Sunday, November 30, 2014

Five Favorite Pins of November

Hello all! It's the end of the month and time for Mrs. Miracle's "Five Favorite Pins of November." Sorry I've been absent lately - it's program season around here. Four programs in five weeks takes a lot of time!

#1: Kitty Snowman

If you follow me on Pinterest, you will definitely see funny cat photos. I love my kitty, but I also enjoy seeing hilarious pictures and videos of cats. This one puts me in the winter mood!

#2: John Williams

I really enjoy opening my students minds to all kinds of music. The Bulletin Board Lady just put out listening glyphs and a bulletin board all about John Williams. The kids love making connections to this composer. Plus, his music is just plain fun!

#3: Peter Pan Live

I am so excited that NBC is doing this again. Last year, "The Sound of Music" was a great way to bring Broadway to homes. This year, though, is a little more aimed at kids. We did several activities this week with "Peter Pan" in 5th grade. Encourage your students to watch it this week!

#4: Jingle Bell Rock

These videos are great and interactive! I wish there were more rhythms, but they are still great to review ta, titi and rest with clapping or instruments. This one is also festive and a student favorite!

#5: Holiday Form
I can't wait to buy this resource on Cyber Monday! It has 27 different holiday tunes in different forms. It's a wonderful review for form, especially after we do several Nutcracker form activities this week. 

As I mentioned, many of these resources and more will be on sale tomorrow for Cyber Monday. TeachersPayTeachers is supposed to have a wonderful discount, while many teachers are also discounting their stores or items, too. Plus, if you provide feedback, you can cash in those credits. Happy shopping!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Incredibox 2014


My students LOVE this mixing activity. It is great to hear them use words like "beat" and "melody," as well as work to create different combinations.

Here's a sneak peak of the music video they unlock with the right combination:

Check it out - I guarantee your kids will be hooked!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Liebster Award

Hi all! This week has been a crazy one! Monday was our yearly Veterans Assembly in the afternoon, but this was the first year I was mostly "in charge." Then, Tuesday night was the 4th graders music program for Veterans Day. I'll be posting pictures and videos later.

Today and Friday we don't have school - hooray! Our volleyball girls are playing for their 2nd state championship tomorrow. Good luck, ladies!

Due to this, I have some free time to blog. I'm honored to be nominated for a Liebster Award by Jennifer at The Yellow Brick Road!

The Liebster Award was created to highlight blogs with growing audiences (200 followers or less). 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 (please use the set questions I've answered).  

3. Nominate eight people, (blogs with less than 200 followers) and link them in your 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 you may send them a thank you.

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I started blogging in August 2013. It was only a year or so ago, but it feels like forever! I wanted toshare all of the amazing ideas I've found, adjusted and used with my students. I am my own person at my school, so it's hard to find people to share things with and bounce ideas off of. I hope that my blog is helpful to those teachers that are a little more secluded or just need some new ideas.

2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Share! I want to share ideas as much as possible. I love when readers comment on my blog with twists or adjustments that they've used with a lesson. I enjoy having another pair of eyes look at things and give me suggestions!

3. Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey that you wished you knew before?
I didn't know how to link pictures! It is so much quicker for someone to click on the picture of what I'm talking about to direct them to the resource! In the past, I would post the link underneath. I am much quicker at it now - hope it helps!

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
I love TV! It feels great to snuggle up on the couch and watch one of my favorite shows. Over the summer, my husband and I binge watched all of Game of Thrones. Now, I've been trying to find all of the seasons of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. My husband and I also watch Jeopardy every day, no matter what.

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?
I try to dedicate a couple hours or so. Right now, it's program season, so school and piano lessons are taking a lot of my free time. I struggle with whether something is worth posting or not. I always try to have supplemental pictures, links and other items before posting to catch people's attention or give them a resource to check out. The linking tends to take a bit for me.

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
I love blog posts that include pictures or videos. I am a very visual learner, so it's easier for me to scroll straight to a picture or video to see what's going on before reading. This is another reason I try to bring visuals into my posts as much as possible.

7. Where does you blog inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my classroom or Pinterest. More often than not, I will find an idea on Pinterest that is not as accessible to my classroom as I like. So, I tweak it and want to share those adjustments or accommodations with other teachers. I was always told to "make it your own" and "give credit where credit is due" so I strive to do this, while also sharing another perspective.

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of my very first post, all about my Teacher Planner. I seriously love this thing! My life was a mess before it (okay, not really because I have OCD, but you get the idea)! I would have 4-5 things to take to every meeting, calendars here and there, lessons bent and messed up, etc. Now, everything is together and color-coded. However, my most popular posts have been about room setups and how I use Symbaloo in the music classroom.

9. Is there any post you've been planning to do, but have been postponing for awhile?
I know blogging is supposed to generally be positive, but I feel like there are a lot of struggles in teaching music education, aside from the popular "advocacy" post. Some day, I'd like to share the day-to-day problems that I face, as well as the chaos of programs, early out days, "prep time" and so on. I'm not sure if I'm the only one that feels this or it's mostly an unspoken thing. We'll see if I ever get up the gumption to do it!

10. What's your favorite aspect of blogging?
I love connecting with other teachers! I have made so many connections through following, commenting and posting with other teachers around the world. It's wonderful to join linky parties, Twitter chats and group discussions. I don't feel so alone in my little world anymore :)

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself?
This wasn't on her blog, but her TPT store. I just did Jennifer's "Leaves" lesson with my kindergarteners. It was a great way to introduce the mallet instruments, while also reviewing high and low. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

Wow - it's great to look back on all of the things I've blogged about. I've enjoyed reading back through comments and checking out the traffic, too. Thank you again for the nomination, Jennifer! Here are the blogs I'm nominating:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Piano Maestro

I'm a day late, but I'm linking up with "Tech Talk Tuesday" from Pitch Publications.

I'm so excited about this linky party because I've been wanting to get the news out about a fabulous free app. Yes, I said it - FREE! It's called Piano Maestro and it is from Joytunes. They also have a great note naming app called Dust Buster, but that is a whole other story. 

Anyways, I stumbled upon this app through a piano teacher's Facebook group. I was a bit skeptical about using an app in my piano studio, but it is a gem! It helps motivate students to practice, as well as learn notes, rhythms, technique, sight-reading and much more. Students unlock different chapters as they progress in their skills, racking up points with a maximum of 3 stars per song. 

You can also adjust things while practicing. This was super helpful for some of my students. You can slow down the tempo, put the letter names up and even freeze until the right note is played. This costs the student "points" but really, it's about their progress more than points. You can also choose to "test" out of a level if the student is more advanced to begin with. It also works with several piano method books. I haven't used this portion, but I'm sure it's really helpful. Finally, you can assign home challenges to your linked students. Again, I haven't tested this one out yet.

When playing, you can use the iPad keyboard screen or let the microphone pick up your accoustic piano. You don't need any cords or bluetooth technology. If there's a problem, you can re-sync it or send a ticket for help. The group is also awesome for ideas, suggestions, lessons, or just chatting about what's going on in your studio. 

Aside from the journey, you can also isolate skills or play familiar songs. If my student is struggling with an F Major scale, the app gives several exercises to practice and review it. They also just added several Christmas songs, as well as pop/rock/country/TV, etc. My students love the different levels of "Happy." 

So, how do I use this in the general music classroom? I'm just scratching the surface of this app, but I would really like to teach a unit on beginning piano. It is offered in high school, but I always have a ton of students who want to learn or just experience the piano. Our school doesn't do recorders (numerous reasons) and I am not certified or strong in Orff, so this seems like a way for me to bring note reading, rhythms, and so into the music classroom.

I'll be testing it out in the spring with my older students and see how it goes. We are very student-centered and project driven in my district, as well as putting an emphasis on technology. I really hope this app will touch on each of those, as well as allow the students to learn piano in a fun and educational way. 

Below are some great resources about Piano Maestro. Please check it out and share your thoughts. I'd love to hear if anyone has used it before or if you have recommendations.

I'll leave you with two videos that I watched before diving into this wonderful, FREE app. It's easier to understand probably than my rambling explanations. Happy teaching!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

High and Low

My Kindergarteners have been learning about steady beat and musical opposites. We just finished up loud and soft last week, thanks to Aileen Miracle's great bundle!

This week, we began talking about high and low. I love this series by Thorne and Felts! It's not in a print anymore (one copy goes for $2,000 on Amazon!), but if you can find the books somewhere, get them! They are a wonderful introduction to steady beat, loud/soft and high/low.

After our story, we began listening to "Faeries & Giants" from Elgar's The Wand of Youth Suite. Our Spotlight on Music series has a nice listening map to follow in the kindergarten big book. We were able to point to the different pictures when we heard the appropriate music. The students figured out that the faeries had lots of high music, while the giants had deep, low music.

Then, we acted it out! The kids loved this part. First, we practiced in our spots before splitting into 2 groups and moving throughout the room. When it was the faeries' turn, they fluttered with high arms around the room while the giants stood frozen.

When the giants heard their music, they stomped and marched around the room. The faeries were frozen until it was their turn again. So much fun! The students even recognized the loud and soft spots!

Afterwards, we watched a short clip of the "High Low Song." The students stretched high and down low during the song and sang along. Next week, we'll add different classroom instruments to represent high and low. Plus, the colorful ribbon wands will come out for a fun high/low movement activity with Saint-Saens' "Aquarium" from The Carnival of the Animals. 

How do you teach high and low to your students?