24 September, 2017
Using the SeeSaw App to assess

Using the SeeSaw App to assess

Are you looking for an app to both assess students AND communicate with parents? Check out SeeSaw!

I heard about SeeSaw a couple years ago and had it installed on my ipads, but it wasn’t until this past spring that I was finally able to check it out. SeeSaw is known for being a great advocacy tool, in that parents can see what’s going on in the music room! Whether you post a snapshot of a student’s completed worksheet, a video of him/her singing, or a video of the entire class performing, it can be a fabulous way to communicate with parents.

Last year, at a technology workshop with my friend Andrea Halverson (whose technology blog can be found here), I had the realization that I assess students through the app too! I tried this out last year and will detail below how I did it.  Please note that I have not yet connected parents to the app, but instead used it for my own assessment purposes. Here goes!

Using the SeeSaw app to assess: Great ideas for the music classroom!

I decided to try out composition with my second graders last year. Although they had learned tika-tika at this point, I wanted to assess how well they could compose only with ta, ti-ti, and rest, and how well they could read their composition to a steady beat.

First, I inputted all the students’ names into the SeeSaw app. I realized after I did this that SeeSaw has a limit to how many classes you have before you pay, so keep that in mind. (You might input all of the students from one grade level into one class.) If you can copy their names from an Excel spreadsheet or csv file, that will make things go much quicker!

After you do this, each class will have their own unique QR code. I printed these out so students could easily scan.

After I did this, I sent a picture to my ipads of one of my composition worksheets; you can grab it below:

Using the SeeSaw app to assess composition: Great ideas for the music classroom!

Then, to compose, students opened up SeeSaw, then scanned their class QR code.

Students clicked on new project, then clicked “camera roll.” Then, they opened up the composition worksheet I had put on the iPads.

Then, students chose the pencil tool and wrote a 16-beat rhythm with their finger!  I asked that they had variety in their composition…so not all rests!

Once they are satisfied with their composition, they then clicked “record,” and read their composition. You could also have them play on a non-pitched percussion instrument! Then, they clicked the green checkmark.

After they had listened to their composition and were happy with what they’d done, they chose their name from the list and submitted it to me (they each have their own cute animal icon.)

Here is a sample composition from one of my second graders:

Students were working independently, so there is noise in the background when you do it like this, but I heard all of my students just fine! 

After they submitted it, I was able to sit and watch each video. As I watched, I assessed whether they had variety in their composition, whether they wrote the rhythms correctly, and if they could read the rhythm correctly to a steady beat. It was fun to hear what they had composed and how well they could read! And they loved it!

If you're looking for more composition worksheets to use with SeeSaw, check out these sets:


There is one composition worksheet in the tika-tika set, and lots in the composition bundle!

This is just one idea for SeeSaw…the possibilities really are endless! What have you done with the app? Feel free to comment below, and happy planning!

14 September, 2017
Specdrums: A fun techie tool for your music room!

Specdrums: A fun techie tool for your music room!

I am SUPER excited today to blog about a new piece of technology I have in my music room...a Specdrums ring! I first learned about Specdrums from Katie Wonderly's awesome Instagram page. Then I found out that Amy Abbott had a ring coming, so I reached out to the Specdrums page and was able to get one for my classroom too!

Specdrums in the music room: A really fun piece of technology to practice melodic concepts!

So what is a Specdrum ring?

It is a ring that you can put on your finger, or students can put on their finger, and they can make music with it by touching different colors. So for example, if you touch red, it might play C, if you touch orange, it might play D, if you touch yellow, it might play E, etc.! You can create different tone sets in your app...the sky really is the limit!

Here's a video of me playing "We are dancing" with the ring:

So how do you make a tone set? Here's how it works:

You can also make a tone set by selecting a color with your ring and then tapping the letter you want.

So what might it look like to use it in your classroom?

If you only have one ring, here are some ideas:
  • "Play" the pattern while pointing to colors on your SMART board or white board, and students echo (great for visual learners!)
  • Do the same, but with a student leader
  • Have students figure out which color is which solfa after you play a song on the board
  • Have students decide which color they want for each solfa and make a tone set on the spot!
  • "Play" a song on kids: I got this idea from Amy Abbott...see her Specdrums blog post for an example! Choose three kids with the right-colored shirts...or make a default tone set on the spot! "Play" the song by tapping the kids on the shoulders (like the orange shirt for sol, red shirt for la, etc.)
If you have more than one ring, I think they could work really well in centers! I have one right now but am going to donate and receive two more, so that if I have six students at centers, students can work with a partner with a ring. Here are some ideas for centers (please note that you would need a device, such as an iPad or iPhone, for each ring students are working with, as the app needs to be open to use the ring):
  • Students get a tone ladder and songs in stick notation, and figure out how to play songs.
  • Students are told which solfa a song starts on and which solfa it uses, and they figure out how to play (great for inner hearing!)
  • Students work with solfa manipulatives (read more about them in this post); they can write a pattern with manipulatives and then play with the Specdrums ring!
  • Students work with colored notes on a staff and play the pattern
  • Students label colors with hand signs and/or solfa after playing around with the colors (again, great for inner hearing!)
  • Students play a song on a barred instrument such as glockenspiel with mallets, with the bars marked with colored stickers, then do the same thing but with the Specdrums ring!
  • Students create songs within a specific tone set.
Like I said, there are SO many possibilities! Make sure to check out Amy's blog for videos of the ring in action!

As I'm posting this, there is only ONE DAY left to donate to their kickstarter campaign! If you donate  $39 or more, you'll be sent one Specdrums ring, and if you donate $74 or more, you get two! If you'd like 10, you can get them by pledging $349 or more. The rings will be delivered to you in January of 2018.

Once I receive two more, I'll be posting again with more ideas for using the rings! If you already have one, please comment below with some ideas, or if you have any questions, please let me know by commenting below. Amy and I have created this FB group for music educators with the rings to share ideas, so please join if you're interested. Have fun!

07 September, 2017
Music Teacher Finds at IKEA

Music Teacher Finds at IKEA

I am VERY excited that a new IKEA store just opened in Columbus, only about 15 minutes away from me! If you've never been to IKEA, it's quite the experience...kind of like going to a museum and going shopping at the same time. I found so many great ideas for organization when I last shopped, so today, I'm blogging about several different items that you could purchase from IKEA for your music room!

Music teacher finds from IKEA: Ideas for organization, seating, and more!

I've linked each picture to the item on IKEA's website, so simply click if you'd like to view or purchase.

These baskets and metal tubs would be great for lots of different items: scarves for movement, tennis balls for practicing meter, rhythm sticks, wood blocks, and so much else!

Music teacher finds from IKEA: Ideas for organization, seating, and more!

I have two of these tables in my room, and they are GREAT. Very cheap, easy for kids to sit at and work, and/or good for placing items like pencils, worksheets, etc.

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