Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Terrific Tuesday! - My favorite sub folder organization tool

First let me say that on another day when I'm not home sick I'm going to write an entire series on my sub plans, how I organize them and keep them relevant.  But for now, let me tell you about my FAVORITE organizational tool for my sub plans.

Plastic Dividers with Pockets

I put all of my lesson plans into plastic sleeves.  I also put any copy "masters" in a plastic sleeve right behind the lesson plans.  I keep my sub folder stocked with all the copies a sub might need for one day.  The sub plans the copies go in the pockets for that grade level. My subs don't have to hunt for papers any more.

I've discovered that brand DOES matter!  My Avery pocket dividers have lasted for more than 5 years.  My  off brand pocket dividers aren't going to make it through the year.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Extra Special Go Texas Day!

Everyone in Houston knows that Go Texas Day is awesome!  Go Texas Day commemorates the opening day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  Each year trail riders descend on the city from all different directions and converge on city as they make their way to the Reliant Stadium and Arena for opening day. Elementary schools all over town have events in celebration.

Our school has a square dance and sing along with each grade level during their regularly scheduled "specials" time.  Our parents are invited and because the gym is so packed with dancers and guests it's hard to find a place to stand where you aren't in the way of a video camera.

Once the dancing is over we sing together with whatever time is left after the dancing.  As soon as one grade level leaves, we set up another grade level for square dancing and away we go!  6 grade level programs in one day is A LOT!!!!!!  But it is really an adventure in precious!

Each morning I have hallway duty and one of my primary functions is to help the 5th graders find the gym where they read quietly until their teachers arrive to pick them up.  (I have a few 5th graders who tend to get lost when it's time to read, so I help them remember where it is and what they are supposed to do when they get there)  This morning was no exception, but unlike other ordinary mornings, I had a whole bevy of 5th grade girls AND boys primping in the nearest bathroom trying to get ready for the BIG DANCE!  Since the nearest bathroom is also right next to the music room, I had my bandannas ready and anyone who didn't come to school outfitted as a cowboy could borrow one.   They were ALL so excited!

Of course, I was dressed up for Go Texas Day too and I'll admit that I sort of embrace my "Fancy Nancy" persona on Go Texas Day and try my best to be a little over the top.  Today I had a red bandanna skirt, a red rhinestone "rodeo" T-shirt and denim jacket with a red rose pinned to the lapel and a red rhinestone cowboy hat and of course I had boots.  FUN!!!!!

The hardest part of the day is standing all day in boots on the gym floor. There are other times during the year when I spend the day in the gym and none of them are quite as taxing as the day I spend in boots, so I'm guessing that the gym floor and my boots are just not a combination for comfort.  It is my habit to sort and reset my room every Friday after school, and for my own sanity today was no exception.  I try my best to only stay late (after my daily 5:30) one day a week and it usually ends up being Friday.  Today, because my feet hurt,  I only stayed long enough to detangle the spaghetti on my desk into piles and put away just a few things while gathering a work bag to take home for tomorrow.  By then my Go Texas Day feet were screaming at me, so I was out of there and home by 5:50....I live very very very close to school.

Within five minutes of arriving home I was ready for bed, in my pajamas, ready to watch a movie before heading to bed.  It wasn't long before I realized that the sweet children who live downstairs and who attend my school were not going to quit knocking at my door. My clue was when they switched from knocking to using the metal door knocker. I looked at myself and realized that I didn't have a choice.  I was going to have to answer the door IN my pajamas.  - How Embarrassing!!!! However, it was worth it!

There they were, big brother still in his cowboy clothes and little sister dressed in her princess finery complete with a tiara.  They were standing there holding out a plate of birthday cake and ice cream for me!  Princess was celebrating her birthday today and wanted to bring me some cake and ice cream!  So SWEET!  I have the best neighbors EVER!

Now I'm enjoying a very sweet Saturday while I catch up on piles of laundry, grades, and planning for the rest of the semester.  LOVE my Saturdays!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Freebie Friday! 100th post edition!

Melodysoup has reached a major milestone.  THIS is the 100th post for this blog!  In honor of my 100th post I am going to give away a brand new book.

I am giving away a brand new copy of "This Little Light of Mine" by E.B. Lewis.  I got it while I was at TMEA with you in mind. I love the simplicity of this beautiful book.  The illustrations are quite eloquent and they illuminate the lyrics of this wonderful gospel song beautifully.  I love sharing this book with kindergarten and first grade students because it's a great way for them to see someone being kind and "letting their light shine".

Below are the instructions for how you can enter to win this wonderful book!  Don't forget to tell other people about the give away for the chance to
As soon as the Sweepstakes is over I will you all of the winner in a blog post.  I will contact the winner send this happy book on it's merry way.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesdays! - Melodysoup Linky Party! To Folder or Not to Folder? How do YOU use folders?

I have a love-hate relationship with folders!

  •  I LOVE having a place for each student to collect a portfolio of things that we have covered throughout the year.  
  • I HATE having to take the time to put things into the folders.  If I'm not careful that can eat up 1/3 of my class and ya'll, I don't have the time! 
  • I LOVE having papers organized so that I can find work when I'm ready to grade it. 
  • I HATE having to open every folder just for one little grade.
  • I LOVE that I can usually manage to get enough for up to 3 grade levels and my choir just by creating one donorschoose.org project
  • I HATE how expensive they are! 
  • I LOVE being able to organize them by color so that everyone in one class has the same color.
  • I HATE that my students don't always stay in the class they started in and often move away. 

But what I really want to know is how YOU use folders!  IF you use and manage folders in your music classroom what are best tips?  

How does this work? 

1. You write a post related to this post.... ."How do use or manage folders in your music classroom?"
2. Then link back here to MelodySoup......You can use my button if you wish

<center><a href="http://melodysoup.blogspot.com/"/><img src="http://i1158.photobucket.com/albums/p603/mcspaddb/4ae054f1.jpg "></a></center>

Then your AND all the others will show up below!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Marvelous Mondays! - Internet research solutions for the music classroom.

 I am embarking on an adventure to make the use of technology easier and not such a big deal in my classroom.  The easier and less time consuming it becomes then the more useful it will be for learning and the less time it will take.  With that in mind, here are some choices that I am making.

1.  I always put music first. -    Personally, I am drawn to technology, and because I enjoy it almost as much as music, I find that when I get a classroom full of eager students ready to use computers I can very quickly and without conscious intent sacrifice our musical experiences to the demanding nature of technology.  I have to remind myself that in my classroom, technology is intended only a supporting actor, not the lead role.  Nothing can replace our collaborative musical experiences and I've noticed that while teachers all over campus are using technology, it is almost always only in music class where students engage in  musically aesthetic experiences.   By carefully refining my use of technology with students I can deepen the rigor of our interaction with technology while conserving, hoarding and dedicating as much of our time as possible for socially interactive, live, interpersonal and tactile music.

2. Get on, engage, and get off.  - IF I don't plan my use of technology carefully I can accidentally spend an entire lesson teaching my students how to log in or how to type a search term into Google   Those are all critically important things, but who has time for that? Certainly not a music teacher who sees her students once every 6 days!
 I've let myself off the hook by realizing that while it is sometimes prudent and expedient, it is not always necessary for ME to be the one who teaches those discreet technology skills.  Only sometimes and under very specifically well planned circumstances will I go into all of those details.

3. Safety First! 
Last year I started work with my 5th graders developing a project that I could do with them that would be fairly quick and would use technology. I had the students create a VOKI which would speak about a musical career that they found interesting. I liked the products but found the research to be weak primarily because I limited the 5th grade to visiting one site.
This year I decided to amp up the research to give students more information and more opportunity to explore.  I'll admit that I was a little freaked out about wandering the internet with a classroom full of lightning fast 5th graders whose favorite internet pastime is stealing images off of Google images.  I remembered a technology sharing session I had attended and decided that what I needed was a Symbaloo account.  THAT way, I could do the research ahead of time and the 5th graders wouldn't just follow the links to good places that I trusted.

I'm sharing my Symbaloo "Music Careers" webmix with you because I think you might find it useful too.  It contains all of the cool information I found about music careers.  When my students log into our network as students they do not have access to Youtube, but teachers do have access, so I showed several short videos as part of our research.  I've posted several of those that I used over the last few weeks. Here is a sample.  Berklee did an AWESOME job of providing information both through their amazing videos AND their fairly comprehensive information about careers in music. At TMEA this week I made sure I found my way to the Berklee booth to thank them. :) 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Melodysoup Video Wednesday - Week 6

OK - so I wouldn't share this video with my students, but it made me laugh and so
 I thought you might enjoy it too!  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February is a BIG month around here!

First off!

Blog posts in the works..........
1. Word wall updates coming soon!
2. February melodysoup book award
3. Music careers online resources all in one place
4. macbooks and finale notepad projects
5. keynote projects
6. Valentines songs
7. Texas music

February has brought lots of changes and unexpected blessings to my world that have caused me to rely on blog posts that I created weeks ago to get me by.  I haven't created any new content or responded to comments because boy have I been busy.....AND I didn't know that I would be!

My in my district the number of music teachers who have assigned to your school is dependent upon enrollment.  When I joined the faculty 3.5 years ago and more than 100 students ago, our campus was firmly established in the 1.5 music teacher range.....we weren't at risk of loosing our half day music teacher, but we weren't in sight of getting a 2nd full time music teacher either.  But NOW our enrollment is WAY up!

About 3 weeks ago, on a whim, I mentioned to my principal that the last time I had this many students to teach, there had been 2 of me..... (meaning 2 full time music teachers)....... I figured that it might be wishful thinking, but it never hurts to ask if we could get some help for next year.  Never in a million years did I dream that they would be able to take care of the need THIS YEAR!!!!  Ella who is our half day music teacher in the morning has another campus where she teaches in the afternoon........SOOOOOOO I needed an afternoon only half time music teacher.... I thought OH MY!!!!  where am I going to find one of those. My wish list included someone qualified to teach music.

So after two weeks of searching and praying for the right person to come along and teaching with a sub..... we were able to arrange for my friend Rosemary to join us.   Rosemary is AWESOME!  She is a "real" music teacher.... who actually taught at my school just before I did.  Rosemary started yesterday and already I'm feeling the benefit of her help.

Yesterday and today, EVEN with my tough groups has been so much easier simply because my afternoons are less packed..... As it turns out, teaching just a little over 1 class at a time (25-30) students works sooooo much better than 1.5 classes (35-45) students

Ya'll that isn't even all!

This weekend, my church choir is presenting a concert full of music written by one of our composer friends Mary McDonald, so I've got extra rehearsals..... AND I've got to get my sub plans ready because............

On Tuesday I get to go to TMEA!  I haven't been to TMEA in about 3 years so I almost feel like I'm going to Hawaii for vacation.  In Texas we have our state convention in San Antonio every year and it's been right there in the convention center since the beginning of time, so we've gotten good at having it there and know how to use our space well.  I'm going up on Tuesday afternoon because I've decided to be adventurous and take the MEGABUS!  I'll let you know how it goes.

On Wednesday I am going to the T:I:M:E conference that is held every other year and look forward to getting lots of ideas about how to use technology.

When I get back, my students should be close to finished preparing for our annual Go Texas Day Hoe Down and Sing Along.  We partner with PE and Art to put together an all day shindig in preparation for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The next two weeks are CRAZY!!!!  But REALLY awesome!

I think maybe I should add more capitol letters and apostrophes.