Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Hello and Happy New Year!

Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to share a few New Year's Resolutions for 2015! (Thank you, AIileen, for the opportunity!)

Personal: Enjoy more time with my family: 
My husband and I have two school aged kids and they seem to be growing up super-fast. We are very lucky because we are all at the same school; my husband is the art teacher, our son is in 4th grade, and our daughter is on Kindergarten this year. We usually travel together to school and we're together outside of school. We have the same school breaks and summer vacation. However, I think we sometimes forget to plan regular fun family times, (beyond everyone together doing homework, dishes, and other necessary chores!) 

This year we made a point of purchasing ski passes and lessons for the kids during a big sale in September. I grew up skiing and my husband has been skiing since he was a teenager but neither of us have been for five years. We went up to Loveland earlier this week, and we all had a blast! (Even though it was -3°!) I was nervous about the kids in their ski lessons but they both did very well. After a few more lessons I'm sure they will both be able to join us on some beginner slopes! We plan to go again this Friday. Here's a picture from this week of me and husband just off the lift. (No, I'm not turning gray; the condensation on my hair from breathing into my neck gator turned to frost quickly!)

Professional: Re-organize my music ed session resources
I've been teaching for twenty years and I have participated in a lot of professional development. I'm a gen-Xer and I have had the interesting experience of starting my teaching career when the only computers in the school were in the main office and a few in the library, to the current technology explosion we have in education (and everywhere else!) 
When I was in college, students did not own computers; we all went to a computer lab to write papers. I was firmly out of college when I got an email account and during my first few years of teaching I wrote all of my plans in a spiral plan-book. I have a lot of paper. I have 3 large, alphabetized by presenters, notebooks of music ed session/workshop notes and those are the ones I thought were worth keeping. It's time I make digital copies of everything from my paper days. It's a big job that I've been avoiding but it needs to be done.

Classroom: Schedule kindergarten music time
Kindergarten classes do not get art, music, or PE at my school. I know that in the past, when I've scheduled a few kindergarten lessons, it makes a difference when they start music in first grade. When the new first graders have had some prior positive musical experiences with me, they progress much faster! Even though it will mean some days without a planning period, I plan to visit kindergarten and teach a few music lessons.

Blog/TpT: Blog weekly
I have been blogging off and on now for a couple of years, sometimes much more "off" than "on!" I want my blog to be a solid resource and positive contribution to the music ed blogging world, and that requires consistency. 

Just for me: Make more music/listen to more music
Music is my passion. I am always energized after playing music myself, (even if it's just a simple piano piece while helping my son with his practice,) and listening to music. I've played bass guitar and sung in bands off and on and I have plans to start that up again in January. I also enjoy listening to music whenever I can. My tastes lean mostly towards classical, jazz, folk, and alternative/indie rock. My mood is almost always lifted by listening to music and I hope to include more listening, (and concert going,) in 2015!

Be sure to stop by Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to check out other bloggers' resolutions!

I wish you a very happy 2015!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Centers

Hello and happy almost-to-winter-break!

I've noticed that the closer we get to the two-week break, the more distracted the students get. I've been trying something different this year to channel their energy- Christmas centers! The class is divided into four groups and they have about 7 minutes at each center.

Each grade level has 2 centers focused on a rhythm or melodic concept they've been working on and 2 centers focused on Christmas music.

Here is an example with 4th grade:

Center 1: SMART Board
Christmas Around the World

Aileen Miracle's excellent Christmas Around the World file has pictures, information, and video links showing how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world. The students love it!

Center 2: Ti Tika Flashcard playing

At this station students practice playing rhythms.

Thanks to Glitter Meets Glue for the snowflake clipart

Center 3: Santa Hats Post Office

The Santa Hat post office games have been a big hit in my classroom!

The students spread their cards out in front of them and then take turns calling out a card for the others to find. I let them choose between speaking the rhythm with rhythm syllables or clapping. It's interesting to see which students choose to clap and challenge their classmates! In third grade I'm calling all the cards and using this activity as an assessment for identifying patterns with tikka tikka.

Center 4: Nutcracker Selections Listening

This center includes headphones, an old iPod touch, and rhythm play a longs for Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy and Russian Dance (Trepak) We have practiced the play a longs in class together as a large group. I give students the option to play a long or just listen to the selections. Many choose to play along.

For most of the classes I am able to "float" and help with any technical difficulties or group disputes, (which occasionally seem to surface!) For 3rd and 2nd grade I've been able to assess students at the post office center.

It's been a more relaxed time then I usually have this time of year and the kids have enjoyed the variety! This week I'll be doing sing a longs to finish December.

I hope you are having a great time in your classroom. Do you have activities you love to use this time of year? Please share!