Thursday, August 15, 2013

Beginning of the Year Behavior

In my five years teaching, this is only the second time I have been able to return to the same school, so in a way, a lot of things are still new to me.

Surprise #1 - The Kindergarten and 1st Grade kids from last year no longer stress me out as 1st and 2nd Graders.  Something magical happened and they REMEMBER ME!!!  I don't know why this is a shock, but it's strange that my last year Kindergartners are acting like 1st Graders.  It's amazing.

Surprise #2 - I remember their names!! You really don't realize how handy knowing a kid's name is until he is in a herd of 30 other kids and in the back of the room and you can say "Randy, put your chair down."  Much more effective than "Eh, er, you in the yellow shirt. . . no not you, the kid behind you. . . no, you have a green shirt, I need the kid with the yellow shirt . . ."  Magical.

Surprise #3 - Kindergarten lives to please.  Now that 1st and 2nd Grade know what's going on with my class, it removes the stress and I can come at Kindergarten in a more Zen approach.  I use the Power Teacher Method (or at least part of it) in my classroom and part of that is happy faces when they are good and sad faces when they are bad.  When I explained that there are things that Kindergarten does that make me really happy, and things that make me really sad, behaviors changed instantly.  I never realized that was enough for them.  They don't understand future rewards (I knew that), but they want Mrs. Huffman to like them and to be happy.  Today I was less like a cartoon character trying to stop up holes in a dam with all my fingers and toes, and more like a blissful children's entertainer happily singing my songs.

Surprise #4 - Ignoring bad behavior works.  I had a little girl in my 2nd grade class yesterday who sat with her arms folded across her chest and a look on her face that dared me to say something about her not singing or participating.  I decided to ignore her and wax on about how my class was doing so well and how their participation made me SO happy.  Today she was back and I didn't even notice her until she corrected another student for not following my directions.  You better believe that girl got attention and praise from me.  I asked a band teacher who came to talk to my class one time, how did he keep the kids from blurting out while he talked to them.  He simply said he never acknowledged blurters.  He only ever answered kids who raised their hands.  Duh. He definitely didn't get on to them for not raising their hands, he just ignored them and they figured it out. I try to keep that my practice, but when things go well, I relax and get more conversational with the kids and the next thing I know, I'm pausing during my train of thought to listen and respond to a blurter.  NOT THIS YEAR!!!

Surprise #5 - Kids who were a problem last year aren't necessarily a problem this year.  What is that?  No, seriously, what happened to them over the summer?  I have one kid who couldn't stay seated last year.  If I didn't keep a close watch on him, he would be standing on his head in his chair.  The entire school was pulling the stops out for him with behavior charts and rewards and mentor teachers, but nothing seemed to work.  This year, he sits in the back of my room and I don't hear a peep from him.  Is he a time bomb about to go off?  Did he just mature over the summer?  Did someone drop a paint can on his head?  What's going on?

We're only three days in, but this year is looking hopeful.  The kids know what to expect from my rules and structures, and I keep finding surprises for them to keep things fresh.  The sadness that came with the end of the summer is gone and I'm back into teaching.  Good grief, I love my job.

Rhythm Jenga In Class

I introduced Rhythm Jenga today with overwhelmingly positive reviews.  I don't know why I never thought to do this last year, but I had the kids get into a big circle with the Jenga game in the middle.  The kids took turns down the line and I helped them remember note values while their classmates said "I see a quarter note!  I see a half note!".

I liked how I was able to walk them through the process.  "Okay, he rolled a 6.  What note could he pull out first? Now that he's pulled out a whole note, how many beats does he have left?"  And so on. . .

I never realized how engaged the WHOLE CLASS would be.  I might use this as an overall class activity in the future as well as using it in my centers.
I did notice that none of my kids chose multiple note bricks (well, they did use one brick with 2 quarter notes).  I think the more they play this, the more confident they will be to use the more complex bricks.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Music Centers!!!

So, I don't know if I've mentioned how psyched I am about music class centers this year, but it seems I can't think about anything else regarding classroom these days.  Here are some thrift store/garage sale purchases I made this summer.

Noodleboro is a game I picked up at a thrift store for $1.50.  Originally, it was a game about manners and matching cardboard disks to their corresponding shapes and colors. . . blah blah blah.  I used Avery 2" round labels to cover the previous pictures and I now have a "Go Fish" type of game with music instrument families.  The idea is that four players sit around the board, each side of the board representing a different musical instrument family.  Player 1 draws a disc from the picnic basket and if it matches their instrument family, they place it on the corresponding shape.  If it does not, Player 1 places the disc face up in the middle of the board.  Player 2 then has the option of either taking the discarded disc or choosing another from the picnic basket.  There is a slight twist with the 'ant disc' that automatically goes in the middle of the board and is sort of like a "lose your turn".  First player to fill up their side wins.

Idea #2 came from Notable Music Studio.  Musical Dominoes!  She got the idea from the actual musical dominoes or "Dominotes" that you can buy for $35 from Music in Motion.  I do not have $35 to spend on one activity with tiny pieces that are easily lost or stolen.  I do, however, have $0.25 for foam scraps from a garage sale.  They were all the same size, and per Sheryl Welles's  suggestion, I trimmed them down so that each side was square.

This image is what I used as a template.  I just sat down and figured out what notes I wanted to use for each number.  I left the blank squares blank, and for the squares with 1 dot, I alternated quarter notes and 2 eighth notes.  The squares with 2 dots were half notes, two quarters, or four eighth, and so on with each value.  I decided for the squares with 5 and 6 dots, I would use the treble and bass clef signs just because I felt the notes were getting crowded as it is.  AS ALWAYS, I FORGOT ABOUT RESTS, but I figure they can be added in later.

One concern I did have when I laid them out for the picture was that I might run out of space for centers, but I'll just cross that bridge when we get there.

I got High School Musical 2 Twister Moves from the Goodwill half off, so I think I paid $1.  It's similar to Twister, but the kids put in a CD and do dance moves.  Honestly, I haven't really pulled it out and played it yet, so I know very little about it.  I do know that I didn't like how slippery the mats looked, and it only came with 2 for 2 players.

Imagine my joy, then when I found the original Twister Moves at a garage sale.  I could only talk him down to $3, but this one comes with 4 sticky mats that make me less worried.  I ended up just putting the HSM2 CD in the box with the original game.  That way, the kids have some variety.


There are plenty more centers in the works!  I will post more of them later.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rhythm Jenga

Last year, I found a link to a Musical Jenga game that I thought was Awesome, so I kept my eyes open and acquired a Jenga set from a friend for FREE.  I created the game you see pictured above, but I don't remember what my thought process was, and since I didn't start musical centers last year, I haven't had a chance to have the kids play it.  Fast forward to this year.  I have purchased some kick butt games and activities (all garage sales, discount stores, and thrift shops, of course) and now I can't wait to add this game to the mix.

I did mine a little differently from the other sites I've seen (links added below).  I drew notes on each block (same rhythm on all sides of each block) of different values ranging from 1-4.  I added a regular number die to the mix and now here's how you play.  Roll the die, whatever number you land on is the number of beats you have to remove from the Jenga tower.  Example: if you roll a 3, you can pull out a block with three beats written on it, or you can do a combination, i.e. a block with two quarter notes and a block with two eighth notes.

In looking at the other sites, I haven't found anyone else who does Rhythm Jenga like this.  The people I have linked below have suggested writing musical symbols each block.  Students pull out a block and then identify the symbol.  If they are wrong, they have to pull another block.  This method allows you to write different symbols in varying colors on each block according to learning level, so your lower level learners would only identify the symbols written in blue, low-medium would only answer green, medium-high red, and high would be black.

Really, there are several ideas that can be drawn from this game.  You could even write the music symbols in different colors, but use blue=note value, green=notes on the treble clef, red=music symbol identification, black= . . .(I'm blanking on this).  Then you use a die with the colors on each side and two "you choose" sides.  Roll the die and pull out a block, answer the question according to color you rolled or (if the die lands on "you choose" choose the one you want to answer.  I don't know, the possibilities are endless.

Simple Jenga rules I forgot about:

  1. You only get to remove each block with one hand
  2. Place the discarded block on top of the tower
  3. If you start to move a block and change your mind, you must put the block back where it was.
  4. If tower falls on your turn, you lose and the person who had a turn before you is the winner.

Other sites featuring Variations of a musical themed Jenga:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion

I asked my husband if he thought it was weird that I wanted to start a General Music Teaching blog just so I could pin my own ideas on Pinterest?  He said "Barack Obama voted for himself and he won."  So that's what I'm doing.  I'm promoting my own ideas and some borrowed ideas for the elementary music classroom via Pinterest.  To do that, I need a website to pull these ideas from, so here we are.  I suspect I'm not the first person to do this, but it still feels kinda gross.  Unfortunately, the pride I have in my work supersedes the repulsion I feel about self promotion.