Thursday, January 30, 2014

Freebie: Weekly Schedule

It's concert season!  If your spring rehearsal schedule is anything like mine, it's hectic.  I have found a few tricks to keep everyone informed but my newest makes me happy because it's pretty.

I started sending out this weekly schedule to my chorus parents to help keep everyone on the same page. Right now I have 3 days of after school rehearsals.  I find that when I'm doing a musical breaking things up a bit helps keep me sane.  I usually have movement rehearsals to work on specific dances or movements with the characters who perform them, acting rehearsals for all speaking parts and chorus rehearsal for everyone. This seems to keep things a bit more sane for me and this template helps make sure everyone knows when to stay after school.

You can request this editable template in the freebies section of my blog (listed under performing groups as Weekly Schedule Template).  You may need to download the fonts from to make it look like mine.  I used:  Cutie Patootie for the white text and Jack Story for the colored text.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Favorite Pins of January

1.  Happy Birthday

I love this post from David at Make Moments Mater.  Singing Happy Birthday in the music room is such an important moment for many students and I love how David has turned it into a real teachable moment.

I love children's art and what a great way to have kids create something in the music room.  This would be great for early finishers or a take home project.

I don't think I need to say a whole lot.  This is such a beautiful sentiment and oh so very true.  I love the green because it would look nice in my mostly green classroom.

Wouldn't these be great for a performance.  The raindrops against the right backdrop would really pop!

I love the idea of having an anchor chart for recorder somewhere in my room.  I'll have to make one of these for my kiddos to use as a reminder.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snowflake Movement

During this rotation Kindergarten has been busy participating in snow themed lessons.  We have read Snowy Day, sung snowy songs and even moved like snowflakes.

In Florida we don't get a whole lot of snow!  Surprising, I know.  Some of my kiddos have never had the opportunity to see real snow, so for some it's hard to imagine.  So this rotation I had snowflakes in my classroom for movement inspiration.

Please excuse my ugly, dry hands!  :)  Washing those recorders really does a number.

I've seen other ideas for snow movement inspiration, like feathers, but they've never worked for me.  At the last minute this rotation my art teacher buddy suggested tissue paper and it works really well.  I simply let a few small pieces float to the floor and we discussed how it moved.  This really helped my kids with their movement.  To accompany our snowflake movements we improvised snowflake sounds on the glockenspiel in downward patterns.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Telling My Students About Baby

Yesterday was my first chorus rehearsal since the winter concert.  It was nice to have all my little singers back and to be working on new music.  I was also excited to share my happy news with them.

I had been thinking for a long time about how I wanted to share the news about Baby Boy but wasn't sure how to do it.  After perusing teaching forums and pinterest on the topic I decided balloons would be the solution!

Originally I had planned to take one of those cute photos of my husband and I, me with a pink balloon him with blue.  But, after thinking about having to come home from school and get ready for a mini photo shoot on top of my normal everyday tasks I decided that was nuts!  So here's what I did instead...

I pulled one pink and one blue balloon out of my stash.  Using a safety pin I punched holes in the pink balloon.  If you are planning on recreating this with your class you will need to punch a lot of holes. One or two won't stop the balloon from inflating.  There is a bit of dimpling to the balloon after poking the holes but nothing ridiculously noticeable.  At least not to a 9 or 10 year old who just wants to hold a balloon.

Aren't our chorus shirts cute?

At the end of our rehearsal I called two students up to help me with a special announcement.  I gave the blue balloon to a male student and the pink to a female student and asked them to please blow up the balloons.  The poor little girl, she kept looking at the balloon like "what is going on?".  When only the blue inflated I asked the students why they thought this happened.  The first response was "Does the announcement have to do with a boy?"  After a few more questions they shouted out the answer.

My students have been very sweet and excited and the news is spreading fast through the school.  How did you announce your pregnancy to your students?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2/4 Tuesday: New Schedule, Hand Me Downs, Recorder Tracking and a little fun!

Thanks to Steph for hosting 2/4 Tuesday.  Check out her blog here.  Here are 4 things happening 
in my classroom this month.

1.  Adjusting to a new schedule.

We are almost half way through our school year but we are starting a new specials schedule at my school. We have had such growth that we've added some new teachers and extended our rotation.  Currently our population is just over 1,000 students and we've gone from a 16 day rotation to an 18 day rotation (seeing each class twice in the rotation).  I've been busy creating new class folders, new copies of my schedule, etc.

2.  Hand me downs.

A couple of years ago a teacher in my district retired and before leaving she put her resources up for grab.  I stopped by her room and among the many wonderful resources I adopted were these two posters.  They are both hand made and I just love them.

I use You're a Grand Old Flag with 2nd graders when we learn about the half rest.  There is something so beautiful about this poster.  My kiddos really love it too!  It's getting a bit faded so I may have to attempt recreating it soon.

The recorder fingering chart is used with 4th and 5th grade throughout the year.  It has really cool little velcro dots to indicate fingerings.  The kids love to move the dots to demonstrate their knowledge of recorder fingerings.

3.  Tracking student progress on recorder.

I found this recorder tracking sheet last summer on Make Music Rock and I LOVE it!  This is a great way to keep track of where students are in earning recorder karate belts.  I'm using it this year to not only track what belts my students have earned but what level they were when they earned them.  More on that later!

4.  Getting ready to tell my students about baby!

I posted my special news a couple of weeks ago.  My husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy, in June.  I haven't yet shared the news with my students but little eyes are starting to stare at my growing belly.  I've even had a few belly rubs by little girls as they give me hugs.  I can tell they are trying to figure it out.

This week is my first chorus rehearsal since the winter concert and, since I'm closest with this group, I want to share the news in a special way.  I'm planning something with balloons (you may have seen it on Pinterest!).  I'll post pictures later this week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mrs. Q's Resources: Instrument Labels

I've been working on this product for some time now!  It has taken many hours, research and the patience of my tech-savvy husband to create these cards but I'm really excited about them.  A few years ago I took my Level I and learned all of the hand drawn symbols for classroom instruments.  I loved how these easily identified instrument parts in a piece but I thought they would be incredibly useful as classroom signs.

After my Level I, I returned to my classroom and hand drew cards to display around my room.  Now that I have used them for a couple of years I realize how great they are.  My students are better at using names of instruments and quickly finding instruments/cleaning them up!

This product contains just over 30 instrument labels color coded by material (skin, wood, metal).  If you are interested in this product you can click the link above for more information.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Managing Response Rates

This year as part of my professional development, I chose to work on monitoring response rates in my classroom.  When I started I wasn't sure what managing response rates really meant but I did a little research.  Basically managing response rates means that you are using techniques to ensure that students are engaged in questions during your lesson.  I was surprised to read that I was already doing this. Somethings you may already be doing are:

Wait Time
Random Name - choosing students randomly to answer questions
Questioning Strategies - using a variety of question types throughout your lesson

Another teacher who is focusing on the same element shared a cup system for managing response rates with me. You use a stack of cups (1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow) at each students seat.  Students move the cups to show how they are doing with the lesson.  If red is out the are having a hard time, yellow a question, green are good to go.  I adapted this idea to work for my classroom.

These are plain index cards cut in half.  The three colors are post-it flags.  Mine aren't actually post-it brand, you can find a similar product at Dollar Tree.  I call them stoplight cards.

I keep them with the rest of the supplies students use during lessons.

Each team has it's own set of baskets with materials.

This is the same concept, I've just made it music room friendly.  Students can take these cards any where in the room and indicate how they are doing by moving the appropriate flag to the edge of the card. Surprisingly they hold up very well!  So far I've used them with all my 4th and 5th grade classes over a 16 day rotation and we've only lost two flags.

What is great about using this system....

1.  Questions....
I have heard questions that students would not otherwise have asked in a group setting.  It's interesting to hear their concerns or misconceptions about rhythm, melody or recorder technique.

2.  One on One
I don't feel like I get enough one on one time with my students.  It's hard on my schedule to ensure a quality music experience, while hitting benchmarks and monitoring students progress!  I'm sure you feel the same way.  I often find myself sacrificing this one on one time in order to get as many experiences in as possible. I've learned that slowing down is important.  It's great to hear from individuals so that I can truly understand their strengths and weaknesses.

3.  Ah Hah! moments
Remember those misconceptions I talked about.  It's important to hear those because I can better my teaching through understanding where my students are getting hung up.

How do you manage student response rates in your classroom?

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