Friday, September 27, 2013

Centers! Centers! (In my head it sounds like "Sol, Re, Mi, low Ti")

Maybe I had to open Virtual Piano to figure that out, and maybe I did not. . . .

We did CENTERS today!!! YAYYYYYY!!! I have been concerned that I would shelve the Centers idea and never get to it, so although I was a bit under prepared, I decided that this week, we were going to do CENTERS, DARN IT!!  Class pictured below was my 5th grade class.  They were able to do this themselves without me guiding them through each step.  Notice I did not take pictures of 3rd grade. . . .

First up was Rhythm Bowling.  I had strips of red tape under each pin that I drew a note on.  Students scored according to the note value on the bottom of each pin.

Rhythm Jenga!  Broader explanation here.

I got this basketball game at a garage sale, never been opened, for $7.50 this summer.  3rd grade later broke one of the legs, so . . . that was fun.  I had some ideas on how to make it musical, but for today, I allowed the kids to have one non-music station.  I have high hopes that my husband will be able to fix it for me, so next time it will be musical!!!

I mentioned not too long ago that I wanted to have a boomwhackers center.  Well, I didn't make those little cards in time, so I had the kids write out their compositions on a white board.  This one needs more work.  

My Music Note Matching Game!  I posted this on Promethean Planet, but I can't find it when I search for it yet, so I can't link it.  I'm thinking maybe it has to be approved first?  I got the idea from Notable Music Studio (check her out!  She has TONS of free amazing printables).  I made little cut out cars with notes on them and everything, and to show the kids how to play the game, I threw this together on the Promethean Active Inspire software.  Then I went back and made it look nice.  Then I went back and made a Super Mario Bros. version.  I'll link them to Promethean Planet if I ever find them on there.

Kids playing the Musical Dominoes correctly!!!!  I had no idea that dominoes would be so confusing for them. . . 

5th Grade was AMAZING with the centers.  I was sad to see 3rd grade not thrive as well.   I have to remember that they are still leftover 2nd graders and need more practice working in small groups.  I look forward to doing centers again in the future.  My principal gave me a rubric for my centers and I graded pretty low, which is okay because I have plenty of time to get better.  I need to sit down and make a workstation management board for each center.  I had that on my 'to do' list, but I knew that would take a long time and I wanted to get the kids used to centers NOW.  We had fun :)  We are going to prevail!

Has Anyone Seen the Soccer Ball?

The gym teacher says this hasn't happened in all of her 13 years of teaching at this school.  A soccer ball got stuck in a bird's nest somewhere between 15 to 20 feet way up in a tree  Look closely, you can see a small blue spot in the middle of this photo.

I zoomed in for you.  Kids. They never cease to amaze. . . 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Have Who Has Rhythm Matching

You can download the PDF of this file for free on my TPT page.

Yesterday, I was searching Pinterest for teaching ideas and I came across a game called "I Have, Who Has" that I thought would be great for my classroom.  I believe the original idea came from this beautiful blog.  She had her cards available on TPT.  Well, it's a great idea, but why pay for it when I can just as easily make it myself.  Here's why.  I literally spent HOURS creating the game for myself and I'm not sure I have a winner with this one.  I don't know.  My classes are so big, it takes 10+ minutes to get through it all and by that time, the kids are stir crazy.

I was going to explain the game, but why re-invent the wheel?  Mrs. Miracle explains it beautifully:

One of my favorite ways to practice rhythm reading is a game called “I have/ who has.” Some of you may know this as “Glynnis’ Game.” During this game, one child holds a card and reads it. He/she might say, “I have tika-tika ta tika-tika ta. Who has tika-tika ti-ti ti-ti ta?” The child holding the card that says “I have tika-tika ti-ti ti-ti ta” reads his/her card, and so on, until all children have had a turn.
I didn't see that she had offered her template for free until just now. . . huh.  Oh well, I found another template.  Quick little side note:  I found my template on this website.  If you click on the link towards the top that says "I Have Who Has Cards by First Grade Brain", it will download as a word document onto your computer.  I took that idea and ran with it.  I replaced the "ABC"s with piano keys and I added the beginning and the end of the music staff to the Start and End cards.  I also decided that it was a lot of black and white to look at, so I made my "Who Has" in red.  

With my little ones, I put each card on a Power Point slide and followed along on my screen.  That way, I could model what the kids were to read and help them with it as the game progressed.

I'll say it again, I don't really feel like this was a sure fire winner.  The kids listen intently for their rhythm to be spoken but once it has, they are done.  That's when they fall apart.  Maybe this would work better in teams, maybe not.  I had my last groups (2nd Grade) talk to their group of 4 and work as teams whenever we got stuck.

Two wins that I did notice with this game: 

1.)  I got to see first hand how well (or not well) my students were able to read rhythms.  We still have a lot of work to do.

2.) I have one little guy who's a bit scrappy and angry because he's so small.  He doesn't get along with the students very well because he tells on them for minor things and pretty much ostracizes himself from the other kids.  Today we were playing the game and it was stretching out pretty long.  We were looking for someone who had a rhythm pattern and it took a long time before finally, my little guy stood up and said "I have it!" with a bright smile.  And the kids all cheered for him.  That made my whole day.

So, maybe we need to play this game several times before we are smooth and quick with it.  I think I may make some playing cards with the rhythms in a vertical line so the kids can do this at centers.  I'm thinking that they can have several cards and fan them like playing cards and still see all the rhythms.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Rant About Teachers Pay Teachers

Okay, I would like to say first that I really am torn about this issue.  I like to create powerpoints and worksheets and smart board activities for my classroom that take HOURS.  It would be great to post them on TPT and get some money back for all that extra time I spend.  However,  I am a teacher and therefore, I am dirt poor.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration.  Let's say I'm linoleum poor.  My husband and I still rent our place, we drive two used (if not reliable) cars, and my obsession is going to garage sales to find as much as I can for under $20 every other Saturday.  I have been the "I can't afford luxuries like cheese" poor and that's not where we are now, but I don't have the money to go on to Teachers Pay Teachers and buy things.  I think that's the great problem.  We need money because we are poor, but we can't afford to buy documents on TPT because we are POOR.

So, I have a new principle.  I will not purchase items on TPT as a rule.  I don't know, there may be that ONE THING out there that I can't live without that I find worth the $3-$6 that a teacher charges.  But I will make a pact with myself and anyone on this world wide web that may be reading my teacher blog:  I will never charge for a powerpoint or idea or computer made document so long as I live.  I believe in freely sharing my work.  Note, I will not take credit for anyone else's work, and I will not purchase someone else's work and post it on here for free.  If I have a weak moment and purchase someone else's document on TPT, I will attach a link for others to purchase.  It's only fair.  My stuff, however, will always be free.

That's how I feel today, though.  I'll let you know if that ever changes :)


I found the most beautiful Music Carpet in the world.  Music teachers, be ready to wipe the drool off your chins. . . .

Gorgeous.  One day, it will be mine. . . . . 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Centers Idea: Boomwhacker Orchestra

Day 24 into school and I still haven't had Centers yet. . . I KNOW! I KNOW!  I have to get on it quick before I put it on the back shelf for next year.  This is the year!  Centers will be!!  I don't mean to mislead you, we have been learning my games as a class.  So far, we have discussed  Musical Bowling, Rhythm Jenga, Music Dominoes, and . . . yup, that's what we have discussed.  I still need to introduce my matching game inspired by this post probably through my Promethean board!  Yea!  That would be cool.

Self pitying moment:  I just visited Mrs. King's Music Room blog.  My inspiration at her classroom turned into sheer terror when I saw how amazingly ORGANIZED she is.  This woman must be on some sort of upper meds because she is . . . I don't know how to explain it, but she puts me to shame.  Feel bad for me because I don't try as hard as Mrs. King.  

Okay, Pity Party over! I found her blog because I was perusing one of my old Music Ed Pinterest boards.  What did we do before Pinterest? *Sigh*  Know what I also found?  I will tell you.  Another awesome idea for a CENTER!!! (Bear with me, I'm in a bizarre mood today.)  

This one came from Notable Music Studio.  Somehow, this lady doesn't make me feel like a complete failure, but she does have awesome ideas and free printables.  It is very clear to me what this picture is all about, but just in case it isn't clear to you, I will let her explain.  
I had each student randomly pick 2 musical alphabet cards and give them to me.  I lined them up in a long line across the floor.  I then pulled out a diatonic set of boomwhackers and handbells and gave one or the other to each student.

After a bit of practice with them, we played our "composed" song.  They were very excited to know that it was the first time their "song" had ever been played!  They decided to name it the "Boom-a-Bell Song"!  Cute, huh?  

Well, we didn't stop there!  We then decided to play it backwards!  Of course, then they had to name it the "Bell-a-Boom Song"!  So funny! And so clever!  They laughed, giggled and got SO excited to do this activity!  After a few run throughs, I touched a bit on what harmony meant and rearranged the cards so they played two notes together.  I was very impressed at how quickly they caught on and how well they played.  We also played ALL the notes together (shaking the bells and rapidly whacking the boomwhackers on the floor) for the last note!  Of course that part was their favorite! 

Okay, this is how I want to do it.  I would like to use this as a rotation for centers. Instead of colored cards reading "ABC. . G",  I would use several color coded cards that only have 3 pitches("Mi, Sol, or La") printed on them and would have the corresponding boomwhackers only at that station (so only E, G, and A).   I would also have a mix of notes (quarter, eighth, half, rests. . . ) as well. Kid #1 will arrange the rhythms, either 2 or 4 bars, and Kid #2 will place the solfege cards above the notes.  Kid #3 will point to the rhythms as the others play and assess how they did.  Kid #4 will pick up the cards and put them back in their piles.  Then we switch jobs.  So I could call them Rhythm Composer, Pitch Composer, Conductor, and Equipment Manager.

Wow, I've spent a lot of time on this one idea. . . but I like it!  Now I need to find construction paper to match my boomwhackers, make a printable document, and viola!  Hello, center activity!

I really have been focusing my lessons on teaching my centers.  I never thought about how difficult it was to teach Dominoes to kids.  I know that there are kids who know exactly what to do and there are kids who are completely lost.  Hopefully we can do this and have fun Centers Time that will be a well oiled machine and SOMEDAY maybe an option for substitutes other than watching a video.  If the kids can manage the stations together and stay on task, I don't know why not.  Someday.  

Friday, September 13, 2013