Tuesday, 17 September 2013

2/4 Tuesday - Band Repertoire and Boomwhackers

Once again, I'm linking up with Steph from Stay Tuned for 2/4 Tuesday. 

1. Band Repertoire
I love my Concert Band! It is made up right now solely of Grade 8 students as the Grade 7s are just getting their instruments. I tell my 7s that as soon as they can play the first 5 notes of the B flat concert scale they can audition. Here are two songs that we will be working on in the next few weeks. 

Diary of a Grumpy Elf  by Timothy Loest - this piece is a collection of excerpts from familiar Christmas songs. "Leon" the elf narrates in between each piece. It is pretty fun and gets the students playing in minor keys and a variety of styles. Click here to listen to it on FJH Music's site. 

Attack of the Garden Gnomes by Timothy Loest - I may have a small mythical creature/music by Timothy Loest theme going on right now. This is another fun song. I mean, it has a vibraslap in it and the kids get to scream like gnomes. What could be better? Listen to it by clicking the video below. 

2. Improvising with Boomwhackers

My 5s and 6s are working on beat and rhythm right now. We have been using boomwhackers to keep a steady beat and have been talking about improvisation. One activity that we have done involves keeping a steady beat and having individuals improvise a rhythm for eight beats. We go around the circle and each student gets a four beat intro before they have their eight beat solo. I love it because it lets me know right away who naturally understands beat and rhythm and it gets everyone involved and performing by themselves right from the beginning of the year. No one really has a chance to get too nervous because we don't stop until the whole class has had a turn. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Monday Music Manipulatives - Singing/Speaking Signs

Here's another Linky Party you can check out over at Lindsey's Pursuit of Joyfulness blog. It is all about using manipulatives in the music classroom. 

I just made these signs this morning to use with my kindergarten class tomorrow. They were super easy! I used Microsoft clip art for the speaking and singing pictures (you can't tell from my amazing photography but there is a speech bubble coming out of the mouth of the cartoon character on the picture on the left) and taped a popsicle stick to the back side of one of the pictures. I then glued the opposite picture on the back to create these double-sided signs. I printed them on cardstock and probably should laminate them but most likely I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the kids don't destroy them. 

We will be focusing on differentiating between speaking and singing voices. The students will listen to excerpts of six songs featuring either a speaking voice or a singing voice and will hold up the corresponding sign. Nothing too fancy here but I'm hoping it will help all my little kindies to participate and show their learning.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Getting Started with Grade Sevens

Can I just say that I am really loving teaching Music all day? After teaching half Grade 5 and half Music last year this is a welcome change. I'm sure I will miss those blessedly quiet moments of independent reading but I feel as though the lessons I'm coming up with are a lot more fun because I'm only focusing on one thing. 

The start of a new school year is especially exciting for the Grade 7s at my school since they get to start band! I treasure these next couple of weeks because student motivation is high and they get to experience some major learning. Here's how I am having the students select their instruments. 

Lesson 1 - Intro to the Instruments and Making Magic with Mouthpieces

I set up some stations for French horn, trumpet, trombone, and flute mouthpieces. I didn't include clarinets or saxes since I didn't feel like wasting 120 reeds. Maybe next time. Each station had an information sheet about how to make a sound on that mouthpiece, a basket containing 6 mouthpieces, some Sterisol, and paper towels. I labeled my flute head joints with masking tape and the case number written on there so I would know which case to return it to. 

I did a brief demo of how to get a sound out of the brass and flute mouthpieces and then divided students into four different groups (one per station). Each student got the opportunity to try out all 4 mouthpieces (sterilizing them in between each rotation) and I circulated and helped as needed. We got through everyone in about 25-30 minutes. I limited the amount of time on each mouthpiece to about three minutes because it is easy for this to morph into a lot of silliness. This was a great opportunity for the students to figure out which mouthpiece was the easiest for them. 

I finished up by showing YouTube videos of the remaining instruments (tuba, bass clarinet, alto sax, and tenor sax). The students then jotted down their top 3 instrument choices and a quick reason why they chose that instrument. I make it very clear to them that I will be choosing their instrument for them but that most people usually get their first or second choice.

Lesson 2 - Persuasive Paragraphs

To start off this lesson we played an elimination game. Students stand (you could have students stand in a circle but since we were in our rows we made it work that way) and each person names a musical instrument. If a student repeats an instrument already said or can't think of anything they sit down. The game continues until one person is standing. It's pretty fun!

I really like coming up with ways of integrating literacy into my program. I thought that the Debate Team Carousel (see below) would be a great way for my Grade 7s to really reflect upon why they want to play a certain instrument and it would give me a chance to see who the really keen students are based on how much effort they put into this assignment. 

After the Debate Team Carousel (it took at least 20 minutes) the students began writing their persuasive paragraphs. Since not every student takes Music as seriously as I think they should (I know!) I told them that if they did not hand their paragraph in by next Wednesday I would select an instrument for them. I already have their Top 3 choices from the previous lesson so I know what they'd like to play. I really don't want to assign them something that they'd hate but I also want them to hand stuff in on time. 
Debate Team Carousel - Source: Total Participation Techniques p. 94

TPT #7 - Debate Team Carousel
- come up with a question that students will need to take a position on
- use the template found in the Total Participation Techniques book
- students pass papers to a peer and each time someone new is writing on their paper either supporting or opposing the original student's opinion
- papers are returned to the original student and arguments are shared

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

2/4 Tuesday - Goals and a Time-Filler

Apparently it is Tuesday again! That week went by fast. Thankfully I have Steph from Stay Tuned to keep me on track with my posts. Check out her blog to see what other music teachers have going on in their classrooms. 

1. Learning Goals

I wrote about learning goals in an earlier post but I'm mentioning them again because they are a big focus for me this year. I found that I kept forgetting to refer to the learning goals last year which made them pretty ineffective. Right from my first classes this year, I warned my students that I will forget to mention our learning goal. I'm counting on some "helpful" students to remind me if I do forget. Instead of me being the one to read the goal I am choosing a student to read the goal and then that individual gets to post the goal on the board. I have to be okay with them smudging the dry-erase markers but I'm working on it. 

2. SMART Goals
I'm hoping to write a longer post about this in the near future so I won't go into too much detail here. My Grade 8s need to set goals. It breaks my heart when kids come close to failing Music. Last year, I was constantly encouraging a few of them to just do SOMETHING. I decided to do something myself and teach them exactly how to set goals using the SMART system. (I apologize for the flash that is covering up "relevant".

3. Get To Know You Questions
It has been a rare occasion that I have had time to fill this past week but I did create a set of 30 get to know you questions just in case. Most of my questions I found from The Idea Door. Some questions don't fit with a public school setting but I tweaked them to match my population. I pulled out my box containing the questions with one class while we were lined up and waiting for their teacher to pick them up. I asked for a volunteer to answer one of the questions. The kids were really excited to get to answer a question about themselves so I know I will be drawing upon this activity in the future. 

That's what we've been up to in my classroom. Head on over to Stay Tuned for more great ideas!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

2/4 Tuesday Linky Party - Baskets and Teams

I had a fabulous first day back at school! I'm really enjoying the classes that I have so far and have a positive feeling about this school year. I'm also really excited to link up with some of my favourite music blogs. Steph from Stay Tuned is hosting a 2/4 linky party where music teachers write about two to four things they are doing in their classroom. I'm taking it easy tonight and will just write about two things!

1. Day 1 - 5 Baskets

Last year, I used one of these baskets (from the Real Canadian Superstore five years ago) for each grade. It ended up being a really big mess so I decided to use one basket for each day in our five day rotation. I put all the materials and handouts I need for that day in a basket. Before I go home I move any unfinished activities to the next bin and make sure that I have everything I need for the next day ready to go! The labels came from Kristen Doyle's Teacher Toolbox Kit

2. Dividing the Students up into Music Teams

I had what I think is a brilliant idea of dividing my classes into six groups or teams. Here's the brilliant part: each group is named after a period of music history. We've got the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, and Post-Modern teams. I'll post some pics of my Team Leader labels tomorrow. I forgot to take pictures today!

Click here to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms!

Monday, 2 September 2013

First Day Activities - Routines, Rules, and Icebreakers

Tomorrow is the big day! Yahoo! Here are some activities that I have planned for the first day for my Grade 2s right up to Grade 8s.

Learning Goal: To help students become familiar with the rules and routines of the Music Room

Introduction - I will introduce myself and discuss some important procedures such as lining up to come into the room (silent line, left shoulder against the wall), attendance (touch name on SmartBoard as they come in), learning goals (one student reads the goal and sticks it up on chalkboard), and team leaders (more info to come!).

Music Rules - The rules I am using for my classes this year came from the Pursuit of Joyfulness blog. Lindsay has some great songs that go with each rule. You can download the posters and songs from Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.50. They are super cute! I'm using the bird version even though the owls are adorable. 

Source: Pursuit of Joyfulness

I will divide my students into five groups and give each group a piece of chart paper and markers. They will need to list as many examples as they can of how this rule applies to what we will be doing in Music. Each group will present their two best examples. I will teach each rule song by rote after each presentation. 

Music and Me/Find Someone Who - I found these two great icebreakers here. This pack comes with 4 variations of the "Music & Me" game and the "Find Someone Who" game for $3.85. I'm using Music & Me with the 2s-6s and shrunk it down to fit 4 sheets on one sheet of paper. I'm all about reducing the amount of paper I use especially with the increase in classes this year. The Find Someone Who game I'm doing with the 7s and 8s and am putting those sheets in page protectors to be used with dry erase markers. These are more music theory based and I'm hoping will be a good review for the kids. 

Fingers crossed that I manage to fit all these activities into a 40 minute class! I'll keep you posted on how the lessons go.