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WILD About Music Facebook Frenzy

It's here! It's here! Have you heard about the 20+ music teachers who are each giving away a freebie from their store? Well it's happening today (8 AM Friday, March 28)!

You can start the frenzy at my facebook page. Just click on the picture below:

When you get there you are looking for an image along the top that looks like this:

On my page, here is where it is located: 

It will be in the same general vicinity on all of the participating music teacher pages. If you don't see it yet, check back after 8 AM Friday! 

Here are some great tips from The Plucky Pianista to make the experience as amazing as possible:

  • First of all, to start the Frenzy, visit my Facebook Page (click the yellow Facebook icon to the right of this post), then become a fan by liking my page. 
  • Once you're a fan, click the Music Frenzy tab to begin. You'll need to be on a computer to do this - the tabs aren't visible on mobile devices. 
  • You'll see a picture with a thumbnail of the product. Click the thumbnail to download the product for FREE! 
  • Then click the sunshine at the top of the picture to be taken to the next stop. 
  • Continue liking and downloading until you've gone all the way through the Frenzy and come back to my page. That way, you'll be sure you made every stop.

Here's a little peek at what my freebie is- one concept from each of my newest rhythm games sets "Steal the Banana" and "Wild Rhythm Races".

If you like them, I just added the bundles to my store today:

Want to snag one of these or any of my other resources on sale this weekend? Comment on this post on facebook to let me know which item in my store you would love to see 20% off! 

Music Room Organization {Part 1: Digital Files}

Let's face it! Music teachers have a LOT of STUFF! Our rooms are full of instruments, sound equipment, puppets, books, manipulatives and that doesn't even scratch the surface of keeping everything organized on our laptops!

On my Facebook page, I asked for some topics to blog about and one teacher requested that I write a post on how I keep all my visuals organized and ready to use without wasting too much down time!

For today's post, I am strictly going to show some ways that I (try to) keep organized so that I can quickly find what I need for each class, especially when you have classes with zero break in between and so that there is as little down time as possible DURING the class. I don't know about you, but I only see my kids for 30 minutes twice a week- each second counts!

To start off with I have anything and everything that I would ever need at school all saved to an external hard drive.

I bought two of them on sale during Black Friday.

I have several reasons for doing this, and it may or may not be something you want to look into. 

1) If anything should happen to my computer, I can take this and hook it up to ANY computer. I've had to borrow my PE teacher's laptop for a day when mine decided not to work. Having all my files stored on an external hard drive was a life saver and meant that I could continue on with my lessons as planned.

2) It gives me a permanent back up of all my files that I create or download from other TPT music teachers. (I also store many things on dropbox and google drive). I'm just SO terrified of losing my things.

3) I store a TON of clip art that I use to make all of my files, so I really need a lot of storage space.

To start off with, I save to that hard drive in one main folder with several sub folders.

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Within this main teaching folder are many, many sub folders organized by concepts. I also have a big one titled "Songs" which I will explain in a minute.

So, say I am working on my lesson planning for teaching half note, I pull up my half note folder and it has ALL of my digital files for that concept.

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I start by going to my concept plan.
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(snapshot taken from my concept plan for half note, available in my Songs and Games to Teach Half Note) Here I have outlined all of the songs I can use and I make a column that says teaching materials where I list any resources I have created (or collected) that I don't want to forget. I haven't made visuals for all of the songs on the repertoire list, so I make a note of what songs I do have those digital visuals ready to go.

I use my concept plans, my notes from my Kodaly Certification, the American Methodology and Yearly Plans while writing my own plans, but this organization on the digital end helps me figure out what songs/activities I can plug where. If you don't have those materials, I highly suggest you look into them. Another thing that you might find helpful in your long term planning is my Jan.- May Planning Guide

It includes song lists by grade level as well as rhythmic and melodic concepts mapped out for when I plan to prepare, present and practice them (from Jan-May). I hope to make another set before back to school for Aug.through Dec.

Once I have my plans done, and the school day is upon me, how do I transition between files for each class/grade?

In the morning I see 4th, 3rd, then 5th, so I go to my lesson planner before school and I see what digital files I will need for the morning, and have them all pulled up so they are ready to go and I can quickly move from one to the next while my kids are singing.

If they are all songs, an easy way I have found is to have a folder that has all my song visuals. I just go to that folder and type in the song title and poof! There it is! That way I don't have to dig through all my concept folders. 

Song File contains ALL my song visuals in ABC order
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Quickly find what I need by typing in the title.

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At lunch I close out of all my 3rd-5th files and open all my 1st and 2nd. 

How to transition during/between classes:

Since all my files that I need for a class are already open, all I have to do to transition between files, is hover over the PowerPoint of PDF icon at the bottom of my screen, depending on what kind of file it is, and select my file. I always try to do this when my kids are busy doing something else. Say we were at the board to read and clap the rhythm for "Who's That Tapping At Your Window?", then we went to the circle and played the game, as my kids are going back to the board and I am transitioning to the next song (and file) I can have them sing "Who's That?" and assign soloists or if the next song is one they know well by memory, I have have them sing it while I pull up the slide. They are not sitting there waiting for me because it takes them more time to get to their spot than it does for me to switch files, and I can quickly make the switch to Rocky Mountain.
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I hope this helps give you some ideas on how to organize your digital files. Later this week, I hope to blog about getting manipulatives organized for each class period.

If you have different/more efficient ways of organizing digital files, PLEASE feel free to share! :) We can all learn from each other! Either comment or link up below!

Music In Our Schools Month

 March Is....

On my Facebook page, I asked what other teachers are doing for MIOSM. Here are some of the responses:

1.  "I collected music facts from each faculty member (who took piano lessons, who was band, etc) and each day we have a "Who Am I?" Challenge on the school news broadcast. It's funny because the classroom teachers say the kids keep guessing me but then see another teacher. A great reminder that music is a part of everyone."

I loved this response from a classroom teacher:

2. "Being a classroom teacher, we are writing a "surprise" book to our music teacher on why we think music class is great. They are in their rough draft stages-but their responses are soooo cute! Their thoughts make me want to be in music class all over again!"

I'm sure their music teacher will love it!

In my room, we are doing quick celebrations each day. It's great to take a moment with my kiddos and stop and think about how awesome it is that we get to have music in schools. Not only to I love that for my job I get to come to school and sing and play all day, music has so many benefits for all of us.

Each day I am projecting a page from my "Wild About Music" set onto the board to use as a conversation starter, and then kids can add to my comment. I have a few kids share every day and by the end of the month, hopefully I will have heard from everyone.

Next year I hope to get these pages printed to make a bulletin board like this one Jena Hudson made:

What other great ideas do you have for MIOSM? How are you celebrating it at your school?

Recorder Survey

I am always so amazed at how music educators are able to collaborate through blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook. All of these provide a great platform for sharing ideas and professional development. I know that is can be difficult to grow professionally when you are the only music teacher in your building and you don't have anyone "in house" to share ideas with, where as each grade level has a team of teachers to share ideas.

It can be very lonely and leave you feeling a bit isolated.

I think that is why (good) music teachers go out of their way to soak up as much professional development as they can. They give up their Saturdays to go to workshops, they attend professional conventions, they take graduate classes.

I love the online community of music teachers I have found and gotten to know through blogging, Facebook, TPT and Pinterest. I was recently approached by another Kodaly teacher about promoting a survey she is doing to collect data on the use of recorders in elementary music.

Taking her survey really made me think back on my own experiences with recorders. I COULD NOT figure out the whole fingerings thing when I was in 4th grade. I would pretend to put fingers down and not even blow because I was too scared I would play it wrong. From that point on I never touched them again until I was student teaching and my cooperating teacher suggested I teach the recorder unit. I became full of fear and told her I hadn't played one since 4th grade and shared with her what my experience was with it in 4th grade. She encouraged me to try it out in the "safe" student teaching environment where she would be there and I could ask her for help.

I did not student teach in a Kodaly classroom, but I can say that recorders were actually my favorite part of student teaching. I was so proud of my students' growth and success as well as my own.

I still use recorders in my classroom, but it is still an evolving thing and every year I do it a bit different.

I would encourage you to reflect upon your recorder experience and complete the survey at the link below.

The following is the approved recruitment statement from the DePaul IRB:

Zoltán Kodály believed, "To teach a child an instrument without first giving him preparatory training and without developing singing, reading and dictating to the highest level along with the playing is to build upon sand.”  Most Kodály programs emphasize this “singing first” approach.  Many general music educators also use the soprano recorder in their classrooms.

Whether or not you use the soprano recorder in your Kodály-inspired classroom, please considering spending a few minutes contributing to our profession by completing a short survey.  Janell Bjorklund is completing this research project investigating the use of soprano recorder in Kodály-inspired classrooms as part of her degree requirements at DePaul University.  Janell earned her Kodály certification from Southern Methodist University/Plano ISD training program in summer 2012 and is now a board member of the Chicago Area Kodály Educators.

Few quantitative research studies exist regarding the use of classroom instruments, including the soprano recorder, in Kodály-inspired classrooms.  It is possible that this study will reveal some commonalities among Kodály-inspired teachers who use the recorder in their classroom.  This study could be an impetus for the creation of future professional development sessions and the production and distribution of materials.

Please take a few moments to complete the survey.  Your time is greatly appreciated!  

Looking for ready-made Recorder Rules? Check out these: