Monday, December 30, 2013

First Concert Done!

The school has successfully put on our first concert! I followed the example of a nearby school and split the concert into two assemblies. The first assembly had Kindergarten, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades. The second assembly had 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades. I liked the way the concert had different elements to it with singing and instrumental music.

The best thing about the concert was that I did not have the students get on and off stage. We don't have permanent seating because it is one of those cafetoriums. Therefore, I had all the students sit in the auditorium. When it was their turn I had them stand and when they were done they sat down. It worked very well not having them get on and off stage. It made the concerts short, so now I know if I do the same thing again we can have more music!

I had a star and night "theme." It was really just an idea in my head that helped me pick songs for the younger kids to sing. Next time I would like to get the grades a bit more integrated as far as a theme goes. I am pondering organizing something around the Great Kapok Tree.

My favorite comment about the concert came from a second grader. She said her favorite part was when her mom clapped after she sang. That is what it's all about!

Friday, December 27, 2013

First Lesson on Dynamics and Following the Conductor - Donor's Choose Instruments

When our instruments from our Donor's Choose project came in, the students were very excited! All of the children love to play the instruments and look forward to any time I announce that we will be playing them.

This lesson is very easy to do and you don't need a special set of instruments. Any set on nonpitched percussion will do, one instrument for every student.

As I pass out instruments I have the students echo me. I say a four beat rhythm or a sing a short melodic phrase. I saw a teacher do this on a video and thought it as brilliant. When I hand out an instrument they know to hold it without making noise.

First we practice not playing the instruments. All students put their instruments in their lap and copy my hand gestures. I teach two gestures before we begin and have them copy with their hands. First is hands open with palms up, an inviting gesture. The second is hands closed into fists with palms down, a closing gesture. I assess visually to make sure that every student has copied my hands.

Then they pick up their instruments and I conduct using the two basic gestures. They love it! And it is a perfect introduction to watching the conductor. I play around with long and short durations of playing and of silence.

With all the students watching I communicate to play softly through body language and keeping my hands low near my belly button. Then of course there is the contrasting loud, also communicated through body language with my hands up near my head. I still occasionally include silence so that they all stay watching.

These gestures are very basic and the students catch on quickly. After I have taught this I have a student come up and conduct the group. They all want to be the conductor!

This whole lesson took about five minutes and I will use it again to practice loud, soft, watching the conductor, and student leadership.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teaching Through Modeling "I'm Sorry"

As a first year teacher I do things just because others have said it is a good idea to do. Theoretically I know why these things are suggested, but I mostly just blindly follow them. Today I understand why one of those ideas is worth it.

That idea is modeling how to say you are sorry by apologizing to children when you make a mistake. My third or fourth week I raised my voice to speak to a sixth grader. I did not perceive it as yelling because I was simply talking over the crowded band room, but he perceived it as yelling at him. I spoke to him privately in the hall, apologized for hurting his feelings, and went back to class. His attitude was defiant and standoffish for the rest of the period.

During the next few weeks, he was still trying to figure me out. But I pretended not to know what was going on. I treated him kindly, greeted him by name, and kept teaching. I acted as if we were on good terms.

Yesterday, he and a friend were talking in class because neither of them had brought their instruments. I told his friend to move to the back to fill out the alternate assignment and instead of his friend getting up to move, he got up in quite the huff. I explained that it was not him that was to move, but his friend. He started talking back to me angrily, saying that his friend had not done anything and it wasn't fair. We got into a back and forth, but this time all I said was a calm, "Please sit down." I must have repeated it twenty times but it felt like a hundred. In the moment I thought he would not sit down, that he would stand there defiantly forever. But he eventually did sit down and his friend moved to the back.

But that's not really the interesting part. The best part about all of this happened after class when he apologized to me for his behavior. I don't think this would have happened if I hadn't apologize to him. I believe he apologized because I followed the advice of those who have taught before me, and showed him how to say you're sorry for being human once in a while.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1st Grade -Common Instruments- File Folder Game

I have been enjoying creating visuals and games to use in my classroom. Today I present a file folder game for use in 1st grade. The pdf file for this game is free and available from my TpT store.

It includes five common instruments and one uncommon: guitar, piano, trumpet, drum, violin, and recorder. I included recorder because we play it in 3rd grade at my school.

 The file includes:
- Pictures of each instrument
- Pictures of a person playing each instrument
- Written word for each instrument
- Quarter notes to represent syllables

4 games are playable.
1) Match each instrument to the person playing the instrument.
2) Match the written words to the instruments.
3) Categorize each instrument as one, two, or three syllables.
4) Memory game matching each instrument to the person playing the instrument.

All images are copyright under Creative Commons or Free Use.

Happy Teaching!