Thursday, 13 December 2012

Responding to Music - The Listening Framework

Listening activities are one of my favourite things to do with my Music classes. Themes & Variations has a great selection of listening resources and I must say that I would have been lost without them! 

Listening Kit 3 is where I found many of the ideas to use with my Grade 5/6 classes. It is designed for Grade 3s but the movement activities are fun and the students love the rhythm play-a-longs so it easily transfers to the bigger kids. (This is also the first year I've taught these students so their listening slate is pretty clean). The Listening Kits also come with CDs and a variety of blackline masters and posters to use with your classes. 


Source: moresay.com
I've put together an outline of how I structure the introductory lessons that teach my students how to respond to the music we listen to and lay the groundwork for listening activities for the rest of the year. You can use any piece to start but I used "Entry of the Gladiators" by Julius Fucik (mainly because it was the first song in the book but it also turned out to be a big hit thanks to Madagascar 3).

1. Listen to the piece. Stress the importance of silence so that students aren't disturbing other people's listening experience.

2. Listening Log - I put a copy of the listening log found in Listening Kit 3 on my Smart Board. I played the piece again and together we filled out the log on the board and students copied the answers on their personal listening log. 

3. Listening Map - I also transferred the Listening Map from the book onto the Smart Board and we discussed the form of the piece. 

4. Non-Written Response - This is where I like to incorporate either a movement activity or a rhythm play-along. Anything fun that increases student buy-in to the piece. For "Entry of the Gladiators" we did the rhythm play-along suggested in the book. 

5. Success Criteria for Responding to Music - Ideally, I would co-create the success criteria with students but I didn't do that this time. I wanted to make sure they were familiar with how to respond in writing to music first.

6. Response Journal Prompts - These prompts come directly from Listening Kit 3. I think it is important to give students a choice when it comes to how they wish to respond to the piece. Students choose any prompt but are reminded to follow the Success Criteria!

7. Model - I did a think-aloud to model for my students exactly how I would select a journal prompt to write my response. I always make sure I refer directly back to the Success Criteria when crafting my response.

8. Group Response - Students worked in groups of 3, selected a journal prompt and wrote a response using the Success Criteria.

9. Gallery Walk and Feedback - When students finished their responses, I posted them in the hallway and gave each student two sticky notes. The students silently read each response and used their sticky notes to provide feedback for two groups.










10. General vs. Descriptive Feedback - With a few responses, I read the feedback on the sticky notes aloud and as a class we decided whether the feedback was general or descriptive (see my previous post on descriptive feedback). 

 
There is a lot here but I can usually get these activities done in three to four lessons. My next listening activity would be structured in a similar way. I'd follow steps 1-4 as outlined above and review steps 5 and 6 but this time I'd have students write a response on their own. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Descriptive Feedback in the Music Classroom

One thing that I have always loved about being a Music teacher is how much direct feedback I give my students every day. "Sit up straight," "Use more air," "I love how clear your tone is!" What I also love is how students will use that feedback right away and see results. 

My Grade 6 class has been working on giving each other descriptive feedback after viewing presentations. The students completed a "Two Stars and a Wish" sheet (photo to come) for another student and used the Descriptive Feedback chart to the right to structure their feedback. The students then revised their presentations and shared again. This descriptive feedback chart came from a lesson I found on the OMEA site. Teaching students how to give this type of feedback is definitely a process but I am hoping that they will be able to move away from comments like "That was great!" and "You were awesome!" Maybe not move away completely because I do like appreciation but create more constructive comments. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Learning Goals

Report cards are done. Parent-Teacher interviews are this week. Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on what I have been teaching my students and how well they are learning. 

One thing I have seen on Pinterest and have been able to use successfully has been my Learning Goals chart (see below). 

This idea originally came from Music with Mrs. Dennis' blog. I didn't have a pocket chart so I used some chalkboard markers to write the grade levels and just stuck it on one of my chalkboards. I tend to update it at the beginning of each week by looking at the learning goals on my lesson plan using dry-erase markers. Each grade is a different colour, of course!

Charts and posters can become wallpaper. I am learning that I have to train my students to use the anchor charts and learning tools I put up around the room. Otherwise they do not see them as tools to help them with their learning. At the beginning of each lesson I ask my students what our learning goals are for the period as I gesture towards the Learning Goals board. It helps focus their attention and hopefully activate any background knowledge they may have or spawn some questions. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hallowe'en Fun

Normally I'm not a huge fan of Hallowe'en but today was a pretty fun day. I dressed up as a chef, which you think would be a pretty obvious costume, but some students had trouble identifying me. My Grade 5 homeroom class had been asking if we were going to be having a party and I decided to give them the responsibility of planning it. I was blown away by the number of students who asked if they could bring electronics (Nintendo DS, Ipods etc.) to the party. I said "No. They aren't allowed at school" and then of course I had to educate them on the purpose of having a party - to be social! The 7/8s were having a dance and I had to take away two DSs and explain that the purpose of a dance was to be social and dance. I just couldn't believe it.

Before I let my Grade 5s party it up, I gave them an extra music lesson. I found a "Five Little Pumpkins" Smartboard activity on the Elementary Music Resources blog. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to introduce my students to Boomwhackers since I'd only used them with the Intermediates this year. The kids had a blast ("Can we perform this for the school?") and we ended up spending more than a period working on it. Thank you to Ashley Queen for creating and sharing such a great lesson. 

                                             

Friday, 26 October 2012

Video of the Week #3

Sometimes things don't always work out like I had planned! Shocking, I know. I feel like I am always running out of time in my Grade 7 & 8 classes since we are full steam ahead on instruments now. When a student asked if we were ever going to watch another Video of the Week I realized that I have to make time for it. And I will be making time but probably just with my Junior classes for now. 

This is a video in which a musician is playing "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg on some Pringles cans. It has been a hit this week! Warning: There is a bit of an advertisement at the end.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Band Rules

I don't always reply to emails very quickly but a few weeks ago I was the first one to reply to an email by the Instructional Leader for Music in my school's area. Apparently our school board had paid for seven teachers to attend the Ontario Band Association's Beginning Band Symposium. I was selected and spent the day listening, learning, and playing my flute with a concert band made up of Grade Eight students and Music teachers. 


Dr. Quincy Hilliard was the featured clinician. He is a composer, conductor, and educator and I could have listened to his advice all day. 

The biggest challenge with attending this type of professional development is deciding which pieces of information to implement right away. I started with the Band Rules first thing Monday afternoon. 

Here's how they work:
The conductor, in his/her best military-style voice, shouts out, "Band...Rule #1!"

The band shouts back - "Sit on the edge of your chair!" and they move up to the edge of their chairs.

"Band...Rule #2!"

"Feet flat on the floor!" with a stomp with the left foot and a stomp with the right.

"Band...Rule #3!"


"Hold still!" And miraculously, the students freeze while I count down from 20.

 If any student moves, we start counting down again. Dr. Hilliard recommends counting down from 30 but for my Grade 8's that seemed to be a major struggle so we will be working our way up from 20 to one minute. That's right! One full minute where twelve and thirteen year olds are completely motionless and silent. It can be done! I believe it!

I am the Teacher

My brother sent me a link to this picture the other day. He found it amusing but I found it to be a good reminder of what I am doing here. 




On a day like today, filled with challenging moments on yard duty and students that don't always follow directions, this picture reminds me that I need to be more mature than my students. I need to model the behaviour that I expect my students to display even when I am frustrated or disappointed. Just to be clear, I don't often yell and I haven't thrown anything but I do tend to lecture and I have felt my blood pressure rise on occasion. Breathing and reminding myself that I always need to be good will help me maintain my sense of calm. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Name Concentration Game

I have really been enjoying my Grade 6 Music class lately. Now that we are in to October the students know me and are able to follow the expectations and things just seem to be going smoothly!

We recently finished a rhythm composition and now the students will be working in groups to create another composition and learn how to give descriptive feedback to their classmates. "Names" are the theme for this composition and to start off the unit we played a not-so-simple name game. 

Have the students sit in a circle. Start off by keeping a pat pat clap clap pattern. The teacher begins by saying one of the students' names to the beat during the "clap clap" part of the pattern. That student then says the name of another student during the next "clap clap" part of the pattern. The pattern continues in the same way until all the students have had a chance to go. It is a good idea to have students stand up once they have already had a turn so that it is easy to spot who still needs to be included. I would recommend teaching the students how to say people's name to the beat. It took a few failed tries before I realized that we needed to practise that! We went around the circle, keeping the pat pat clap clap pattern, and said everyone's name to the beat. 

I love this type of game because no one is left out and it is so neat to watch how pleased these children are when someone else says their name. 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Rhythm Review

Rhythm games are a lot of fun! Here is a rhythm activity that we did near the beginning of the school year to review (or teach for some of the younger grades) eighth notes, quarter notes, and half notes. 

Put eight rhythm flashcards face-up on the board. Clap one card and have students echo. Select one student to come up front and turn over the card they thought they heard. The class judges, by a show of thumbs up or thumbs down, if the student is correct. Continue on until all the cards are turned over. 

Since I like to spice things up a bit, when it came down to the last card sometimes I would clap what was written and other times I would clap something that was just a little bit different. This was fun (mostly for me) as students who were super confident really had to think about what they just heard. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Video of the Week #2

Technology is not always my friend. That was definitely the case this week. My school has wi-fi everywhere in the building except for the wing the Music Room is in. My brother-in-law so kindly gave me a long ethernet cord which is fabulous but my computer still tried to hook up to the wi-fi. This caused a million little "no internet" icons to appear on the task bar of my computer and the internet would not cooperate. I finally figured out how to turn the automatic wi-fi detector (yes, I did make that term up) but not until yesterday. Needless to say Video of the Week #2 did not get played in every class but my Smart Board is up and running!



I chose this video (again hoping to grab the attention of the boys) because of the Star Wars theme and because Nick McKaig impressed me. Although, I do not approve of how he is holding his fake flute. Enjoy!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Beat, Beat Baby

Over the past few weeks, my junior students and I have been learning about the difference between beat and rhythm. To assess their ability to keep a steady beat we played a pretty fun cup game. 

We set up in a circle on the floor and each student was given a paper cup. To start, we practised picking up the cup on beat one and setting it down in front of the person on our right on beat two, picking it up on beat three and putting it down on beat four. This requires a lot of focus! I loved seeing how students problem-solved when the person next to them either struggled with the beat or decided to pass the cup as fast as possible. Group dynamics kicked in as the majority of the students wanted to be successful and soon everyone was passing it to the best of their ability. Then I added some tunes!

What song has a better beat to it than Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice? How about the Crazy Frog version. If you can handle the squeaky frog voice in the background this is a great CD and students of all ages respond to it. 

To increase the challenge, I added a "rock" (which was actually a large Halloween eraser I had on hand). The pattern was changed so that students started off with the cup in their hand, placed it on the floor on beat 1, slid it across to the person next to them on beat 2, quickly picked up and put down the cup on beat 3, and slid it across on beat 4. I started off with the eraser under my cup and it traveled around the circle as all the students continued the above cup pattern. 

The students split up into their Music Groups and practised passing the "rock" around. I used this as a formative assessment and observed and took notes as I watched each groups. Now, if only I can get that song out of my head!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Video of the Week #1

After seeing a lot of interesting music videos being pinned on Pinterest, I decided that this year I would institute a music-related "Video of the Week" (V.O.W).  Warning: These videos will be solely for enjoyment and appreciation. They will not explicitly meet any curriculum expectations. 

So, each week I will share a V.O.W. in hopes that it will inspire my students and help them to see that music is everywhere and that music is, of course, totally awesome!

V.O.W #1 - Beatboxing Flute - "Peter and the Wolf"


(There is an advertisement at the beginning of this video. Before class I just let the ad play out and paused it at the beginning of the actual video). 

This week, the Grade 7s will be choosing instruments. I chose to start with this video on purpose. First of all, it features the flute (my original instrument). It stars a male on the flute, which I'm hoping will attract more boys to this instrument. And finally, this flutist is just impressive!

I have encouraged my students to share any cool music videos with me and if anyone else has video ideas, please let me know!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Changes and Mystery Songs

This past week has pretty much been insane! Sometimes I forget how much time it takes for me to settle into my routines (both at school and at home) after a relaxing summer. If you can actually call wedding planning relaxing...I got to do lots and lots of crafts, though, so it was fun!

Our school has had to do some reorganization of classes in the Junior Division so at some point next week I will no longer be a Music/SERT teacher but will be a Grade 5 Language/Social Studies/Drama/Dance teacher in the morning and a Grade 4-8 Music teacher in the afternoon. Believe it or not, I'm super excited about this and am looking forward to the challenge!

Now on to the post I've been meaning to write since last Wednesday...


I love Boomwhackers but hadn't had much of a chance to use them last year as I was teaching Music from a cart and the thought of having to manage those instruments and my cart was too daunting for me. I saw this great idea on the Elementary Music Methods:Real Life Edition blog about a Boomwhacker Mystery Game. Cassandra created her songs with Powerpoint but my computer and projector were not set up yet so I grabbed some chart paper and markers and went to town. 

I started off by having the students predict the name of these mysterious instruments and how they thought they produced sound. A lot of students thought they worked by blowing into them and were excited by the prospect of actually being able to hit something to make a sound. I did go over how we were going to play them today (hitting the Boomwhacker on the hand) to avoid any sword fighting issues. I showed them the Low C tube and we compared it to the High C one and the students predicted which one would be higher or lower. We talked about the music alphabet and I taught them the Music Alphabet song (to the tune of the regular ABC song except we sing ABCDEFG over and over again) and the Grade 8s actually sang it. Love it! 

Originally, I was planning on having the students play the mystery song with their Music Groups but realized that I did not know these students well yet so I wanted to make sure that I modeled how to play the Boomwhackers appropriately and also get them used to me counting them in to begin playing. The students easily identified the Mystery Songs and I'm pretty sure they enjoyed themselves.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday is the first day of school and I have had so many lesson ideas running through my head. The biggest thing for me to remember is that I only have 40 minutes to spend with my new students. I have had to think about what I really want them to know by the end of the first class. Really, they need to know a little bit about me and a little bit about their new Music room which is why I thought I'd start with a scavenger hunt. 


I will use my paint chip system to divide students into six groups. Each group will be given a copy of the scavenger hunt and will work together to answer the questions. The questions range from very simple (How many posters are in the room?) to questions that are helpful to me (What are 3 rules you think we should follow?). Students even have an opportunity to ask me some questions about myself or the music program. I think this is a fun way to get them acquainted both with the classroom and with me. 

Click here to see my Classroom Scavenger Hunt.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Solutions for Student Supplies

Nothing makes me crazier than picking up markers and pencil crayons that have been left on the classroom floor. With so many children coming in and out of my classroom, I need a way to keep student supplies like markers, pencil crayons, scissors etc., under control. Check out my student supply shelf.
Student supply shelf, complete with labelled bins

I will be putting all my students into Music Groups. Each member will be assigned a specific job that will make our class run smoothly (more on that later). The baskets I bought a few years ago from The Superstore, however, Dollarama has similar ones. In each basket I placed 6 paper cups (from Walmart). I divided the materials into each cup so that if we need markers for an activity the "Materials Manager" from each group can come to the supply shelf, grab a cup, and return to their group. I'm hoping this will make the groups accountable for each tool they use and will cut down on missing/damaged supplies. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Back in the Saddle!

After an exciting summer filled with wedding planning, I was finally able to get into my new classroom today. I had to take a few minutes to soak in my empty classroom.





Don't be fooled, though! Behind all those cupboard doors are boxes upon boxes of "stuff" (truly the only word to describe it) from my two former schools. My goal for today was to assess the situation and see what I really need to accomplish in my room before school starts next Tuesday. Usually, I am in my classroom two or three weeks before school begins so only having 4 days to get ready is new for me! 

I did manage to get 4 bulletin boards covered before I ran out of paper. I am doing my best not to spend a crazy amount of money on paper and borders so I reused the borders from last year. What is cuter than a polka dot, really? I'm planning on getting some lime green paper for the rest of the boards as long as the stock at Scholar's Choice cooperates. 


The other task I began was to sort out the boxes labelled "Misc. Desk Items" and "Random Stuff." I really liked how organized my storage cabinet was last year.

I put all my classroom supplies (pencils, markers, elastics, paper clips, plastic bags...) into their own individual baskets and put those baskets in the supply cupboard. It is so easy to find what I need without having to risk my life each time I open the cupboard. The baskets  are in my office right now but will be moved to the cupboard on the far left of my bank of cupboards as soon as I finish emptying the cardboard boxes. 

One of the things I love about this profession is how supportive teachers can be to one another. This message was left on my chalkboard from the previous music teacher. Love it!


Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Beginning

Welcome to Music in the City - a blog where I am hoping to share what works (and possibly what doesn't) in my music class. I've been so inspired lately by reading other music blogs and seeing some fun ideas on Pinterest that I thought that writing a blog would be a good challenge for me this year. I'm starting at a new school, with new students, and new grades to teach (7 & 8) so stay tuned for some interesting times ahead!