27 September, 2018
See the old witch {A Halloween music composition activity}

See the old witch {A Halloween music composition activity}



Looking for a fun Halloween activity that gets students composing and practicing quarter rest? In this blog post, I'm writing with a favorite activity for students during the Halloween season...or any time!

Composing with "See the old witch": Blog post includes a freebie for having students compose during Halloween, or any time of the year!


"See the old witch" is a fun singing game that my first graders really enjoy. Here's the notation:



For the game, students sit in a circle, sitting down. One child is chosen to be “it” and has a penny in his/her hand. All other students close their eyes and put their hands behind their back. As they sing, the person who is “it” walks around the circle. At the end of the song, he/she drops the penny into the hands of whoever they are closest to. That child opens his/her eyes and chases “it” back to that child’s spot! The game continues with the chaser being “it.”

After students are comfortable with the song, I print out cards like the ones shown below onto cardstock, and have students as a whole group choose which cards go where (you can use magnetic tape like this to stick to your white board). We chant this as a B section--repeating it after saying it once, with the song being the A section. So if we were to perform ABA form, we'd sing the song, chant the B section, then sing the song again, like this:

Sung:
See the old witch/ Fell in a ditch/ Found a penny and/ Thought she was rich.
Spoken:
Found a penny/ Witch/ Found a penny/ Fell down!
Found a penny/ Witch/ Found a penny/ Fell down!
Sung:
See the old witch/ Fell in a ditch/ Found a penny and/ Thought she was rich.

In the next lesson, you could show the students the cards again and work with them as a full group, but then we split up into small groups and students get a chance to compose in small groups, getting 2 copies of each pattern. I give students 5-10 minutes to work with their groups, to choose 4 cards and place them on top of the beats, then read the cards with the group, adding a repeat sign at the end, so that they chant twice. I ask them to use at least one "witch" card, and tell them they can repeat a pattern. Here's a picture of one of my students working with the cards.

Composing with "See the old witch": Blog post includes a freebie for having students compose during Halloween, or any time of the year!

Students could perform their compositions in a rondo, with the song being the A section, and each group's composition being the alternate sections (A= we all sing, B= group 1 performs, A= we sing, C= group 2 performs, etc.) As students are performing, I find it helpful to play the steady beat on a hand drum or tubano. (Beware: many students will want to skip over the rest, so it's a great way to practice!)

Interested in using these cards? Download them for free HERE.

Looking for more Halloween activities? Check out this set, which could be used as sub plans, or as lesson plans during October.



Happy teaching!


18 September, 2018
Classroom Management Strategies for the Music Room

Classroom Management Strategies for the Music Room


Lately, I've been blogging about classroom management strategies in the music room. Today's blog post includes a podcast episode with more ideas!

Classroom Management Strategies for the Music Room: Ideas for engaging students during your music lessons!



Listen to the podcast, called The Music Room, in the iTunes Store, or here:




Here are the links mentioned in the podcast episode:
What are your favorite classroom management strategies? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!
13 September, 2018
Transitions in the Music Room

Transitions in the Music Room



Lately, I've been writing with classroom management strategies in the music room. In this post, I wrote about star students, and in this post, I wrote about a point system for your music classroom. Today, I'm writing about one of my favorite ways to keep students' attention throughout the lesson: transitions!

Transitions in the music room: Ideas for using transitions in your music lessons to keep kids engaged and excited!


I first learned about transitions when I began my Kodaly training at Capital University. In a music lesson, transitions are how we move from one activity from the next, so that kids stay engaged, and the lesson flows smoothly. Although I've thought of this as more of a lesson strategy than a classroom management strategy, I think it can do wonders to help students stay focused and excited!

Last year, I made this video about transitions in the Kindergarten music room:


Earlier this year, I made this video about transitions for first and second grade:


Here are some of the links mentioned in both videos:
Here is the animated transitions set I mentioned in the 1st and 2nd grade video:



If you'd like to see more videos like this, subscribe to my YouTube channel here

What are some of your favorite transitions? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!


05 September, 2018
Point System for the Music Classroom

Point System for the Music Classroom


Today, I'm continuing my classroom management series to write about a great way to reward the whole class: a point system for the music room!

Point system for the music classroom: Great way to reward whole class behavior!



Since I started teaching, I've rewarded individual students for exemplary behavior by choosing star students, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I began rewarding whole class behavior. I read this book, which is great read for any special areas team:



In the book, the author outlined a four point system for rewarding whole class behavior. I adapted it a bit from the author's ideas, and have used it since with success. In each music class, students can earn up to four points:

1 point for walking in quietly
1 point for listening well
1 point for good effort
1 point for lining up quietly

This year, I broadened "good effort" to also include good effort in being kind to one another, since our school-wide theme is kindness.

My former student teacher and colleague Emily uses the same system, but instead of "good effort," she changed it to "smooth transitions," which I love! I may actually switch to that in the future.

At the end of class, I tell students how many points they've earned, and tally them on a chart like this:


When they reach the end of their row (which is 25 points), they get a reward day in their next music class. I teach 50 minute classes, so I give them half of the next music class--25 minutes--to vote on what they'd like to do. I make a list on the board, they vote, and then we do the top two-three, depending on how long each activity takes. Here is a picture of one first grade class's choices, last year, from my Instagram account:



They absolutely love the reward days, and it's a great way to see what really resonates with students. Through reward days, I've discovered that my Kindergarteners love the bunny game (which you can read about here), my first graders love creating on ipads with Chrome Music Lab, and my fourth and fifth graders really enjoy "Skin and Bones," which you can read about here.

After they've received all their points, I erase the points on the chart (which is laminated and easy to erase) and then we start over!

Another way to tally points is to use a file like this, by Teaching in the Tongass:


I actually bought this to use with my six year old as a positive behavior system, and she's loved it! It can be used with a whole class by duplicating some of the images (so that you have 25 pieces to choose from for each class.) You could have each class decide which theme they want to use and duplicate and label each slide as needed.

One more way to tally points is to give a coin per point, and have students "fill their jar" in order to get their reward. I bought these coins that say "Caught being good today" years ago on Oriental Trading. I don't use them anymore, but think they could work really well for this purpose! You could also use them for individual rewards.

The point system has been a wonderful way to give specific feedback to students about their behavior and keep them motivated! Looking for more ways to manage your classroom? Check out this set:


Do you use a point system? Feel free to comment below, and stay tuned for more classroom management posts soon on my blog! Happy teaching!

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