Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year! The new year is a great time to evaluate and assess your classroom. I think of it as "halftime" - almost halfway through the year, we get a chance to rethink and regroup. What worked well? What needs to go? What things in our control can we change for the benefit of our students?

What worked well this year?
I'm really pleased with the work my students have put in so far this year. It's tough to get used to a new way of teaching, a new person in the lead, a new style of learning, but my kids are doing great! We have been building relationships, stretching our comfort zones and trying new things all year - I have to admit - it's exhausting!

I'm really looking forward to the next semester even more than the first. There's not nearly as much "unknown;" they know who I am and my expectations and I know where they are musically, and most importantly - I know a TON of their names! It's so exciting to plan for a group of great students who love to learn new things and who love music!

I'm planning to amp it up (again!) and increase the challenge level, and of course have some fun along the way!

Biggest Challenges

Halftime is a great time to throw out plays that didn't work, change it up, and design a slightly altered path for your students. 

For me, our 6-day rotation has turned out to be quite a challenge! Since I see the classes less often, I have to cram more into each lesson, but I also have to spend more time reviewing. I have altered my plans by doing "mini" units, and teaching a concept in 3 weeks instead of stretching it out to 4 or 5.

For the first semester at a new school, students are still learning expectations/procedures and relationships are still in the most fragile state of newness. I ended up playing games a little longer than intended, giving a few extra turns at activities, which resulted in hitting the highlights of the "practice" section of my lesson, instead of digging deeper. Whoops!

I know we will be jumping into our 5th grade musical as soon as we return to school on Monday (yikes!). In my other grade levels, we will be pushing ahead with smaller "mini" units, practicing known concepts on instruments and learning more games of course!

New Things Ahead!
Here are a few plans that I have for this upcoming semester:

Personal: Date night! Last semester seems like a whirlwind of marching band practice, Veterans Day rehearsals, and basketball games! This semester should have a different pace and I'm hoping to plan a few extra date nights. With honors chorus, 5th grade musical, 4th grade musical and Picnic with the Arts on the horizon, I'm going to need some down time with my husband to keep my sanity intact.

Health: I have a simple goal for my health for this semester - stretch! There's always the "eat less junk" and "exercise more" ideals floating out there and each year I do well (or don't) at small measurable improvements. This year, I wanted a different goal - stretch. Yes, I will probably do some yoga and physical stretching, but it's more than that. I want to see what I can do. I'm a part of a group of ladies online who have challenged me beyond measure this year and I want to continue that growth. I want to push ahead into being who God intends me to be.
Classroom: Speak less! Sing more! Make music more! Now that our first semester is behind us, I feel like we will be able to get more done with less talking. Of course I'll still have to review procedures from time to time, but we will be constantly pushing towards the student-led warm-ups, smoother (non-talking) transitions, easier distribution of materials, etc. That first semester always feels "clunky" to me and I'm excited to see those bumps and chunks smoothing out.

Blog/TpT: Keep it simple! I have several smaller products in the works and I would love to get those finished and into my store before I start any more big projects. I have a few things that I use in my classroom that I would like to put in my store as well. I'm planning a blog series on our upcoming musical and I have to remind myself to keep it simple! Shorter posts with more pictures - coming soon!

Today I'm having a sale in my store! Get 20% off the entire store today and tomorrow only!

What do you have planned for the New Year? Blog about it and link up with us here!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

It's time to get ready for Christmas! I've had my Christmas tree up for two weeks already- shh!

Cyber Monday is this week & that means all the stores at Teachers Pay Teachers will be having sales to go along with the site-wide 10% off code! I can't wait to stock up on cute things for my class as well as papers and clip art for my upcoming projects!

Here's what's new in my store:

I use this song for beat in Kindergarten and bring it back to read the rhythm in 1st grade. I love pairing it with the book Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley - it's a sweet little book about a dog who wants to find the perfect pair of shoes to wear. It's also a great transition from any dog song to Cobbler, Cobbler!
beat charts to tap!

what is a cobbler?

part work!

I bring this song back in 1st grade to read ta's and tadi's and they love it! I included a little part-work practice, too. My students love putting this on instruments. 

Another great beat song for Kindergarten is Engine, Engine. I've blogged about using this song as your welcome song in Kindergarten - check it out here! And I bring it back in first grade - I love to transition from Rain, Rain to Engine, Engine (and Cobbler!) and then to our listening example, the Surprise Symphony.

beat charts to tap!

read the rhythm!

write the rhythm!

Here are some things on my wishlist for this year's Cyber Monday sale:

1. Christmas Rhythm Relays

I discovered that my students LOVE relay games two years ago when I lost my voice and we couldn't sing our normal Christmas/wintery songs. I had seen a relay game on pinterest and thought - why not? It was so much fun! I've always played with 2 teams, but this year I have exceptionally large classes, so I will try with 4 teams. Just print the number of sets you need & you're ready to go!

2. Santa's Workshop Interactive Whiteboard Games

These were a hit in my classroom last year - I can't wait to share them with my new school of students!

My students love throwing a squishy yarn ball (made by Sister Lorna Zemke!) at the smart board to choose a present to open. After opening the present, they have to read the rhythm to earn a point for their team. Assessment: check! Then they throw the ball at a student on the opposite team - and my students just LOVE throwing anything.

most of the rhythms are rhythms from 
commonly used folk songs!

3. Christine O'Brien's Speech Sounds Mouths

Wouldn't these be great to have for choir rehearsals?! I can think of many uses for them while preparing for performances, too. Flashcards, cue cards for specific songs, warm-ups! What a great visual!

4.Tracy King's Composer Coloring Sheets 2!

I'm always looking for things to get for my Sub Tub and I think this would be perfect! Plus I might even make a half page for my students to take home after studying each of these composers. I just love these!

What's on your wishlist for this Cyber Monday?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gotta Get Back in Time! Music Sale

I can't believe it's 2015 already! Just yesterday we were bemoaning, "What will happen in Y2K?!?!" And here we are safe and sound in Marty’s future world, but without hover boards.

Some of my music teacher friends and I decided we just had to do something fun for this special day so instead of drinking Pepsi Perfect or jamming to 80's music, we're having a shop hop giveaway!

Deals and Steals

In our Music Flash Sale I'm featuring my Engine, Engine resource that was just published this week! It will be $1.21 on October 21 only!! 1.21 gigawatts!!! 

This is a fantastic song to sing with Kindergarten for beat, vocal exploration, movement and more! (Check out my Kindergarten Magic post here for more ideas!) 

Then, I bring it back in first grade to read and write the rhythm & improvise with instruments!

My classes have been performing the Engine, Engine arrangement (included!) this week and loving it!

Giveaway & Shop Hop

Here's what you need to know about the big giveaway and shop hop!

First, start here and grab the letter at the top of the page - you will want to write this letter down! Click on each letter to go to the next store and along the way, follow each store, and check out the amazing things everyone has to offer! Once you have the code, come back here and enter our secret message to be entered in the giveaway!  It's that easy!

You can win one of three TpT gift cards! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then, click here to find all the amazing deals going on today only!

Good luck and thanks for all the support you give! It is so awesome to get to connect with music teachers from all over the world!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Rainbows, Erasers and Alligator Purses: Three Things

I’m joining up with Aileen Miracle to bring you “Three Things” this week!
We’re sharing three things that really worked well or that were magical in our classes this week! I'm sharing about my sweet first graders and their adventures with Rainbows, Erasers and Alligator Purses!

#1 Rainbows

My warm-up for this week is to play Jill Trinka’s recording of Aiken Drum and do a draw-along on the board. Very simple to give the students something to focus on while they listen.

This year, I wasn’t sure it was going to be magical because my first graders are the wiggliest bunch I’ve ever had. I thought for sure I would be stopped in the middle by behavior issues.

I started the music and drew a moon and a star – the kids were still wiggly, but most had settled down. Then I amped up my acting skills – “Hmm, what could his head be made of?” -- Complete with scratching my temple & an “Aha!” moment.

Crickets. (in a good way!) The kids were silent. They watched my every move – total concentration, focused listening – it was beautiful!

When we get to the mouth, Jill says “a rainbow,” so I draw the rainbow, which gives “Aiken” a huge frowny face. The only thing left is spaghetti for hair and the kids CRACK up at that. I’m not sure why that tickles their funny bone, but all the first grade classes have laughed at spaghetti hair! Cuteness!

The rainbow is a perfect match to our lesson: Aural Preparation of One and Two Sounds on a Beat. This is the first time the first graders have gone through the Kodaly concept lesson plan, so they have never done phrases (rainbows) before this lesson.

After erasing/singing Aiken Drum (see below) and reviewing the kinesthetic activities for Rain, Rain, I say, “Show the phrases and sing Rain, Rain." I demonstrate by moving my arm in a rainbow from right to left (they mirror from left to right). “Who has heard of the word 'phrase' before?” And we expand their definition with the “music definition” of a phrase: “A musical sentence.”

Tip: If they can't figure out how to make a rainbow, I have them take their "paintbrush" and dip it in the "paint" (their other hand) and paint a rainbow. Works like a charm. A lucky charm. Giggle.

Then I ask the aural questions, starting with, “How many phrases did we sing? How many rainbows did we sing?” I know Phil says to stick with the script, but I allow myself to call phrases "rainbows" the first time we do them. 

P.S. About drawing on the board: Kids think you are a professional artist, so don't be afraid! One time I apologized to my class about how funky one of my drawings had turned out. A little voice spoke up bravely and said, "It's ok Mrs. Sweet. We know you did your best." Tear. 

P.P.S. About the phrase on the word wall card: My students noticed that it wasn't the same phrase that we were singing! One of the kids sang it softly to himself and the other kids agreed, it doesn't have enough notes. Mind blown. First graders. Upping the ante next week. They can handle it apparently. 

#2 Erasers

Part of the fun of Aiken Drum is erasing his vegetable body one veggie at a time!

Have you seen these at the teacher store? Magnetic! Genius.

Immediately after the first listen I say, “Now we’re going to erase his body. Get your pretend erasers out and erase with me & when we get to the phrase ‘And his name is Aiken Drum,’ let’s sing that part together.”

My students LOVE singing the song again and watching Aiken Drum disappear!

Confession: Every time I eraser/sing this song, I imagine my Kodaly training friend and suite-mate  Sandra D. standing directly under the spaghetti hair for a split second and saying, "How's my hair?" Giggle.

Then, when we are in the aural preparation part of the lesson, we pull out our erasers again and erase the words. “Get those pretend erasers out again. Erase the words in the air. Throw them away and let’s sing the song on ‘loo.’” Perfect connection to what we were doing with Aiken Drum!

#3 Alligator Purses

In a typical school year, I use Mother, Mother as a first week of school game for my first graders. This year, I'm at a new school so I switched around some of the games that I typically do in Kindergarten, just to give them some background knowledge before we begin.

So here we are in week 4 of school, week 3 of the 6-day rotation and we are just now getting to Mother, Mother.

I have an old kid's doctor kit that I got at a thrift store when I lived in Austin. I also have a cheap black leathery purse that I use as my “alligator purse.” The kids LOVE that it’s a leathery purse; the boys all want to touch it. Hehee.

We sing the song and I walk around the circle with my thermometer in hand, keeping the beat. I tell the kids we need to pick someone who can pretend to be sick. “Can you show me your saddest, sickest looking face? No noises! Just your face.”

After picking the saddest looking face to sit in the middle (in a chair), I keep the beat around the circle to pick the doctor, the nurse and the lady with the purse.

“Mama called the doctor” pause and hand the thermometer to them;
“Mama called the nurse” pause and hand the syringe to them;
“Mama called the lady with the alligator purse,” pause and hand the purse.

Yes, I always* pick a girl for the lady. Just for sanity’s sake; first graders lose their marbles if you don’t. I have even been known to double time the beat as I go around to pick so I can land on a girl. First graders don’t usually notice this.

*this week I picked a boy for the first time – all the girls had a turn, he raised his hand and waved at me, I said, “Mama called the gentleman with the alligator purse.” The first graders lost their marbles, but the boy was so excited to get to touch the alligator skin that he didn’t notice. Phew!

So, once the parts are picked, they go “in” the circle (Verse 2: “In came the doctor, in came the nurse…”) to the sick person and I have them pat the sick person on the shoulder to make them feel better while we sing the rest of the song.

Verse 3: “Do you know what he said? He said, ‘I don’t want the doctor, I don’t want the nurse, I don’t want the lady with the alligator purse.’ Can you all say that with him?” This is the first time they sing with me.

Verse 4: “So out goes the doctor, out goes the nurse…” I take their little thermometer/syringe/purse as they go back to their seats.

Then at the end of class I read, "The Lady with the Alligator Purse," by Nadine Bernard Westcott.

It’s a perfect pairing with this song! I learned the tune as a kid; it has an entirely different melody, but many of the verses are the same. "In came the doctor, in came the nurse..." 

Magic: Last Friday the first graders in my rotation had a special guest Police Officer come talk to them – so they all dressed up like policemen, firemen and nurses/doctors! We played Mother, Mother in full costume!!! It was magical. 

What was magical in your class this week?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bow Wow Wow - A Song with Many Uses

Little Tommy Tucker’s dog gets a lot of mileage in my classroom! 

In first grade, I teach the song then teach the simplified version of the game. After the kids get a hang of the simplified game, we make it more challenging and do a partner switch (see below). It’s the perfect song to teach rest AND the perfect song to teach ‘do’ (in second grade).

Tips for teaching the song:

1. Sing the entire song and ask questions: “What is this song about?” “Who does this dog belong to?”

2. Echo-sing each phrase – In the past I had the class echo-sing the phrases in order. And I had students who sang phrase 4 (Bow Wow Wow m-r-d) instead of phrase 1. Every. Single. Time.

This year, I had them echo-sing phrase 4 first. Then phrase 3, then 2, then 1. BINGO! It worked perfectly.
- Bow wow wow (m-r-d)
- Little Tommy Tucker’s Dog (ss-sl-sm-d)
- Whose dog art thou? (m-mm-m)
- Bow wow wow (d-d-d)

After singing the phrases in reverse order, I said, “Whoops! Mrs. Sweet did it backwards, can we sing it in the correct order this time?”

It was magical.

3. Next add the hand motions while we sing.
- Bow wow wow – shake fingers at partner (or stomping feet is fun!)
- Whose dog art thou? – hands out to the sides
- Little Tommy Tucker’s dog – roll arms in front
- Bow wow wow – shake fingers at partner (or stomp)

Now, it’s game time!

Simplified Version of the Game:

1. Face your partner and sing with the hand motions.

2. Teacher adds a “shh!” on each rest. “What did I add that time?” (shh!)
 “How many times did I say ‘shh!’?” (3) Let’s sing it together.

3. “This time, on the third ‘shh!’ jump. Let’s practice – jump/shh!” If you don’t let them practice, they will do it anyway. Bless.

4. “Now, watch and see what I do on the jump.” Model how to turn and face the person on the other side of you when you jump.

Go back and forth a few times until they get it.

Usually, this takes up all the “game time” in one class period. It’s a ton of fun for first graders to jump and turn to a new partner! And no touching involved!

“Challenging” Version of the Game:

1. “That’s too easy! Let’s make it more challenging.”
Make sure your circle is boy-girl, to help you on the next step.

I show them with my partner (in the middle of the circle) how to grab hands instead of rolling arms in phrase 3. After grabbing hands, we trade places. Practice this ad nauseam.

2. Then do it one time with the song. 

This is what they do:
- Bow wow wow (shake fingers or stomp)
- Whose dog art thou (hands out to the side)
- Little Tommy Tucker’s dog (grab hands with partner and switch places with them)
- Bow wow wow (shake fingers or stomp & jump on the rest to face the new person behind you)

This is what I say:
- “Bow wow wow – not yet.
- Whose dog art thou – grab hands
- Little Tommy Tucker’s dog!
- Bow wow wow – jump!”

After the first time or two, I don’t sing with them, I just add the words in the rests: “not yet!” “grab hands!” “jump!”

I can tell who didn’t switch because I have a boy-girl circle. There should not be two boys or two girls in a row (except where I had extras).

3. After singing and switching a few times, I say, “That’s too easy! Let’s try to do this twice in a row without stopping!”

Build up to three or four times in a row. When you get back to your original partner, you’re done! The shocked faces and giggles when they get back to their partner are priceless.

Rest & Do

Bow Wow Wow is fantastic for teaching a beat with no sound (rest) and then I bring it back in second grade to teach 'do.' 

For 'do' students prepare kinesthetically by tapping the melodic contour on the smart board. I let 8 kids have a turn tapping on the board while the rest point from their spot on the floor. We point with our pinkies (with a British accent), with our feet, with our elbows, or their favorite - our tongues.

After prepping kinesthetically, we use Kodaly Today's aural questioning sequence. "Stick with the script!" as Phil would say. 

Then we create visual representation of the melody with unified cubes! Check out all the cubes I recently got!

Here's an example of unified cubes with a different song (Bounce High). I'll try to get pictures of Bow Wow Wow phrase 3 as soon as possible! 

After kinesthetically, aurally and visually preparing our new concept, I label the sound and present the notation!

Do you have a song that you use for multiple concepts and activities? What are your favorite jam-packed songs?

Friday, June 12, 2015

June: Small Goals

This June is flying by! I've been busy packing and cleaning - I want to make sure I have a chance to relax and refresh so that I'm ready for the new school and a new school year.

I'm making some "small goals" of the rest of this month. I only have 18 days to attempt these goals (in the midst of moving cross-country) so I'm going to start small. At the end of the month, I'll repost these goals and see how I did. Let's get started!

1. Create! I want to spend a little time thinking creatively about what I need to create for my new classroom and for my new apartment! I only got a quick second to peek in the door when I was interviewing, so I'm not even sure what kind of classroom space I will have. So nerve-wracking exciting!

2. Which brings me to.... Print pictures of my Texas family and friends! I'm going to need to see my Texas peeps during the beginning of the year madness, so I'm planning ahead. Facebook photos, Christmas cards, pictures from my phone - they're all fair game. I'm making a picture wall in our new apartment and I'll let you see it when I'm done!

3. Write my first tweet! I watched a twitter tutorial done by a sweet friend, so I got an account and started following people, but I can't decide what I want to tweet first! Got any ideas?

If you want to link up and blog about your small goals for June, click on the picture at the top!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Five Favorite Pins of June

It's summmmmeerrrrrr!!! It's finally summer break and I'm channeling that sweet snowman trying to stay cool here in the Texas heat.

For those who follow me on Facebook, you probably know what I've been busy doing - PACKING! We are packing up and moving to Kentucky in two weeks. So much to do! Ican'teven.

So I thought I'd take a quick packing break and link up with Aileen for a linky pinning party!

Here they are in no particular order:

1. The Dum Dum Song - Warm Up for Choirs

This looks like so much fun! I'm always looking for fun songs that can be expanded for a long choir season. I'm thinking I might teach 2 movements the first week and then add on another movement each week. :-)

2. Troika - Folk Dance Video

My students LOVE this dance and I love teaching it. This is a great refresher video for my students - I could even have this playing when they come in to remind them what we've learned in prior weeks. Great visual.

3. Beautiful Bokeh Inspirational Posters

So pretty! Available for free from Teaching in the Tongass on TpT!

4. Alice Goffman Ted Talk

Great TED Talk that's relevant to what's going on today. As a teacher of young black children, my eyes have been opened to things I would have never considered before. I really appreciate Alice's Ted Talk because she offers hope and solutions, without adding fodder to an already fiery topic.

5. Types of Performers Chart!

Perfect! I may have to print this out and put it up in my new room.

What have you been pinning lately?