Monday, 27 May 2013

Who's Here? Taking Attendance in Band

A few weeks ago I saw this post on the Melody Soup blog about keeping track of attendance in choir. I don't really feel the need to keep an attendance list for my Concert Band but I did want to know who was coming and who was skipping out! (Why anyone would want to miss Band is beyond me!)
I adapted Bonnie's idea of putting student names on magnets and having them move their names from one section to another. She used metal cookie sheets but I didn't feel like buying any and I had some empty space on my chalkboard so I figured that would do.

I typed out the names, printed them off on cardstock and attached a peel-and-stick magnet to the back. I then used chalkboard markers to write the titles and stuck the names on the board. When the band members come in they move their names from the "We are Not" section to the "We Are" section. If any students are absent I put a little dot on their cards. The students know that when they get to three dots we will need to have a "serious conversation" about their committment.

Next year, I will use a magnetic whiteboard instead as one student's name has mysteriously gone missing. I will keep it in my office the rest of the time to protect it against thieves. This technique has been very helpful for me, creates some accountability for the students and gives them a visual reminder of their attendance record.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Bach Lesson Plan

It's always a challenge to come up with meaningful lessons to leave for a supply teacher. Composer of the Month lessons have been working well for me and help me to tie in some music history. Last month I did a Junior and Intermediate lesson about Vivaldi but since my absence was a little more last minute I prepared one lesson for all the grades.

This listening activity came from Listening Kit 2 and I adapted a Total Participation Technique (see below for a complete description of the TPT) to ensure that students understood Bach's biography.

1. Listen to Minuet in G.
2. Have students keep a body percussion ostinato (pat, clap, clap) as the music plays.
3. Use rhythm sticks - tap the chair on beat 1, and tap the sticks together on beats 2 & 3.
4. Read Bach's biography to the class.
5. Stop after each paragraph for students to illustrate the concepts they heard in the reading.
6. After each drawing students should share what they drew with a partner.
7. Continue with next two paragraphs.
8. At the end, students consolidate what they have learned into a drawing that captures the "Big Picture" of Bach's life.
9. Have individual's share their "Big Pictures."

TPT #5
  • select points in the presentation to puase and have students process what they have learned and draw a picture that illustrates the important concepts
  • have students share the picture with a peer and record any questions they have
  • at the end, have students consolidate their learning by drawing a final "big picture" along with a summary statement below
  • share big pictures and debrief

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Green Belt - Skin and Bones

Skin and Bones is a really tricky song for my recorder players. It is the first time that they are exposed to 3/4 time, dotted half notes, ties and minor keys. They always pause for a beat between each bar so I knew we would have to spend some time on this song.

I spent some time at the beginning of the lesson getting them exposed to the rhythm and the sound of this song. The students were split up into 7 groups (1 group for each verse of the song). I gave them 3 minutes to work with their groups to act out their verse. I set the students up in a semi circle around the outside of the room in the order of the verses. We sang the song and each group performed their actions.

When we took out the recorders I taught them each bar by rote. I played the bar for them twice, they listened and played it back. I had them identify the notes and rhythms and we tried it again. Once we had gone through each bar, I played larger chunks for them to echo back until they could echo back the whole song.

I created a Skin and Bones Tic Tac Toe game on the Smart Board. It was really easy to set up. I drew the grid and copied and pasted some sections of Skin and Bones into each square. I then used the shape tool and created an "O" and an "X". I used the infinite cloning tool so that the students could just drag the X or O onto the square of their choice. I covered up each section of Skin and Bones with a rectangle to make it a bit more challenging. For each rectangle I went to "Properties", clicked on "Object Animation" and changed the "Type" to "Fly Out" and "Occurs" to "When the object is clicked."

The class was split up into two groups .Each group decided who they would send up to represent their team. That lucky student touched a rectangle (which would fly off the page) and would have to play the pattern on that square. If they played it correctly, they dragged the X or the O to that square. The game continued with the representative of the next team taking his/her turn.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Orange Belt - Doggie Doggie

Here is a variation on the classic Doggie, Doggie game that I used to teach my students to help them earn their Orange Belt for Recorder Karate.

First, I introduced the song in the following way:
  • Clap and say the rhythm
  • Play the song on "B" only
  • Play the whole song using the correct notes and rhythms
Then, we played the game like this:
  • Doggie, Doggie was displayed on the Smart Board
  • One student was selected to be the "Doggie" - they sat at the front of the room with their back to the class
  • I gave one student the bone (a dog toy from Dollarama) and they become the "Thief"
  • The whole class sings "Doggie, doggie, where's your bone? Someone stole it from your home?" and immediately after they play it on their recorders
  • The "Doggie" sings "Who has my bone?" and then plays it on his/her recorder
  • The "Thief" sings "I have your bone!" and then plays it on his/her recorder
  • The "Doggie" gets two chances to guess who the "Thief" is
  • The "Thief" becomes the new "Doggie" and I let the "Doggie" give the bone to someone else

Thursday, 9 May 2013

All About Articulation

I derive a certain amount of pleasure from making my Grade 8s uncomfortable. Is that wrong? My darling students would much rather sit quietly in their seats then do many of the things that I want them to do. I really liked this idea for teaching articulation using movement from the Don't Smile Until Christmas blog. This blog post talks about using an action to go with each type of articulation. I am a firm believer that moving and vocalizing really helps students to internalize concepts. My goal is to make my students believe that, too.

Staccato (very short) - quick flipping of the wrist (like turning a door knob)

Accent (with emphasis) - punching motion

Tenuto (long) - put hands together and move them apart

I put a variety of articulation patterns on the Smart Board. (See below). We read each pattern using the movement and saying the articulation syllable (tuh, Taw, doo). Then we played the patterns on our instruments using the first note of the B flat concert scale.  
We then turned to our GPS books and read the rhythm from the song using our movements and syllables. It is amazing how many students were punching like weaklings! I had a lot of fun trying to motivate them to punch with emphasis. After we read it, we played the whole song on one note and then played it as written.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Composer of the Month - May!

Yay! I actually managed to get my bulletin board changed on time this month. I will take all the little victories I can right now.

I choose a lovely Star Wars themed joke that I originally saw on this pin.

I was pretty excited that one of my colleagues made a request for this month's composer - Bach. I google searched a photo of Bach and found some facts about him on the website Kids Music Corner.

Since I didn't feel like cutting out anymore green cardstock to mount the facts on, I just stapled them over top. Click here to see my original post about how I set up my bulletin board.  

Friday, 3 May 2013

Keeping Track of Recorder Karate

The Recorder Karate program is going along nicely! I have a few students who are determined to get their black belts as soon as possible. I really love how those over achievers get the chance to work at their own pace.

Here is what I use for myself to keep a record of which students have achieved which belt. I keep the tracking sheet on a clipboard and hang it on a nail in my office. I write in the date on the day they earn their belts.

To help students motivate each other I have set up a spot on my door with different colours of construction paper that correspond with the Karate Belts. I got the idea for my door from this pin.

Since I am a terrible artist I had one of my Grade 7 students design these "Recorder Dudes."

Each student wrote their name on their Dude and when they master a belt they get to move their Dude up a level. I used sticky tack to attach them to the construction paper. Next year I plan on painting a large sheet of white paper to make it look prettier but it does the job right now.