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!