Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pinterest Board! - Composer Biographies

I have a WONDERFUL librarian who is always working to provide books resources whenever we need them.  Today, I was looking to create a list of possible composer biographies we'd like to add to our school library AND I was in a hurry.  So I decided to create a pinterest board to share with her.    Some of these titles are new to me, that I intend to investigate before recommending for purchase.  Some of these titles are ones that I have used at other schools that I know for sure, students will love.  Others are titles that I have seen and have been curious about.  Perhaps some of these are titles you are familiar with, and some may be new.  The first thing I plan on doing is going through and notating which composers are studied in which grade levels as that may affect the eventual book the library will purchase.  Perhaps as I have time, I'll even have a chance to look up them up from a library vendor website.  However, for now, I'm happy to have a working list.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Google Drive is AWESOME!

Today we started choir!  Yippee! 

This year we had a much easier time starting choir than last year because THIS year, instead of asking parents and students to return a sheet of paper letting us know that they were coming to choir today, we sent home a hyperlink that sent our interested parents and students directly to a google form.  YAY! 

Students who wished to join choir simply filled out the google form and without any other steps, we had an instant spreadsheet!!!! 

Today, when we were ready to mark attendance, and take note of who is interested in auditioning for special parts or serving as choir officers, my co-teacher and I were able to work on the very same spreadsheet at the very same time!  Our changes were visible to both of us and we got twice as much work done in half the time.  We also were both constantly working from the most current document. 

If you are looking for a way to manage your extra choirs better, then I HIGHLY recommend using google drive! 

It is working AMAZINGLY well! 

If you haven't tried it, now would be a great time! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

8 obvious and often ignored tips for music teachers who get sick.

So it's the second week of school and I'm already out with a nasty sinus infection.   If this post were about how to keep from getting sick I would remind everyone to
1. Wash your hands
2.  Get a flu shot annually
3.  Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep
4. find a good ENT and
5. Get allergy shots if needed

That's great but now I am sick..... Now what?  Here are the things I want to remember so that I can get better faster...... first, please remember that  I am not a doctor, nor is this blog intended as medical advise.  I am just trying to put my mind at rest by reminding myself of a few things while I work on getting back to school this week.
1. If you are ill, truly and contagiously ill, STAY home.     No one wants your germs and if you don't rest it will take longer for you to recover.   This is super hard on control freaks like me who have been known to go in to school dragging and drooling and sharing my sickness with staff and students alike.  You never know who among your co-workers or students may have or like me may be living with someone with a compromised immune system.  Caution is always the best option.  Your determination to go to work might be no big deal to you but you could accidentally put another person in serious danger.  If you suspect that you might be around folks who have a compromised immune system wear a mask and gloves.  I have lived in masks and gloves for 3 days already.

2. When in doubt Go to the doctor!  I am preaching to myself right now..... I HATE going to the doctor, especially  when I am sick!!!!! it takes too long and is too much work and by the
time you get there and go to the pharmacy half of your day of rest is wasted.  I had a friend who
recommend a Medspring clinic.  They have them in DFW, Houston and Chicago.  There may be
something similar in your area.  It is not an emergency room, but they are open until 9:00 pm, you are always seen by an MD and they call in your prescriptions before you leave the office.  Being a teacher means that I am never off during office hours, so I think this clinic just changed my life.
3. Drink water - not caffeinated fizzies, but water, water, water,.  Not even lemon flavored cough drops or diet coke will do.... So sad.... But here is a tip. when you get tired of water, try heating it up.... Its warm.

4. Invest in a nettypot. It's gross but far far far more effective than any medicine when you have a stuffy nose.....Be sure to use only distilled water.
5.    Be aware of what you are taking.  Some cold medicines are combinations of several drugs.  There may be elements that you don't need OR you may accidentally take more than you intend if you aren't being attentive.  Take your medicine as directed so as to avoid unwanted side effects.  Take all of your antibiotics  even after you feel better and don't forget that even homeopathic options can still cause issues if used indiscriminately.  For example,  did you know that echinacea
which is often used to as a cold remedy is part of the ragweed family?  If you are allergic to ragweed then a hot steaming cup of echinacea tea might send your simple case of the sniffles into a full blown allergy driven sinus infection....

6. Limit or reduce sugar intake. All of those medicines and remedies can create a perfect storm for elevated blood sugar.  This is especially true if you are prescribed a steroid as part of your treatment plan as elevated blood sugar is often a side effect.  Cough medicines and cough drops are especially high in sugar so watch out.   It is harder to fight an infection with high blood sugar, so while you are sick, it's not a good time to give into temptation.

7.   Quit talking -  Especially if you have any sort of sinus infection, throat infection or bronchial infection. your vocal chords will thank you for the rest AND anything you can do to avoid
 unnecessary coughing will speed your ability to vocalize well once you feel better.  You wouldn't
expect an athlete to run with an injury for fear of causing further damage.  The same is true for singing music teachers who hope to have a lifetime career and who also hope to avoid developing the dreaded "old music teacher voice".

8. Save an "easy-ish" lesson for yourself.  In addition to having good sub plans, try to save at least one or two easy plans for yourself so that if you MUST go to work when you are. not up to full teaching power, you can still give your students something good and curricular lay valuable.  On days like that I am liable to rearrange my roadmap and do  lessons where I have lots of listening activities like genre or composer studies.  Centers or other independent practice lessons also work well as long as your students are fairly independent on the skill you are practicing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fantastic First Day Fun!

The first day of school is such a special day!  I love the way that my students come in shy and expectant with hopes of a good year in their eye.    I love the air of excitement that pervades the building and the extra special effort everyone puts into doing everything right.

I catch myself looking for familiar faces among the older students and realize that my "big kids" are now in jr. high and won't come back for a visit unless they have a younger sibling.  I find that I am surprised by just how small a newly minted 5 year old really is.    Its on the first day of school when we notice that all of our students have grown taller. AND it's on the first day of school when even students who have shined or struggled in years past get a chance to start over.

I enjoy the careful way everyone walks down the hall and the sense of wonder and excitement that comes when my students realize that THIS year, they actually get to do something they have looked forward to for a long time.  I can't help but find that the cheers that accompany an announcement about ordering recorders VERY encouraging.

Oh... and the singing! When I hear my students sing at this time of year I am reminded of why I have the best job ever!  I work really, really,  hard to do what I do, but I don't know of many folks who feel that their job creates joy. When my students are actively engaged in a musically beautiful moment, there is joy.... and I got to be there when it happened.  Today in music class the ice of an over air conditioned summer started to melt into the warm camaraderie of a back porch swing.  Today, on the first day of school, I have students who just met who have taken the first steps toward a life long friendship all while playing  Skip to My Lou My Darling. 

I could say more, but as wonderful as today was, like all first days, it was an exhausting one and I am BEAT! 

Oh yeah, the other thing I like about the first day of school is that because I'm a music teacher, I get to have a first day, every day this week!  I hope you all have had a great day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back To School - Music Room Tour - part 2 -2014

One of the joys of not being new anymore is that I've had all year to inhabit my classroom and learn how the room flows with students in it.  As a result, my room set up is a little more refined and indicative of the way that students actually use the space. I finished my room last Friday and decided to hurry up and take pictures of everything before I messed it up again!    I'm very pleased with how things turned out...

The view from the entrance
my teaching nook
My computer area.... My personal CD collection is not yet put away because it is in need of some TLC
CD player and CD cabinet
The red bucket is where I keep my "today" teaching things.  The notebook is where I will keep printed lesson plans.  Objectives and reminders will be written next to the grade levels. 
I have the electric keyboard in the front of class because although I'm not a great accompanist, I like to play for class.  I'm much more likely to be successful if I am seated rather than standing on tiptoe over an upright.  I almost never use the removable music stand and prefer to play with my music flat on the keyboard so that I can see my students better. 

Our Orff instruments are always out.  We don't want them to get dusty.  Bandanas from Hobby Lobby some in a ton of colors and patterns and work great.  2 cover a bass.

I left this bulletin board blank on purpose because it will hold anchor charts as we create them.  The genre posters I hope to use during listening lessons
The recorders on top will eventually be assigned to students who need them so they don't have to share.  The drawer below has extra new recorders for 5th graders who might not have purchased a recorder yet.   Oh yeah, here is my pencil sharpener! :)

Managing instructional materials for 6 grades can be tough especially if some materials are shared.   Extra copies, shared resources, things that we are getting ready to teach.... THIS is the area where I will organize those things. 

This the view of the back wall from my "real" piano.... :)

I am going to try to house my textbooks like this.  I don't know if I'll like it, but I didn't think my plan last year was very effective.... SOOOO we'll try this and see how it goes. 
Each class has a folder to help me keep track of student work. 

When I look at this picture, I realize that I've got to sort my mallets. 
These bins are the perfect size for a class set of recorders.

pocket charts for my word wall. 

The empty shelves at the back will hopefully be the right size to store some of the things we may need for our upcoming performances. 

Have you ever notice that things accumulate over the year?  I think  I've finally left room for things I will receive.... like giant boxes of recorders, or performance shirts

Oh my goodness!  I have a desk! AND it's cleaned off!

Having been a teacher for so long I have a fairly extensive collection of things that I have made over the years that I keep on my laptop.  My resolution for the year is to actually set up my laptop everyday so that I can have access to those hidden treasures if I need them.  I would also really like to keep a clean desk.  After 15 years of teaching I don't know if it's possible, but its a new year and I can try.  MAYBE my desk decorations will last through the end of the first day....maybe not.... double sided tape is my friend.... If it gets messed up.... oh well!   This also reminds me that I need to do a post about sub plans.... one of these days! :)

who can resist musical bathroom passes? 
With school starting on Monday, I may not be free to write again for awhile, but I hope that everyone has a great time going back to school this year!