Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Soaking Up Summer! - 6 strategies to having a refreshing and useful summer experience

1.  Soak up the Silence - or at least the almost silence

My ears get weary....  So my favorite thing to do during the summertime is to enjoy silence.  Turn off the TV, turn off the music, put away your ever present devices and do something surrounded by quiet.  If you have a family at home with you, your best avenue for comparative silence might be a walk in the park, or a trip to the playground or the library, but whatever you do, find sometime to rest your tired ears.

2.  If chores are necessary, do the ones that are relaxing first

I am starting this summer by organizing all of my audio files.  It's time consuming, and repetitive work that I can accomplish while enjoying my favorite coffee at Starbucks or while snuggled in my recliner with my favorite TV series.  I like chores like this because when I am finished I feel like I've done something important that will make my life easier without sacrificing the slower and less demanding pace of summer

3.  Read!

Even in the slower pace of summer it feels positively decadent to lounge around and read a book.  Even professional books are not such a burden if you can take it to the beach....

4.  Pinterest!

So I really think that Pinterest should count as legitimate form of professional development.  Earlier this week I spent an entire day re-organizing boards that I had created simply for the joy of looking at all the neat ideas I had found.  It's so much fun, and addictive.... very addictive....  If you would like to follow me on Pinterest I can be found HERE! 

5.  Youtube

Build up your video files by searching through Youtube for clips that can be used in your classroom.  Some you may want to pin on pinterest, while others you may want to keep.  In most districts you can only show Youtube without ads and other stuff, so I've gotten in the habit of using safeshare.tv
and keepvid.com

6.  Create crafts with a purpose
Once you are all inspired up with Pinterest ideas, you may find that there are things that you would like to make for your classroom.  Summer is perfect for those types of projects!  Just pick one or two, break out the gluegun and scissors and have a blast. This summer I have plans to make some curtains for an area of my room that needs some coverage.



Sunday, June 7, 2015

Farewell to Family - Celebrating the year with a good goodbye

Have I mentioned that I LOVE my school?  THIS is how awesome they are!

Teachers voluntarily attended several before and after school rehearsals in MAY to learn how to play a song on instruments all in order to celebrate what a great year it has been and to take the time to say "thank you" and "we'll miss you" to those who will not be at our campus next year.   Those who were too busy to attend or who had a conflict, practiced on their own time and on the last day, everyone came together, admin, teachers and staff on Friday morning and we sang!  As my co-teacher would say, our performance was "beautifully flawed"

The entire experience was so much fun! Every rehearsal saw a different group hurrying down to the music room.... teachers would come in with end of year tasks etched on their faces and leave 20 minutes later relaxed and smiling ready to get to work....  During the performance on Friday  there were smiles, there were tears, there were hugs, there was sincerity,  there were hooray's and there was a deep sense of thankfulness that we had all made to the happy side of another year of teaching!  It was fantastic!

What sorts of things does your school do to celebrate the end of the year?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Planner Cover!

So you've figured out the parts of the planner that you want to use.  You've downloaded everything and only printed what you need... but now there are more decisions... 

Binding v.s. hole punching 


  1. I LOVE notebooks!  but  having relied on notebooks all these years I've had one too many binders bust open when they are knocked to the floor.
  2.  My planners are most likely to bust open when a student backs into my music stand and knocks it over... It doesn't happen very often unless my binder is on the music stand ready to bust open and then it happens all the time.  
  3. HOWEVER, if you have an uncertain schedule, or if you anticipate a change then a notebook with hole punched pages is your very best friend.  




Covers, Lamination, Tabs and Dividers 

1.  I've included cover pages in my planner.  Last  year I just printed them on plain paper, but this year I've decided to print them on card stock.  I have too many sections to use the tabs offered in the print options, and I'm rather fond of the post it tabs so I'm going to use those rather than get them printed.  

2.  After using the planner for a year, I also recommend getting your covers thickly laminated.  Thick enough seems to be 10 mm... I had the left, top and bottom trimmed so that the page could fit into the binding and then I CAREFULLY trimmed the corners so that they were rounded rather than sharp.   I left the laminated edge on the right side so that I can add my tabs later. 

3.  I have pictures of family on my cover and like to personalize it, but if you are stretched for time and want something easy, feel free to use this cover. 



To download this planner cover 


Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015-2016 Revised Music Teacher Planner - Chapter 5 - Meetings, Notes and Budgets

This chapter is the final chapter of the planner.  You will find a variety of note taking templates for all of the wonderful meetings we get to attend.  For myself, I find it useful to keep my professional development notes separate from my every day meetings.  I also found that this last year, my notes section wasn't quite big enough, so I decided to actually remove my weekly calendar to buy some additional note taking real estate.  

You will also find budget and financial planning templates in this chapter.

Being good stewards of the resources we are entrusted with is extremely important.  To do less than our best in this area can only cause problems.  Furthermore, when you are trying to build or maintain a solid program, investments in music and equipment are necessary.  In these days when budgets are always decreasing while the needs stay constant, it's a great idea to get creative about how we find resources.  Multiple funding opportunities means a need for very purposeful planning and record keeping so that you can make every work for your program.






DOWNLOAD CHAPTER 5 HERE

If you would like to download chapter 1 click   HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 2 click HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 3 click HERE! 
If you would like to download chapter 4 click HERE! 


Advise about printing:  


The PDF files that are linked here include pages as I have them set up for my own planner.  Your needs may be different than mine so feel free to print more or less of any given page. You will notice that each page is either left or right of center.  This is to allow for binding or hole punching. 
For best results try to arrange your planner so that when your book is open an even numbered page is on the left and an odd numbered page is on the right.  

Please remember that all parts of this planner are intended as a gift to busy music teachers who spend hours of their own time and regularly contribute their own money to the cause of making their music classrooms a haven of learning through music.  If you choose to use any part of this planner please do not sell it.  If you choose to share any part of this planner with others, please share the link to the blog rather than downloading and then mass producing planners for others.

If you find any part of the planner useful or if you have a request or suggestion please leave a comment below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rhythm Karate - FREE Download! - when the best ideas of others foster the best ideas in me!

Last year around this time of year I looked up at the clock and noticed that my 2nd graders had finished our entire lesson, AND played several of my best games AND we STILL  had 10 minutes left!!!!  ...  I'll admit that I wasn't feeling particularly inspired, but I wanted to try my best to review known concepts because being May, I knew that I would only see my kiddos a couple more times.... AND I wanted to have fun because once again, being May I knew that nothing less than fun would be motivational for my students.

So across the room I spied my set of handy dandy color coordinated rhythm flashcards.  At this school I have the ones created by Denise Gange.  They can be purchased HERE!  




I looked at the clock one more time and I said, "Let's play Rhythm Karate!" Even as I said it, I was remembering the fantastic motivation that happens with Music K-8 Recorder Karate and doing some quick thinking about how to turn my borrowed idea into a fun whole group review of rhythm on the fly....  and what about belts?  I didn't have any!  YIKES!   

 I asked my students to look the first  card over and figure out how they would read it, play it and say it.... 
 Then the entire class played and said the first card.... and the second.... until we reached the end of the first color...   If the performance was sloppy, we repeated it and cleaned it up....   If a rhythm was unfamiliar, I would pause and ask questions until the students could teach each other how to perform the rhythm... As the cards flew by the students got more and more excited and more focused,  Because effort and focus was high, even my students who would ordinarily be left behind were keeping up...   Once a color was completed, we cheered and I wrote down on their seating chart that they had earned their white belt... that's it!  I just told them, "You've just earned your white belt!"  "Hooray!"  At which point they were SOOOOO excited that they literally BEGGED to earn another belt right then!  Did I mention that they were excited?  No physical belts required!  If time allowed, we would do a couple of cards from the next belt and then I'd notate on their seating chart the number of the card where they left off.... easy as pie!  
   
The students were so excited about it that I tried it again  the next day and my partner teacher next door tried it and loved it!  Everyone was on task, everyone was excited and everyone was able to progress at a good pace through the cards.    

The next time I saw them they immediately asked which belt they would get to earn today and in about 15 minutes they were able to read, say and play all of the orange cards (that contained most of the 2nd grade rhythms)  and had started the next set of cards that we were preparing for 3rd grade...

This year we decided to include the activity in our lesson plans for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade... Because of natural mobility, we decided it might be best to start on the first set of cards regardless of grade level.  This is great because it gives some of my struggling students the confidence early on because as the colors change the cards get progressively harder.... Starting from the beginning also helps correct lazy and thoughtless habits of students who really have it but need to practice precision. 

Additionally, when you have a class that doesn't immediately fall under the "karate spell" (I have one out of 12 classes) adding unpitched percussion is awesome!    You will want to have a plan for rhythms that contain notes with longer duration like half notes... How do you want those notes played?  However with a plan in place, it is a great strategy because the karate mindset promotes personal discipline which means that poor instrumental technique can cause a class to have to perform the flash card a second or third time. No more sloppy practice!  

We also started posting the belts earned on our board.  I put a class name and then the belt earned next to it.... They enjoy the posting of results so much that my older students are asking when it will be their turn to play.  I have also created a certificate that classes can post on their doors that will declare which belts they have earned.  

This is a GREAT end of the year review activity! I hope you enjoy! 

Download the certificates for FREE!  below! 



I plan on using this poster with 1st grade



This version is nice because it's not limited to certain colors and you can give out as many as you like.