Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lesson Plan: Back to School

I've seen many posts and questions about back to school, lesson planning and classroom management around the web.  Below is what I typically do for my first rotation of lessons with grades 2-5.  I call it "The Boring Stuff"(not my original idea, came from my supervising teacher).

I explain to the kids that we are going to do a lot of talking during this lesson and while it may seem boring, it's important because everything we talk about will help us work towards our goal of becoming Great Musicians.  The kids are usually okay with it, plus when I mention that I have a game for them at the end, they work hard and pay attention to the beginning of the lesson.

1. Welcome
Introduce myself, outline of what music is all about, quick tour of the room (bathroom, water fountain, etc.).

2. Rules
My rules are posted on the wall by my desk.  We echo clap through them.  After clapping them the first time, we go one rule at a time and discuss what each looks like in the music room.  We echo them again.  During the next rotation we will play a rhythm game with the rules as a review.  These rules were something Sandy Lantz shared during my Orff Level I.

3. Rewards/Consequences
I keep these two posters on my board throughout the year but during the first rotation they are front and center on my board.  We talk about the positive/negative behaviors that could result in rewards/consequences and what the results of our actions are.

4. Seats
I typically fill in my seating charts before the first rotation; usually while watching TV the weekend before school starts.  I'm pretty good at being able to separate my talkers and personalities that clash. Although it has worked, I found some problems with my system. We have had a more mobile community in the last year and my seating charts ended up being a sloppy mess because there were so many changes to class rosters and students who never returned to our school.  (Post on Seating Charts here.)

This year I'm going to assign seats during their first music class.  Upon entering the room I will hand each child a colored card (red, green, blue or black).  When it is time to assign seats, I will ask the kids with green to sit on the floor in front of the green riser.  Same goes for red and blue.  The kids with black cards may select any seat on any riser except the section leader seats (see post here on seat numbers).

After the kids with black paper have chosen their seats, I will place the rest of my students by the color paper they have received.  What I like about this system is I'm still able to seat students in a way that will be productive without making them feel like I'm completely dictating the arrangement.  It will feel more like chance to them.  I'll try and take pictures of the system during the first rotation.

5. Recorders (4 and 5 Only)
I always hand out recorder information during this lesson.  Since I advertise, collect money, place and sort the order, I want to start ASAP so that kids can have recorders in hand as early in the year as possible.  More on this soon.

6. Chorus (3, 4, 5 Only)
This is time for me to drum up interest in after school performing groups.  This year I'm only going to have chorus (more on that another time), so during the first lesson I will hand out Interest Meeting Flyers to any child who thinks they may want to be a part of this group.  Sorry to say this again, but more on this soon! :)

7. Grade Level Specific Activity
I plan some sort of name game for every grade during this first rotation.  It's important to get a musical activity going on after all this talking.  I want kids excited about coming back to my room for the next lesson and it's a refresher for me.  I always feel so badly about being rusty with names for the first month of school and these games definitely help me get back into the swing of things.

8. Lining Up
I'm changing my line up procedures, so I will make sure to save a good 5 minutes to go over this at the end of my lesson.  I'm planning on incorporating this resource I found through Pinterest.  I may not use them every time but it's always good to mix things up a bit.

I've created some homework for myself with this post and I will do my best to get more information about Chorus, Recorders, K/1 Back to School Lessons and much more up ASAP.  Hope this helps with your back to school planning.


  1. I found out that in addition to my responsibilities as band director at the middle and high school, I'll also be teaching a section of 2nd grade music this year. Would you mind sharing what name song you do with them?

    1. I am horrible with names, I'm one to hum a melodic line because I also have trouble with lyrics. I guess that's the flute player in me. I'm going to be working more on my lesson plans later this week. I'll try and post more on first rotation lessons before the week is through.


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