Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Organization!

Tomorrow is the end of my first week of summer vacation. I have never loved summer so much! Still, I am thinking about next fall already. I am big into organization, especially in my classroom. Several teachers are linking up to share their end of the year organization and I thought it would be a great "Throwback Thursday" post to link up. Visit Mrs. King's Music Room for more End of the Year Organization ideas!

One of my first blog posts was a nice tour of my music room. Each year I try to change it up a bit to fit our building themes. However, this past school year was my second as a full-time teacher. My first year I was half-time, so everything was shared. I decided to take ownership of my room and slowly morph it into what I like. I'm going to share some tidbits from my past blog posts that show my organization style at the beginning and end of the year.

Monday, August 26th, 2013

This is my favorite spot! I am in love with color and organization. This spot shows that really well! Up
above, I have the solfege handsigns again, but they are color coordinated with the boomwhacker colors. Then, I have my boomwhackers organized and stored in coffee containers. On the top are the rhythm sticks and maracas. Underneath, are plastic square and round containers with the different instruments. Some are labeled with white board labels, while some are open so you can see. It also has storage on the back, so that holds instruments we don't use a lot. Finally, it rolls! If I have a lot of instrument stuff one day, it is so handy to roll around! Love, love, love! 

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

This is my bookshelf. The last few years it has been horribly cluttered. Then, I discovered fabric bins. I am in love with them! I was able to separate my books into categories and use mini dry erase tags to label them. The bottom shelf is for media resources and the top shelves hold curriculum and staff development resources. The bins are in our school colors :) 
   *NOTE - I actually took out the media resources on the bottom and put another bin and folder divider set for my Music Express/Activate subscription. 

This is the big shelving unit in the back of the room. It has a lot of great storage for mallet sets, old book series and other random odds & ends. However, the kids want to touch and see EVERYTHING! You can also see my other colored fabric bins. These are labeled and go along with the color coded schedule, behavior chart, and concert calendar for each grade. I store all of their activities and curriculum ideas in this bins. My mom created a curtain that goes across and covers everything, thank goodness! I also have a few fabric bins that hold scarves, stretchy bands, and other movement materials.

One final thing that keeps me organized is my planner. I posted a picture and link to a previous blog post about the wonderfulness that is ErinCondren. The picture does NOT do it justice. Please check this out if you need anything for organization. It is so wonderful, especially for teaching. I don't know what I would have done without it this year. You can still receive 25% off for Teacher Appreciation Month through Saturday. Check it out - you won't regret it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

10 Things I Want to Do This Summer


Summer is here! Wow - it feels like the school year flew by at times and drug on too long on different days. Please read my previous post and link up to see some of the highlights of this year in my music classroom. Today, though, I am linking up (I love linking up with fellow bloggers - I've done it a lot lately!) to share 10 things I would like to do this summer. 

1. Family time! 

      Adam and I got married in October. Since it was during the school year, we didn't get much of a honeymoon or a lot of down time to spend together. He will still be working over the summer, but we will only have one schedule to work around for once. Plus, our cat, Eleanor, has been awfully lonely these last few weeks of school. She deserves some much needed cuddle time!

2. Clean and organize

       At this time last year, we had closed and just moved into our new house. I've changed decor several times, but our home really needs a deep clean and organization of everything. We still have some boxes that haven't been touched since we moved in. It's not my most favorite thing in the world, but once I get started, I can't seem to stop until it's done. Time to break out the Swiffer!

3. Catching up on some TV

     TV is my thing - I cannot give it up. My favorite HBO series is ending this summer - "True Blood." I'm not usually one for gore and blood, but I love this show for some reason. I haven't missed a season, and I will be sad when it's all over. Hopefully my question will be answered after all of these seasons: Vampire Bill or Vampire Eric?

4. Reading

        I love reading. However, I love it so much that it keeps me up at night. I get stuck in a book and don't go to sleep until it's finished. That is why I love summer! I can stay up late and read without having to worry about school the next day. I have a long list of reads this summer, so I will be frequenting the library and a lot.

5. Learn!

       I can't wait to travel to Branson in a few weeks. I'll be attending a 3 day workshop put on by Denise Gagne and Artie Almeida, plus a few other great educators. This workshop is going to be amazing! I already own several of the resources available from these individuals, but I can't wait to see them in action and learn new strategies for my classroom. Plus, I've never been to Branson or on a mini vacation by myself. I hope to see and meet many wonderful educators, too.

6. Plan

     I love planning. I seriously think I could be some kind of planner in another life. Last year, I purchased an ErinCondren teacher planner and fell in love. This year, I bought mine as soon as they came out. They are colored coded, personalized and just so awesome! Here's my previous post about everything included in the planner:

This year's planner has my new married name and lots of dots!

7. Exercise
     I really want to be more active this summer. I love our YMCA and with being an elementary teacher, piano teacher and church musician, it's hard to find a regular time to workout during the school year. Summer, though, is completely different. I love water aerobics and ZUMBA, so I can't wait to get back to those classes on a regular basis.

8. Shop

    I know, I know...I have no money, but I can't help shopping. It's a vice and seriously, I'm a girl - we love shopping! There are so many fun things to shop for in the summer, too, like showers, weddings, holidays, BBQs, pooltime, etc. Even window shopping is fun this time of year! 

9. Sleep
    Do I need to say more with this one? Haha! I know we all need different amounts of sleep, but I swear, I sleep nonstop during Christmas break and the first few days of summer break. It's nice to curl up with the cat and just sleep the day away, especially when the weather is rainy. I hope you all get the much needed sleep you deserve!

10. Relax

   This one is huge. I have a nervous stomach and am always stressed for some reason. It's really bad for my well being and for those around me. I want to take time to relax and figure out some strategies to use in the coming school year. I've always been busy and stressed, but sometimes, it's just ridiculous how much I let it control me. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Milestones Worth Celebrating!

Today I'm linking up with David Row's "Milestones Worth Celebrating" linky party. David was so helpful with answering questions about, and I love following his blog posts. Plus, it's always nice to look back at the accomplishments that were made during the year. Sometimes, I forget to positives when stress takes over.

School Highlights 2013-2014

*So many successful programs! 5th Grade - Movie Hits; 4th Grade - Veteran's Day, 2nd Grade - "Flakes", 3rd Grade -   Feelin' Good, 1st Grade - Earth Day, and K - Dr. Seuss
*Great chorus concerts, too! The students performed 3 concerts and a few selections at 5th grade awards
*Chorus also sang at an Iowa Wild Hockey game to support local heroes
*Several students were chosen to be a part of the high school's musical, "Honk"
*Four chorus students represented our school at the district honor choir
*Received a project for movement materials (the kids love them already!)
*4th grade went on an awesome field trip to see the symphony
*A local Mariachi band came and performed for Cinco de Mayo
*Integrated more and more technology in the classroom such as GarageBand and Aurasma
*Successful student compositions on all levels
*Performances for local nursing homes, cancer survivors and grandparents - it truly means a lot to these individuals and it meant a lot to the students to share music with them

Professional Highlights 2013-2014
*Did more questioning and focus on student centered learning
*More implementation of technology
*Received a mounted projector - woot woot!
*Accompanist for musicals, concerts and honor choir
*Continued working on my understanding and integration of Kodaly, Orff and Dalcroze
*Created own curriculum from Iowa Core and National Music Standards
*Signed up with and already have a project funded!
*Learned some great new ideas from several workshops this year
*Making deeper connections with my fellow teachers and collaborating
*Becoming more vocal about what I would like in my classroom and finding ways to bring these ideas and resources to my students
*Completely gutted and reorganized my room - I now know everything that I have :)
*Created a database of classroom literature and resource materials
*Sorted and organized all K-5 performance DVDs from the last 10 years

Blogging Highlights 2013-2014
*I started a blog!
*I am meeting and connecting with wonderful people all around the country
*Striving to find fantastic resources and giving spotlight to their wonderful creators
*I'm on twitter  -  @msmusic4life88

Family Highlights 2013-2014
*I got married October 26, 2013
*Adam and I also bought a house where I can have 2 lessons going on at a time in my studio
*Received my full teaching license...Year 4, here I come!

These are all I can think of at the moment, but I know there are more! Please link up to the party and share your milestones!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday!

I'm linking up to a new blog party this week. "Wordless Wednesdays" is all about posting a picture and inviting your followers to comment with their ideas. Please check out Sugar and Spice for more "Wordless Wednesday" blog posts! 

Well, it's almost the end of the year and the kids are all full of excitement! Here, we are dancing and moving with ribbon wands. Here's my picture and question:

How do you keep your students engaged and excited about learning during the last few days of school? 

Please comment below with your ideas - thanks! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Peek at My Week

I'm linking up to a new party this week! I love seeing what others are up to each week and thank goodness, I'm not the only insanely busy one. This week, I am joining Mrs. Laffin's "A Peek at My Week" linky party for my last week of school! Hurray! It has been a tough year, but one full of so many fun musical moments and memories.

  This is a pretty normal day. My kindergarteners will be doing some moving and music making with Beethoven. Third grade will have their end of the year reward in the lab. They get free choice of any of the music activities on my Symbaloo. Feel free to access it here:

  Tuesday is so busy! It is the 5th grade Awards Ceremony, so my chorus students will be singing in the afternoon. The whole grade is gone in the morning for touring the middle school and then back for music. We have been learning about The Music Man for the last week, as it is set in Iowa - woot woot! The students will be in split into 2 groups to come in and watch some clips from the show. Musicals are fun to learn about and sing, but you can't teach about musicals without the students watching it! 

  This day is a little more low-key. I will be seeing my kindergarteners again. We'll be finishing up the year with reviewing pre-rhythms. The students have been working hard on one and two sounds to get ready for ta and titi next year. I'll be using this fun resource from My Musical Menagerie all about S'mores!

  My third graders will be at the zoo all day, so I will be using the afternoon to start packing up my room and finishing all of the "end of year" paperwork for administration. I'll probably pop into a few classrooms, too, to see if anyone needs help. I love seeing other teachers in action!

  Thursday is somewhat normal like Monday. This will be the last day I'll see 1st grade, so we will be reviewing and having fun for music class. We'll be using the original song and file "Bluebird" from Emily F on TeachersPayTeachers. It is great for reviewing so-mi and has the students use boomwhackers. We'll end class with everyone's favorite: freeze dance!

 Last day of school! Our school just started coming together with the parents for a PTO group. They have been so helpful and positive this year! For the last day, they are putting on an adventure day for the primary students. The intermediate students usually come down and clean my room, too, so it will just be a day of packing up and saying goodbye. 

Thanks for reading! I am blessed that we didn't have to go past Memorial Day this year. I'm excited for the summer, but I'm already planning for next year. I will be attending a workshop in Branson this June with Artie Almeida and Denise Gagne. I cannot wait! More about that later :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ideas for Surviving the End of the School Year


Holy cow - this year has been a toughie! I don't know what was in the water, but if it could happen, it almost most certainly did this year. This is the time of the year where it's hard for everyone - parents, teachers, AND students. You want to leave a positive musical impression on these students right now and sometimes, they will challenge you to the depths of the ocean! I love my job, my students, music and everything that goes with it, but I am not going to sugar coat the last few days of school. The kids are worn out, the teachers are worn out and discipline is the hardest thing to do. The students that need you the most right now are going to act out ten times more and the students that are normally good can just make horrible decisions these days. Plus, we've had a lot of bad weather this year and rain recently, so they are all itching to be outside. In the end, the last 2 weeks of school are always a jumble of actions, emotions and exhaustion. I try my best to keep a smile on and be positive, but sometimes, I am just DONE with misbehaving. When this happens, I try to take a breath and move on.

Today, I'm linking up for Music a la Abbott's Linky Party.  These ideas might not always work for everyone and their music classroom, but here are some things that I recommend for surviving these last few previous days with the students in my music class.

1. Keep them active

        I like to do a lot of movement in my class, but the last few days especially. Sometimes, I even throw on the Just Dance videos from YouTube or Symabloo for the kids to dance. I did this one day where it had been raining for several days and they had not had any recess. It saved me a ton of headaches and the teachers were happy the kids were a little more calmed down that day. I also like to pull out folk dances that we have done throughout the year. My favorites is "Sasha" from Sanna Longden's Even More Folk Dance Music for Kids and Teachers, CD 1 1/2.

2. Don't Start Anything Brand New = REVIEW

       They are not going to retain anything new at the end of the year. I do teach Carnival of the Animals to 1st grade, but it's not something difficult to understand like tika-tika or Re on Melody Street. I use the last month to review and solidify what we've already talked about. If I teach something new, it's usually only an introduction for the fall. 

I'm really loving The Yellow Brick Road's Rhythm Chairs activities. These are so fun and reinforce beat vs rhythm for the things we've learned this year. She has a great bundle that I use for 1st-4th. 

Lindsay Jervis also posted a great set of Musical Memory pages for all grades. This is a fun way to review what the students learned and enjoyed most. It is really helpful to me to see what stuck with them and what I might need to change next year. You can also edit them for whatever questions you'd like. Great idea!!

3. Have fun with singing!

      After doing programs, I am tired of singing and so are the kids. However, this is so important to their musical growth! I am planning to make slides this summer to put into a folder of fun songs for them. It might be things we've done or classics they love like "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." I might even add one or two that are recent each year like something from Frozen (I know...Let it go, let it go, etc..) or other school appropriate hits. These will be great for the end of the year or a sub day.

      I also love literature in the music classroom! I try to save these for the end of the year so the kids can laugh and sing along with the story. Sometimes, though, I love them so much I pull them out whenever! Here are two of my favorites:

Grandma's Feather Bed by John Denver

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! by Allan Sherman

4. Always be ready to go

         It is the season of field trips, celebrations and allergies. I've already covered for a few teachers this week because of various things. They have covered for me and I am always happy to return the favor. Because of this, I am on my toes at all times. It might be the last week, but this is when things can go haywire in a second.
         Most classes will be out of the building at least once and forget to tell you. Or, it will rain and they will reschedule for another day, forget to tell you and come in without you being ready. ALWAYS BE READY! I keep several lessons handy for this just in case. I also have several classes that are off of each other because of snow days, presentations, etc. These filler lessons are things I want to do with everyone, but sometimes, I have to make the sacrifice. If some students have already learned it, it will solidify their knowledge even more and allow them to be leaders for the rest of the class. Here are some ones I enjoy at the end of the year, but also occasionally sprinkled in. 

Composer lessons are fun to sprinkle in throughout the year or give a small preview to at the end of the year. We usually read a short story about the composer, color the pages while listening and then have some kind of movement or instrument activity to end. I also like having them use their Beanie Baby Beat Buddies to lead each other in a steady beat to the music.

Cori Bloom is amazing! I was in love with her Mystery Song for Flight of the Bumblebee and asked if she would ever consider making more. These are something that could really hook students into listening and sharing their thinking and writing in the music classroom. She put this file together in 2 weeks and it is AMAZING! These are so fun to do and can take a whole lesson or several if you'd like. I plan on doing this once a month next year...I can't wait until she puts out more. Thank you, Rhythm and Bloom!

Well, I hope everyone has had a successful year. I am already planning and thinking about ideas for next year. Hopefully, these last few days are fun for you and the students in the music classroom. Some of them may be stinkers, but they are the ones I miss when they board the bus on the last day. Just remember the BREATHE and SMILE - you can make or break someone's day that way. So, go out and make the last few musical memories of the year!

Monday, May 5, 2014

TeachersPayTeachers Wishlist!

It's Teacher Appreciation week!

I've been having some family issues in the last few days - which should be totally unrelated to Teacher Appreciation week - except for the fact that I have an amazing support system at school! My principal has been amazing and understanding, as well as my fellow teachers. I couldn't ask for anything more. There have been some days lately and there are more ahead, but I have cried so many happy tears today because of the blessings of friendship.

Another wonderful thing about Teacher Appreciation week is that so many wonderful music teachers are celebrating with TeachersPayTeachers. Tomorrow and Wednesday (May 6th & 7th), the website is having a sale and many of the teachers I follow are giving an extra discount to their products. This is so exciting! I can't wait to get a few last minute items for the end of the year and already start thinking about new ideas for next year. Here are a few top items on my wishlist:

1. Meet the Composers
             Teaching about composers is always something that is a stretch for me. The kids aren't very interested and it is a lot of...dare I say it...sometimes boring material. However, The Bulletin Board Lady has just put out a collection of coloring and fact pages about composers. This is a great jumping off point for my primary students AND we love coloring in the music room!

2. Form help
            I am really into teaching my students form right now. There are so many movement and listening activities out there, but I have found a couple of new ideas I am really excited about. The first is a circle game called "The Farmer's Dairy Key." My students are active learners, so this will definitely be a winner if it has a game attached. Second is the "burger" method of teaching form. Let's face it - kids relate to food (hello - I relate to food! ha). The burger picture is a great way to show form and this packet helps them separate out the different parts, but also get a chance to compose their own form burger. Cute and a great assessment!

3. Evaluation packet
           My first year of teaching, I constantly had the students assessing themselves, especially following a performance. Recently, though, I haven't done this and I think that is a big fault of mine. It is a great learning experience for the students to review themselves, highlight the great things and think about ways to create a better performance. Plus, data and assessment in the classroom is a great thing to show to administration or parents. This bundle of over 40 worksheets should fit every concert, grade or learning level. Check it out!

4. Sub Packet
          I always try to have a folder on my laptop with emergency sub ideas. Granted, planning ahead doesn't really help too much when you are in a crisis. Still, it is nice to have ideas ready to go in case you have a planned absence, sick voice day or early out/late start. It's also nice to throw in little isolated ideas here and there so the curriculum doesn't become a boring routine. Aileen Miracle has put together two packets for teachers with a ton of ideas. I am super excited about the second one and can't wait to get my hands on it.

       I could post resources for hours! I hope everyone goes and checks out TeachersPayTeachers for the next two days. Help out these teachers who are sharing the wonderful things that they are utilizing in their classroom. Also, leaving feedback is so helpful to teachers and people checking out the resources.  Most of these sellers and many more will give you extra discounts with the code TPTXO.

Thank you to all of the teachers who have influenced and supported me in the past, present and those who will touch my life in the future. Have a great week!