Sunday, February 19, 2012

Classroom Management 101

This is the time of year when things begin to slip.  Cabin fever, early spring, full moon--blame it on whatever you want, but the kids seem more.....energetic, perhaps?   That's a sure sign that it's time to revisit your rules and procedures.  We've had a lot of new students move in at my school, and that always changes the dynamic of the classroom.  So pretend it's for the benefit of our new friends, and take the time to review what you expect from your students.  Consider it a condensed version of the first week of school.  I promise, it will be worth your time!

As music teachers, we want our classrooms to be free, creative, and expressive, like we are.  But too much freedom and creativity can lead to chaos, so how do we keep the balance?  It's a question I ask myself every day.  Really.  EVERY DAY.  So there's nothing wrong with you if you feel the same way!  Even as a 20-year veteran of the classroom, I find reminders and tips very helpful.  I highly recommend getting on the email list for Smart Classroom Management.  You'll get a weekly tip in your inbox to help you keep on top of student behavior. They have the best tips and ideas to keep your classroom flowing smoothly, which makes for a happy teacher and, as a result, happy classes! 

FREE online music activites!

This week at our district music meeting, we shared ideas for using technology in the music classroom.  It was so much fun!  I love finding new ways to present materials to my students, and they get excited about technology.  I am blessed to have a projector, document camera, and ActivSlate in my room, and I try to use them whenever I can.  I would LOVE to have an interactive white board. I'm even thinking about applying for a grant to get one.  That's new territory for me, so we'll see....

With those resources in mind, here are some of my current favorite websites to use in my class:

The Blob Chorus - awesome ear training practice.  Each blob sings a pitch, then King Blob sings.  You click on the blob that sang the same note as King Blob.  If you're wrong, the blob you chose explodes! You can choose from 3 to 8 pitches in the set, so the challenge increases with your skills.  My kids LOVE this game!

The Music Interactive - these games are designed for interactive white boards, but you can use them with a mouse, too.  You have to download the games to your computer to play.  There are many free downloads to choose from.  My faves are Rhythm Blocks, Staff Wars, Speed Note, Rhythm Adding and Rhythm Dictation.

I use these games with the whole class, using the projector.  There are lots of ways for the students to participate:

1.  Show of hands:  everyone holds up fingers to show their answer choice; majority chooses answer. Works well with Blob Chorus.
2.  Give students answer cards to hold up.  Could be laminated/dry erase writing, numbered, or color coded.
3.  Divide the class into teams and let them take turns answering.  Award points for correct answers.
4.  In speed based games, teams could have an individual answer until they miss one, then the next team member steps in or play goes to the other team. (Staff Wars)

This is a great way to inject some new energy into your class this time of year.  I hope you have fun with these ideas!  And when you're just playing around, check out Quaver's Marvelous World of Music.  I haven't figured out how to make this work for a group setting yet, but it is on my list of links for kids to try!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Music Teachers Should Stay in Shape

I know, that title makes me cringe too.  But this week, my body betrayed me.  I have been teaching elementary music for 15 years, and I have always been right in there with the kids, singing, dancing, jumping, hopping, skipping, whatever!  Lately my classes have been really wiggly, so I've been starting class with 5 to 10 minutes of movement (especially on rainy days).  Sometimes it's structured, "follow the leader" type stuff, and sometimes we just cut loose and DANCE!  My newest dance song is the Kidz Bop version of "Party Rock Anthem".  It's really fun!  It's great watching 7-year-olds shuffle! 

So there we were, dancing our hearts out in first grade.  We finished the song and sat down to begin the lesson.  Moments later, I stood up and...............ouch!  My ankle hurt with every step.  "No biggie," I thought.  "I've had minor twists a million times.  I'll just walk it off."  Yeah, right.  For the first time in my life, I sprained my ankle!  No joke!  I'm offically too old for hip-hop.  Dang.