing!

Visuals for prepare, present and practice!


 Tone ladder anyone?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Working On It Wednesday - on Thursday!

I was out of town this weekend so I'm a little late to the party. Today I'm linking up with Kim and Megan at KinderGals for Working On It Wednesday!

I feel like I always have a hundred projects going on at the same time! Anyone else go from project to project without finishing anything? One of the things I'm working on personally is a binder to help me organize all those projects I'm working on. Something fun and cute that will keep me extrinsically motivated to keep at it! And something flexible because I tend to think outside the box when I'm creating.

Maybe something like this?

This is what I used in my classroom last year and I loved it! Plenty of space in the calendars to write in details, covers for each section. I'm thinking this year I will make my own for school, one for my private horn studio and one for home, too!

I'm working on building relationships with my sweet nieces and nephews this summer, too. We got to spend a little time with them this weekend in DFW and I'm hoping they'll get to bring their mom and dad for a visit this fall. 

Here's what I'm working on for school and for my TPT store:

I'm so excited about this upcoming product! It's a bunch of improvisation activities and games and songs that lend themselves well to improv. My students this year are just getting their feet wet with improvisation. I'm hoping to include some beginner, intermediate and advanced activities that help make improvisation a breeze for the teacher. Because I don't need any more work to do. Amiright? I can't wait to share it with you! Stay tuned for more details.

With the completion of the Kinder "I Can" Statements, I will be bundling all 6 grade levels (K-5) for a discounted price in my store. Woohoo! I'm also thinking about bundling TEKS posters with "I Can" statements for a discount. I love a good deal. :-)

And I'm working on a freebie! I'm hoping to make a bundle of planning documents (editable) and some freebies for planning. I love planning so I'll probably blog about this one specifically. 

What are you working on this summer?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Managing Behavior: Alleviating Issues Before They Begin

It's never too late to take a look at classroom management in your music room. Regardless of past failures and successes, each new year gives you a chance to start fresh and try new ideas to build community in your classroom and create an environment of caring, cooperation, and collaboration!

A couple of things: First, I work in a "Title I" school full of families with extremely rough stories. Many of my sweet students have supportive families but many of them don't. I have an extremely supportive principal who knows what our kids face and who knows how to deal with it. That being said, every day brings a new challenge. I certainly don't have all the answers, nor am I perfect, but I feel like we've had a successful year learning and growing together. 

Also, I believe that the Kodaly method (specifically the Houlahan-Tacka branch) has transformed my teaching. It has substance and in my experience, the kids respond to substance more than any fun "activity" I could come up with. This has tremendously impacted my classroom as far as behavior. 

Suddenly, we weren't going from unconnected activity to unconnected activity. We were on a journey spiraling through concepts and connecting to things we'd already learned. When my students are succeeding at hard musical concepts and internalizing music like they've never done before, they feel the power of that and don't have time to be bored and get into mischief. 

I recommend that every music teacher out there (middle, high school and university included) get certified in Kodaly or Orff or something that gives them "meat" for the students to sink their teeth into.

Let's get started!

Building Relationships
My number one tip for eliminating behavior problems in your classroom is to build relationships with your students. I took a Capturing Kids Hearts training last summer and it was great! We got tons of ideas for team building and relationship building. 

One of the things I thought worked well was having a class contract. At the beginning of the year, we met all classes in the gym and did "specials" contracts. Then each child and teacher signed it.

Using the Capturing Kids Hearts method, we answered some basic questions as a group: 
1) How do want to be treated by the teacher? 
2) How do you want to be treated by each other? 
3) How do you think the teacher wants to be treated? and 
4) How should we treat each other when there is a conflict? 

Side note: TEACHER HACK!! Tacking stuff to the ceiling is awesome! It saves so much space and the kids can still reference it later in the year. :-) 

It didn't magically solve every problem, but by having that conversation, we opened the door to future conversations about how we should be treating each other. Having a class meeting is HUGE because it empowers every student to have a say.

Of course, being a once-a-week class, it's harder to dedicate time to this or to build deep relationships with everyone. This year, I had lunch duty on a rotating schedule, so I got to eat lunch with one group for a 6-weeks before changing to another group. It was fantastic for checking in with kids, having great conversations and seeing them let their hair down a bit. It also provided a time for them to ask questions about upcoming programs. I was able to use my actual lunch break for meeting with my UIL group, kids that had solos or even lunch detention, when needed.
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!
My high school economics teacher used to say that to our class. Every. Single. Day. And I believe it applies even more as a teacher. I am a over-planner by nature, but if I don't plan - watch out! The day will be filled with frustration, behavior problems and a very short amount of patience on all parts.

How do I plan? I'm sure I could write a whole post based on planning, but for now I'll give the gist of it.

1. Goals and Standards: What do you want each grade level to accomplish this year? How long will it take you to teach each unit? What units or concepts can you combine? I like to integrate my instrument identification and listening within each unit.

2. Yearly Plan: Make a rough sketch of each week or rotation and what concepts you plan to teach. Leave a little bit of room at the end of the year so that if you miss school for sickness or snow days, you can bump lessons down the calendar.

3. Individual Lesson Plans: Through my Kodaly certification I wrote tons and tons of lessons. Now all I have to do is plug in warmups, songs, games, practice activities and transitions and I'm good to go!

Whew! That sounds like a lot to do, but the bulk of it stays the same from year to year, so it's not as labor intensive in the short run.

I try to plan way more than I'll ever use, in case of technical difficulty or if the activity just doesn't work that day. I also have a playlist on Spotify and a stack of flashcards handy in case I have extra time! 
Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is so important, I've already blogged a little about it! Check out my post about super cute blue notes here. They are "star student" notes that go home each day with one or two well-behaved Kinders and Firsties. 

My older students can handle a little more teamwork, so we work to reach a goal as a class. If we get our goal each day, we move our magnet up. You can read more about my classroom management here.

Those are some of my favorite tips for having "dazzling discipline" in the music classroom. I can't wait to read the comments and get some ideas to try for next year!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Me Time with One Extra Degree

It's finally here! I'm so excited with all my plans for fun things to do "in summmmmerrrrr." (Yes, I said that in my best Olaf voice.) I'm teaming up with Amanda from One Extra Degree to bring you Me Time Monday. (click below for the link up)

It's the first Monday of summer for me! I think it's really important to find time to recharge and relax during the summer break, however long it may be for your school. I tend to spend most of my time planning, making things for the classroom and organizing the materials to be used the next year.

So this year, I'm going to try to make a point and document what I'm doing to refresh and recharge... and maybe that will keep me motivated not to work every spare moment!

Here's what I've been up to so far:

Fun time with my church family, :-) 

Brunch date with my hubby, (my first crepe!)

A little shopping,

Making stuff for our house and

Making stuff for our tummies!

I also got a tiny bit done for school next year! Every year I throw all the "loaner" recorders in the dishwasher for a good clean.

Of course, that means I have to pull the tape off each one and after they dry, put fresh tape back on. Then when a new student needs a recorder, I write their name on the top with a sharpie and it's theirs for the year. This year, I didn't wait till August to do this! 

I can't help it - one last shot of my puppy to prove that I'm really relaxing! Smooshy face!

What are you doing to recharge this summer?