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New Year's Resolutions for the Music Room

As January approaches, many of us are midway through the school year. This is a great time to reflect on what we've taught this year and think ahead to what we'd still like to try this year, and how we can keep our students on track! Today, I'm teaming up with Amy Abbott from Music a la Abbott to blog about three New Year's Resolutions to help keep my students and I on track!

New Year's Resolutions for the Music Room: Thoughts about Class Dojo, the SeeSaw App, and a monthly planning freebie!

Three resolutions I have when I go back to school in January is to figure out a more cohesive way to track behavior, to begin creating student portfolios, and to track planning by month. Here are three ways I'll address those goals!

Class Dojo

Recently, we had a staff meeting in which we could each choose the topic we wanted to learn about (yay for differentiation at staff meetings!) I went to a meeting about Class Dojo. I had heard great things about the app but just hadn't delved into it. The idea of the app is that students get positive and negative points associated with their behavior. Parents can also be notified of points, as well as additions to the students' portfolios (like videos and pictures.) Apparently there is some controversy about the app, as some teachers project names and points up on the SMART board for all students to see, but I'm guessing most teachers using the app are not publicly posting names and points.
After the meeting, I decided I'd try it out, but I just got busy and didn't do anything more with it. Then I starting reading this great book:

In the book, they suggest using a behavior management system to track individual student behavior, and I thought again of Class Dojo. I realized my hesitation in using it had to do with contacting parents for every single point I gave. I want to have a system where I track points so that I have specific evidence about student behavior, and then if I need to contact parents, I have data to discuss. I'm concerned that with 700+ students, I might not be able to give out as many points as I'd like, but parents will be notified regardless (and in some cases, if I don't have enough time to log everything, they might only see negative points). So I've decided I'll use Class Dojo for my own purposes, not to communicate with parents...at least not yet!

I'll blog more about ClassDojo after I've used it for a while, but one tip: if you are going to try it out, ask your secretary for a Word or Excel document with student names. That way, you can cut and paste, and you don't have to type every individual name!


It has been a goal of mine for a year or so to create student portfolios, and it just hasn't happened! I learned about SeeSaw quite a while ago, and have wanted to use it, but haven't figured out exactly how. So this January, I'm going to dive in.

The great thing about this app is it can be used as a parent communication tool (much like Bloomz, which is an app my daughter's Preschool teacher uses.) So if you take a video of the class performing creative movement to the "Nutcracker," as I did recently, you can post it for all of the parents to watch. Students can also post individual work, small group videos, and more!

Again, I'll post more once I've used the app for a while. Please note, as stated above: ClassDojo does have a portfolio feature, which you could use if you were communicating individual student behavior to parents. Since I'm only using ClassDojo for my own purposes at this point, I'm going to use SeeSaw for the portfolio piece.

Monthly planning

With a 3rd and 4th grade program coming up in February, I need to make sure my students stay on track and learn all they need to in order to be successful in their performance! I've talked before about how much yearly planning and song list planning has helped me, but even with all of that thoughtful planning, I sometimes need a little nudge to really stay on track. That's where a monthly plan comes in. When you are tight on time and need to know exactly what your students are doing each lesson, and when you're gearing up for a program, you can map out what they learn when, so that when it comes time for the performance, they've learned everything they need to! I have a monthly planning template in my Polished Planning set, but if you sign up for my email list, you can get a template for free!

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If you've already signed up for my email list, you can still sign up for this (I will be mindful to not send duplicate emails.) 

One last note about the new year: if you're looking for ways to help achieve your New Year's resolutions, I decided to get my podcast going again, and have posted an episode with tips for productivity! Click the link below to see the episode in iTunes, and make sure to subscribe for future episodes. I'm hoping to do one every two weeks. 

What are you hoping to do in the New Year to keep you and your students on track? Feel free to comment below with your resolutions, make sure to check out Amy's post, and Happy New Year!

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