Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rhythm Pattern Practice and Assessment "I have/Who has"

I am always looking for ways to have my students practice audiating music.  My colleagues in general ed used the "I have...Who has..." game frequently as a tool for practicing vocabulary or math facts.  After being introduced to the game at an in-services and graduate reading classes, I realized that this game could translate to rhythm practice as well.  I have created several I Have/Who Has rhythm card sets and they have been a hit with the kids.  They get excited to play a game they have played in other settings, but with a musical twist.  They like having to focus their listening for their own specific pattern.  They are having fun, and I like to see them practicing rhythm identification and performance skills, without them realizing that they are doing it!

They have also been a great tool for assessment.  After playing the card game in a class or two, I can quickly use a four point rubric to assess students' rhythm reading ability in a performance setting, without having a separate assessment activity.

4-It is on the beat and the correct syllables are used.
3-It is mostly on the beat with a almost all of the syllables performed correcly.
2-The beat is not steady and most of the syllables are preformed incorrecly.
1-The student does not perform any syllables correctly.

A set of cards with quarter notes, eighth notes, and half notes (as well as quarter and half rests) are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, as well as a set of cards with ti-tika and tika-ti rhythm patterns for older, more advanced students.    I'm hoping to create a quarter note and eighth note set soon as well, because I'm thinking my first graders are ready for this new challenge.  They will eat it up!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

B A G Recorder Fingering Chart Composition

Just created another new station for my recorder groups.  This is a BAG composition activity.  Students are given a worksheet and a B-A-G fingering chart.  They must color the fingering for 4 recorders per line, with each recorder being worth one beat.  After writing the song, they must title it, and practice playing it.  I'm excited to add this to my recorder cycles next week!

This station is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Melody Mix Up For Recorder

I spent this evening creating a new recorder game for my recorder centers I plan on starting next week.  This new game, Melody Mix Up, allows students to practice playing B, A, and G melody patterns on recorders.  By mixing up cards, students can compose a variety of melodies, all practicing the same skill, while varying the simple melody played.  The game makes simple B A G practice much more interesting. 

Students have 16 prewritten melody cards to choose from, to create four and eight bar phrases to play on their recorders. Two playing card options are given, cards with just the melody notation on the staff, and a second set with pitches written below the notes on the staff. This activity is great for meeting the national standards for composing and arranging, and also provides a different venue for practicing simple melodies. This activity can be done by individual students, groups, or while students work in centers. Teacher directions, student directions, playing cards, and a B A G recorder fingering chart are included.

Add this game to your classroom recorder toolbox.  It is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Mail Myself to You

Today, I began another hit Valentine's Day song with my first graders, Woody Guthrie's Mail Myself to You.  This great tune can be used year round, but I love the mailing theme around Valentine's Day.

There's a great beginning reader book, available to go with the song.  It doesn't match perfectly, but is nice to use in combination with teaching the song.  The more we can do to support literacy in correlation to music, the better!

I first sing the song to the students, having them listen to all the things I'm going to do.  After we list all the silly things, we brainstorm ways to show through movement the actions described (dabbing heads with glue, tying up in string, etc.)  I sing it again, with them moving to the actions described in the song.  Then, I teach them the chorus by rote, if they haven't already learned it from hearing the song sung a few times.

In future classes, I teach them the verses, and we add student lead movement to all parts for the final performance.

I was first introduced to this song when Peter and Mary Alice Amidon visited my school a few years ago for the first time as Artists in Residence.  (I highly recommend them, by the way!)  Mary Alice sang the song to the students.  It is on their recordings as well, and is a more gentle version that Woody Guthrie's.
Enjoy Pete Seeger performing Woody Guthrie's song for his children!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentine's Day Preparations

As February looms, I once again realized last week that I need to start mixing in some Valentine's Day Songs and Activities.  Today, I started one of my favorite Valentine's Day activities (and Valentine's Day isn't a holiday I do up too much).  Each year, I treasure hearing my second graders learn to sing the song, "I Love You, a Bushel and a Peck."  They just LOOOOVE it and the final product is so sweet. 

I start out introducing the song by asking them who they might love in a way that is not mushy gushy love.  We talk about parents, grandparents, friends, family, and teachers.  Then, I share with them this cool picture book rendition of the song.  During the first class, we learn the "doodle oodle oodle" part, and add jazz hands on this section to follow the contour of the melody for that part.  Over the next few class periods we learn the verses and chorus for the entire song.  We also listen to recordings of the song by Dan Zanes, adding movement.  I always encourage my kids to sing this song to someone important in their lives to make their Valentine's Day special.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Note Reading Treasure Hunt

I had seen this picture on pintrest, which sparked the following weekend project.  I thought it was a great idea, and I tweaked it for my students and to expand the possibilities.  
I purchased Voss Water bottles.  They were on sale for $1.00 at Giant this week.  It was meant to be :-) 

At Michaels, I found this craft bead mix.  The cool thing about it is that there are shaped beads.  Stars, elephants, dogs, hearts, etc.  This helped me take this project to the next level.

After enjoying my tasty Voss water, I washed the bottle and removed the stickers.
I made the hidden music note slips.  These are in the kit for this project on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

I added the bead mix and the papers to the bottle, trying to spread out the location of the note tracker slips.

I added the fun label and using packing tape, sealed the bottle shut.  I then attempted to shake the bottle around to find the notes.  It will be a fun task for the kids.  It is not easy to find all of the notes right away. 

I am going to use these as part of my recorder centers.  While some students are working on the Note Reading Treasure Hunt, others will be using the Joytunes iPad  app, others will be testing or working in a small group with me, while others learn a non-recorder karate song as a group.  I love how these turned out!

Like my slips, signs, etc.?  Buy the kit on my TPT Store:

Note Reading Music Practice

In my reading specialist coursework, we talked about starting pre-k readers out with learning environmental print, from signs and logos they come across on a day to day basis.  This conversation sparked this idea for this music reading lesson.  I created this worksheet to help students in recorder stations practice note reading independently.  I'm always coming up with things for my different groups to do while I am testing for Recorder Karate.  It is the students' job to spell the missing letters in the logo by writing them on the staff.  This should be a fun addition to my recorder station rotations! 

It is finished and for sale at my teachers pay teachers store:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Glow Beats

The PE teacher and I are working on a Peer Collaboration project this year to track and nurture student beat keeping abilities.  I love working with the PE teacher, as so much of what we do builds off of each other.  We started the year tracking first grades' individual ability to keep the beat (marching the beat in the PE assessment/patting the beat in the music assessment).  Then, we have been doing many of the same activities in both classes to reinforce beat keeping skills, giving the students practice on an activity twice a week between both classes.

We just did a mid-year assessment, and students are showing great improvement.  It is amazing to watch them grow.

As part of this project, we've been designing activities together.  We recently ordered these LED Batons for beat keeping practice.  All students are given a lighted baton, we turn off the lights, and the music begins.  It is the students job to copy the teacher's beat keeping movements to the beat of the music.  The foam sticks provide lots of ways to practice beat keeping, and the GLOWING is thrilling for first graders.  We've expanded this lesson outside of first grade as well, for beat keeping review and it is a HIT!  Katie Perry's song, "Firework," is a favorite beat keeping tune at our school. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grant Writing Tips

Many of these instruments and resources provided by grant funding!  We are thankful to all our sponsors!
To date, I have attained over $45,000 in grant funding for my elementary general music classroom.  I often get asked questions about writing grants.  Here are my "TOP 10 Grant Writing Tips" for those of you starting out.

1.  Pick a project or goal, and focus on it.  If you have too many ideas going on in one request, it will often not be funded.

2.  Be to the point and concise.  Share important information about your project and your program, but don't blabber on about things that have no relation to the project.

3.  Request funding for a resources that will be able to be used over multiple school years.  This will help grant givers see their funding will be put to use over a long period of time.  (Artist in Residence Grants would be the only exception to this rule.)

4.  Involve the community as a piece of your grant.  Agree to public performances, podcasting, or sharing of your learning through the requested tools.  When writing Artist-in-Residence grants, I always add a community night as a piece of the program to get investors to see we are sharing the music in the school building and beyond.

5.  Be specific in your spending.  Don't just ask for a lump sum.  Spell out specifically how every penny will be spent.

6.  Tie your projects to standards.  We are all guided by national or state standards that must be met.  Share with grant providers how their support will help you meet those goals!

7.  Correlate music learning across content areas.  Share how the project you are requesting will also help meet reading or social studies standards.  Don't become isolated in your subject area.

8.  School culture is key.  Share how community building through your program will develop school and classroom culture.  Positive culture leads to positive learning.

9.  Proofread.  Do not have typos, spelling errors, or incorrect math.  These things do not help those reading your application believe that you are the best teacher in the world who will spend every spent given to you to the max.  Be careful and show that you are detailed oriented.

10.  Let your passion for working with your students shine through.  Remember, it's ALL about them, not you!

Ukulele by Dot

Have you hugged your UKE today??!?
My sixth graders have caught the ukulele bug!  Over Christmas vacation, a ton of them got a wide range of ukuleles from Santa or from Christmas money.  It is fun to see them so excited and practicing on their own at home, with their own initiative leading the way.

We have been learning to play a few chords since the beginning of the school year.  The last two years, my students have been picking up the chords as I teach them, much more rapidly, due to my "chords by dot" instruction.  I have placed small colored dots that can be found easily at office supply stores, on the frets for each chord.  Then, when I teach C, for instance, I say, ring finger on the yellow dot.  This really helps all students find the correct fret, especially helping visual learners. 

Yellow = C    Green = G    Red = F   Blue =am

 I start my students with the C chord first and we practice simple one chord songs.  I add G next, even though it is more difficult that F, because I want them to understand chord relationships.  Plus, once they've learned to play G, they can play ANYTHING!  Our favorite two C and G chord songs are "Fish and Chips and Vinegar" in canon and "There Ain't No Bugs on Me."  They even wrote their own verses for "Ain't No Bugs."  This cycle, we learned F and a in the same class period.  They are becoming chord switching maniacs.  Some students still struggle to place fingers quickly and we are working on putting all fingers down on a chord together, instead of one at a time. 

Great wall mounts keep our ukuleles safe!

Ukuleles line the walls of our music room.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Naughty Kitty Cat

This week it was time to teach a second grade favorite, Naughty Kitty Cat.  After spending time in two of our past classes learning the song, and playing the game, we did a contour dictation of the melody on the Smart Board, today.  I always love watching students thought process as through trial and error we drag the text to show contour.  It takes some errors, with me demonstrating the contour they draw, for them to realize the true shape of the melody.  Today, I created a new worksheet to have students write out the solfege dictation by hand next class, because I thought the group contour shaping we did today was great, but this year, I'd like to take the lesson to the next level.    The Smart Notebook and the Dictation Worksheet are both available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store if you are interested in adding this lesson  to your solfege tool box this year!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bent and Dent: iPad Cases for the Classroom

One of the most frequent questions I have been getting about my iPads is "where did you get those cases??"  We have been using Trident Kraken cases.  They come in a wide variety of fun colors and seem to be easy for students to grip and hold on to.  They also have a clear screen protector built in and I have been able to use clorox wipes to keep the germ spreading to a minimum.  There have been no iPad catastrophies to date!  Check the cases out on Amazon.

Our district woodworker also made me a storage shelf to keep the iPads charged and safe when not in use.  The cables go through a small hole in the back of the case and plug into a large surge protector, out of sight.  The shelf also keeps the charging cables out of view, as I am told they are hot items that often walk away from classrooms, since they can be used for charging students' iPods.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The iPads Have Arrived!!!

The iPads Have Arrived!!!

The year has been flying by and my blogging has been non-existent.  With the start of a new year, I'm hoping to do better in this department.

The iPads have arrived in my classroom.  The red tape of volume purchase pricing has caused a delay in starting this endeavor, but we are soon ready to be up and rolling.  Free apps are loaded and paid apps are on their way.

We explored the iPads using free apps before break.  Here are some of my students' favorites:

Singing Fingers


This cool app allows students to draw and sing or make noise.  The singing/noise is recorded.  Then, when you run your finger over the drawing, the sound is replayed at the speed your finger travels.  We used this to do vocal exploration and warm-ups!  This free app is a hit!

Sound Drop

This free app was a hit with all ages, but especially my older students who emailed me to find out how to load it on their iPod touches at home.  Though more of a fluff app, it does delve into the world of chance music composition.  Small balls drop on the screen, and students draw lines for the balls to bounce off of making pitch.  Balls can disappear off of the screen or be trapped in a bouncing labyrinth.  The more balls that stay on the screen, the greater the sound potential.

Conga Drum Free

This app allows you to use three or four conga drums to perform rhythms and beats.  I lined my students up in 6 rows, with each row behind one iPad.  Each iPad was plugged into a small  Honeytone Amp which helped provide us increased sound.  Then, each iPad had a rhythm card that they were to perform.  We layered in the rhythms, as we would have in a drumming ensemble.  It was more challenging for some students to keep a rhythm in this setting than on the drums, getting used to tapping their finger in tempo, but they loved the opportunity to make real music via the iPads.