Saturday, September 20, 2014

WOW!  This first month of school has been a whirlwind!  I had every intention of trying to blog at least once a week, but it hasn't happened.  Let me first preface this blog with - IT'S A LONG ONE!  But, it's been a while, and I have a lot to say!  I think you may want to read it all ;)

My days consist of waking up in the mornings (5 a.m. is EARLY!), getting out the door by no later than 6:30 a.m. (umm, that's my goal at least), teaching up to 6 classes/grade levels a day, rushing out after school each day to pick up our daughter, take our daughter to her after school activities (how do people do it with more than one child!?), cooking dinner (or something like that...), doing homework with our daughter, getting our daughter ready for bed and in bed, doing some extra work (I am a teacher by day and medical transcriptionist by night), and then going to bed.  My husband is a high school band director, so he is in full marching band mode right now and very busy himself.  Which means football games on Fridays when the team is at home and competitions each week in October (we haven't gotten there yet, but it's coming soon!)  And not to mention that I somehow managed to volunteer at our church to teach SPARK (missions) to 1st and 2nd graders on Wednesdays, 1-3 grades children's choir until the director returns from surgery, and Youth Choir starting in October.  I promise I am not complaining!  I love every bit of it!  But, WHEW!

Well, I have had very little time to blog.  And, I know I'm not the only one with this type of routine.  It is exhausting!  I have also already gotten "germie germs" (as I call them) from school, or maybe it's just allergies.  Wait, I've got it!  I'M ALLERGIC TO SCHOOL!!!! :)

I have been working hard on some files for my new TeachersPayTeachers store, too.  I don't have much uploaded yet, but I have set a goal of putting something up there each week.  Some things will be free!  I love freebies, don't you?

I don't want to require you to FOLLOW my TpT store or to LIKE my Facebook page, but I would highly recommend that you do.  **Wink, wink!**  I have a feeling I will be better at posting quick updates there.  There is also a great way to FOLLOW on Facebook once you have liked my page.  Then you will get notifications of all my posts.  This has been a great way for me to keep up with other teachers from around the world that are also blogging, pinning, tweeting, and selling things on TpT.  Oh, and did I mention the FREEBIES?  Just in this past year, I have amassed A LOT of free files from teachers just from getting their notifications and downloading files. But, without following to get the notifications, I would not have gotten them.

So, on to how school has been going.  I have the best schedule this year!  I know that many music teachers have very little planning or it is lumped in with lunch so you choose to eat and plan at the same time if you are lucky.  Well, I get some time each morning before I start teaching to plan my day and then I also have lunch, and some planning during the day on a few other days as well.  I am so grateful for administration that sees the need for planning.  Of course, I still plan a lot in the afternoons and weekends, too (who doesn't).

This is my second year at my school, and I while I am still working to establish routines, I have not had to learn all 500 names this year!  That is probably the best thing!  I am very impressed with how I  have remembered most names.  I seem to do better if I don't realize students are siblings or cousins.  I don't confuse them as much if I don't know.

I have tried this year to be more lenient on how students sit in my class.  Last year, all students K-5 sat "crisscross applesauce" on the floor in nice little rows.  I like that because I could walk around and others could walk around without stepping on little fingers or tripping.  But, my bigger students complained so much about wanting to sit in a chair.  I also don't like chairs because they end up having to move the chairs so much to do movement, games, etc.  But, I caved in this year and have decided to let the 3-5 students personally decide if they want to sit in a chair or sit on the floor.  If they are on the floor, they do not have to sit "crisscross applesauce" unless we are singing or they are not paying attention.  I understand that students my be uncomfortable sitting so perfectly, and they may be able to listen to me if they are lying down or sitting with their legs out or however.  Because I have a lot of boys that play football, I used the analogy that while they could probably do a few things (like throw a ball) while lying on the ground, they were not going to become great players if they lay on the ground the entire football practice.  So, while they might be able to sing lying on the ground, they would not become great singers.  Therefore, they may need to sit up better at some points during the class.

It has been an adjustment for me, but I am trying.  For the most part, the students are doing well with it.  I find it interesting how in some classes, most of the students still want to sit on the floor.   But in other classes, they are all in chairs.  The psychology person in me wants to do a study to figure out why students choose to sit on the floor versus the chair (is it the day of the week, the time of day, their classroom routines, etc.)

I have been teaching my Kindergarten and 1st grade students using the First Steps Curriculum from John Feierabend.  They really enjoy this.  It just seems like fun and games to them.  I struggled last year and for the first few weeks with asking the students to only listen to me sing.  This week, I finally got smart and told the students that it was my time to sing a solo.  This gave me the opportunity to talk quickly about what a solo is and what an audience does (yay for vocabulary and word wall!).  Once I told them it was my turn to sing a solo and that they would also get a turn later to solo, they did great!  YAY!

My 2nd grade students are beginning the first few steps of Unit 1 in Conversational Solfege (John Feierabend again).  This unit covers quarter notes and eight notes.  While at times it has been difficult to motivate the students by just listening to rhythms, singing, and echoing (not reading), I think they are getting it.  I have been trying to use songs that have games to keep it interesting for them.  I will be posting these songs and files soon (once we get to the reading and writing steps).

My 3rd grade students are beginning the second unit of Conversational Solfege.  This unit covers six eight meter.  It has been interesting to see the students "get it."  Again, we are playing games and trying to keep it interesting.  I also started the first few weeks reading some rhythms from Unit 1.  I was so excited to see that probably 98% of the students could read a rhythm to me correctly!  Yay for some retention even with summer in there!

I started the year teaching the 4th and 5th grade students about the Star Spangled Banner.  The 5th grade students sing this at their graduation, so I figured I would start early to teach it to them.  Unfortunately, they did not know the words or the melody when we started.  On a side note, I personally loved that some students thought Amazing Grace was our national anthem.  It made my heart smile :)

I am now working with 4th and 5th graders to learn how to read notes on the treble clef to prepare them to begin playing the recorder.  They have really enjoyed learning the notes, playing my new pirates treble clef game (20% off in my TpT store), and writing their own mnemonic.  And, my students have loved the following video from MusicK8 (on YouTube).  They think the pig is funny and love singing the song.  My opinion is, whatever works to get you to remember the lines on the treble clef works for me!  There is also a song to learn the spaces and also an "Ode to the Treble Clef."



My projector broke Tuesday in the middle of class.  Ugh!  So, I was old schooling it for a few days until I could get a back up.  I decided to give the students their own whiteboard, marker, and eraser and have them practice drawing the treble clef.  It's amazing how excited they get.  And, it's kind of funny to see their interpretations, too!  Well, that led me to try to think of an easy step by step way to teach them how to draw one.  And, I made a worksheet!  Click on the picture below to get a free copy!


Thanks for reading all the way through!  I hope you enjoy the worksheet and are having a great school year!

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