Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Red Heads, Books, and a Chicken

What management strategies work for you and your students?

Copy claps?  Reward systems?  Behavior Bucks? 

I have used a point system from Day One and have found it to work really well with my personal teaching style and with my students.  This year, I found new "happy" and "sad" faces to post on the board for keeping track of happy and sad points a class earns while they're in music class.

I can't take credit for finding or creating these.  Another teacher in our building found these, and they're made by Melonheadz.
What activities have you used in your classroom so far that you and your students have liked?  I read a couple books to my primary students earlier this year.  You can't pass up a good bear hunt, and Song of Middle C is a great way to talk about welcoming and learning from failure, because we all sure do it a lot. 

With my intermediate classes, I taught "Chicken on a Fence Post."  If you're unfamiliar with the song and game, students sing while walking in opposite-moving circles.  A chicken--or in this case a TY cockatiel--is placed in the middle of the two circles.  Two pairs of hands are chosen to serve as "gates" which open (by raising hands in air) at the end of the song.  Two "foxes" race to the chicken when the gates open.
You know what they say: the early fox gets the bird.


The game was pretty much a hit.  They still ask to play it.  And isn't that what it's all about?  Making a lasting impression through music and fun.  I think it's really easy, especially in the midst of PGES, Program Reviews, and an infinite number of other unidentified acronyms, to get lost in the shuffle.  I don't know about you, but I often feel discouraged.  I feel forgotten and undervalued.  What makes teaching worth it to me is seeing kids smile, laugh, and enjoy time in music class. 
What makes teaching worth it to you?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Classroom Set-Up with a "Rest Area"

There's just something about stapling freshly laundered and ironed fabric onto a blank canvas of cork board.  I enjoy setting up my classroom because it symbolizes a fresh start, as mentioned in my last post.  Here are a few pictures of the music room so far.

The white sides read "What do you want to learn in music class this year?"  I want students to write responses on the boards (made of white paper) as a way for me to hear and respond to student voices, interests, and goals.  

 My favorite part of my room so far is the "Rest Area."  I've always had this chair and desk where students come when they need to get away, but it's never been a very therapeutic or helpful area, rather than being away from the class.  I added stuffed animals, a calming jar (tons of these are on Pinterest), a feelings chart, and--not pictured--some stress balls made of balloons and flour.

I plan to tell students to visit the rest area when they feel that they need to calm down or simply get away from the group.  I also added a board game timer to the table, so students can start the timer, write, draw, or respond to their emotions in other acceptable ways at the table, then rejoin the class when the timer's up.

I also added some foam squares where students can sit if they prefer.  I hope to add pillows eventually.  I'm thinking that I might spend some time in the Rest Area!  :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Fresh Start

When I was Drum Major in high school, one of my directors told me on the first day of band camp, "Learn everybody's name."  I have since carried that advice with me into my teaching career.  And, boy, do I have a lot of names to learn.  About 730 of them.

But I know them.

I don't know this year's incoming kindergarteners, of course--I haven't met them--but by the end of the year, I plan to know them all.

There are a lot of things that go into having a smooth, organized start to the school year.  For me, one of the most important things that I have is seating charts.  This is how I learn the names by which the young people in my classes are called.  I care about them and I want them to know it.  So for many weeks, as kids leave my classroom, I say each child's name as a way for me to practice identifying students by their name.  Each child has a unique identity, and I hope that by remembering their names, they know that I value their identity.

So, if you'd like to grab an editable version of my seating chart (and grading sheet, all in one) to start practicing your students' names too, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Here's to a fresh start of caring for and educating children this year.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recorder Karate!

For students who are interested in continuing to earn Recorder Karate belts, visit this website for belt requirement music.  Happy playing!