Friday, July 24, 2015

My New Website!

You can find all the same music teacher musings over on my new site!

Dynamic Devon's Music Lessons

Hope you'll join me!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Collaboration in the music classroom!

Collaboration is one of our focus 21st Century Skills highlight in Common Core. I had students collaborate to make fingering chart posters. Instead of the complicated fingering charts found in the back of the book, I had students in groups of three or four make a chart of the first five notes. 

Each student had a different color and was responsible for at least one note. The students could help each other using their words, but were not allowed to draw with someone else's color. They had to discuss layout, who would draw which note, line and space numbers, and fingering chart terms. 

Now I have awesome posters for my classroom that are easy to look at and make sense to the kids! As soon as we learn some more notes, we'll repeat the process and make some more posters!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Advocacy Through Videos! - Using the iMovie App to Promote Music Education

My principal asked if I could make a video to about the music program to show at a meeting. I said sure, thinking it couldn't be too hard. And it wasn't!

iMovie is a FREE and easy to use app. I took some videos of my students and then used the app to put them together. I also took a video of myself introducing the video. I used a combination of pictures and videos. To edit a clip, tap and hold either end to cut off as much as you need. I'm thinking about making a comprehensive tutorial, but that really is basically it. I saved the video to my camera roll and then uploaded it to my district YouTube channel to share.

I thought the video was just to spice up a boring presentation; but the video took off! It was posted in the next day's Enews, our district newsletter that goes to all employees, right at the top! Egads!

I was blown away by the popularity of the video. In talking with a colleague about it, she said, "Something that was a kind of throw away thing for you was something that others were really craving." I guess I really aught to make more then! I'd really like to take one of each grade level, but we'll see!

To maintain privacy, any video that I post to the public I try not to have children's faces in the videos. Here is the video I took for the 3rd grade Learning Center activities of the previous post.

How do you use videos to advocate for your program?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Learning Centers in the Music Room - 3rd grade Recorders and Reading the Music Staff

Today I showed being a risk-taker and I tried learning centers for my 3rd grade recorder class. I am now a convert! They were a great way to get students actively involved in reviewing many different concepts in the same lesson. Learning centers require students to be communicators by showing cooperation with others. 

For my classes of 24 third graders I used six stations.

1) Note Speller
Students use mancala tiles on laminated five line staves to make words. First however, they start with the basic line 1, line 2, etc. and then they do the basic spaces. Thinking about it now, those should have been line E, line G, line B review cards! After reviewing the lines and spaces they start making the words. They use the answer key to help them spell the words. This could also be a partner activity where one person has the word and has to help the other person out the tile in the right place using just their words. 

2) Treble Clef Staff Races
One student as the "teacher" goes through one of four stacks of cards. There is a stack of line numbers, space numbers, line letters, and space letters. The teacher picks a stack and says the card. The other students rush to that spot on the staff. The teacher says switch and they go back to the start underneath the staff. Once the teacher is done with a stack, a new student becomes the teacher. Students start with the line and space number stacks. I have a poster with the names of the lines and spaces nearby for reference.

3) Recorder Memory
This memory game has three parts, the recorder fingering, the name of the note, and the location of the note on the staff. My students had a hard time with all three, so I simplified it to be just the name of the note and the fingering. Since this was our first time doing this, I gave them a reference sheet to check.

4) Treble Clef Flash Cards
Two sets of flashcards! Free download from Making Music Fun.

5) Drawing the Treble Clef
At this station students use a worksheet that I drew to practice writing the treble clef.

6) Recorder Practice
At this station, students practice playing their recorders with me!

Thanks to the fabulous Music with Mrs. Dennis blog for some of these ideas!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

App in Focus: Singing Fingers - See What You Sing!

Singing Fingers is so much fun and makes it easy for kids to assess themselves!

This app opens on a blank page. When you draw on the page with your finger the app records whatever sound is around. The color that is drawn is related to pitch and the size of the line is related to the relative dynamic. 

Today I tried this app with a group of first graders. We're practicing matching pitch and getting into the head voice with some octave low high low oooooo sounds. I sang and drew a line going up and down following the contour. Because I sang an octave, the starting color, high point, and ending color are all the same. The kids echoed my voice and I drew while they sang, again following a contour. They could visually see where they had sung the same pitch as me and where they had a different pitch because the colors were different. 

The first time we tried it they didn't really move pitch much at all. I had them add a low high low hand gesture while they were singing and it got a bit better!

The students were really engaged with this app and I plan on using it in the future!

Did I mention it's FREE?!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhyme "Sana, Sana" on the Recorder!

We hear lots of educational buzz phrases like culturally appropriate, engaging, and prior knowledge. But what does it mean for teaching music to students who primarily speak Spanish at home? For me, I incorporate Spanish songs and chants into my curriculum.

This year I started my third graders learning the recorder by adapting a well known Spanish nursery rhyme. I found the chant "Sana, sana" in the book El Patio de Mi Casa by Gabriela Montoya-Stier. I set the chant to an easy rhythm and assigned notes of B, A, and G. I only used one A, as the focus of the song is really learning B and G.

Sana, sana, colita de rana,
Heal, heal, little frog tail,

Si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.
If you don't feel better today, you'll feel better tomorrow.

The chant is said to children by an adult when the child is hurt. I found that many of the children at my school who speak Spanish at home were familiar with the chant.

I found this to be an excellent beginning song for my students.  The song reflects and values their culture, they were engaged because they were able to use their knowledge of Spanish, and they used their prior knowledge of the chant to further develop their musical skills.

Leave a comment if you use this, I'd love to hear feedback! 

As with everything on my blog, you are free to use this in your own teaching. You may not use this in any way where you make a profit. If you would like to repost this, please link back to this post.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Academic Discourse in the Music Room - "Find Your Partner"

During the first year teacher induction program last year, my district gave me a little book they had put together called "Routines for Accountable Academic Discourse." All of these techniques are designed to increase student talk and decrease teacher talk. I used "Find Your Partner" to reinforce instrument names and sounds. 

I have found that, over the summer, students seem to forget the names of instruments. When the students turn in their forms after my traditional instrument demo day, I get forms back where students have written the name of one instrument, but they really meant another instrument. Or I get things like "clumpet." My goal when doing instrument demos this year was to add an activity that would reinforce instrument names and result in students asking for the instrument they meant to ask for.

"Find Your Partner" is an activity where the teacher prepares sets of things, such as the first and last halves of a sentence. The teacher passes these out and the students go to find their partner, the person who has the other part of their sentence. During this time of trying to find their partner, students use lots of academic language while talking with one another. This can also be done with categories of things, which is how I used it. 

To prepare, I made cards with an instrument's name, a picture of the instrument, a description of what it looked like, and a description of what it sounded like. 

Find Your Partner is easily differentiated! I gave my ELL and special needs students the easier cards that had either just the single word or the picture and I gave my better readers the cards that described the sound of the instrument. To ease reading anxiety, I read each card as I handed it out. 

This activity can be used to randomly group students or you can have preassigned groups that they discover after the activity. 

One could say that based on the pre-assessment of how the forms were filled out last year and the post-assessment of how they were filled out this year, this activity is successful! The number of correctly filled out forms increased dramatically. 

I will definitely use this Routine again because it was easy to implement and fun!