Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mrs. Q's Resources: 5S-Line Poster

I've added another resource to my GumRoad store.  My 5S-Line Poster is now available for just $1.00. This is an 8.5" X 11" printable resource.  I will eventually add an updated file that can be printed in larger sizes.  Purchasers will receive an automatic email when the file is updated.

Classroom Tour 2013 - 2014

Here is my classroom tour for the 2013-2014 school year.  I was holding out in hopes of finishing a few more things but I think it will be a few more weeks before some of those projects are finished.  I will post on those later.  But for now, here it is:

Views from the Hallway


"Don't Forget!":  I created this new display this year in the hopes of less forgotten due dates and events.  I found the chalkboard during my back to school shopping trip.  It was only $15.00 at Staples, a steal in comparison to the cost of a dry erase board.  I attached it to the wall using velcro (I went velcro crazy during pre-planning, more on this later.)


I am loving this sign!  I have not had a single disruption during my lunch time.  It's great to be able to take a breather and have that time to reset.

At the end of the year our team created a supply wish list.  Each grade added 1 or 2 items to their list to help us out.  This is how we stock up on tissues, hand sanitizer and other essentials.  During the first rotation we set bins outside our rooms to collect donations.  Once collected we divide them among our now 6 member team.

Right inside the door.  This is the space where we wait in line for their teachers.  Behind the rocking chair is artwork I have created for our school art fair.  Each year Mrs. M has a teacher gallery and I've participated every year.  My medium is colored pencil.  :)

On the inside of the door is my 5-S Line poster.  I also added a command hook next to the door (did this last year but still loving it).  I hang my keys on it in the morning so that when I'm headed out I can quickly lock/unlock the door.  It's also great for the occasional lockdowns we have.  I don't have to search for my keys because they are always right by the door.  

I used a velcro dot to attache my in/out signs on my Teacher's-in sign.  The other is velcroed to this plack inside my door when not in use.

I hung the sign using another command hook.

The view standing right inside the door.  The biggest change this year is the piano.  I moved it to the back of the room because I don't play it very often.  When I accompany the kids I usually play the BX.  I'm also working on my ukulele/guitar skills.  Plus, there is enough room in that corner for me to move the piano up or turn it so that I can watch the kids while playing on the occasions when I do use it.

Looking to the right from the door.  Not much has changed here.  Like last year, I still need to add my word cards.  I'm planning to print my new Word Wall Pack but it was one of those things I didn't get to this week.  I'll take pictures when I put it up.

Still farther right.  More changes here.  I moved my desk area.  It's very cozy this year.   I also moved one of my book cases in front of the desk.  On the counter I have paper storage area for extra copies of documents to go home.  The white file sorters are going to get some labels soon and I will use those for materials by grade level.  I'm planning to put things that I use for the doc cam and resource books I'm using during that rotation in these.

I wrote about this in another post, you can read more here.  This is part of my reward system and it's in the corner by my sink.

Looking at my desk.  I moved my presentation computer onto the desk I purchased last year.  Now I don't have to remember my laptop everyday.  I think this will be much easier.  I just downloaded my dropbox folder onto the desktop and I'm able to access and make changes to documents from anywhere.

 Looking at my desk.  Something new this year is my diploma.  Mrs. M (my art teacher buddy) has her's hanging in her classroom.  She said the idea came from a professor who said it's a great way to display the validity of your profession as an arts teacher.  Not that we should have to do that as arts educators but....you know.  :)

See that purple crate peaking from behind the desk.  A special post is coming about that.

View from the front of the room.  That empty space on the wall behind the blue riser is going to get a special display very soon!

 Aah, the seat numbers!  They are laminated this year and attached with velcro dots. 










Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Sweet Gift

I have to share something that won't really help in anyway but just warmed my heart.  My dear friend Mrs. M is a world traveler.  She and her family went to Spain over the summer and she brought me back these:



Aren't they great?  I have them sitting on my desk, they are just for me, sorry kids!

I may use them for something at some point, maybe an attention grabber?  What do you think?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Flashlights and Form

One of my favorite ways for kids to experience form is with flashlights!  When I teach ternary form to my little ones, usually in 1st grade, I do it in a unit that extends over several lessons.  I use the flashlights at the end of this unit so that they do not distract from the goal.

When we get to this final lesson, we create movement with the flashlights to accompany a familiar piece of music.  I have done this in two separate ways.

1.  All children perform the whole time.  They perform separate movements for the two sections in the music.

2.  Half the children perform during A while the other half perform during B.  Color coded flashlights help teacher to see whether or not students are able to hear the change in the music.

I have seen different ways to make colored flashlights but below is the way I do it.  The set of flashlights I use in my classroom have lasted me since my internship (7 years), so they are very durable (other than battery changes).

What you need
Don't forget batteries!


How to assemble
Cut off a piece of plastic wrap that is about 8" long.  It doesn't have to be exact.

Lay it out on a flat surface.  If some of the edges fold over no big deal.

Fold it in half twice so that you end up with a long skinny rectangle.  

Fold it in half the opposite way.

Fold it again to create a small square.

Place the flashlight on the plastic wrap square.  Using the electrical tape, tape down the corners of the plastic wrap.  Be careful not to seal the battery cage.  You want to be able to twist that off later.  If you have any corners of plastic wrap sticking out of the bottom, carefully trim them.  Or, suffer the consequences of little fingers later!  :)  

Finished product!

These are pretty easy to make.  They are a bit costly but they do last.  One of my all time favorite pieces to do flashlights with is Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals.  My flashlights are blue and green, so the light peacefully dances around the room and actually looks like moving water.  The kids are mesmerized by this. 

Rules for Flashlights:
1.  Flashlights stay off until you are asked to turn them on.
2.  Do NOT shine your flashlight in anyone's face.
3.  Do NOT poke the plastic wrap.

How do you think you will use flashlights in your room this year?

A LOT more energy!

Bear with me....this may not seem like a music education related post but I promise it does have a connection.

Last year I noticed myself becoming more and more sluggish throughout the day and, hate to say it, things started to fit a bit more, let's say, snuggly.  I'm only 29, so there really is no reason for me to finish a day of teaching and feel like I need to flop onto the nearest couch and recover for 5 hours after work.

In the middle of July, I had enough of my lethargic, lazy self and decided to do something about it.  I'm not one for gyms or, god bless me, jogging!  I loathe the word jog, it is the most horrible form of exercise in my opinion.  My husband teases me about the fact that if the word so much as passes his lips I flop into a 3 year old pathetic, tear filled tantrum.  Sad but true!  :) So, I had to find something that worked for me.

Hello Zumba!  I didn't start going to the gym but I did get myself a copy of Zumba 5.  I LOVE it!  It combines the exercise I need with dance.  While I am no dancer, a glimpse in the mirror recently proved that, it does get my heart rate up and I'm a panting, sweaty, happy mess by the end.

You're probably starting to wonder where the music education connection is.....Well,


  • I have energy!  Which means that my last class of the day no longer suffers from Mrs. Quezada in a fog.  I still have plenty of energy for whatever we are working on.  


  • I can move!  It's my job to teach all aspects of music, including the use of movement to music. Last year there were times when I didn't feel like I could get through an entire piece without being winded.  I don't always do the entire movement activity with my kids because I want them to listen to the musical cues but I do want to be able to get through the introduction and practice. Plus, when we do folk dance, I may have to be someone's partner or I may just want to enjoy moving and having fun with my kids.


  • I'm happier!  I leave school at the end of the day on a good note.  Kids suck a ton of energy out of you (it's true, I love them so much, but they do!) and when you have no energy to begin with it feels awful.  I would leave at the end of the day completely drained.
I'm not in anyway paid by Zumba, I just wanted to share how this little change has impacted my teaching.  Below are some of the great Zumba videos I have found online and do on days when I can't fit in a 40 to 60 minute workout.  A couple of these and I'm on my way.  

This is a good video to start with. 

This one is good for the inner thigh, at least that's where I felt it.  This girl has a ton of videos.

I can't get through the leg thing without laughing.  Try it, see if you can get through it without laughing!

Note = I have the benefit of 12 years of being immersed in a Latin culture.  My husbands family is Dominican and he has a few cousins who are of Panamanian descent.  I have had the opportunity to learn basic salsa, merengue, and cumbia steps.  I did find that knowing these steps made some of the workouts easier for me.  You may want to check out some simpler videos with these steps or check out the Zumba series because it may be helpful before diving in.  

I'm excited to share some new resources and movement ideas with you.  More posts planned soon!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chat: What is your school like?

I hate reading things over and over again, so the last thing I want to do here is something that I know annoys me but I thought this was something worth revisiting.  Last year I posed this same question and so here it is again because I know that there have been many changes at my school.  It's always interesting to hear how things are done at another school.

What is your school like?

Enrollment:  1,000ish.  That's over 150 more children than we had last year and more come every day!!!

Music Teachers:  The Strings teacher and me!  The strings teacher is at our school two afternoons a     week, during specials, to work with students who have signed up for the class.  

Schedule:  We are on a 16 day schedule but I see my students twice back to back within that 16 days (possibly 18 soon!).  So, the classes I saw on Monday/Tuesday were the same classes.  I will see a new set Wednesday/Thursday.  I'm not sure of the average number of kids per class just yet since it is so early in the year and I haven't looked that far ahead at my class rosters.  :)


Duty:  I know, I wrote duty!  :)  I watch the 1st graders while they sit outside their classroom during morning arrival; about 30 minutes.  During dismissal, I stand outside by the bike rack and help keep bike riders and parents from crashing into each other!

Ensembles:  This year I will only have one after school group, chorus.  I'm limiting my numbers this year because we have grown so much.  I'm thinking 60 will be a good number.

In addition to these basics, what are some of the things that make your program special?



Monday, August 19, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over!

Today was my first day with the kids!  It was so nice to see so many familiar toothy smiles staring back at me.  In addition to all those faces from last year were many new little faces.  I'm hoping that I will be able to learn every name but I think I will have to use every trick in my bag to learn and remember a whopping 1,000 names!  Anyone else out there with this many to tackle?  What are your tricks?

Anywho.....after getting through the rules we spent time making music through name games and welcome songs.   It was a great chance to take turns, listen and practice some of the rules and procedures.  For a couple of my little guys, the honeymoon is already over.  I've had them for 3, 4, 5 years now and they are already pushing to see how far the rules will bend.

I'm proud to say that I stuck to my system today.  I went through my list of consequences when needed and it really helped curb some of those disruptive behaviors.  I'm hoping to be able to stick to it through out the year and be consistent. 

Here are my consequences:

1.  Warning

2.  Lose a Turn

3.  Mark on the Clipboard
This is a school-wide system called P.A.W.S..  Our mascot is the cougar, so the acronym was fitting. The P stands for Persistent focus on Learning.  Each other letter has it's own rule and they are spelled out for the kids in each area of our school.  P.A.W.S. for lunch, classroom, hallway, specials, etc.  Each class comes to specials with a clipboard.  When I mark it, I mark the area the student was having trouble with.

4.  Time Out
I have an area in my room called Time to Pause.  You can read more about it here.

5.  Speeding Ticket
A note home to the parents to be signed and returned.

6.  Phone Call

I very rarely have to go past step 3 in my room but there are a few who always like to test the limits. This year I want to nip those behaviors earlier.
What are some of your ways to curb undesirable behaviors?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stools for Basses

I don't know about you, but my little ones (including some 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders), have a hard time playing the BX and BM.  When they kneel they are still too short and when they stand they are too tall. I've seen these stools around my school and I thought they would be perfect for the basses.


I bought them from Ikea for $7.99 each.  I love that having these will encourage proper technique when playing the basses.  I'll try and take some pictures of them in use this year.

What do you do to make playing basses easier for your smaller kids?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Time for Music?

I happened across a great blog a couple of months ago called Music T3:  Tips, Technology and Tricks for the Music Teacher by Norm Sands.  While I was browsing the site, I came across a display Norm had created outside his classroom called "Time for Music?".  I LOVED the idea!  Throughout the year classroom teachers and students have questions about what day we are on or whether or not it's their day for music.  This is a great way to keep everyone informed without having to stop and find it on the schedule yourself.


Using Norm's idea, I created my own version of the display.  I made my music note a bit more girly.  :) I like how her stem turned out looking kind of like a pony tail.  The only thing I would change is that her stem is a bit more tilted than I'd like but it seems like everything I've hung this year is a bit askew! It's kind of hard to see but I added a post-it flag at the bottom of the schedule to indicate which day we are on.


Here's what it looks like coming down the hall.  I think I need to raise my treble clef a bit.  Maybe I'll get to that next week.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meet the Teacher

Tonight was Meet the Teacher at my school.  It was great to see my students and their families!  I wasn't in my room this evening, and actually, I kind of liked it!  It sounds like a bummer not getting to show off all my hard work decorating my room and sharing the space with our community but.....it also means no crazy banging on drums by older siblings or, hate to say it, parents.  :)

Instead, I helped our guidance counselor with the transportation table in the lobby.  We have ALOT of new students to our school so bus routes were a hot topic.  I helped find buses, stops and pickup/drop off times while visiting and catching up with families.


Since I wasn't going to be in my room, I wanted to make sure and have a music presence, so I made sure to decorate my hallway.  My bulletin board is the same as last year.  My kids love the Spotlight Performers and honestly I loved it so much I wasn't ready to part!  Leap into Music is a sign I made 2 years ago and had hanging by my door but I thought it was great for Back to School.


Remember this from last year?  I made a few changes.  Last year I made this the day of Meet the Teacher, so it wasn't laminated.  This year when I pulled it out, I remembered how the sticky tack left marks on the paper and notes and was hard for parents to pull off.

I laminated it and then, where the marks from the sticky tack were on the staff, I hot glued clothespins. If I had planned it this way from the beginning I would have placed the clothespins more carefully so that the notes hung on the lines or in the spaces but as you can see it worked.  Within an hour of hanging it this morning a PTO parent had pulled a note off.

You see that chalkboard just around the corner by my door?  I have a post to share on that soon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Freebie: Treble Clef Powerpoint

This is a PowerPoint I use with my 4th graders when they are learning to read the Treble Clef Staff. I've used it a number of different ways; note reading game, warm-up, etc.  This file is now available in the Freebies section under Resources.


How do you think you will use this in your classroom?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mrs. Q's Resources: Kindergarten and Second Grade Rhythm Packs

I have been posting a bunch of resources for sale recently and I promise that will not be all I post from now on.  I have so many posts in the works for you, I've just been waiting to get back in my classroom to finish them.  Plus, I thought some of you may be interested in having these as you head into a new school year.

I've finished up my Kindergarten and Second Grade packs.  In the K pack you will find both pictorial and stick notation cards representing Quarter notes/rests and Eighth Notes.


In the second grade pack there are rhythms containing Half notes/rests, Quarter Notes/rests, and Eighth notes beamed/single (not syncopated).  Something I have found lacking in other rhythm card packs, I own or have purchased, were ties.  This is something that I introduce in 2nd grade but I've never had any cards with patterns that have them.  In this pack you will find tied quarter notes to help with introducing the half note.


You can purchase these packs individually for $4.00 ($3.00 with a coupon, the links are in the Freebies section), or you can purchase all 3 (K, 1, and 2) for $9.00.


Back to School: Teacher's In Sign

I was looking at some other music blogs recently and I came across a brilliant idea on Miscellaneous Me.  Cara created a "Teacher's In" sign for her door.  I love this!

From my desk, I cannot see the main entrance to my room.  This can be kind of a pain since I eat lunch in my room.  There are times when I am up and down several times to answer the door.  This sign, I hope, will relieve some of that.  It's also going to be great for planning time or when I'm not in my room.

I started with this purple foam sign from the dollar store.  They also had them in pink.  It did have a flimsy ribbon handle to hang the sign with but I cut that off.


I decided that I wanted a border and some cute flowers like Cara's, so I used some ribbon I had around the house.  I cut the ribbon to about the length of each side.  There are many tutorials out there on how to make flowers out of fabric and ribbon, mine was a bit of luck.  If you could see the mess of thread on the back of it you would laugh!  Since I am no expert, Google it, you will most certainly have better luck.  :)


Using double sided tape, I attached the ribbon to the edge of the sign.


I trimmed the corners to match the rounded edge of the sign.


Used double sided tape to attach the flower.


Then added my name using some silver glitter adhesive letters from Michaels ($5.99 before a coupon).




The letters stick okay to the foam.  Any suggestions on how to keep them on?

I'm not completely done yet, I still have to create signs for in/out/busy to stick on during the day.  I'll take pictures of it during my classroom tour!


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