Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Owl Four-Voices Poster

I just wanted to share this because I'm just in love with it!  Sure, it shows why I don't teach art, but whooooo, do I love some owls or what?!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Be Proactive

Here's a song for Habit 1 - Be Proactive.  I borrowed the tune of "Frere Jacques".  I like this song for three reasons: 1) Can be sung in a round  2) Great for practice with the half note 3) Accessible accompaniment on orff instruments

Habits Everyday

As I said, I'm still working on some  7 Habits songs/chants to use in the classroom.

I created this little song based on the tune of "5 Little Speckled Frogs".  The rhythm content is perfect for my older students who will be reviewing the eighth, quarter, eighth rhythm (syn-co-pa).

We'll use this as a refrain:

We'll speak the habits (without a beat) using the motions in this video: Introducing the 7 Habits

I think I'll chunk them this way:
Habits 1-3 (Personal Victory)
Habits 4-6 (Public Victory)
Habit 7

"Back to School" Treble Clef Matching Game

Another great way to review musical concepts (or assess what your students know if you've moved to a new school) is to pair students up for a matching game.

I use matching games ALL the time with grades K-5.  Although I've used cute bunnies and even flowers in matching games before, my older students love them.

I've come up with many different ways to use the same set of materials (other than just matching) so that the students are truly getting enough practice on the concept.

Here's my latest creation.  It has a "back to school" theme.  Here's some ideas on how to use it:

1. Basic Matching Game: Students (in pairs) match the word spelled musically on the chalkboard to the word on the teacher.
Note: When playing this way, the students are seated in a large circle next to their partner.  I "challenge" them to complete the activity three times before they call me over to check their work.  This eliminates mistakes and gives my struggling students adequate time to at least complete the activity once.  It also allows me time to walk around and observe how the students are doing and how they are working together - and to help out when I need to.

2. Memory matching game: Students (in pairs) turn the cards over.  One partner turns one teacher and one chalkboard over.  If it is a match, the student keeps the pair and continues.  If not, the other student takes a turn.  The student with the most pairs at the end (when all cards are gone) wins.

3. Whole-class matching game: I distribute the materials to pairs of students (or individually if I've made enough).  Using my projector and document camera, I show the students a chalkboard and ask them to find the corresponding teacher.  This can get competitive if you break the students into little teams and award points for teams that get the answer correct.  If you're not sure that your students will be successful playing ways 1 or 2, try this first so they see what you're asking them to do. 

Download this game here: Back to School Treble Clef Matching Game

Sunday, July 28, 2013

7 Happy Habits

I'm in the process of finding/creating 7 Habits songs for the students at my school to use.  My goal is to use poetry, songs, and movements (with a dash of instrumentation and drama) to help the students internalize the language of the 7 Habits.  I also know that this one of, if not them most, effective way to ensure that parents are getting exposure to the Habits as well.  We all know our students, no matter what grade, bring the songs that they learn with us at school to their family at home.

As I began looking for 7 Habits songs, I wasn't finding a lot of material that I deemed appropriate or useful in my classroom.  Rewriting the words of pop songs has its place, I guess, but I wanted songs that I could use to teach the 7 Habits as well as incorporate other skills (such as rhythm reading and finding solfa pitches).  I also wanted songs that were in an appropriate range for my students. (If you know of any - please share).

I'm currently planning on using American and Mexican (I have a high Latino populations so I'll need to provide some songs in Spanish also) Folk Song tunes as my basis for creating the songs.

Here's an example.  I altered the lyrics of "Polly Wolly Doodle":

I used Noteflight to create this and I'm still learning - apologies for the extra beats at the beginning - wasn't sure how to create a pick-up.

With younger grades, we can discuss the melodic direction of the song, add instruments to keep the beat with the song, and discuss where we hear long ("day") and short (Pol-ly) sounds.

With older grades, we can read the rhythm and solfa of the song (includes Fa and Ti which my older students will be working on) and incorporate xylophone chord borduns with the simple I and V7 chord accompaniment (great time to discuss harmony there).

I'm spinning a lot of plates as school nears, but hopefully I'll be able to post more songs soon.  If you have any to share, please comment below! (I'm needy!!!)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Star Rhythm Readers

I've got "goal-setting" and "data tracking" on the brain.  Lots of Leader in Me ideas floating around (big update on that coming soon).

I posted earlier about ways I intend to track student progress with my older kiddos.  I created this activity for my younger ones.  I haven't tried this one out yet - we'll see how it goes ;)

I want the kiddos to be "Star Rhythm Readers".  I've seen a lot of sight-word activities where the students mark each word they know (have read for the teacher) with an X.  I decided to adapt that idea for the music room.

Here's an example of a Star Rhythm Reader practice sheet. 

Level 2 Example
There are three levels:
Level 1 - quarter note and eighth note pair
Level 2 - quarter note, quarter rest, eighth note pair
Level 3 - half note, quarter note, eighth note pair

I decided to add to the challenge by creating mini-levels:
Mini-level 1 - Chant rhythms - Students will chant the rhythms on syllables.
Mini-level 2 - Chant and clap rhythms - Students will chant the rhythms on syllables while clapping.
Mini-level 3 - Clap rhythms - Students will clap the rhythms without chanting the syllables.
Mini-level 4 - Chant and play rhythms - Students will chant the rhythms on syllables while playing on an instrument.
Mini-level 5 - Play rhythms - Students will play the rhythms on an instrument.

Students will set a goal by choosing a color to write their name on the paper (for example, writing your name in purple signifies that you want to get all the way to level 5).

 Instructions for teachers are included:
I've also included a Student Achievement Tracking sheet.  Next to the student's name, I'll color in each level they complete (red to purple).  Here's a cute certificate to send home:
I also intend to send a copy of the rhythms home for extra practice.  When a student completes the entire level, they will earn their picture on a special bulletin board and their name on the announcements.  I'll be on the look-out for some sort of star sticker or token also (have you seen any?)

You can find this activity at my TPT store: Star Rhythm Reader.  All pages are in Word so you may edit them (change patterns if you'd like).  They are also included in PDF format.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Music Data Notebooks/Leader in Me

My school will be using the 7 Habits this year.  If you haven't heard about the 7 Habits/Leader in Me, let me refer you to their website (you'll find all the information there): Leader in Me

The 7 Habits are:

One way to empower students to get involved in their own learning and set learning goals is to use "Data Notebooks".  In these notebooks, students set goals and graph data from assessment scores.  These notebooks are described in the book, "The Leader in Me" and most 7 Habits schools use them.

One great resource I've found for such notebooks are:
Montgomery Schools (lots of links to data notebook downloads)

I decided to create a Music Data Notebook for grades 3-5.  Due to space and resource constrains, I'm going to print out all pages ahead of time and staple them together.  They will be stored in a plastic page protector with the cover-page showing (cover-page has student name, grade, and homeroom teacher).  Depending on what their homeroom teacher chooses to do, I will either have them clip the page protector into their class data notebook or keep them in the music room.

Let me preface this by saying this is a new thing for me and not something I've tried out before.  We'll have to see how it goes.

Last year, when my 3rd-5th graders were working on various levels of Recorder Karate, I had a bulletin board (shown empty below) with all student names (separated by class) on it.  As students progressed, I colored in each square with a black marker.  To get a "black-out", they had to reach the black-belt level.  When they did this, I took a picture of them and put their picture on the bulletin board near their class.  It was SO motivating for so many of the kiddos that I realized - "I can use data in the music room too".

Here are some pages from the Music Data Notebook:
Table of Contents
Classroom Mission Statement
Each class will work together to create a short mission statement (first week of school).  In the mission statement we'll incorporate words like "leader" and "work together/synergize".
7 Habits Slips Log
The 7 Habits Slips (see below) are incentives given by teachers to students who are exhibiting a specific habit.  The students turn these slips into a box in the front of the school.  The principal draws names from this box and these students get a special "Leadership Lunch" with her and other staff members on the stage (so other students can see).  I intend to give these out to students who have achieved their learning goals, or if they didn't achieve it, can articulate why or why not and set a new goal for next time.
Here is the goal sheet.  It is pretty broad because, unlike a language class where students can make a goal to spell all 10 spelling words correctly by the test on Friday, the music class is less structured.  This year, I will assess older (3-5) students 6 times a semester (three melodic-based assessments and three rhythm-based assessments).  These assessments are not always a worksheet, composition, or test, but can use manipulatives (such as popsicle sticks to dictate rhythms) or performances/improvisations (for non-worksheet assignments, I have rubrics upon which the students are graded).  Therefore, I asked the students to pick a specific skill to focus on:
At the end of the Nine Weeks, will discuss their goals with their group as I go around and chat with them (Step Four).  If they reached their goal, they earn a sticker on the sheet.

The assessment graphs look like the one below.  After an assignment is passed back and graded, the students will color in the number of bars which correspond to their grade.  10 pts is the max for the assignments (either 10 questions or 10 points earned by certain criteria).  Then, they set a goal for the next assessment.
If you are at a 7 Habits school, what ways do you incorporate it into the music class?

More posts to come, I'm sure ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dinah/Pick a Bale

I'm working on a few new lessons for my older kiddos (4th and 5th).  This lesson is a review for the beginning of the year.  The students learn "Dinah" by using reading skills and have fun with movement for "Pick a Bale of Cotton" (which they learn by rote at first but we will revisit it later as they learn "fa").

I love it because:
1. Vocabulary: We review TONS of vocabulary as we learn the song (vocabulary words are defined on nearly every slide)
2. Pitches: We review the pitches Do Re Mi So La to prepare for a review of high Do, low La, and low So
3. Rhythm: We review the half note, quarter note/rest, eighth note pair, and sixteenth notes (in prep for learning more 16th-note variations).
4. Instrumentation: I love transitioning from fun body percussion (including clapping, tapping shoulders, and patting) to a three-part Orff arrangement (BX/BM, AX/AM, and tambourine)
5. MOVEMENT: I created this movement myself inspired on a few "getting to know you" activities I did with my family at summer camp this year.  They did a version of "rock paper scissors" that even I loved.  I decided to adapt it to the song and give it a "farm" theme - we've got the "farmer", "wolf", and "bull".

Here are some slides from the PowerPoint:
Steady Beat

Adding organization

Rhythmic Icons

Prep for Tika-Tika

Rhythm Slide
Melody Prep Slide

Melody Prep on Staff

adding solfa pitches

solfa melody

solfa on staff

rhythms on staff

entire song - talk about phrasing

 Instrumentation and movement activity is included.  You can download the file here Dinah/Pick a Bale

I also like this line dance for the song "Pick a Bale":

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sol, Solecito

My husband came across this cute little sun at Dollar Tree.  He said, "You could have the kids sing higher when the sun rises and lower when the sun sets."  Clearly, he's been shopping with me so often that he knows what to look for.

Of course, Mr. Sun will come out when we sing and dance to "Mr. Sun" (Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun, please shine down on me, etc).  I used the song in a program two years ago and had costumes made (sun, tree, etc) so we always like to sing and act out that song.  Here's the movements we use:
Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun: The "sun" walks out in front of the audience with three or four students trailing behind him/her.
Please shine down on me: The sun stops and the students surround him/her, kneeling and pleading (hands clasped together).
Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun: The sun walks backwards with the students following to the side of him/her.
Hiding behind a tree: The sun walks behind the "tree".
These little children are asking you to please come out so we can play with you: The students near the sun stand with their hands on their hips while the tree acts out singing these words.
Oh Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun: The "sun" walks out from behind the tree  with the students trailing behind him/her.
Please shine down on me: The sun stops and the students surround him/her, kneeling and pleading (hands clasped together).
The sun says, "OK"

As a partner song for that performance, I used "Sol, Solecito" an easy mi-so-la song in Spanish.  There are some versions of the song on Youtube, but each one I checked out had horrid quality (singing, video, the whole bit).  I'd suggest Googling it if you're not confident singing in Spanish for your own reference.

You can download the slides free on my TPT store, but I'd suggest reading through the post for more tips about teaching the song and incorporating a listening activity ;)

Kiddos can use this slide as a vocal exploration exercise (make sure they are singing Mi-So-La correctly in a key of your choice - C and D are used in the song) - they can sing on "sun" or a neutral syllable
Some students can even hold up the plastic sun in front of the others in the front of the room to lead the class.

Here are the lyrics of the song on the steady beat page (note - the English translation is not intended to be used, use the Spanish):
There's also a rhythm icon and rhythm slides.

The melodic icons look like this (plain).  Try having the students tap their heads for "la", shoulders for "so" and tummies for "mi".
Melody Icons

Melody Icons without La

Melody Icons with La

Melody on Staff (C Major - lines)

Melody on Staff - D Major - Spaces
Once the song is learned, put the students in a circle.  Someone in the middle can hold the sun (eyes closed, sun above their head) while the students walk around (holding hands) the circle.  When the song ends, the person in the middle tosses the sun at the circle.  Whoever is hit becomes the new sun.

A great piece to add a listening element to these sun songs is "Morning Song" from the William Tell Overture. 

I don't know about your kiddos, but my little ones love listening exercises.  85% of them automatically start moving around without any direction from me (which is often times the goal as I'm observing them) but some look to me for direction/ideas/etc.  Which is why, unless I'm doing a Dalcroze exercise or something specific where I don't want to help them, I usually structure listening exercises in this manner:

"Blind" Listening: Play a short (30 seconds or so) excerpt of the piece.  Ask the students to describe it, tell you what it is about, make a connection (I heard this song when...).  Often, I will ask them to listen for something specific (an instrument, a dynamic or tempo change, a "B" section, etc).  It is so important to give them something to listen to in order to capture their attention and focus.  Sometimes, I'll say, "What do you think I want you to listen for?" and play the piece (obviously after many listening examples) - what a great way to get kids listening critically.  For this piece, I'll discuss the English Horn (which happens to be an instrument I can play and my favorite woodwind) and discuss the tempo of the song (with little ones, you may just be saying "slow" instead of discussing musical dynamic terms):

"Guided" Listening: I use a listening map, PowerPoint, rhythms taken from the song, structured non-locomotor movement or instrument activity, as we listen a second time - for this particular song: let students watch the following Youtube video to get their creative juices flowing:

"Movement" Listening: I create, or have them create, or borrow from a textbook, resource, or video, a movement for students to use while they listen.  For this song: Have the students create their own movement when you play the piece again.  I think this year I'll be the "sun" and carry around our plastic friend while the other students follow behind as the "clouds" carrying blue scarves.  Students are creating their own movement but they have me and my movements for a frame or reference.  Students should be moving slowly, with long, legato movements (sweeping arms, small twirls, etc).

"Critical" Listening: By now, the students have heard the piece multiple times and it is time for either an assessment or critical discussion.  For this piece, I ask the students to identify what other instrument they hear "talking" with the English Horn (the flute).  We discuss the different "timbres" of the instruments.  We can even take a vote on which instrument students prefer (although English Horn usually wins for us, haha).

I hope you have a sunny time with these activities ;)


 Here's a good song to use with older kiddos (4th/5th) at the beginning of the year or 3rd graders more toward the end.

I created a movement activity that students enjoy doing that accompanies this song.  Here's the instructions.  Hopefully, I can update this later with a video of the kiddos doing it (our district has strict photo/video rules).
Afterward, students match the movements they used to corresponding rhythms (we do this together - I've printed out the pictures and the class matches them).
If you're using this song with 3rd graders, you may choose to stop there, or to bring back this powerpoint later in the year.  For 4th and 5th graders who already are familiar with  low la, you can skip the preparation slides if you need to.  Before discussing "tim-ka" - students obviously should be familiar with 16th notes (both beamed and separated) and also understand what a "tie" is.

Here are the slides used for teaching the song:

If you've downloaded my Low La set, you'll find this file there.  However, I included all the instructions and slides so that everyone can use it if they'd like.  Enjoy!