Sunday, 24 August 2014

Music Teams

Sometimes when I say "I'll post pictures tomorrow" I actually mean "I'll post pictures a year later." Not good, Lauren. Not good at all. You can shake your head at me as you read this post from last September. 

One of the organizational strategies I used last year was to split my students up in to Music Teams. I kept the kiddies in the same team (for the most part) for the 5 months I was there, except with my grade 4s who needed more moving around. I found this worked really well, especially when it came to handing out supplies. 

My brilliant idea was to create six Music Teams named for the periods of music history: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century, and Post Modern. When I'm back at work in January I plan to do a Music Spotlight of some sort on each of these periods so that my students can feel extra connected to their Team. My classroom chairs were set up in three rows with an aisle in between - making six groups. 


Each team had a Team Leader. The leader got to sit in a special chair (I taped a Team Leader sign to it) and was the person I would call on to pass out their team's notebooks, rhythm instruments, or to get their materials basket. The Team Leader chair rotated every two weeks. I tried to make it random so that the students wouldn't be able to predict who the Team Leader would be. The students were pretty excited when it was their turn to have the chair. Next year I may try to make them even fancier. I'm thinking a feather boa?!? What is fancier than that?



I have control issues (which teacher doesn't have that problem?). One thing that drives me super crazy are kids stealing my pencils. Yes, stealing not forgetting to return them. Since 400+ kids go through my room every week I used to lose a lot of pencils. This post on Mrs. Q's blog gave me the idea of duct taping the ends of my pencils. Amazing! I went to Dollarama and got six different rolls of colourful duct tape - one for each Music Team.

I not only duct taped my pencils but my markers, too. That way I'd know which team left the lid off their marker or who left the marker lying on the floor. The Team Leaders were responsible for making sure that they had 6 pencils and 8 markers in their bins after each activity. Only a few students took the duct tape off, so that is a success in my books. This was a fabulous strategy! The shelf life of my supplies was extended and I always knew who didn't clean up after themselves. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Pin Picks!

So many of my teacher friends told me that once I had my sweet little baby I wouldn't be thinking about school. It is partially true (hence the lack of posts!) but I find that I can't always turn my mind off from getting excited about trying new things when I am back at work in January. Pinterest definitely adds to that.

I still have a few posts to write about lessons from my pre-baby life but I thought I would share some pins that I totally want to try. You can check out some of my boards by clicking here!


Musical Masterpiece



I like the idea of incorporating more art into my Music classes. I especially like this communal piece of art. A challenge in my room would be lack of desks. We have clipboards, though, so that could work. I also think that keeping this activity fast-paced would help to avoid any chances of kids getting bored. Part of me is feeling adventurous and may even want to use paint!

Attendance


Last year I had 14 different classes to teach. I kept track of attendance by having students touch their name on my Smart Board. Although it was super fun, it took a lot of time and if there was a fire drill I'm not sure if I'd remember who was absent. I like the idea of hanging the attendance lists by the door but would probably double side each sheet or even put all the classes of one grade on the same lanyard. By laminating the sheets I could easily use a dry erase marker to check off who is present. 


Incentive Program



Normally, I'm not one for incentive programs. I'm all about intrinsic motivation. As evidenced by the comment from the teacher who is replacing me while on Mat Leave ("The kids do not like the GPS program" - the program I use for assessment and evaluation, which requires students to be self-motivated), not everyone is intrinsically motivated. It is worth reading about Matthew Stidham's incentive program based on a house system like from Harry Potter. What I think is pretty cool is that all the students in Grades 6-8 are split up into one of three houses. It really builds community as students from other grades and classes work together to earn points and rewards. I think it will be worth giving it a try, especially since I'll be back halfway through the year the kids may need some extra motivation!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Christmas Carols

Two days after my last blog post I gave birth to an absolutely beautiful little girl! I'm glad I squeezed that last post in because as many of you know life with a newborn is a whole new kind of busy. Baby K is doing great and chunking up nicely (something I never thought I'd be excited by!) I'm enjoying life as a Mom and am really looking forward to spending this year with my little monkey. I'm still hoping to post some ideas and lessons that I never got around to posting pre-baby. 

Let's go back in time to the Christmas season. We are in the midst of another snow storm here in Ontario (hopefully the last one) so I thought this culminating activity would be appropriate!

I let my Grade 8s choose their own groups for this assignment and let them choose their top two Christmas carols. I wanted to increase everyone's chance of success so I selected three easy carols (Jolly Old St. Nick, Jingle Bells, and Good King Wenceslas) and two more challenging ones (Deck the Halls and Silent Night). Ultimately, I assigned each group a carol based on the skill level of the majority of the students. The students were given three weeks to practise with their groups in class (6 periods) and performed their carols for their classmates. Here is the rubric I used to evaluate them.


Some students were so excited by this assignment that they wanted to perform it in front of the school which we did at our Christmas Assembly. I was really pleased by this since a number of students who were not in my Concert Band were motivated to perform. I love the power of performance!

The second part of this assignment was quite open-ended. The students were asked to include some research as well as their own ideas to answer this question: What factors (social, political, economic) do you think inspired your composer to write this piece of music? This question was taken directly from the Ontario Curriculum. I let the students present their information in any way they chose. Some chose to do Powerpoint Presentation, others drew a picture or wrote a paragraph. Below are some of my favourite ones.


 
 




Thursday, 23 January 2014

More Report Card Comments

These will be the last report card comments I write until June 2015! I'm okay with that. 

(By the way, *N* = name of student, *4* = He/She, *2* = his/her, *1* = he/she)

Grade 8 Music

A
In Music, *N* is able to perform a variety of pieces on *2* instrument. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and through *2* performance of a carol with a small group, along with a personal response to the piece. *4* identifies *2* strengths and areas of growth as a musician which enables *6* to strive for excellence.

B
In Music, *N* is able to perform a variety of pieces on *2* instrument. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and through *6* performance of a carol with a small group, along with a personal response to the piece. *4* plays *2* instrument with proper technique and makes a good recovery when errors do occur.

C
In Music, *N* is beginning to perform a variety of pieces on *2* instrument. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and through *6* performance of a carol with a small group, along with a personal response to the piece. *4* needs to reinforce the learning of note names by using internet tools.

D
In Music, *N* is experiencing difficulty performing a variety of pieces on *2* instrument. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and through *6* performance of a carol with a small group, along with a personal response to the piece. *4* needs to ensure *2* completes all assignments in the future.

 Grade 7 Music

A
In Music, *N* performs a variety of pieces on *2* instrument and can explain how the music *1* listens to may be connected to *2* life. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and by the work put into the Soundtrack of My Life project. *4* plays *2* instrument with proper technique and displays great musical talent.

B
In Music, *N* performs a variety of pieces on *2* instrument and can explain how the music *1* listens to may be connected to *2* life. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and by the work put into the Soundtrack of My Life project. *4* plays *2* instrument with proper technique and can read musical notation.

C
In Music, *N* is beginning to perform a variety of pieces on *2* instrument and can explain how the music *1* listens to may be connected to *2* life. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and by the work put into the Soundtrack of My Life project. *4* needs to reinforce the learning of note names by using internet tools.

D
In Music, *N* is experiencing difficulty performing a variety of pieces on *2* instrument and explaining how the music *1* listens to may be connected to *2* life. This was evident in the number of performance tasks *1* completed this term and by the work put into the Soundtrack of My Life project. *4* needs to ensure *1* completes all assignments in the future.


Grade 6 Music

A
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and reads the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to expertly apply the steps needed to play the open strings of the ukulele and has shown great initiative this term.

B
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and reads the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to apply the steps needed to play the open strings of the ukulele and makes a good recovery when errors do occur.

C
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and is beginning to read the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to apply the steps needed to play the open strings of the ukulele and is encouraged to reinforce the learning of note names.



Music – Grade 4/5

A
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and reads the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to expertly apply the steps needed to play the first three notes on the recorder and has shown great initiative this term.

B
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and reads the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to apply the steps needed to play the first three notes on the recorder and makes a good recovery when errors do occur.

C
In Music, *N* can recognize and play a variety of rhythm patterns and is beginning to read the notes on the lines and spaces of the treble clef. *4* is able to apply the steps needed to play the first three notes on the recorder and is encouraged to reinforce the learning of note names.

Music – Grade 2

A
In Music, *N* created and performed through singing at different tempos, moving to the beat, and playing simple rhythmic patterns. *4* participates positively and with enthusiasm in all of our activities.

B
In Music, *N* created and performed through singing at different tempos, moving to the beat, and playing simple rhythmic patterns. *4* is a cooperative member in our group activities and discussions.

C
In Music, *N* created and performed through singing at different tempos, moving to the beat, and playing simple rhythmic patterns. **4* will be encouraged to remain focused and pay close attention to instructions to ensure *2* full participation.


Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Tying Up Loose Ends - Guide to Instrumental Music

I'm officially not at school this week, waiting for Baby V to make his/her appearance. I can now see why people were recommending that I take some time to rest. I just might get used to daytime shopping and coffee dates with friends, though!  

Last week was insane as I spent any free time at school packing up my room (I had a lot of stuff there) and any free time at home trying to finish marking student work (what I wouldn't give for everyone to hand their work in on time!). On Saturday, I worked like a champ and finished my report cards. 
My poor husband had to unload my full car every day!

I'm thankful for our giant crawlspace. 

I also put together a giant information package for my replacement. Here's what it contained:


Teaching Music is different from teaching a regular class in many ways. I've had to come to terms with the fact that I am leaving a program that I have been working hard to build for the past year and a half. So many of my lessons this year were spent introducing simple rhythms and reading notes on the staff, even with students in Grade 7 & 8, since many of them hadn't been exposed to much music in their previous schooling. I finally felt as though we were making progress and now I have to give it over to someone else. I know she'll do a great job and I know that I will be very busy in the next year but that didn't stop me from leaving a ridiculous amount of information for her. Here are some highlights:

2 Weeks of Lesson Plans
My principal asked me to leave two weeks worth of lesson plans so that my replacement would have something to work with at the beginning. I basically set up two different levels of lessons. I teach 16 different classes and 7 different grade levels and did not have time to come up with some super engaging lessons so I did what I could!

For the Kindergartens to Grade 5s I focused on instrument families. For each family I copied an information sheet, a question sheet, wordsearch, and colouring sheet. The instrument family information and question sheet came from Listening Resource Kit Level 4.  

Listening Kit 4 (Grade 4)

For the Grade 6s to 8s I used the "Bach's Fight for Freedom" DVD and some accompanying worksheets from the accompanying Teacher's Guide. I also apologized for making her watch this video 9 times!


Introduction
This is where I left her with the names of some helpful teachers and a list of things I'm paranoid about (ha ha!) such as my bulletin board paper/borders being thrown out, losing the remotes for my stereo and air conditioner, throwing out and not reusing student duotangs, and losing the Sterisol bottle with the pump. 

Instrumental Music Overview
I thought it would be helpful for my replacement to know what we had been learning about this term, as well as some helpful resources (like the MusicPlay program) to use with the Kindies and Grade 2s.

I also included information about extracurricular activities she may want to get involved with - Glee Club, Concert Band, Student of the Month Assemblies as well as our instrument inventory, sheet music, and instrument repairs.  

Daily Procedures & Classroom Routines
Information about fire drills, instrument sign-out procedures, dismissal, large group/small group/individual task expectations for behaviour, washroom procedures, storage of belongings/completed or incomplete work/student & teacher resources, and music teams. I totally understand that she will do things differently but I thought it would be helpful to know how the classroom had been running. 

Student Information
This included students with health/safety concerns along with a list of helpful students. I also gave her a list of the instruments each student plays. Some of my little darlings may try to pull a switch. 

Helpful Blackline Masters and Resources
I wanted her to have a copy of the resources I use including the GPS program, Recorder Resource, Ukulele in the Classroom, Instrument Sign-Out sheet, Instrument Assignment Form, Practice Records, Extra-Curricular Permission Forms. 

I also had the opportunity to meet with the new teacher yesterday which gave me a bit of closure!