30 August, 2018
Star students in the music room

Star students in the music room



Looking for a great way to keep students engaged and focused during music class? Today, I'm writing my first blog post in a series about classroom management in the music room. This post will be about one of my favorite strategies: star students in the music room!

Star students in the music room: A positive classroom management system for your music lessons


So why choose a star student?
I've used this strategy my entire career, and every year, I've seen students get so excited about the possibility of being chosen. Students also like to cheer each other on! It can be a great way to point out specific behavior too, like "I'm choosing Tyler because he participated so much today," or "I'm choosing Kendra because she was so helpful."

What is a star student?
A star student, in my classroom, is a student who has showcased exemplary behavior during music class. Perhaps this child was participating quite a bit, or was singing his/her best, or was helping another child. This child is chosen at the end of the class, and is given some kind of reward...more on that in a minute!

How does it work?
At the end of every music class, I choose two star students. When I had my students more often, I did one star student at the end of class, but now that I see them once every five days, I switched to two.
Those two children come up to my SMART board and spin a spinner, which looks like this:

Star students in the music room: A positive classroom management system for your music lessons


You can make a spinner like this in SMART Notebook, by searching "spinner." I've also created a file by searching "dice" and inserting an interactive die. Or if you don't have a SMART board, you could use a foam die and assign rewards to numbers.

For K-1, my rewards are:
  • Star student pencil
  • Sticker
  • Play an instrument (I allow them 5 seconds to play whatever instrument they want--just not my recorder!)
  • Prize box (see the picture below)
  • Your choice (students choose from any of the above choices)
For grades 2-5, my rewards are:
  • Play an instrument
  • Prize box
  • Sit by a friend
  • Special seat (students can choose any of my flexible seating to sit on for the entire class, in the next class)
  • Karaoke (see info below)
  • Your choice
Here is a picture of my prize box. I fill it with goodies from the Target party section:


Karaoke Reward? What's that?
This is a new reward I'm trying this year, and so far, I (and the kids) love it! I have a list of four school-appropriate pop songs with links to YouTube videos. The child who spins and gets karaoke tells me in the next music class that they got karaoke. Then, I leave about three minutes at the end of that class. The star student from the previous class chooses the song title, and then everyone gets to sing along with the karaoke track! It's like a whole class reward, with the star student choosing the title. The kids often cheer with excitement when someone spins and gets karaoke!

Thinking you want to try it out? Download the file for free here. You can view it like a slideshow by going to "view," then "full screen."

Does it take a lot of time?
Besides the karaoke reward, I can get star student done in a minute or less. I leave one minute at the end of class to choose star students and give the rewards. I write a star next to that child's name, and try to choose everyone in the class before circling around a second time...although if the last child on the list is not showcasing great behavior, I won't choose him/her until he/she does.

Star student is a great way to reward students and get them excited. I think it's important to have a positive system in place, so students are honored for what they do well!

Make sure to check out my blog each week, as I write about more classroom management strategies for your music room!

Do you use star student? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

16 August, 2018
Classroom Reveal 2018-2019

Classroom Reveal 2018-2019


After days of working in my room, I'm really excited to reveal my music room for this year!

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!


Here is a view of my room as you walk into it. 


Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here's a panoramic view of my room:


I decided on a forest theme this year, and I'm really loving the calm color scheme. Like last year, I really tried to be intentional to not cover every single wall with something, so that kids could learn in an engaging setting but not be overwhelmed. Here's the view of the tree by my door...it's a wall decal from Amazon, and can be purchased here.


Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here is the sign at my entrance, which I ordered from Etsy here.

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here is my word wall. Like last year, instead of posting words by individual letters, I decided to group letters. This is much less overwhelming!

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

A bit further up the wall, I have hand drums hung with 3-M hooks, which is great for easy access! The levels of understanding visuals and partner poster sign are in my forest-themed music classroom decor set. I have some of my ukuleles here; I'm using magazine storage boxes from IKEA to store them.

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

My first bulletin board is "Forest friends," identifying different types of musical ensembles. I just added this bulletin board to my forest-themed music classroom decor set; if you've already purchased, you can re-download under "my purchases." The bulletin board paper is fadeless paper from Lakeshore Learning...I'm really loving the wood look!

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here is my other bulletin board, showcasing what students learn and can do in music, as it relates to the NCCAS standards.

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here is my musical symbol wall, as well as my hand signs. I love having this wall, because I've seen kids make so many connections as I'm teaching and as they are figuring out which symbol we're discussing!

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

I am LOVING these labels from Learning in Wonderland to help keep my concept materials organized (for each rhythmic and melodic concept). They are editable, and if you print them at 75%, they fit really well on the IKEA magazine boxes! You can also see some of my flexible seating in this corner.

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

Here is a picture of my barred instruments, as well as another tree wall decal:

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!


Here is my points poster and my editable schedule cards. The cards help me keep on track every day, and can be purchased here.

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!

These hang above my bookshelves to help students remember the instrument families. I also created labels for my bookshelves to remember what goes where!

Music Classroom Reveal: Lots of great ideas for a forest-themed music room! Includes tips for organization, bulletin board ideas, and more!


If you'd like to put together a forest theme for your music room, here is the set I used when decorating:



Good luck setting up your classroom, and I hope your year starts off well!
04 August, 2018
What's on my playlist for Fifth Grade?

What's on my playlist for Fifth Grade?


This week, I'm blogging about my playlists for each grade level, in my music room. For more information about how and why I'm using playlists, check out this post. Today, let's talk about fifth grade!

Fifth grade playlist for the music room: Three fun recordings for your music lessons, for dancing, listening, and the 12 Bar Blues!


Here are three recordings from my fifth grade playlist:

 A few years ago, I found a dance for this song in a resource from Sanna Longden, which you can now view for free here. My fifth graders LOVE this line dance...and when you find a dance that fifth graders love, then, well, you have to do it every year!

As I wrote about in this post, I read "World Music Pedagogy, Volume 2," by Christopher Roberts and Amy Beegle this summer. It was such a great read, with really practical ideas for implementing world music listening lessons in your classroom. This song was mentioned in the book as a possible listening lesson, with opportunities for students to listen intently, identify words within the song, and discuss context to the song. I'm excited to try it with my fifth graders!

from the Album Maa Na Pagla Volume 1
I learned this folk dance (called Dandiya Raas) from my colleague Meaghan many years ago. It's an Indian folk dance which can be performed with rhythm sticks (although originally it would be performed with sticks like these.) I taught Level I pedagogy and folk song research for DePaul University's Kodály program several years ago; here is a video of my class performing the dance:


It's a great dance for fifth graders!

I'm excited to announce the winners of my giveaway!

The winner of the $25 iTunes gift card and $25 credit to my store is Karina Gross!
The winner of the $15 iTunes gift card and $15 credit to my store is Melody Kegerris!
The winner of the $10 iTunes gift card and $10 credit to my store is Audrey Gale!

I've emailed all the winners. Thanks to everyone who entered!

What is on your fifth grade playlist? Feel free to comment below. Happy listening, and happy teaching!
03 August, 2018
What's on my playlist for Fourth Grade?

What's on my playlist for Fourth Grade?


This week, I'm blogging about my playlists for each grade level, in my music room. For more information about how and why I'm using playlists, check out this post. Today, let's talk about fourth grade!

Fourth grade playlist for the music room: Three fun recordings for your music lessons, for listening, dancing, and rhythmic work!


Here are three recordings from my fourth grade playlist:

I found the book "Unspoken" a few years ago, and fell in love with it. It is a wordless picture book about the Underground Railroad; you can view it on Amazon here:


After lots of digging, I finally found this recording that works perfectly with the book. I play the music, and usually turn the page after 16 beats (in a couple cases, I turn the page after 8 beats), then, the music ends right when the book ends. It's a great pairing with the story, and is a great way to get students thinking critically about the Underground Railroad.

I found this folk dance on YouTube and loved it!


The track above is a version of the song, which can be used to teach and perform the dance. I'll be using it with a program for "Caps for Sale" with my fourth graders.

My fourth graders will be practicing tika-ti at the beginning of the year, and this piece is a great listening lesson for that! Students will read this rhythm for the A section:

For a more detailed slideshow with more ideas for practicing rhythm and form, check out this set, which includes a slideshow for the piece:


Here are the previous grade level posts:
Stay tuned for my last post tomorrow, about fifth grade, and if you haven't entered the giveaway for an iTunes gift card and credit to my store, check it out here...today's the last day to enter! Also check out my Instastories this week for snippets of each song!

What is on your fourth grade playlist? Feel free to comment below. Happy listening, and happy teaching!
02 August, 2018
What's on my playlist for Third Grade?

What's on my playlist for Third Grade?


This week, I'm blogging about my playlists for each grade level, in my music room. For more information about how and why I'm using playlists, check out this post. Today, let's talk about third grade!

Third grade playlist for the music room: Three fun recordings for your music lessons, for dancing, conducting, multicultural connections, and melodic practice!

Here are three recordings from my third grade playlist:

#1: Sasha!
This is one of my absolute favorite folk dances! It is a really fun mixer that students LOVE. It looks like it's not available as a single track on iTunes, but can be purchased with this resource, which is a really wonderful book of folk dances.

This summer, I read "World Music Pedagogy, Volume 2," by Amy Beegle and my friend Christopher Roberts. It is a really wonderful read for any elementary music educator. A lesson for this track, "Wau Rauh," was laid out in the book, and I'd like to try this with my third graders, to raise awareness of another culture, to have students think critically about instrumentation and melody, and to practice re.

This is one of my favorites by Kodály! I use this in third grade after students learn 4-beat meter, or 4/4, so they can practice the conducting pattern. I've also used it in younger grades, to have students make up a story around a particular theme and then act it out.

If you haven't yet, check out these playlist posts from earlier this week:
Stay tuned for fourth grade tomorrow, and if you haven't entered the giveaway for an iTunes gift card and credit to my store, check it out here! Also check out my Instastories this week for snippets of each song!

Also, if you haven't checked out the TpT sale yet, today's the last day...you can get 20% off of everything in my store, and 5% more off with the code "BTSFRESH." Click below to shop!


What is on your third grade playlist? Feel free to comment below. Happy listening, and happy teaching!
01 August, 2018
What's on my playlist for Second Grade?

What's on my playlist for Second Grade?


This week, I'm blogging about my playlists for each grade level, in my music room. For more information about how and why I'm using playlists, check out this post. Today, let's talk about second grade!

Second grade playlist for the music room: Three fun recordings for your music lessons, for dancing, listening, and rhythm!


Here are three recordings from my second grade playlist:

#1: Chimes of Dunkirk
This is one of my favorite folk dances for lower elementary, from a great resource of the same name, by the New England Dancing Masters. I've used it to practice quarter rest (since the students have to clap three times, then rest, then stomp three times, then rest), and it's also a great way to introduce the longways set!

#2: What a Wonderful World
By Louis Armstrong
I absolutely love these picture books, both for the song "What a Wonderful World."

    

By using either of these books, you can introduce students both to Louis Armstrong and to the beautiful song. I've also had discussions with students, about what they think makes a wonderful world.

#3: Rondo Alla Turka by Mozart
I love this piece by Mozart! It is great for practicing/ teaching rondo form, AND for practicing tika-tika, or sixteenth notes. I've had students read the rhythm for the A section while patting it on their laps, then for B they do another motion to the beat, then they tap the rhythm again for A, then do something different for C, etc. The rhythm is as follows (keep in mind, the first tika-tika is a pick-up):


For a more detailed lesson plan which includes several mini-lessons, check out this set:



Stay tuned for third grade tomorrow, and if you haven't entered the giveaway for an iTunes gift card and credit to my store, check it out here! Also check out my Instastories this week for snippets of each song, and read my first grade post here.

What is on your second grade playlist? Feel free to comment below. Happy listening, and happy teaching!

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