Saturday, January 31, 2015

Children's Books in the Music Room: The Loud Book and Duck at the Doo

It's time to share some books!

My sweet husband planned an AMAZING trip to New York City for our 10th anniversary!

When we found out that the Juilliard gift shop was nearby, we added it to the itinerary. I spent an hour digging through the children's section shelf and I think I took home most of it. Ha!

Here's some of my loot! (Plus a few that I got for Christmas - thanks Mom!) I can't wait to dig in to these books and share. For now, let's check out some books I found at Half Price Books!

The Loud Book - by Deborah Underwood

I love this book! It is perfect for my Kindergarten loud/soft unit. Even the pictures are perfect! I love the different examples of loud like candy wrapper loud and walking-to-school song loud.

So sweet!

This is a companion book to The Quiet Book - which is equally sweet. And the best part - I can bring this book out again when we label dynamics! (shameless plug: Kindergarten loud/soft cards and dynamics cards!)

Duck at the Door - by Jackie Urbanovic

This book is part of a fantastic series by Jackie Urbanovic - Duck and Cover, Sitting Duck, Duck Soup... I love this series! 

This one is a very sweet story about a duck who doesn't fly south with his flock and needs a place to stay. He makes himself quite at home - and starts to annoy the other animals with his antics. 

I pair it with "Who's that Knocking at the Window," a half note song - it's a perfect pair! 

I love to read this before learning "Who's That?" For this song, my students love to take turns knocking on the door and window and singing "I am knocking at the window!" The other students have to guess who it is. Timbre lesson - check!

The best part is the animal friends hear the knock at the door and go get an adult - Irene (she always knows what to do! *giggle*). 

While at the Juilliard gift shop, I also checked out the horn music for my studio. So fun! I had to get a book of duets to add to my collection. 

What books do you love in your classroom? I would love to hear from you! 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Teacher Survival Guide

Brr! It's super cold where I live here in the arctic Tundra of South Texas (teehee). I promise - it's definitely hot chocolate and blanket weather. 

It's time to stay inside, cuddle up with my laptop and do some blogging with a few of my favorite music teacher bloggers - it's a linky party!

I would love to tell you that I have it all figured out - but I don't. ;-) So instead I'm going to share some things that I'll be trying this semester. Maybe you'll want to try some of them with me. Maybe not. (you won't hurt my feelings!)

If you follow my personal Facebook, you saw that I recently posted an article about 17 small changes you can make that make a huge difference in your life. Now, I'm not going to list all 17 - you can read them for yourself here - but I do want to pinpoint 3 of her ideas that I think I can start in January. And hopefully they will change my year! 

3. Go outside during the day: How many times in the past did I go to work before the sun came up and leave after it went down? Now I have windows in my classroom(!) so I get a little sunlight during the day. Imagine if you could take a short time to do a mental reset, breathe fresh air, use your large muscles, get a dose of vitamin D and treat your eyes to a little green. 

I feel like I don't have ANY time for a "reset" during the day, but in reality I get more done when I take a few minutes to center my thoughts after Kindergarten than I do by checking my email for the 19th time before getting down to lesson plans. Even if I just open my blinds for a few minutes during lunch or planning, I think that will be a nice change of pace.

And remember that your students need that, too. I read on Facebook today about one of my friends that took her class outside (bundled up!) in the frigid weather just so they could let loose some energy, use their big muscles and see the sunshine that came out briefly. They only stayed outside for 10 minutes, but I bet their minds and hearts were much more ready to learn after that!

2. Figure out tomorrow's "To-Do" list before you leave today: I love this! I think it would be helpful to have an idea of what's coming up before I leave for the day. Some days this is automatic (hello program season), but I want to make it happen daily.

I usually have on-going to-do lists (post its, notes on the calendar page, notepads, marker on my bathroom mirror) but maybe I can assign a day and a time to a few tasks - maybe 3 tasks I think I can get done in the morning between cafeteria duty and the first class arriving. (Umm, #1 Bathroom break. #2 Scrub breakfast off my hands. Hehehe)

Maybe that will help my mornings be a little less frantic. :-) And we could all use a little less frantic.

1. Make a Bucket List: I spend so much time thinking of the day to day details, the nitty-gritty, that sometimes I forget to come up for a breath of air. Part of that "purposeful pause" is to let my brain relax and part of that is to let my heart dream. I want to have more going on in my life than my job. I want to have space in my brain and my heart to allow God to move me in certain directions.

I was reading this article and I decided that a Bucket List is a nice way to organize my dreaming. What might I do if I had no boundaries? Where might I go? Who might I become? I might even make a Pinterest board for it! Who knows?

Yes, of course, some of my dreams will include professional and classroom "wishes" - but I don't want that to be the whole of me. Maybe a gardening ambition or two? Books I want to read? Blog posts to write, TpT milestones to plan for, family traditions to start. Balance would be nice.

This isn't just about keeping my head above water and avoiding burnout (which is obviously a good idea), it's about living life to the full.

I would love to hear from you! Do you have a bucket list? What do you do to survive the winter blues?

Let’s Connect!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Follower & Feedback Frenzy: Music Teacher Edition

It's time to get back at it! Writing plans on Sunday night, prepping materials and manipulatives, making props and costumes... Here we go!

I'm teaming up with some of the music teachers on Facebook for a giveaway! We're each giving away $10 in products from our stores - winner's choice!

Here's how to enter on Rafflecopter:
5. Leave feedback on a product that you have purchased from my store!
6. Pin a Sweet Sounds product on Pinterest!
7. Share or comment on a Sweet Sounds Facebook post or blog post about this giveaway!
You can get started today, but be sure to stop by each day for extra entries!

Why leave feedback? Check out this post by Shelley Tomich to learn about how to leave fair feedback and get TPT credits for future purchases!  

Click on the rafflecopter below each day Jan 5-10. Some categories you can enter multiple times!

Here's the link to the other teachers participating! Stop by their blogs to enter!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year's Resolutions in Music Class

I love making goals! Whether you are a new year's resolution junkie or abstainer, January is a great time to think about the past year, to look ahead to the next semester, and make some goals.

Here are a few things I'm going to be working toward:


January is the perfect time to access what you've been doing and where you're headed. Binders are fantastic for organizing the random bits of paper that inevitably follow you back to the music room. A teacher planner binder is a great resource for collecting all of the old lesson plans, standards checklists, and year at a glance forms that show you where you've been. Add in copies of upcoming assessments, checklists for events and hard copies of printables, and you have a great start moving forward.

Sweet Sounds: I would love to get a little more organized with lessons and programs. I usually feel pretty good at the beginning of the year, but by Christmas my brain is a jumble of ideas and lessons. I'm setting up a teacher planner binder so that I have everything I need in one place.

Classroom Culture

Review is a great tool in any classroom to allow students to practice known material, and let the teacher assess which students actually know the material. I create my lesson plans to be a continuous spiral of review and new material. While we are preparing for the next concept, we are practicing the newly presented concept.

Sweet Sounds: My classroom atmosphere is pretty laid-back, but I'm always trying to amp up the content. Like all music teachers, I want my kids to know EVERYTHING when they leave me. While I know that's not possible, I want them to be grounded with some solid skills when they leave. I'm going to intentionally add more review to each week's lesson, from the warm-up to the exit ticket!

Podcast/Blog/Social Media

Connecting with other music teachers is so rewarding - and it's a great way to grow professionally! But when you're the only music professional in your building (and sometimes district!), it can be very isolating.

Selecting a few blogs and podcasts to follow is helpful, as well as choosing social media groups to be a part of (such as Facebook groups). They can widen your perspective and be a great source of encouragement and ideas when you hit a road block.

Sweet Sounds: I'm a member of the national Kodaly page, but I also participate in a few smaller groups that specialize in a particular style or area. I would like to find a podcast to follow that caters to my specific type of Kodaly instruction. I would also like to add some diversity to my teaching, so I'm going to be seeking non-musical groups that are doing the hard work of building bridges and starting conversations.

Personal: Self care is so important in our field. Teachers are generally givers by nature, but sometimes that can lead to unhealthy choices. You have to learn to take care of yourself and develop the self-discipline to make healthy choices in times of stress or overwhelm.

Sweet Sounds: Last summer I attended a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer, entitled, "Gideon." It had some powerful reminders of how God looks at me and thinks of me. I want to keep that going throughout the school year, so I recently bought another one of Shirer's Bible studies called "God is Able." I'm excited to get started on it.

Another form of self-care is spending time with loved ones. I plan to spend more time with my husband, puppy and less time stressing over work! I also hope that I can spend more time with my church friends. Friends are so important when stressful times hit!

Student Goal-Setting: Students benefit from occasionally pausing and setting the reset button as well. Giving them time to think about what they would like to achieve (and how to get there) is important.

January is a great time to set goals as a class, and individually set goals as well. Leading them through the process of brainstorming and dreaming up ideas is important. Putting those thoughts on paper and elaborating is also an important next step. Finally, writing a plan to achieve these goals can be a great tool to help students realize their action steps.

Sweet Sounds: I created a printable that walks my students through each step, from brainstorming, to elaborating, to creating a plan to accomplish their goals. It also work great as a "new years" bulletin board to keep their ideas in sight and their goals in the front of their minds.

What are some of your goals for the new year?

Let’s Connect!