31 December, 2017
Reflecting halfway through the school year

Reflecting halfway through the school year

Happy 2018! I hope you've all enjoyed the holidays. I had a great time relaxing with my family!
This year, my break is rather short, and I'm going back to school January 2. With the short break, I've had to do some reflection during break to make sure I was in the right mindset to go back! Here are a few ways I've reflected on my school year thus far:

Reflecting halfway through the school year: Thoughts about reflecting and planning for 2018 in the music room

Where have they been?
Now is a great time to look at my year plans and previous lesson plans to see where my students have been. Are they "on track" or did we get a bit behind? Which concepts have they learned so far? How is their understanding? Do they need more practice or are they ready to move on? What worked well? What didn't?
A note here: don't feel guilty if your kids are behind. Almost every year, at least one of my grade levels gets behind. I look at my year plan and shake my head at where I thought they'd be and where they actually are. But the time they've spent is time well spent--they know the concepts more fully than if I had rushed them through it, just to stick to the plan!

Where are they going?
If you've created year plans for every grade, now you can look at each year plan and see where the kids are going (more on year plans in this video.) Which concepts do they still need to learn? Do they have a musical program coming up? How much preparation do they need? Do you want to keep the program line-up as is or tweak a bit?
I took some time over break to figure out what would be going on for each grade level for the month of January (especially since I have a student teacher starting the third week of January.) I found this set on TpT and find it a very visually appealing way to keep track!

You don't necessarily need to write a ton of details in this file, since you may already have that information in your year plan, but just having a way to keep track of the main concepts, songs, assessments, etc. that you'll be doing for each lesson is super helpful! It also is great for keeping track when there are days with no school, snow days, assemblies, etc.

What do I still want to try?
If you've been to workshops or a conference lately, or if you've been active on Pinterest, you likely are excited to try out something in your classroom and you just haven't had a chance yet. I've been toying around with the idea of doing Genius Hour--or something like Genius Hour--with my 5th graders near the end of the year, so I'll have to do some reading and planning between now and then before I can implement it. Is there a dance you want to try with your students? Maybe you want to start ukulele? Bucket drumming? Whatever it is, now's a great time to make plans!

If assessment is on your list of things to dive into in 2018, then my 5-day musical assessment challenge is perfect for you!

Free 5-day musical assessment challenge: Includes 5 days of helpful emails, FB live videos, and more, all about assessment in the music room!

The musical assessment challenge will start Monday, January 8, and will run until Friday, January 12. Each day, we'll explore ideas for different grade level assessments, so that you start 2018 with fresh, new ideas for assessing in the music room!

Each day will include an email, a Facebook Live video with assessment and teaching strategies, and a discussion in my Facebook group. You will have a short task to complete each day of the challenge, and if you don't have time for one day's challenge, you can still move onto the next without any problems!

To sign up for the challenge, fill out the form below:
I'm looking forward to hosting the challenge and helping you and your students! Happy planning, and Happy New Year!

04 December, 2017
Fun activities for December in the music room

Fun activities for December in the music room

With December upon us, today I'm teaming up with Amy Abbott to blog about my favorite December activities for the music room!

Fun activities for December in the music room: Lots of ideas for your elementary Christmas  music lessons!

The kids are SO excited this month! Here are my favorite activities to keep them engaged and celebrate winter holidays while still practicing musical concepts and skills:

#1: Singalong
Whether you simply sing through your favorite carols in your room or have a school-wide singalong, it is SO fun to sing holiday songs with your students! If you're looking for more information on directing a singalong, check out this blog post.

#2: Picture books
I love using children's literature as much as I can. Here are some of my favorites for December:

#3: Play dreidel
After singing my absolute favorite Hanukkah song "When oh when," I love to play dreidel with my students! I bought a dreidel at Target and then play with candy. Great way to teach about another holiday while having lots of fun!
#4: Christmas Carol Bingo
If you feel like all your kids want to do is listen to Christmas music, this set is a super fun way to let them do that while improving their listening skills!

#5: Listening lessons
Since it's December, I love having students listen to music like the "Nutcracker" (for activities for the "Nutcracker," check out this set.) For a simple listening lesson, you could have students listen to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and move, with ribbons or scarves, however they think the music sounds. You could also download this freebie by Cori Bloom to have students respond in writing to music.

#6: Rhythmic practice
For a fun and easy way to practice rhythmic concepts during December, you could have students read flashcards for rhythms they know with four beats in between each card, to a piece of music, or they could perform a rhythm pattern as an ostinato. For example, students could listen to "Feliz Navidad" while reading rhythm patterns for ta and ti-ti.

Here's a set that I just made to help practice ta and ti-ti. With this set, students choose their center, and try to finish all four centers to get to the North pole first! 

What are your favorite activities for December in the music room? Feel free to comment below, and make sure to head on over to Amy Abbott's blog to read her favorite activities!

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