Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday Linky!

Linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room for her Wishlist Wednesday!  Here are 3 Teachers Pay Teachers Links for 
1: something special of mine
2: something special from someone else
3: a special clip art

I love lapbooks! My recorder students made one this year to be their "textbook" at home.  Since we will be exploring percussion instruments soon in 2nd grade, I decided to make a lapbook for them too!  Lots of different foldables to help organize instruments into categories: Tap it, Shake it, Scrape it, Pitched and Un-pitched.  

 Think QR Ready for Recorders? By Music with Sara Bibee

I absolutely LOVE this QR method book!  This particular book is solely BAG and is great practice for my beginning students with 33 different playing exercising.  The best part is the QR codes with background tracks and playing models!  Each QR code goes to a YouTube video (now accessible in YouTube Kids!) that plays the example, then adds a background track, then gives a performance track!  My students have never kept such a steady beat when playing; this is the perfect stepping stone for my maturing musicians!  I love it and so do my kiddos!


I think this is the cutest clip art!  I have used it for whole body listening posters and concert etiquette foldables.  I think the pictures say it all!

Click on the image to head over to Mrs. Miracle's blog and check out other Wishlist Wednesday bloggers! Don't forget to shop!  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Five Favorite Pins of February Linky Party!

Many thanks to Aileen from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room for hosting a Linky Party!

I LOVE Pinterest!  If only I could get credit toward my Professional Development hours for all the time I've spent learning from fantastic teachers!  Here are my (current) Five Favorite Pins!

#1 Daily 5 Check In
My school has been focusing on Math and Writing workshops lately which mean students are getting accustomed to working in small groups without a teacher.  I started looking into Learning Contracts as part of my Differentiation Instruction goal and love the possibilities for Recorder and iPad projects.  This has become a great tool for me to know what students are working on and how many students are allowed to do each activity at a time.  I can also preassign students as necessary!


#2 Cherie Herring's 18 Music Activities for Small Children (SMARTBoard)
Anytime I need a sub, I pull up Cherie Herring's SMARTBoard files. They are great for non-musical subs but are extremely musically engaging for the students.  Each page is interactive and she has tons of little sound file surprises that the kids just love!

#3 Make Your Own Tubanos
I haven't tried this yet but I really really want to!  Just gotta figure out where to get those tubes!

#4 Catch a Falling Star
So beautiful! This is my dream for my students.  They are more than capable musicians, I just have to become a better teacher!

#5  Lapbook Templates/Glue Sponges
I couldn't pick just one more-but these two go together!  I love lapbooks!  Lots of information but all contained together.  I made a lapbook for my recorder kids to take home so they always have the information they need.  And Glue Sponges!  OMG!  Best idea in the entire interactive notebook/lapbook world.  If you ever use glue in your classroom, you MUST try this! (really, 1353 pins on this glue sponge post!!)


Don't forget to check out other posts as part of Mrs.  Miracle's Linky Party!  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching in the Music Classroom-Teach! Ok!

So far we've looked at two main principals of Whole Brain Teaching: Class? Yes! and Mirror!  

The basic premise is that interaction with students should be direct, to the point, and interactive.  (Don't forget fun!  It's fun because students get to DO something; they aren't asked to simply sit still and listen)

Most of the next few implementations of Whole Brain Teaching are extensions of Class? Yes! and Mirror.  

Teach! Ok! takes the students out of speaking in unison to repeat the teacher and now gives them a chance to speak and motion in their own setting.  After mirroring a new concept 4 or 5 times, students are then asked to teach each other!

This is not new; teachers have been saying for years to "turn to a partner and tell them something you learned" or some other variation of the same.  Two differences: whole brain teaching is a more direct command and also puts the right words into each students mouths and hands.

While there is definitely merit in students synthesizing and extrapolating to their own words, that can come after mastering the basics and with a differentiation purpose. 

I already have my kids divided into 1s and 2s for partner games, concentric circles, etc.  Especially for my big chatty classes, I have loved being able to say "1s take a step into the blue circle and face your partner."  I even go so far as boy/girl partners in my toughest class.  So now I say "Teach!" Students respond with "Ok!" and they turn to their partners immediately.  I've seen some teachers say "1s teach 2s" and then there is a "Switch!" instruction where the 2s teach the 1s.  A quick reminder here or there never hurts that a group of 3 is always ok if someone is absent.

I am all about experiencing music and moving to feel the beat and exploring musical concepts but eventually the concepts need to be put into words.  That's what I use these strategies for.  We glide half notes, we've sung half notes, we've felt two heartbeats during half notes, we've explored which instruments can sound for a half note, and now we need to put into words that a half note gets two beats. So when showing my students what a half note looks like, we MIRROR half notes with our hands and proclaim "a half note gets two beats."  Imitation is important anytime something is new.  They imitate me 4, 5, 6 times then I can say TEACH! and they say OK!  then turn to their partner and teach that a half note gets two beats.  Now students are saying it at different times and hearing/seeing it from peers.  It's also a great time for me to scan the room and check that students are able to say and perform on their own.  Most of them can after all the imitation, but there are always a few that need some guidance and that's my time to step it!  (Did we talk about differentiation yet??  Seeing the needs and meeting them)

Implementing any new strategy into your teaching can be tricky for you the teacher, but also the students.  I started small with only Class Yes, then added Mirror, now Teach Ok!.  I had them teaching each other after mirror before I used the command Teach and the response Ok.  It was a small step then to introduce the call and response approach.

Did you notice WBT is all about call and response??  Much more conversational style of directions than commands.  It helps students stay focused and gives them an outlet to talk!

I love to use Teach Ok! at the end of teaching a new concept or at the beginning of a class to review or when lining up to leave as an exit activity.  It gives my students a chance to talk and I like it!

 Don't miss a post!  Follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my blog via email!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jump into Jump Bands!

Quick disclaimer before I begin: everything I learned was from Kristin Lukow.  Here's her blog. I want to be her when I grow up!

Don't start like I did:  I'm the kind of person that loves a surprise, but I learned that didn't work for my kids.  I wanted to start without telling my students what they were doing and then when all the puzzle pieces fit together there would be a great big "aha!" moment!  I love when stuff like that happens, but apparently doesn't really go over well for 4th and 5th graders.  
There was a lot of confusion and a lot of complaints.

Instead, I should have started with this video of Mrs. Lukow's kids.This video shows the final product and the possibilities.  It energized my students to want to emulate this and showed a great example of students working together and having fun, not chaos.  


Make sure that students recognize that Jump Bands are not simply jumping, but instead moving to the beat.  There are 4 counts for the jumpers: in-in-out-hop.  I started off very slow with the whole class moving with feet only (no bands): right-together-right-up, then left-together-left-up.  Keeping the students moving to a steady beat and then gradually increasing tempo will really help when the music is  added.

Don't add bands too quickly, but definitely on the first day to keep their attention.  If students cannot perform the steps to a steady beat without the bands, then the bands will only detract from their steady beat even more.  

Teach the terminology very quickly.  Enders are the two people who have the bands on their legs.  Jumpers are the people on the inside.

Have a clear rotation schedule for enders/jumpers in the beginning classes.  Most people will want to be a jumper and being an ender will seem so boring at first.  Plus, enders do the most jumping and will tire out quickly!

Don't put Enders and Jumpers together at the same time. Start with enders standing still with the bands on their legs and let jumpers attempt the bands while they the bands are still.  Start with the steady beat activity then add music.

Let the Enders practice all on their own.  Rotate through so everyone gets a chance to practice being an ender.  Their pattern is: out-out-in-in.  **Note: starting with out-out makes the jumpers start their pattern on the strong beat of the music.  It took time, but eventually my 5th graders were able to feel the difference and would help each other start on the strong beat.

When students are ready to try with both enders and jumpers, don't just let them go and wish for the best!  They still will need teacher guidance for how to make it all fit together.  Start with enders: "One, two, ready, go! Out-out-in-in-out-out-in-in"  Keep the vocal until students are confident.  Then add the jumpers: "One, two, ready, go! In-in-out-hop-in-in-out-hop.  

Have a conversation about how the enders and jumpers fit together.  It took about 3 classes, but now the majority of my 4th and 5th grade students are able to start all on their own.  Talk about both enders moving the same way and that jumpers jump in while the enders are out.

Grade levels:  I'm trying to keep the Jump Bands "special" so I've limited myself to 3rd-5th grade.  I did do a little jump band fun in pre-k and kindergarten just as something fun to get them moving!  It was also great to work on their coordination!

Music: I use Kristin Lukow's Spotify playlist. I trust her judgement in song selection and it's a great variety that my students love! General BPM should be 140-160.  Slower is harder to keep jumping!

Recess: My school is in suburban Pennsylvania so winter means snow and snow means blacktop only recess.  The students hate it.  I decided to bring out my jump bands and a speaker to play music and the students had a great time jumping!  It's their choice to jump or not, but making them available was easy and every so often adds variety to a limited recess time.

Other projects: Jumping is fun and all, and I loved teaching my students advanced formations and tricks, but with my new found love of Orff, I decided that the students should be creating their own routines.  In 4th grade, I guided them through a brainstorm session and we voted on which new configurations we would try.  Then I let one student be the "teacher" and lead the class through his/her idea.  It was a great learning opportunity for both the "teacher" and the rest of the class.  

With the 5th graders, I was completely hands off.  I let them vote if they wanted to work in small groups or as a full class (there's only 13 in the class) and let them try to lobby voters to a particular side.  They decided to work as a full class but of course, they fell to pieces and nothing was accomplished.  There were even petitions of "no participation without representation!"  But it was a learning experience and after a reflection time of what went wrong (by ALL students), the next week they were able to pull together and come up with a pretty cool finished product.

Don't have jump bands?  Check out this DIY to make a set for under $10!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching in the Music Classroom-Mirror

I think anyone who has had any prolonged contact with children can say that a child's attention span is quite short.  The movie UP! did such a great job of characterizing this in the dog Doug who *SQUIRREL* would get distracted from whatever he was *SQUIRREL* anytime he thought about, heard the word, saw some*SQUIRREL*thing.. You get the picture!  Students, in my classroom at least, are very much like the dog, Doug, and get distracted by other students, things out the window, thoughts in their head, or even just the dirt on the floor.  

Whole Brain Teaching is not a behavior plan, it's a teaching plan.  The best part about it, though, is that the teaching plan is so appropriate for short attention spans that it addresses many behavioral issues at the same time!  Like I said in the intro a few posts ago, I started looking into WBT as a quest to help a 1st grade class with behavioral issues.  They were constantly chatting off topic, calling out to me and each other, and it felt like their attention was never on the musiking that I was trying to lead.  (If you're unfamiliar with the term musiking, then you did not have Dr. Reynolds at Temple University...she made us put it into our  Microsoft WORD dictionary at the start of class because any paper we wrote about better include how we would lead the musiking in our classes.)

The teaching plan of mirror addresses my key concepts and the short attention span of young learners.  (Old learners too!  Let's face it, attention span does not automatically grow as we grow older!)  Behavioral plans address the behavior primarily.  I use a keyboard clip up to entice my students to behavior correctly and earn a fun music day.  We have "How to Apologize" posters to teach students what goes into a heart-felt apology.  There are rules and consequences and parent interaction emails all to help students behavior appropriately in the classroom.  All of these things are great and necessary, but they are all only behavioral focused-nothing to do with the concepts I am trying to teach to fulfill my music curriculum.

Anytime I'm teaching a new concept or reviewing old ones, or simply talking about a concept, I use the same language and show gestures.  Mirror! And students mirror the same language and gestures back to me.  So simple!  That trigger word *MIRROR* works just like *SQUIRREL* and anyone who might have been chatting to the neighbor realizes something is about to happen and snaps back to me.

I think this is super easy to implement in the music classroom because we are such an imitative classroom.  My students know "echo after me" or "my turn, your turn" and so transitioning to "mirror" was seamless (though sometimes out of habit, I use the word echo instead of mirror.)  If we do imitation with pitch and rhythm and lyrics, why not continue imitation when we get to the decode and verbal association of concepts.  
So when reminding my 3rd grade recorder students that a half note gets two beats, this was what was heard in the room:

Teacher: Class class class!
Students: Yes Yes Yes!
Teacher: A half note gets two beats. 
(gesture: make a half note with both hands, one hand open circle, the other hand stem.  Pulse the half note twice then show two fingers pulsed and moving to show two beats)
Teacher: Mirror!
(gesture: two hands up, palms out)
Students: Mirror!
(gesture: two hands up, palms out)
Teacher: A half note (with gesture)
Students: A half note (with gesture)
Teacher: gets two beats (with gesture)
Students: gets two beats (with gesture)
Teacher: A half note gets two beats (with gesture)
Students: A half note gets two beats (with gesture)

We would then repeat a few more times, they'd teach each other, they'd use just gestures, etc.  Music teachers are always great at varying an activity to keep it fun and different!  When students line up to leave, we can mirror with gestures only, to review the concept and focus their attention from the craziness of moving from sitting spots to line up dots back to facing forward ready to leave and be musiking on the way out the door.  

Here's a video at then end of a string family lesson in 1st grade.  Students learned that the "Viola is the medium in the string family" and had just taught a partner using gestures.  You'll also see our "class yes" when transitioning to a new activity and a "one second party" because we all did a good job with the transition.  Of course I fell back into old habits using "echo" instead of "mirror" but you get the picture!

The key is repetition, but as music teachers, we know that.  And we already know that hand motions are great for pitch recognition and learning lyrics, so let's keep extending what we know works into the areas of our teaching that are the hardest for students to handle-sitting still and keeping quiet.  

Don't miss a post!  Follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my blog via email!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching in the Music Classroom-Class? Yes!

There are so many "attention getters" that teachers use to quickly grab the attention of their students.  I've heard echo clapping and call/response sayings in every silly or sweet or cliche variation.  A simple pinterest search left my brain spinning with all the possibilities.  Each saying takes a little bit of procedure practice and prep for the teacher to remember them all.  I can only imagine what students go through when every classroom they enter has a different set of attention getters and all the many responses they are expected to have at the tip of their tongue.

Whole Brain Teaching is no different with it's call and response attention getter except for one thing:  it's direct and to the point.  The teacher asks for the classes attention and the students give it.  Not asking for pepperoni and the students give pizza, or asking for peanut butter and getting jelly, or asking for hocus pocus and getting focus.  Class?  Yes!

Sounds too simple, but it's not.  Sounds too boring, but it's not.  While being direct and to the point, class/yes still gives lots of opportunity for silly, sweet, and cliche.  Variations are one of the main reasons why class/yes is successful with the students.  Class Class? Yes Yes! Ok Class?  Ok Yes!  Classity Class?  Yessity Yes!  Our kindergarten teacher got creative one time and jumped when she said Class?  Her kids didn't even flinch, they simply jumped while responding Yes!  So simple for the teacher and students to remember, so easy to embellish.

There is nothing specific about class/yes for any classroom, but with the requirement to vary my approach as often as possible, my variations have become very musical!  I vary pitch and rhythm and expect my students to echo the same way.

Cla-ass (sol-mi) with and without hand signals
Class class class class (sol la sol mi)
Cla-ass (vocal slide up/down)
Class class (high voice/low voice)
Class class class (du-de du)
Class, class class (du rest de du)
Classity Class (du-da-de du)
Class Class (du-u du-u)

Really the possibilities are endless.  And easy to make up on the spot for whatever concept each class is currently working on.  Second grade was doing half notes just the other day so my brain is thinking half notes.  I need their attention and half notes come out in my Class!  Use whatever is happening in your classroom.  Don't think that class/yes is only verbal-adding movement is what Whole Brain Teaching is all about!

ALL THE TIME!  In one 30 minute class time, I might use it about 8-10 times.  Anytime I need their attention, I ask for it!  If I need to talk to them before then enter my classroom, if I need to give directions after they found their spots, if I'm changing activities and my transition wasn't the greatest, if I start to lose their focus in an activity, when lining up to leave.  

There is nothing particularly unique about using an attention getter in class.  What I love about the WBT approach is that it is direct and to the point, but fun and new every time.  What's great about my experience is that students are hearing class/yes from every teacher in the building.  We have all chosen to implement this basic change in our classrooms and both students and teachers are benefiting.  

Missed the intro?  Check out my inspiration to explore Whole Brain Teaching and some great FREE resources from the WBT website here!

Don't miss a post!  Follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my blog via email.