Sunday, March 19, 2017

Write the Room in the Music Classroom

Rhythm: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.

Rhythm: the way the words go.

Rhythm: a pattern of sounds connected to the main beat.

No matter your definition, it's one of the most important things we teach to our music students. It is what drives each of our classes. Without rhythm, where would we be? What would we teach?

Just as a child hears spoken words, then speaks, then reads sight words, and lastly begins to write those words, I truly believe that students should hear, speak, read, and write rhythms in that order. Just as a child practices handwriting in their regular classroom, I believe it is important for students to write rhythms in the music classroom. 

We often use manipulatives in the music classroom to encourage students to write a song.  My students use cards with notes on them and put them in rows of four and read the rhythms.  That is great, and really helps with their reading and writing skills!  They can move the cards around and read the rhythms.  However, if I asked them to physically write a quarter note with a pencil on a sheet of paper, it would not look like a quarter note.  It would probably look more like a lollipop or a circle and a line.  How often do students not realize that the note is actually "filled in"?  This is why I started using write the room activities with my students.  

Before class, I print out flash cards like the ones below.  I cut them in half for one rhythm on each card.  I place the 10 flash cards around the classroom.  I do not hide the flash cards, but I do want students to search for them.  It then becomes a scavenger hunt for students to find each rhythm.  I use the flash cards with note heads because I want my students to practice writing note heads.  But, I do have the stick notation as well if needed.

I then give each student a worksheet like the one below.  Students work in pairs walking around the classroom looking for the pictures on their page and copying the rhythms onto their worksheet.  It is not a race to see who can finish first.  I truly want the students practicing their music writing skills.  I want them to see and feel the difference in writing a quarter note and a half note.  I want them to see and feel the difference in writing eighth notes and sixteenth notes.  

Once students have finished writing all of the rhythms, they bring it to me so that I can see their writing.  I usually need to remind students to fill in the note heads, or write two bars across for sixteenth notes, or - you get the idea.  If everything looks great, I ask students to practice playing the rhythms with instruments while the others finish up.  

I love having worksheets that can be displayed on the walls at school and students can take home to their parents.  In the end, students have had the opportunity to move around the classroom instead of sitting.  They have had the opportunity for a small bit of socialization with their partner.  Last, they have the opportunity to write rhythms with a pencil and paper and hopefully understand what the notes really look like.  

How do you have students practice writing their rhythms?  I love finding new ideas!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sub Tub Sneak Peak!

It's 4 a.m., and you (or your child) wake up sick.  You have to call in for a substitute....

Isn't that the worst feeling ever?  I've dreaded this for years, but not anymore!  I FINALLY took the time this year to set up a sub tub that literally ANY substitute can use in a pinch!  It's in a plastic container on a table in the back of my room.  I can call in sick, and not worry about what lessons to leave ever again!  Certainly, there was some preparation on my part to get it set up, but now that it's ready I won't feel stressed when the time comes.  This is truly an EMERGENCY sub tub!  I don't have to think about a thing.  EVERYTHING that is needed is right there when the time comes.  Certainly, it can be used for those planned days that you will be out, too!

  1. First, I chose several different activities that my students enjoy and require absolutely NO musical knowledge at all!  I know that we still want students learning music while the substitute is teaching, but I wanted to make it pain free for the substitute.  Examples of things I included are a book and coloring sheets, several different games, and rhythm coloring sheets.  (I will list everything included in my Sub Tub at the bottom of this blog, but honestly, you can choose whatever you want to put in the tub.  The most important thing is to make sure that anyone can teach it.)
  2. Next, I printed and laminated all games so that they can be used more than one time.  I printed enough coloring sheets for one day but left the originals in there if someone needs to make copies.  (Hint:  Did you know you can write with a yellow highlighter on the original and still make copies?  I wrote "ORIGINAL" on them to make sure they do not get passed out and colored on).  
  3. I made folders for every lesson and labeled the outside of the folder with the appropriate grade levels and title of the lesson.

  4. I made an excel spreadsheet that gives a basic description of each lesson in the sub tub.  I also included a check off list for the substitute to use so that I know which activity was completed with which classes.  This can be used over and over for each substitute and lessons won't be repeated with the same class.
  5. I then made a notebook with basic information that I think the substitute should know:  School contact information, class schedules, emergency information, and a communication form for input back from the substitute.  I chose to handwrite most of the information in because I felt it was easier.  You could definitely type everything up!  You can see that I also placed everything in plastic pages to keep it neater and make it last longer.

  6. Finally, I placed all of the lesson folders, the information notebook, bean bag, and bingo chips in the sub tub.  I left a smaller container with crayons in it next to the tub.  I placed the finished Sub Tub on a table in the back of my room that is obvious to see when someone walks in.

    What exactly is in my Sub Tub?  Find the items at the following links:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wish and Dish

Is it already August?  Noooooo!

I can't believe there are only a few more weeks of freedom for me before I go back to school.  But, if it's back to school time, that means there are a lot of sales going on!

I'm joining with Music a la Abbott and Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to Wish & Dish about some things on TeachersPayTeachers.

First things First!  The Dish Part!
Did you know that you can earn credits for leaving positive feedback on your previous purchases?  You can earn 1 credit for each $1 that you have spent when you leave that precious feedback.  And, it is great for sellers to know what you think of our products so that we know what you like about our products.  This will help us improve, too!

Simply go to your purchases page and sort by "Needs Feedback."  This will tell you everything that you have and have not left feedback on.

Now for my Wish List!

One product of mine that I am excited to use this coming year is my Ocean Themed Decor Set.   I live at the beach, and I love to see all of the ocean decor when I go places here.  So, why not bring it into the classroom a little?  I have had so much fun creating this set throughout the summer, and I know it will brighten my day each time I walk into my classroom.  Currently, this bundle includes Recorder Fingerings, Solfege Hand Signs, Music Rules, Instrument Posters, and Welcome Banners.  In the next week, I will be adding a Word Wall Set, Behavior Rewards, and Discipline Rest Area Posters.

I also have a Pirate Themed Decor Set, too!  It's been difficult for me to decide between the two sets!

One product on my wish list for the sale is Mary Had a Little Jazz from I Heart Teaching Music.  I am always looking for ways to include Jazz and Blues into my curriculum as this is a part of music that I was never taught much about.  This file looks so cute, and easy to incorporate into my lesson plans.  There are powerpoint presentations, worksheets, student handouts, and even MP3 accompaniment files included!  You can't get much better than that!

Finally!  I am so excited that Shelley from Pitch Publications has opened a clip art store called Pitch Clips!  She has so many great digital papers and clip art in her store!  I used many different digital papers of hers in my decor sets above.  There are so many different colors and styles included.  She has a great Build a Bundle Set that allows you to choose the different papers that you want and create your own bundle.  That way EVERYTHING in the bundle is something that you want and need!

So, what's on your wish list?  
How much feedback to you need to leave first?  
What are you waiting on?  

Let's go shopping!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting To Know You Blog Hop

Welcome to my blog! 

I am so honored to be the 2nd hop and also participating with this 
FANTASTIC group of music bloggers! 

I haven't been blogging as much as I would like, but I really enjoy it,and am looking forward to doing this more often throughout this next school year! I'm hoping that during this blog hop, you will be able to learn some things about us, and we will get a chance to learn about you. There is also a giveaway, so make sure to read to the end to find out what to do next.

1.  What state/region are you in?
I was born and raised in North Carolina but married a South Carolina boy! He won out, and we now live in South Carolina. We lived in the Upstate when we were first married but now live in the Pee Dee region. It's definitely different than where I grew up, but I'm adjusting well - the beach sure does help!

2.  What is your background education/experience?
I received my bachelor's degrees from East Carolina University in Music Therapy and (another) in Flute Performance. I was an overachiever. Ha! After being married for several years to a high school band director and also the birth of our daughter, I decided to go back to school to get a degree that would allow me to teach. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received my Masters in the Art of Teaching (MAT). While I was in a cohort of Music majors, there were also English, History, Math, and ESOL majors in the program.

3.  Why did you become a teacher?
Both of my parents were music teachers.  In fact, my dad was my middle school band director.  I was always playing my flute anywhere and everywhere growing up.  But, my dad always discouraged my brothers and me from being a teacher.  "There's no money teaching.  The students are horrible."  And on, and on.  So, I didn't want to teach.  I started college thinking I wanted to be a Physical Therapist but then realized how much Biology I was going to have to take.  I HATE Biology.  By the end of my first semester, I was torn between going to school for Accounting or Music Therapy.  During winter break, I observed both an Accountant and a Music Therapist.  I absolutely loved my time with the music therapist.  I went back to college after break, and enrolled in as many general education classes as I could to get them out of the way before getting into the music program for the fall.  I spent 4 years finishing classes for Music Therapy, but I still LOVED to play my flute.  And, I was very good at it.  I decided to stay an extra year and get a second degree in Flute Performance.  My dad considers this a "useless" degree.  "What can you do with that degree?"

And, honestly, while my dad was always quite negative about teaching and my performance degree, he does have a point, right?  Teaching is not an easy job, and it's not always fun!  Having a performance degree does nothing for you.  You have to continue on in school to get your Master's and Doctorate to be able to do anything with that.  And often when you get that far, you still struggle to make ends meet each month because you are teaching private lessons and traveling all over the place playing in 5 different orchestras in 5 different states.

As I said earlier, my husband is a high school band director.  I know all too well the struggles that he has.  Student retention, tiny budgets, small paychecks, school politics, LONG days (he still hasn't made it home from his first band camp day-it's 9:56 p.m. as I write this).  But, I also see the joy that teaching brings him.  When he can "get through" to those few students.  When students are so excited to come into the band room and tell him about their day.  When those same students make region band or state band.  And, who can complain about those summers off?  No teacher ever!  

We moved while I was pregnant, and I was not able to keep my job after having our daughter.  And, that was ok.  Because I was working way much harder than I wanted to, and I didn't really enjoy it.  I did not want to spend more time at work than with my family.  I chose to go back to college to get my Master's degree so that I could get my teaching license.  It was one year of school, and a huge sacrifice.  But, I now get to work with children and see the smiles on their faces every day.  I get to share my love of music every day.  I get to spend time with our daughter in the afternoons.  I get to spend time with my family during the summers.  I don't have to work on the holidays.  I get more time off from work (and do not have to ask for it).  I basically have the same yearly schedule as my husband and daughter.  No, I do not get paid enough.  Sure, sometimes teaching makes me crazy.  But, 


Whew!  That was long!  Now that I'm done, let me tell you about the giveaway!

After you're finished with the hop, you can enter a giveaway for your chance to win tons of teacher goodies that are sure to make you smile! Simply leave a comment on this post with an answer to the highlighted question at the bottom of this post. Then, do the same at each blog hop stop. When you reach the end of the blog hop, you'll be able to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!

The winner will receive some paper goodies to stay organized, an inspirational quote block for your desk, a book to make you laugh when you need it, hand sanitizer, a glass jar to store your pencils, magnetic clips, paper clips, binder clips, and push pins.

Here's the question you need to answer!

Why did you become a teacher?

Click on the image below to go to the next stop!  Happy hopping!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Planning: A Beginner's Guide

I ran across a post a few weeks ago on Facebook about an invite to participate in PlanWithMeSundays with Meghan from Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris.  I looked at a few of the previous blogs, and was completely amazed at some of the planners I saw.  I thought "There is NOOOOO WAY I can participate in that!"  I haven't used a planner in over 6 years.  But, after looking at the blogs and thinking about it, I decided I NEED to get a planner, and I wanted to join in the fun!  And, this one has a giveaway, too!  Keep reading!

My planner is no where near as exciting as some of the others that have linked up, but I thought since I will consider myself a "beginner," maybe you can get some basic ideas to get yourself started, too!  I will give you some history about myself and then explain what I am planning to do with my planner for the rest of summer and beginning of the school year.

When I was in college (ages ago!) and in my first few jobs (not teaching), I lived by my planner and  desk calendar.  I LOVED being able to look at my calendar and know exactly what I needed to do.  I also LOVED being able to mark off each day as it passed, especially on my desk calendar.  My desk calendar was so pretty (cue the harp strings).....

I would write mostly work things on there since it was in my office.  There were a few personal things on there like doctors appointments and vacations.  But, my favorite part of the entire calendar was being able to color code marking off the days.  It was a rainbow of colors by the end of the month.  And, I never threw the month away after I tore it off.  I would fold that beautifully colored calendar into half and then half again and file it away in my desk drawer.  Those used months came in handy sometimes when trying to remember something!  I was also a Nazi (sorry) about my calendar!  If someone came into my office and wrote on my calendar or spilled coffee (gasp!) on it...........?!  Don't.Even.Think.About.It!

For several years, I had no need for a calendar (I thought).  I took a few years off from work when we had our daughter, and then I went back to school.  By then, Blackberries and iPhones came along with a calendar.  Fast forward to now.  I'm teaching, and I've tried to use that handy iPhone calendar for everything because, let's face it, my phone is ALWAYS with me, and my calendar isn't (especially since it was nonexistent).

But, in the past six years, I have found that I am more disorganized than I used to be.  This is not a trait I am proud of.  I used to pride myself on my organization and Type A personality.   I have blamed my disorganization on "mommy brain."  But, I can't do that forever.  No more!

I have been reading a lot recently about Erin Condren calendars.  Believe me, one of those is on my wish list.  Someday.  When I can afford it.  Maybe.  Quite frankly, it frustrates me that I can't see the Teacher Planner on their website right now.  I KNOW you're sold out, but I just want to LOOK at it!  However, I'm thinking it won't be useful for me anyway since I teach Music and not General Ed classes.  But, I don't know since I can't LOOK at it!

Enter my new planner! EEEEEK!

Since I couldn't afford the Erin Condren, and I really didn't want to pay that much for something I might not use, I decided to go to my local Office Depot and look around.  I found several calendars that would fit what I needed.  But, I decided to go with this one for several reasons.  As you can see below, it has both monthly and weekly pages.  It starts in July.  It's colorful, but not too colorful.  It's pretty, yet sophisticated.  And, most importantly, it's PURPLE!!!!!  

This will be my LIFE planner!  How will I use it?  Keep reading, and discover my tips for starting your very own planner.  And, here are a few pictures of my planner in action.

I have seen some AMAZING calendars lately with stickers, labels, and doodles all over them.  They are beautiful!  But, for me, that can be distracting.  And, again, I'm starting out.  I need simple.  So, I bought some erasable pens in several different colors.  I'll talk more about them at the end.  But, this leads me to my first planning tip.

Tip #1:  Color code everything!  I am a visual person, so I chose to use a different color for each member of my family.  I love that I found these pens because I can erase without any concern.  There is nothing worse (for me, at least), than writing something in ink and not being able to erase it if I misspell something or write the wrong time or date.

Tip #2:  Use every bit of space!  I used the notes section on the monthly calendar to write my to do list for the month.  It's not something that must be done right away, but if I look at it long enough, these items will get taken care of.  

Here is a before and after of the monthly view.

Tip #3:  Take it one week at a time!  I plan to write everything in the monthly section.  Each Friday or Saturday, I will take some time to write out the week ahead in the weekly section.  This will save me some time (since plans do change), and will also give me a chance to really look at the week ahead and change or discuss things with my husband before the hectic week begins.  

Tip #4:  Add to the weekly calendar anything you still need!  For me, I added some check off boxes to hold me accountable for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  I do think that this would be a great place to use some stickers as I can see this getting annoying to have to write in each week.  I also used the notes section on the bottom right to write some goals for product creation for TeachersPayTeachers.  

Tip #5:  Start small.  Know that this is a work in progress!  Plans change.  Months and weeks get busy.  Do your best.  Take it one step at a time.  Soon you will be planning with the best of them!

Now, about these erasable pens.  Yes, they really erase!  I'm not getting paid to promote them at all, but they are wonderful, and I thought I would share.  Actually, Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road blogged about them first.  She got hers from Amazon (probably cheaper, but I wanted them instantly, so Office Depot worked for me).  I would recommend to get the retractable pens that don't have a top to take off (which she linked to in her blog).

Here is my extremely basic video about the erasable pens.  I don't think I will ever use a standard ink pen again!  In fact, I let my husband borrow one the other night, and I have a feeling all of them will go missing very soon....  Thank goodness the store is only a few minutes away from us!

(I'm hoping this video works, and I apologize if it doesn't!  I'm still new at this.)


I'm sorry this was such a long post, but I hope you have gotten a few tips along the way!  I'd love to know what your top tips are for planning as well!

Now, that you are at the end of the blog, make sure to stop back over at Meghan's blog for more link ups and two giveaways!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I'm teaming up with an amazing group of music sellers to bring you ANOTHER giveaway!  It will run from Thursday, June 25th through Saturday June 27th!  You can win one of two $50 gift cards to TeachersPayTeachers.  I'm so excited!  What you will need to do is hop from store to store to collect the secret codes to enter in the rafflecopter.  Follow below for instructions.

How to Enter:

1.  Start HERE at my friend Shelley's store to get your first letter.  When you have all 19 letters, you will have the secret code!  Please follow all of the stores when you hop around.  This is the fastest way to see new products, find freebies, and hear about sales!

2.  Click "NEXT" on the image in each store to go to the next store and get the next letter!

3.  Once you have all 19 letters, you have the secret code!  Go back to my Facebook page and find the #MusicSummerShopHop tab to put in the final code and enter the giveaway! (Don't forget to like my page while you are there!)

Remember, the giveaway runs from June 25-27th, so get to it!  Have some fun!

Winners will be announced on June 28th!

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge : Dare to Dream!

Dare to Dream....

This is a hard one for me!  I don't dream much.  I am very simple.  I love music, my family, and God.  I am happy just the way life is.

But, if I had to dream, these would be my top three dreams:

Let's be honest, I don't work for free!  I want something out of my work, and the money definitely helps!  My first two dreams are about the money.

GET OUT OF DEBT!  This is one of the main reasons I began my store on TeachersPayTeachers.  I am currently teaching full time, and my husband is a teacher, too.  I also transcribe surgical reports in the evening as my "second" job.  So, TpT is my "third" job.  I wish I could spend more time with it, but sometimes I run out of hours in a day (don't we all?!)  And, I am a new seller, so my store is small at this point, but I get excited even when I sell something for $1!  Every little bit helps!

HAVE EXTRA MONEY TO SPEND WITH FAMILY!  We have one beautiful daughter that wants to do everything!  Having a little more money in our accounts each month really helps to make this happen.  She loves to dance, and she loves gymnastics.  I want to give her the world, and TpT helps make that happen for us!

My last dream relates to the friendships I've made so far on TpT.

MAKE LIFETIME FRIENDS!  I already have lifetime friends, and I love them dearly!  But, I have really enjoyed getting to know the music sellers from TpT.  These are people that share the same passion that I do for music.  I enjoy talking and collaborating with them on a regular basis.  I have already developed great friendships with people all over the US (and even the world!), and I look forward to continuing these friendships into the future.  I can't go to Vegas this year, but I look forward to meeting some of these sellers someday!

So, these are my dreams.  They are small, yet lofty at the same time.  They aren't outrageous.

We won't be out of debt any time soon (probably ever).

I won't be able to give my precious daughter the world, but I will certainly die trying!

And I won't get to meet all of my TpT friends any time soon, but I look forward to the day that I can!

Still, I'm thankful every day for my family, friends, and TpT!