Monday, July 25, 2016

Music Vocabulary- Gotta Catch em All!

Word Wall Go
It's hot, it's hip, it's happening right now so it might be a great way to engage students in the classroom.  This concept is based on a "word wall" that will spark student interest while reinforcing the topic of the lesson.
My idea is to have the balls placed in various areas around the classroom prior to the students entering the room.  One of the balls would be in line with the "I can" statement written on the board.  At the end of the lesson, part of the Pokemon theme song would be played, "You teach me & I teach you! Pokemon! Gotta catch em all! Pokemon!"  This would be the cue for one student to catch (find) the vocabulary word that was part of the lesson and written on the ball.  They would then place it on the word wall.  Although this would not be used every time the students came to music class, it is a fun way to for this school year to get kiddos involved.
Please add to the comments any ideas to use with this template.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lining Up Mini-Lesson

At the beginning of every school year, plans for classroom procedures are decided.  
Teachers work thoughtfully to design systems that will help best benefit the students in their class.
Music teachers will only see the students for a short time during the school day, and therefor should look for every second as a teachable moment, including lining up to wait for their classroom teacher.

So one day while figuring out which direction to line up the students, the thought came to create two squares out of electrical tape on the laminate floor.  Each square would have a new musical symbol inside every week. The teacher would call on a student and ask them to stand in the square with the (for example) double bar line.  Then the teacher would call on another student and ask them to identify what musical object is in the left over box.

Now that we have line leaders, students can line up in a variety of ways.  The teacher could ask each line leader what is their favorite genre of music.  Students could then line up in the line of their musical preference. 
Other lining up ideas could be:

Boy / Girl
Number Order
Favorite Color
Musician/Band they like the best
Music symbol they like the most

The possiblities are endless!  Not only is it a helpful way to line up the students while learning, but it also enables the students to stay focused and quiet when preparing to exit the classroom.

classroom management

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Texting Beethoven

If I could text message Beethoven, what would I say?  Would I comment on his amazing talents, express concern about his emotional highs and lows, or simply text him to say thank you for his gift of music?  While reflecting on these thoughts, I wondered what would students say if they were able to text Beethoven or any composer/musician for that matter.  My plan was to have 6th grade students express themselves using their form of communication.  Texting.  Well... so of.  Maybe not by phone or by a tablet of some sort, but on paper.  Maybe this would help bring to life the composers who have "decomposed" so to speak.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

In order for the students to text Beethoven, they needed to learn about him. In the first lesson, the students did a compare and contrast Double Bubble Thinking Map while listening to Beethoven's 5th Symphony done with two different versions.  They listened to Beethoven's 5th Symphony that was an orchestral version.  Then the students then listened to the 1970's remake by Walter Murphy.  It was wonderful to hear the descriptive words the students used to explain both versions.

The following lesson for this project was the viewing of Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  The students were then able to discover information about his character as a person, as well as his intense love of music.  Once the video was completed, (it had to be seen in two separate viewings) the students were able to finally have enough information to "text" Beethoven.

These little paper IPhone or IPod stickies came from Walmart and cost .97 cents a pack.  As a class, we discussed the word bubbles on the phone and the way the conversation works when texting.  Although we realized that if we are initiating the text to Beethoven his name would be listed at the top, we decided to put the student's name at the top.  We followed the same direction of the word bubble, meaning Beethoven's word bubble would be on the left and the student on the right.  

We also discussed that each sticky would be placed outside the music room door and every teacher and student in the school would pass by it on the way to lunch.  This sparked a conversation about how information in text messages could be seen by others if someone picks up the phone and reads the conversation written.  They began to share how important it is to think before you text, post or even write something down. They felt that if you do not want someone else to see it, then don't text/write it.  As an educator and adult, I was very pleased with their conclusion.

Texting Beethoven Lesson Post it

The completed sticky was worth 4 points and could be obtained if the student mentioned at least 3 things listed below:
*Used his name
*Mentioned a composition written by the composer
*Mentioned the genre or era
*Named another artist that rearranged one of his compositions
*Could describe something about the composer through the conversation such as his temperament or information about his life.

The students seemed to enjoy the lesson and shared solid information about Beethoven.

Beethoven Bulletin Board

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Calendar Show

As elementary music teachers, it can be a challenge to put together new shows for the students to perform.  While searching through the curriculum, it was decided that doing a performance based on calendar days might be pretty fun.  The first thing was to surf the net to find a calendar that has all the special days listed such as Groundhogs Day, National Popcorn Day, Friendship Day and many more.

Looking through the Making Music series, it is easy to find songs divided by seasons and games along with many other categories.  Lining up the songs with the calendar days was simple and made for an awesome set design idea!  Lori the Magic Paper Lady, came up with this wonderful idea of making large calendar pages like those found on a day planner.  WOW! The results were amazing! What a wonderful photo opportunity for all the young performers.  Take a look for yourself~
Stage Backdrop
Stage Backdrop
Stage Backdrop
Here's one of many links for fun calendar days.   Enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Card Music Rhythms

While looking through old Christmas cards from last year, a thought came to mind.  
Wouldn't it be great to recycle these cards and use them in music class?
The answer was "yes", so the journey began to think of the "how to do it" part.
Christmas Card Rhythms
The thought was to play a game called "Christmas Card Rhythms". Each student would take a recycled Christmas card from the decorated holiday gift bag. (You can use cards from past Christmas' from friends or family. Or you can buy seasonal cards at a discount after the holiday is over.)
 The kids who do not celebrate Christmas enjoy learning about the tradition of sending cards to family & friends for this holiday.
Once the student has taken a card from they bag, they are to look at the card and silently read the rhythm written on the inside.  After the students have practiced the rhythms in their heads, they will then choose a partner & share their rhythm.  
Christmas Music Game
This activity is a great way to have the kids practice rhythms & share what they have learned with their friends.  Here are some extension ideas that can be done with this game.
1. Students can partner with a friend to combine their card rhythms & create movements & share their creations with the class.
2.  As a mixer, students would keep saying their rhythm while walking around the room & try to find another student with the same rhythm. This would be a great way to have students to work with someone different than their best friends.
3. The teacher can play the rhythm on the drum & students can identify if it was their rhythm.
4.  Students can choose non-pitched instruments to play the rhythms. Or each card can have the name of a non-pitched instrument on the card for the students to play.
5. Students can add pitch to the rhythm on the card & play it on a pitched instrument. Maybe the students can be told to create ascending or descending pitches for the project.
Additionally, older students could have more challenging rhythms written on the cards.

Any of these ideas can be used in conjunction with the Christmas songs in the Making Music series.  
If you have any other ideas you would like to share for this activity, 
please comment so we can learn & share with each other. 
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ticket Out the Door

The "Ticket Out the Door"  is a concept that is not new, but it was new to my classroom this year.  Based upon my 5th and 6th grade classes, I realized that I needed something tangable that would allow students the opportunity to self reflect about their behavior during class and help me to identify ways to help them improve their learning.

Although I do believe the behavior self reflection part of the ticket is good, I find the flip side of the ticket to be a more valuable tool for me to become a better teacher.  After the students leave class that day,  I find myself quickly digging through the "tickets" to discover what they had learned during the lesson and what made learning difficult or easy for them that day.  I am able to take notes and adjust my upcoming lesson to address any concerns or issues from the prior class.   

Overall, students seem to appreciate the chance they have to express their concerns or successes from the class.  In order to explain how the "ticket" worked, I made a slide show presentation that demonstrated what was expected when they filled out the ticket.

Click on the link below to see the presentation.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Half Rest, Whole Rest

Visual aids around the classroom can be a fun thing to do.  Not only does it help in the decor of the room, but it allows for students to review a concept at their own pace.  One of my favorite visual aids is the use of a top hat to discuss the value of half and whole rests.

While cleaning out my son's toy box, I discovered a top hat that came from a magic set.  He no longer wanted the hat, so... "poof"!  It is now a half or whole rest!  Looking at this top hat reminded me of when I was in elementary music class and my awesome music teacher told us about a top hat and a whole rest.  I believe this is how the story goes...

Back in the Victorian era (around 1837 to 1901) men wore hats around town.  There were special rules that went along with wearing a hat in a building or during special occasions. Can anyone here think of a special rule when we wear hats today? (Answers will vary. Students may says things like, we can't wear ball caps in the classroom, not in church etc.)  

One day, a man walked into the town general store.  As he walked through the door, he removed his hat from his head.  

 The lady behind the store counter said, "It's so nice to be greeted by a "WHOLE" gentleman.  I mean one who knows to take off his hat when inside a building."  Another lady inside the store immediately joined in the conversation a stated firmly, "Yes, I agree!  The other day when I was at the bank, a man walked through the door and did not remove his hat.  Well, I turned to my daughter and told her he must be "HALF" a gentleman because he kept a hat on his head while indoors!"  
The gentleman kindly smiled at the ladies and said, "Well, sometimes even I forget to be a 'WHOLE' gentleman and take off my hat in a building.  And I guess when I do, I am just 'HALF' a gentleman.  But...I would rather be 'HALF' a gentleman, than fall into a great big 'HOLE'!  Good day ladies."  He then turned towards the door, and as he walked through the threshold, he put his hat back on his head. 
The End~

After sharing this story with the students, I would draw a very large music staff on the board.  We would discuss half and whole rests, (which we had used in class a few times before this lesson).  We would then play the game, "Half a gentleman or a Whole Gentleman".  I would place the hat on the staff to show either a whole rest or half rest.  The students would raise their hands to share with the class if they thought it was a whole rest or a half rest.

I would use this simple staff/rest game as a mini review lesson while waiting in line for their teacher, or as a simple review when we had an extra few minutes.

In addition, with the older grades, the historical reference of a top hat could be a conversation starter when examining music of the Romantic era.