2015 New Years Resolutions {Linky Party}

Wow!  I can't believe I'm even thinking about 2015!  Where has the time gone?

Today I am linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room and posting my New Year's resolutions for 2015.  I love how Aileen has given examples of five different parts of my life to reflect upon for change.  Here are my resolutions below:

My Personal Resolution is to spend more time with my family.  I think many people say this each year, but I really need to do this.  It seems as if my husband and I are going different directions every day and only meet late at night when we are so tired from our busy days.  After school, I am taking our daughter to her after school activities, and he is usually still at his school with after school activities.  My days seem so monotonous at this point, and I know that is how life is sometimes, but we definitely need to figure out how to spend more time together.  So, that is definitely a BIG resolution.

My Professional Resolution is to take the PLT and pass!  I knew that I needed to take the PLT but didn't realize it had to be done so soon.  I checked my licensure status today and realized that it expires in June.  If I don't pass this spring, I can't renew my teaching license.  So, this must be done!  (On a side note, I tried to look into it this afternoon on the ETS website, and the site was down.  I guess that was Karma or fate's way of saying don't worry about it just yet....)

My Classroom Resolution is to repair the Orff instruments.  When I took the job last year, I was so excited to see all of the Orff instruments.  However, only one (out of 10 or so) works properly.  The rest of them have melted rubber parts and are useless at this point.  No sound at all. :(  But, my principal asked me what I needed, and all of the parts were ordered to fix them.  I just haven't spent the time to fix them.  It seems like such a big task that I just keep putting it off.  If I will work on one every few weeks, I should be able to do it.

My Blog/TpT Resolution is to blog bimonthly and create at least two new products a month.  Sometimes my life is so crazy, I just can't seem to find time to blog or create products.  I was really hoping to do some of this over Christmas, but I was so worn out after the first semester of school, that I needed to take a break.  Maybe I can get something created in the next few days.  And, I'm blogging now, so that's a start!

My Just for Me Resolution is to lose weight!  I know~so cliche.  But, I need to do it NOW!  I have always struggled with my weight.  I have gained so much in the past few years, and I would love.to.lose.a.lot.  I won't go in to details, but it's definitely a must!

Now that I've made some resolutions, I think I will print out the above image and post it in my classroom and somewhere at home, too, so that I can remember them.  What a great first use of the new laminator I got for Christmas!

Thanks Aileen for such a great linky party and creating a cute image, too!

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Cyber Sale Linky Party

Can you believe there are only a few weeks before Christmas?!?!  I only have three more weeks until another break!  Woo hoo!  I have really enjoyed these few days to spend with family and also create new resources.  I can only imagine what I will be able to accomplish with two weeks off!

Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a CyberMonday sale from Dec. 1-2.  You can check out all of the great products out there and get 28% off by using their code TPTCYBER.  Thanks to the 3am Teacher for the cybersale banner!

But before you start shopping, I am linking up with Amy Abbott from Music a la Abbott to learn about what other products are out there that I might want to put in my shopping cart for Monday!

I will first tell you one of my products that I think you should purchase, and then I will tell you about 2 more products that I already have in my shopping cart ready to go!

I just finished making my Nutcracker Ballet Scavenger Hunt.  It is similar to a write the room activity.  Students will have a worksheet and will walk around the room in search of the pictures that I have posted throughout my room to review the Nutcracker.  It's always great when I can give the students a worksheet and let them work on their own!  If you are teaching your students about the Nutcracker Ballet this season, you might want to purchase this!

One item I will be purchasing is from another South Carolina music teacher, Sally Utley.  This is another Write the Room activity but for Instruments of the Orchestra.  This looks amazing, and Sally has thought of many different options for this activity.

And last, I will be purchasing this cute Body Percussion Clip Art set from Dancing Crayon Designs.  I have been eyeing this for a while to use to create some more activities for my students.  Why not purchase while it's 28% off?

Don't forget to check out Amy's link party for more ideas from some great music teachers!  And leave a comment to tell me what you will be purchasing, or what you think I should purchase, too!  Thanks!

Five Favorite Pins of November

Today, I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracle's Room to share my Five Favorite Pins.  After reading my favorite pins, make sure to scroll back up to the top to click on this link to see all of the other pins posted by some pretty amazing music teachers out there!

My first one came just in time for Thanksgiving break!  I am definitely guilty of taking home too much work every weekend and then not doing any of it!  And, apparently, Pitch Hill and I were thinking the same thing!  Ha!

My second pin is about vocal exploration using the book, The Squiggle by Carole Lexa Schaefer.  I start each Kindergarten and 1st grade class off with a vocal exploration, and this would be great for my students!  I've thought about using WikiSticks and pipe cleaners, but never thought about a jump rope.

My third pin is great for classroom management.  Who doesn't love Mr. or Mrs. Potatohead?!  This looks so easy to make and would be very easy for students to understand!

My fourth pin has several winter activities involved in one blog post!  Meter, form, ice skating, and a snow ball fight thrown in there!  I tried some of this last year, but I will definitely revisit this again after Thanksgiving break!

And, my last pin is a a cute idea for listening to and identifying different sounds.  These could be made with plastic eggs or 35 mm cases if you can still find those....  My daughter's church choir teacher was using them this past week.  I found it interesting that she had some after I had just pinned this myself.  It's also a great idea for a substitute, too!

Thanks for reading!  You can follow me on pinterest, too!  Click the link below!

13 Nights of Treats and Frights

Good evening everyone!  I am so excited to tell you about an event I'm participating in called 13 Nights of Treats and Frights.  In the next 13 days, there will be 29 opportunities for you to get a FREE product and also purchase another product at 50% off if you want to.  Did I say 29 OPPORTUNITIES?!?!  That's, like, WOW!  You could potentially have enough products to use one each day for the month for October and then into November!  Not all of the 29 Freebies will be Halloween related.  There will be some fall products and maybe even a football product or two for you sports fans!

Each day, you will want to visit my Facebook page, and I will direct you to the next Facebook page or TpT store to find the FREEBIE and 50% off product.  I will plan to do this in the evening for the next day's resources.

Here is a list of all of the amazing teachers that are hosting this event and the dates they will be posting their freebie.  You will want to search for "13Nights" to find the freebies and 50% off products.  Each teacher will only have their products listed for 1 day, so you will want to check each day!

And, while you're on each teacher's TpT store and Facebook page, make sure you follow them to learn about more opportunities throughout the year!
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!

Music Classroom Set Up

Today I am linking up with Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to talk about my classroom set up.

Below is a picture of one of my doors.  I don't use it often for classroom purposes, but it is there and needs to be decorated.  Last year, I put just one small poster on it.  But, I purchased these cute advocacy posters from Music with Sara Bibee and decided they would look great on this door.  The students walk past this door every day, so I'm hoping some of the information will sink in as they glance at it while walking by.  My favorite thing about these posters is that each page only gives a snippet of information that even young students can understand.  It's great for the teachers, parents, and administrators to see when they walk past as well!

I purchased the Nautical Music Room Decor Kit from Lindsay Jervis, and it has so many ideas and everything you need to decorate your classroom.  I live at the beach, so this was great for my classroom.   This next picture is of my "front" door.  This is where all of the students enter my classroom each day.   It's so cute, and I love it!  

Here is a picture of the front of my classroom.  I decided to use the Music Rules from Lindsay as well (you can see the word music down the side of my bulletin board).  I liked that it came with songs to teach the students about each rule.  My Kindergarten and 1st grade students are enjoying the songs.

And, below is a picture of another bulletin board idea from Lindsay's nautical kit.  I was beginning to teach the notes on the staff to 4th and 5th grade students this week, and one of the students caught on that what I was teaching was also on this bulletin board.  It's great when I can see the light bulb moment for them (even if it was a small one!)

Here is a picture of my Are You in a 5-S Line? posters.  You can download them from my store for free!  (While you are in my store, make sure to follow me, too!)  These posters are a great visual for my students when they are lining up.  They know if they do not line up quickly and correctly, they may not get a sticker for the day in music class.  I like that all I have to ask is "Are you in a 5-S line?"  I don't have to tell them to turn around, stop talking, get in line.....

Here is a picture of one of my rest area posters that are scattered about the room in case I need to send a student to "rest" for a bit :)

My last photo of the day will be my Recorder Karate posters on the side of my classroom.  Last year, I let the 5th grade students put a recorder girl/boy with their name on it up on the color that they had completed.    They really enjoyed looking to see where everyone was.  It was a great motivator when some of the classes would get way out ahead of the others.  I've also had many students this year already ask about it, so I know they were watching the others last year.   

You can see all of my Orff instruments that look abandoned over in the corner.  I promise they are not  completely abandoned.  They just haven't been put in their spot this year.  Most of them are not usable right now but I'm working on that (they got overheated at some point before I got to the school).  

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my classroom.  I have more work to do, but school has already started, so I'm running full force!  Thank goodness for the Labor Day weekend!  

Planning in the Music Classroom 2014

School started this week!  I'll post more about that later, but I wanted to give you an idea what I did to plan for this school year.  I spent way too many hours on Facebook and Teachers Pay Teachers this summer watching and waiting for freebies and sales.  I was able to snag a LOT of great finds!

The first find is from Lindsay's Kodaly Inspired Classroom.  I purchased her Race to the Finish Line file last year, but I wanted to see what she had for the beginning of the year as well.

Although I am not following the Kodaly method specifically, I was able to take Lindsay's information to get started on my own long term planning for the year.  It was nice to see what someone else does and how it is laid out.  This file also comes with a great list of songs and activities based on music concepts.  I know this will make my week to week planning much simpler!

I am planning to teach my students music based on John Feierabend's First Steps and Conversational Solfege methods.  I purchased the First Steps bundle a few years ago at a conference, and I like how he wants students to become "Tuneful, Beatful, and Artful" before they begin learning music concepts.  I think it also lets the younger students just have fun when they come to my class and not realize that they are learning at the same time.  The books for First Steps are very simple to follow based on their set up.  There are also enough lesson plans and long term plans for three years of school.  The Conversational Solfege books are also set up well and come with ready made long term plans and a few lesson plan guides.  These really helped me last year for planning, and I will still use these as a guide this year.  I feel like I finally started figuring out how to use the method by the end of last year, so I am ready to get to work on it this year!  I am hoping to add in some more folk dances and instruments as well this year.   

I am also excited about some of the teaching files that I purchased this summer.  

The first is a music centers bundle from Aileen Miracle.  I have wanted to do more with centers in my classroom, but getting them designed is so time consuming.  So, I decided to purchase this bundle.

All I have to do now is print them out, laminate and cut out (this is the step I am on right now), set them up, and put them around my room for students to use!  I like that Aileen has included a center for the teacher to be included in for assessment purposes.  When I sent students to centers in the past, I felt like I was left to walk around aimlessly watching all of them.  This will give me a purpose, too!

Another file I purchased to teach recorders was from Music with Sara Bibee.  

I taught recorders to my fifth graders last year using the Recorder Karate method.  I like that method, but I found that most of my students did not have the musical foundation to jump right in to it (last year was my first year at the school).   I love that Sara's recorder method comes with so many songs to get students learning to play recorder at a slower pace and with lots of repetition while keeping it interesting.  Her method is definitely how I started to learn to play flute, and I think it makes sense :)  I also like that she included worksheets to reinforce learning and give the students a chance to create they own pieces of music.  And the best part is that all of these songs are connected to videos that she has on youtube through the QR codes so my students can practice at home.  I work in a low income area, and I know that many of my students will not be able to do this at home but it is available if they are able.  I am planning to use this for my fourth graders this year so that when they get to fifth grade, they will have a better foundation for Recorder Karate (or maybe I will change it all up by next year!)

I purchased so many things over the summer that I am not able to talk about them all in one blog.  But, I promise I will be talking about them over the year as I use each item.  

I hope everyone is planning away and finding great ideas to use this year in your classrooms!  Please feel free to comment below with your great finds!

Who Am I, and Why Am I Writing a Blog?

My name is Ginny Capps, and based on what the state of South Carolina says, I have been teaching for one year.  I attended East Carolina University and graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy and a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Flute).  After graduation, I did a six month internship in music therapy at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, FL.  After my internship, I began working as a music therapist at a psychiatric hospital in Anderson, SC.  Between then and now, I have had many jobs including activity director at a nursing and rehabilitation facility, admissions director at a nursing and rehabilitation facility, full time mother, and medical transcriptionist.

My husband is a high school band director, and I was always jealous of his summers off (though he does enough work during the school year that he deserves more than the summer off)!  After having our daughter, I decided that I wanted to teach, too.  Why not teach music, work with children, and have paid vacations?  I was able to get a part time job teaching K-2 music at a private school and loved every minute of it.  I was only able to teach for the year there as they wanted someone with an education degree.  I also taught music to K-1 students at my church.  So, I made up my mind at that point to go back to school so that I could have a teaching license.  I chose to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to get my Master of Arts in Teaching.  After a long and hard year of graduate school, I was done and ready to teach!

Unfortunately, God had different plans for me!  My husband had already moved to Myrtle Beach, SC while I was completing my masters, and I was unable to find a job in his county the next year.  I became a long term elementary music substitute in Southport, NC during the fall and then a long term substitute at my husband's school in the spring.  That substitute position had nothing to do with music or elementary students (which I love).  The next school year, I got a job teaching at McDonald Elementary School in Georgetown, SC.  That is where I still am!

While I can (and do) complain about my job, I love it!  I love working with children and teaching music!  I enjoy using my music therapy background as much as I can, though I wish I could do more with it.  Maybe as I progress in my teaching, I will be able to do more.

As a new teacher, I am struggling with what path to take to teach music--Kodaly, Orff, Feierabend.... At this point, I am following the Feierabend First Steps and Conversational Solfege method.  I have really enjoyed teaching this way, and the students seem to be understanding the music much better.

I am hoping that this blog will be a way for me to tell others about what I do on a regular basis at my school.  I know there are many teachers following the Feierabend method, but I haven't found many (or any) blogs, so I decided why not start one?  I have been following many Kodaly method teachers this past year and gotten a lot of great ideas from them that I hope to incorporate as much as I can in my teaching.  I am hoping to start a Teachers Pay Teachers store some time this year as well.  I will see how it goes!

Thanks for reading my blog, and let me know what you would be interested in reading about!

Classroom Set Up 2014

This summer has gone by too fast!  I am headed back to work for teacher workdays on Wednesday.  But, I have gotten many great ideas this summer through different blogs and the Teachers Pay Teachers website, and I am ready to get back to it!  Today, I am going to link to a few of my favorite finds from the summer that I know I will be using this school year.

My first find is from Lindsay's Kodaly Inspired Classroom.  I live at the beach, so I was really excited to see this theme that I could use in my classroom.   She has included so many different things in this kit including binder covers, posters for the new NCCAS standards, bulletin board ideas, rules posters (and songs!), word wall, welcome banner, and instrument labels.  I don't think I will need ANYTHING else to decorate my room with!

Outside my classroom, I plan on posting these posters on one of my doors.  I purchased these from Music with Sara Bibee last year and never put them up.  Since then, she has updated them, and I will definitely be using them this year!

I will be putting up another bulletin board outside of my classroom.  I have thought about giving the teachers and staff in the school a questionnaire about their music abilities and then making a bulletin board out of their answers (favorite songs, last song listened to on your iPod, instruments you play, were you in chorus/band/orchestra in school).  We will see if I am able to get this done.  The biggest thing is the time involved in getting all of these answers.  Maybe I will send an email with a web questionnaire.  

I also have to decorate the front door to my classroom.  I'm not sure what I will do with that yet.  I should probably keep up the nautical theme so I will have to do some searching on ideas.  

Thanks for reading my blog!  I am looking forward to interacting with other music teachers out there!