Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Return

The end is near...the end of my maternity leave, that is! I'm back after the winter holidays after being on mat leave with my second daughter since October 2015. I'm so blessed to have been able to spend 14 months with my two turkeys but I'm also looking forward to being back in the classroom.

Lists help keep me organized so I'm using this post as a way for me to track my progress over the next few weeks. I so need to be organized! Here's what I'm doing to get ready:

1. Meet with my LTO (long-term occasional teacher)
How awesome is it that the teacher who did half of my mat leave with my first baby also covered my mat leave the second time around?!? We spent two periods chatting about what curriculum areas he's covered already, kids for me to know about, and routines that have been working well for him. 

2. Fill in my timetable and set up my daybook
I've used the same timetable blackline master my whole teaching career. I could use the one given to me by the school but I like the nostalgia of using my original. It wasn't designed by me so I can't share it but here is a link to my daybook. I developed this style of daybook a few years ago when I started only teaching Music. I find it saves paper and also keeps me accountable in terms of planning three-part lessons with learning goals.


3. Plan my first week
Starting with the Grade 8s and working backwards I have been reviewing my first week lessons from the September start to school as well as my January start a few years ago. I'll do a few more posts with what I've done once I've tried them out in the classroom. 

Each lesson starts out the same - I introduce myself and share some pictures of my adorable family. We discuss procedures such as lining up, learning goals, team leaders, and the signal I use to get their attention. I'm also having the students (except the 2s and 3s) write their own names on popsicle sticks to save me hours of time. Check out this post on my Pick-a-Stick strategy.

Most classes will have a "Show what you know" lesson where they will work in their music teams to perform something for me that highlights what they have learned over the past few months. Diagnostic tests based on rhythm and note naming will also be conducted. 

4. Deal with my stuff
I will need to get in to my crawlspace and see what I have stored away. Then I will make a trip back to school and move in a bunch of things and get some photocopying done for my first day back!

I'm feeling good about this and am excited to get back to blogging!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Perfect Ukulele Posture


I get really nostalgic around this time of year. I'm not going back to work until January (which I am super thankful for) but I will really miss the whole community aspect of getting a classroom ready. Do you know what I mean? When all the teachers are back from summer holidays and you can catch up a bit. When your room is perfectly clean (thank you caretakers) and your supply bins have not yet been messed up. When there is a sense of promise in the air - for students who are eager and excited to learn and teachers who although they are longing for more summer are gearing up to do the best they can for the students they teach. I thought I would write a post to help with my nostalgia and realized I hadn't written much in the past about ukuleles.


Before I went on Mat Leave the first time, I purchased a whole bunch of ukuleles from Empire Music. I let the kids play around on them a bit in the last few weeks of school to maintain interest as we all know how rangy they can get towards the end. While off on Mat Leave I went to a ukulele workshop run by James Hill and although I left feeling woefully inadequate in my uke-ability I was excited to use his method book, Ukulele in the Classroom, with my students. What I really liked about was the fact that it encourages note reading and was not solely chord-based. Students learn by first playing melodies on the open strings.



The first few lessons I taught were structured around the following:

1). Selecting a uke - the team leader from each team would select enough ukes for the whole team. This cuts down on the number of students out of their seats. I'm all about limiting the chaos. 

2). Taking the uke out of the case and putting the case under the chair without playing the instrument.

3). Tuning the instrument - this can take forever and since I don't have time to pre-tune them all I decided to train one person from each team each class with the goal being that each student would be able to tune themselves by the end of the first month. This was not perfect and I had a bunch of tuners go missing so I will be working on improving that come January. 

4). Perfect ukulele posture - this was super important for me because I like to think of what the students learn from playing recorder and ukulele as training for when they start playing wind instruments in Grade 7. You know the saying "dress for the job you want to have not the one you do have?" That's how I feel about posture. If they look good, they'll sound good. 



At the end of the posture lesson, I had the students do a quick write in response to the prompt: What does perfect ukulele posture look like? I was extra smart and made sure to cover up the anchor chart. 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

New Blog

I've really missed writing and sharing ideas so while I'm on mat leave I've decided to start another blog: "Of the North". Check it out if you want! It will basically be a place for me to share what I'm doing while on this parental vacation of sorts. 

I haven't fully fleshed out my thoughts but I'm thinking of sharing these ideas:

  • meal plans
  • decorating
  • parties
  • decluttering
  • parenting
  • crafts
  • date nights
  • household management
I'm sure it will be a jumble of different things but that's kinda where my brain is at these days.