Sunday, March 27, 2016

Three Things: A Book, Movement Story, and Rhythm Game

 I am linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room this week to talk about three things that worked well in my classroom currently!  For more ideas, click the picture below and check out other bloggers three things! 

 1. Little Bunny Foo Foo 

Kinders and 1st graders love this silly story.  First, I sing the story for them.  The following class they like to sing along. Sometimes I don't know about this story...a little bit violent! We always talk about what Bunny Foo Foo could do instead!  Was he making a good choice?  Never the less, it is such a classic and especially, Kinder enjoys it so much.  I read it last year and I had students request to read it again consistently for months! 

2. Bunny Story

This is such a great way to work on listening skills while the students get some wiggles out.  This is one of those lessons that is just pure joy and the students have so much fun they don't even realize they are learning so much! Click here for the bunny story script!

3. Summer Rhythms Freebie

The Yellow Brick Road blog is full of goodies including some recent freebies!  She just released quite a few and her Summer Rhythms one, is a perfect quick activity for practicing ta and titi.  It also gets students moving and there are many ways you can use this set! Click on the picture above to check it out! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Star Wars Lessons

Star Wars seems to be everywhere these days and my music room is no exception!  I just recently did round two of some of these movie based lessons and thought I would compile a post about the activities I use!

1. Star Wars Mirroring 

Its testing season so I am trying to keep lessons light, moving, and a lot of review!  To get our bodies moving I decided it would be a good time to introduce mirroring.  We talked about what mirroring is as a class and what we are trying to accomplish through this exercise.  I explained that we are expressing the music through our bodies, we are learning to improvise, using teamwork.  We are not trying to trick the person copying.  We are working together to show how the music makes us feel and move. 

Once we were all on same page of what it is and what are goal is, we began practicing.  First, I was the leader and the class stood scattered in their own space, standing, and facing me.  A teacher in my district played some music from the recent "The Force Awakens" movie in a mirroring activity and what an amazing soundtrack to move to.  I started with "Rey's Theme" and the students mirrored me.  There were a lot of giggles at first, but soon a hush came over the class and you could tell they were really focusing, trying to copy my movements.  

To end the activity for the day I had the students split into pairs, sitting and facing their partner.  I told the students to decide who would be the first leader and when I tap the triangle it would be the other partners turn to be the leader.  We discussed that if you are truly successful in mirroring that I should not be able to tell who the leader is.  We started off with just upper body for the day by sitting.  I continued using the same music so that the students could really get comfortable with it and build ideas to it. 

We will extend through a few classes by adding full body movement, movement across the room, and lastly adding scarves.  Also, for a final wrap up I plan to use scarves and movement across the room by splitting pairs into four different groups.  The four different group will move mirroring their partner at different times signaled by a triangle tap.  They must freeze when it is another groups turn.  I would pre establish this and write it on board and call out the form before performing.  

2.  Parachute Form 

This one I actually did outside and I split the students into two groups to use two parachutes.  They really enjoyed it! Teaches form and teamwork. The bubble part is the hardest part to get.  Students always want to yank the parachute down too quickly!! 

3. Rhythm Wars 

There are two posts I would recommend when researching this idea: 

One tip from me: When making the pool noodles I used red, green, and orange.  Looking back I would have just made them out of red and green.  Then I could have a group of "Light Side Jedi's" and "Dark Side Jedi's".  It would be easier when saying who's turn is first or keeping track of which groups turn. I don't even think there is an orange light saber in any of the movies! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Renaissance Boomwhackers

Teaching the Renaissance era is a bit of a challenge for me.  I feel like there are not that many resources out there/sometimes this music is pretty out of some kiddos comfort zones.  I did a quick little mini lesson about Susato that went pretty well and in the process reviewed Tam-ti with the students.  

I first gave a little background on Susato and his music.  Then we listened to Danse de Hercules.  Finally, we learned part of the theme on BoomWhackers.  

Super simple and only takes about ten to fifteen minutes! They enjoyed a quick lesson on the Renaissance and experienced playing some music of the time.  

Here is the simple powerpoint I used if you would like to check it out! Download

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Upping My Tech Game

Being a millennial, I love all things technology! I try to incorporate it in the classroom as much as I can. 

Here are some tech tools, websites, and apps I have found to be great:

Power Point Clicker 

This is nothing ground breaking new, but man has it helped me with behavior management and pacing. I do not have a smart board so when using the projector especially during power points I either have to walk back and forth from the computer, stay anchored near the computer, or have a student helper. Walking back and forth can be a bit distracting and I seem to always lose some students when being farther away from them. Another issue was the dreaded whines and hurt feelings about who got to be the computer student helper or the confusion of when to click on what. So....I was talking to a teacher friend and she said that a previous principal got them all clickers one year.   And I thought why haven't I thought of that?! When I think clicker, I think business presentations and a suit and tie, but it sure is effective in the classroom too! I got one off amazon for super cheap and all I have to do is plug in the USB bluetooth in my computer and turn on the remote and bingo, I am set! Also, something that I found so helpful is the clicker I got has a laser pointer too and now I can be very precise about what I am pointing at on the screen. My screen is up a bit high for my 5'2 stature so having the laser pointer instead of using my typical teacher like wood Apple pointer has been a life saver! 


This is a free online notation software.  It can be used for so many things.  I use it for arranging music, writing out parts for practice, and composition projects.  This is such an effective way for students to listen to a whole arrangement then piece by piece to help with learning an Orff arrangement or multiple part song.  I have also used in the past for composition projects.  The students had one day just to play around on the site and experiment, then given a few days to complete the composition with a few given guidelines, then you can share the piece on the sites community page so we had a sharing day.  

I just recently became aware of google's new music notation site called Flat.  I have not had time to check out this site but it looks promising. This might be an even better option.  If any of you have used I would love to hear about what you think.  It is definitely worth a look! 


A hard thing in the music room sometimes is incorporating time effective assessment.  Getting out paper and pencils, spreading out, clipboards, etc. takes quite a lot of time out of my thirty minute class.  When I found plickers I was so stinkin excited!!! It is a super easy way to assess students with out all the materials.  It uses the free site, QR codes, and your smart phone.  You can ask the students a multiple choice or true/false question and each answer with their own individual QR code card.  I printed them out off the site and put on card stock and laminated.  The students answer by holding the letter (A-D) they think is right right side up then I scan their card, with my phone camera, in the app and bam I have all the data on computer!  I think it is a super effective exit slip or mini quiz tool.  The site is if you would like to check it out! 

A Website for Practice

This is a interactive recorder game that is too fun!  I first learned about this app from Mrs. Miracles Music Room Blog and when I went to download it myself I couldn't find it :( but a few months later I actually got the opportunity to go to a workshop by her and she shared that the app became a website. I was pumped!! It is as magical as I thought it would be.  You could play it as a class or even assign it for homework.  


I LOVE this app! This is an all in one teacher organizer. I can track so much with it and I know that tracking data is big thing right now.  It is for ipad only and you can keep multiple seating charts, lesson plans, schedules, your grade book, attendance on it and it even has a random picker capability.  This app is very specials teacher friendly.  You can keep multiple classes on it and import class lists by .xls spread sheet.  The grade book is what I really love about the app.  There are so many different icons and options of how to assess the students. I can use smiley faces for quick assessments, color blocking for keeping track of turns, and a few select icons for marking if a student was absent during an assessment or a student has a learning disability.  It is really nice, even though it does take a bit of time, you can take a picture of the whole class and then, with the magic of this app, it will put a square on the face of each child and you can drag it into its spot by the child's name in the grade book.  When teaching hundreds of students each year it is always nice to have pictures....;) 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reflections on my First Choir Season

Choir is an extra curricular in my district at the Elementary age.  Because I was an inherent teacher last year I did not have a school of my own/a choir of my own.  So!!! Now that I am at just one school this year I inherited the fabulous choir program the teacher there before me worked hard to build.  She was moving on to teach choir at the junior high level.  Coming in replacing a seasoned choir director was no pressure, especially with my zero experience in the subject ;) I just dove in and learned as I went, and dare I say it was a pretty good time!  

Here are some reflections from this first year:

1. Music K8 is your friend!!! 

Aside from providing wonderful arranged music with awesome accompaniments, (I am not a piano player at all!) this company makes your life so music easier with ideas and resources to teach and perform the piece.  There are so many things they provide you with such as, instrument parts, movement ideas, prop and set suggestions, scripts, part tracks, and various videos to help.  This is about $100 bucks to subscribe for a year but sooo worth it when you are not exactly sure what you are doing! 

2. Plan Your Rep for the Season Before it Even Starts

I did not get the chance to plan ahead for choir this first year because I didn't know what to expect.  I needed to get to know the students and what I was working with first.  Now that I have that first season over with I am definitely going to use the lovely summer to plan rep for next year.  There were so many evenings staying at school, sifting through music k8 magazines, the silver burdett series, and online, searching for the perfect song for tomorrow.... It's not fun looking for stuff as you go because there are so many factors that play into being prepared and ready for the performance aside from just finding the music.  Have a list of potential songs that you have access to so at least you don't have to worry about that in the heat of the choir season! 

3. Delegate and Student Leadership

Giving students some responsibility can make you happy and your students happy!  I have a section leader or two for each row of students in my choir (about 8 students).  I make them fancy section leader name tags with the name of their row on it.  I hope it makes them feel important because they are in helping the choir run smoothly!  They helped me so much with things like taking attendance for their section, holding other students accountable for their posture (they do this by just giving a tap on the shoulder and we talked about this is just a friendly reminder to fix it), locking my door after the late cut off, manning the computer, and holding the sections box of lunches when going on a field trip.  They helped immensely!  I never even had to touch a attendance sheet! 

4. Warm Ups can be Repeated

I got soooooooo many different choir resource books the summer before school started!  At first I focused on trying different warm ups out and while that was nice to keep it fresh the students got frustrated because there was no familiarity and sometime we would spend so much of our time learning the new warm up that we didn't get to the songs.  

Repeating a warm up routine is okay!  I don't know why I stressed myself out so much trying three new warm ups each time.  Not only did they have to learn it but I needed to too and sometimes that was hard to learn all ahead of time in order to teach the students.  I burnt myself out and the last part of the season we did the same exact routine every time.  

Next year, I plan to strike a balance.  We will keep the same core routine but each week add a new one and slowly cycle out the old.  I think both the students and myself will be very happy with this :) 

5. Learn as Much as you Can from the Masters

Warm ups: 

Method/How to Teach: 

(This book is out of print but if you can find it used it is very much worth it!) 

A Book I Want to Try:  

( I saw this guy present at Ohio's Music Educators Conference and he was fabulous!)