Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Three Things I've Learned this Summer

It's been a while, I know, but I'm back with a post about Three Things I've Learned this Summer. I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room for today's post. Click the link below to go to her post and see all the other bloggers who are participating.

 Three Things I've Learned this Summer

1. Technology integration

I was selected to attend my district's Ed Tech Success Initiative (ETSI) this summer and have spent the past two days in intensive trainings. I am realizing that I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to meaningful tech integration in my classroom, and am wrapping my brain around how to do it in a one-device (for now) classroom. We've learned about ISTE standards, models of tech integration, ways colleagues within our district have been integrating technology meaningfully.

I'm struggling with how to do this, in some ways, while still keeping my students active music-makers, but I think I'll find some great integrations as the year progresses, especially now that I have some background.

2. I truly have the BEST music colleagues - EVER

This summer, I was chosen to work on our Curriculum Committee, re-designing and updating our district curriculum to reflect our new instructional materials adoption, and to add listening examples, mostly from YouTube, where appropriate. I spent most of the summer working with six other teachers on this project and the discussions were AMAZING. We debated one aspect of our curriculum and where it fit for over an hour! Yet the dialogue was never disrespectful. It was fun to participate in the "inside" workings of my department.

3. I wish my home life was as organized as my classroom/school life

I confess - my classroom is OCD organized, and getting more so each year. My home on the other hand, tends to fall to the wayside. Now, I'm not talking dirty or grungy, but it has nowhere near the level of organization my classroom does, and I'm finally realizing how much that makes me CRAZY! Although I won't have time to make that a summer project at this point, I am setting forth a goal of organizing one part of my home each week until I have a place for everything and everything in its place. I am also going to be ruthless when it comes to keeping versus tossing. I did that once already moving from Ohio to Texas, and am going to do it again now that I am starting my third year here. If I haven't needed/used it, it's gone-zo!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Five Favorite Music Freebies

Hello! Today I am joining up with Jen at Noteworthy by Jen for her Five Favorite Music Freebies Linky Party! To view all of the bloggers that have linked up, click the picture below:

I'm certain I'll be sharing at least some of the same items as my blogging colleagues, but here goes. Click the product pictures to be taken directly to that item on Teachers Pay Teachers.

1. Looby Loo from David Row at Make Moments Matter

I love, love, love this entire series of Favorite Folk Songs! They make both fantastic projectables as well as fantastic bulletin boards. David did wonderful research on each of the folk songs he includes. 

2. Inner Hearing Signs and More from Lindsay Jervis

These signs are a great way to get kids practicing their voice types, and going between auditing, solfa, and words. I did not turn them into the hand puppets, but attached them to large craft sticks instead. My students like getting to be the leader and deciding when we switch (even when it is not in the most musical place to change).

3. Music Composer of the Month: Antonin Dvorak from Music with Sara Bibee

This is another freebie to give buyers an idea of what the entire series looks like. I adore these composer packs and think that they are fantastic for teaching elementary (and probably middle school) students about composers. She also has packs for jazz artists and a series of woman composers.

4. Bird Songs Music Listening Freebie from Cori Bloom

This sampler from Cori's year-long listening and writing product is great for older students and perfect for your sub tub if you teach 5th grade and up. I don't own the full product since 5th graders are my oldest, but I have many of the other sets/products for writing integration and love them.

5. Walk and Running Rhythm Cards Freebie from Aileen Miracle

I love using these cards with my kindergarteners when we are practicing long and short-short (ta and ti-ti). They are great for kinesthetic practice, although I do find that they work better staying in one place rather than moving through the room.

BONUS: Aileen's Font Freebie from Aileen Miracle

There are so many free fonts on TPT, but I like Aileen's because it looks very much like a student's printing (like I would typically use Comic Sans MS for). This is the first one I found on TPT and I think that's one reason I keep using it - consistency!

Enjoy - and let me know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lesson Planning Made Easy!

Several years ago, I decided I had had enough of lesson plan books that did not fit my needs as a music teacher. I spent one year with a template that I created in Microsoft Word, but even that was not flexible enough for the crazy schedule I had. So during the fall of 2011, I searched and searched and searched the internet for an online tool that would help streamline lesson planning.

Enter - planbook.com.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with planbook.com other than being a loyal user and fan. I receive no compensation of any kind for this post.

There are so many things to love about this platform. First, it is web-based, which makes it easy to plan anywhere. The home screen comes up with a weekly view that you can customize to meet your exact needs.

Second, they have pretty much EVERY standard set possible available for every type of teacher. It is as easy as clicking to add the appropriate standards to your lesson plan (ah-ma-zing!). And if they don't have what you need, the customer service is second-to-none! They will add whatever you need if you just point them in the right direction!

Third, iPad app!! And the best part is, you can work offline on the iPad and sync when you get wireless access again!

So now that I've got your attention with the first awesome parts, here's a rundown of some more:
  • Add attachments - I use this for my .ppt, .notebook files, etc. Some teachers use it to post the homework for their class (and then share the "student link" with their classes)
  • Bump/Extend/Delete lessons - have a fire drill you didn't know about? Right click, bump to move the entire lesson to the next day and delete it from the current. Just didn't get through everything? Extend the lesson from 1-10 days!
  • One class for the day cancelled for an assembly? Click no class in the editor and the class vanishes from the day!
  • Snow Day/School Holiday/Conference/PDH? Insert a no school day with your event name when you set up your planner and all your lessons will skip that day and move to the next available day!
  • STAAR/SmarterBalance/PARCC testing on specific days? Lock lessons to the day and make sure that no matter what happens before, the testing will be on the right day!
  • Import lessons from one year to the next - Gone are the days of rewriting every lesson from scratch! Did you like your Kindergarten sequence last year? Import it and you are ready to go (of course we don't teach 100% the same way each year, but the skeleton will probably be very similar!). Make changes as necessary and additions (extensions/interventions) as needed.
Do you co-teach? Planbook has you covered there too! You can share lessons with other teachers and import between planbooks!

The best part - it's super-easy to set up and use! This is by far the best $12 I spend each year.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Liebster Award!

I am happy to announce that I have also been nominated for a Liebster Award by Rachel at Music with Mrs. Tanenblatt!

The Liebster Award was created to highlight blogs with growing audiences.

The rules for receiving this award are:

  1. In your post link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and a 'shout out'.
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer. (The questions I have answered please)
  3. Nominated 11 people (Blogs with less that 200 followers) and link them in you r post.
  4. Let your nominees know and provide them with a  link back to your post (so they can see the rules)
  5. No nominating the person who nominated you, however send them a thank you :)
The Questions:

1.  Why and how long ago did you start blogging?

I started blogging about four years ago, when I had a student teacher and some time on my hands. My blog used to be hosted here. My original plan was just to share thoughts about teaching elementary music, and share suggestions with anyone who came across my blog. Now, I find myself using it for networking and sharing ideas, as well as a sort of running record of my career. I need to get more consistent with writing, though.

2.  What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?

Random. Although my original goal was to share teaching strategies, I've found that I love Linky Parties, and that they give me inspiration to write. I'm not always sure what to write about, since it seems everyone is blogging these days and I don't want to be the 100th blog to say the same things, especially if I'm not using them in a unique way. Maybe I'm too hard on myself.

3.  Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey you wished you knew before?

Not really learned, and my blog is still very new, but I wish I would have been better at at least titling a blog post and sketching ideas in a draft as soon as I had new ideas. I feel like I lost several opportunities over the past two years especially to really dig into some things.

4.  What is your favorite pastime other than blogging?

I love playing vintage video games - nothing beats Duck Hunt, Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong! They are also a fantastic way to blow off steam and stress.

5.  How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog/TPT?

Not nearly enough! Sometimes I will go several weeks without doing anything on my blog - writer's block is the worst! I don't have a TPT store just yet, and don't know if I'm going to pursue that end of things - there are already so many amazing and creative sellers out there!

6.  What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?

I love reading about manipulatives that work well in the classroom. I don't know that I particularly like one type of writing post over another, I usually just write about whatever strikes me.

7.  Where does your blog inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes mainly from day-to-day happenings in the classroom and from seeing linky-party topics that interest me.

8.  Which post that you've written are you most proud of?

I think I'm most proud of my classroom setup post because it connects to many TPT sellers that helped make my room an awesome space this year.

9.  Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now?

I've been planning to do a series on using Responsive Classroom techniques in the music room. I feel like it got postponed over and over as this year and last year have been crazy!

10.  What if your favorite aspect of blogging?

My favorite aspect of blogging is linking up to other bloggers through linky-parties and learning from lots of different bloggers, both music and general classroom.

11.  Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you like to try yourself?

I just ordered my stretchy band so I can't wait to try ideas from this post!

Here are my nominees:

1.   Patrick at Songs from the Dawn Treader
2.   1st Grade Fireworks
3.   Jackie at Neat Sweet & Hard to Beat
4.   Rachel at Mrs. O Knows
5.   Karen at Smarticle Particles
6.   Kate at Songbird Serenade
7.   Amy at Treble in the Classroom
8.   Melody at The Plucky Pianista

Whew, I had to really dig to find even 8 bloggers who haven't already been nominated (or that I didn't just nominate for the One Lovely Blog Award! Hopefully I did't re-nominate anyone - if I did - kudos to you!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Lovely Award

Even though my blog is fairly new, and I haven't been the best at posting regularly, I was nominated by Jasmine at The Dots of Teaching for the One Lovely Blog Award!

Here are the rules for the award:

  1. Thank and link back to the awesome person who nominated you.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs to let them know.
Here goes:
  1. I am a DIEHARD Buckeyes fan. I am so fanatic about it that my students are not allowed to use blue and yellow rhythm sticks in the same pair (the color of Ohio State's arch-rival), nor can both color beanbags be in use at the same time.
  2. I have two Bachelor's Degrees from Ohio State - Music Education and Music Performance (Flute)
  3. I LOVE playing video games - mostly retro stuff like Sonic, Mario, and Donkey Kong, but I can be convinced to try others.
  4. I was so excited to see snow earlier this month - I love living in the South, but nothing beats a good snow (and the accompanying snow day).
  5. I am a bit of an Ed Tech nerd. I'm trying to find organic ways to incorporate technology into the music room - not for the sake of technology, but to enhance music instruction.
  6. I am slightly OCD about my classroom organization, and will spend hours on end trying to get things just right.
  7. I have four completely adorable dogs - Captain, Barney, Balthazar, and Rylee.  Rylee is a dachshund/terrier mix and Captain, Barney, and Balthazar are Black Lab mixes. They keep me on my toes.

Now, for 15 bloggers. I tried to find blogs that I read that are not from my Facebook list of bloggers/TPT sellers for most of my nominations. Here goes:

  1. Lori at Sweet Sounds
  2. Kelly at Finding Your {Singing} Voice
  3. David at Make Moments Matter
  4. Rachel at Music with Mrs. Tannenblatt
  5. Amy at Music and Technology
  6. Ms. Benson at So La Mi: Elementary Music Blog
  7. Kelly at Kelly Riley's Music Classroom
  8. Aimee at O For Tuna Orff
  9. Allison at Mallets and Music
  10. Steph at Stay Tuned!
  11. Jennifer at In My Music Class
  12. Norm at Elementary Music 3T
  13. Molly at Ms. Patrician's All Star Music
  14. Cara at Miscellaneous Me
  15. Erin at Technology Erintegration
Wow, that was work. Good luck and congratulations to my colleagues!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunday Scoop (on a Monday)

I've been away from my blog for a while (again), but am going to make a final school year push to update more frequently, so today I'm linking up with Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop!

Here goes:

We've almost made it, folks! Testing season is upon us, and so comes the crazy schedules of no specials so we can provide teacher relief and, in many cases, helping to administer small groups!  This makes me very glad Friday is a student and teacher holiday for me so I can decompress with some retro gaming.

Hope to write again soon!