Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dazzling Discipline

Happy "almost-officially-summer" everyone!!!  We just got back from a family vacation to DISNEYLAND and the beach. It was GREAT fun!
Today I'm linking up with Aileen Miracle's linky party.  She posted last week, but being on vacation I wasn't able to link up until now.  Since I'm late to the party I'm going to try to post some different ideas than the others that I've read. . . . but I'm sure I'll overlap a bit.  So,  here are 5 of my tips for "Dazzling Discipline" in your classroom.
Routines and rituals:  If Disneyland reinforced anything for me it's a child's need for routines and rituals. Don't get me wrong, my kids had a blast but all the razzle, dazzle and excitement of Disneyland was wearing on them.  It was a complete shift from their normal daily routines including meals, sleeping, etc..  This is the same with our children at school.  Kids thrive on knowing what they can expect.  So, classroom routines such as how you enter the room, how you get manipulatives, how you take turns, how you handle the classroom materials & instruments, etc., help establish this in your classroom.  For instance, my students know that when they come to music I will meet them at the door, when we enter the room if I'm singing a song they know that they take over the singing and if I'm singing a song that they don't know then they have one main job, to listen to the song.  They know that as this song is happening we always get into a circle.  Now, when my students sit in a circle we do NOT have a seating chart.  They also know that the routine and ritual is that it's their responsibility to make a good choice as to who they sit next too.  If they don't, on the first warning (a tap on the shoulder) they are given the choice to change seats or change behavior.  If there has to be a second warning I choose their seat.  We do have assigned seats on the risers, and we have rituals for how to get to and from the seats in the circle to the seats on the risers.  This is gone over the first day of music class and reinforced HEAVILY for few music classes.  After a couple of practices of moving from the circle to the seats they "get it". As movement skills are developed students easily go from their assigned seats to different dance formations with minimal instructions.  Again, this is a lot in teaching them how to do it the first couple times.  It's the old theory: "If you teach a man to fish. . . ."  This is just one example of a routine/ritual in my classroom.

Student engagement and Pacing:  I remember my first year of teaching calling my cooperating teacher, desperate for help with my 5th graders.  She said "keep them singing."  Well . .. it's a little more than that and I'll get into that in my #4.  But in the meantime, she was trying to say keep them busy.  Or, keep them making, reading, writing, playing, singing, creating, describing music.  When I have student teachers and we go over their lessons I don't want to just see "what the teacher is doing" in their lesson plans, I want them tell me what the kids are doing too.  For example, if the teacher is singing a new song to the students what are the students suppose to be doing?  Are they listening for rhyming words, listening for details specific to the song, keeping a steady beat, etc.  When I write my own plans every minute of the 45 minutes I see the students is accounted for.

This brings me to pacing.  I have 45 minute classes.  This is a LONG time for a 6 year old.  I vary my lessons with areas of concentration and relaxation.  Now, either of those areas if extended too long will lead to management problems.  I remember working daycare in high school  The general rule of thumb was when giving a time out to a child, you give one minute for each year they are old.  I use the same rule of thumb in lesson planning.  The activities with my first graders last no longer than 6 minutes, that's as long as they'll stay focused on something- especially those areas of concentration.  This doesn't mean that I MAKE my areas of concentration last for 11-12 minutes with my older kids, but I do make sure I don't go over that for my 5th graders.  Now, for those areas of relaxation, I try to gage the students' rate of excitement.  It's good to end an activity right before the height of the excitement.  I want to hear them moan that we're ending an activity.  It's much better than them groaning because we "have to do it again." :)
Transitions:  This is related a lot to pacing and planning.  I love transitions and there are many ways to make seamless transitions between activities: stories, melodic or rhythmic patterns, partner songs (the first song partnering with the next one), ostinatos, song morphs, etc.  The number of different ways to transition is an unending as your song literature choices.  The main thing is to make a smooth connection from one activity to the next so that the students don't even know that a change has occurred.  Easy, right ;)  lol!  These take a lot of practice but are well worth the time spent working on making them smooth and will help your students stay engaged throughout the entire lesson.
Modalities of learning:  Without going all the way onto my soapbox, I feel like kids today are tactile and kinesthetically deprived.  I see this with my own two kids: they want to play on the iPad all the time and would if I would let them (which they don't!).  There has been a huge technology shift in our society and traditional play has changed. Because of this, a lot of kids aren't having their sensory needs meet.  So, we then expect them to "sit and sing" and "keep their hand to themselves"?  No. So many of our kids need to move; they learn through moving.  So many of our kids (I would go so far as to say all of our kids) need to manipulate things with their fingers and learn this way.  Some kids hear and remember.  Some kids look and learn. So in lesson planning I try to make sure I have a variety of activities that meet the needs of music students to meet their aural, visual, kinesthetic and tactile needs.
Is the lesson interesting to YOU?:  This one is a biggie for me.  If I don't like my lesson plan I won't be able to sell it to my students.  Point blank.  Here's an example: Some teachers use the same song material every year to teach the same concepts.  There are some songs that I use every year but I'll be honest, I change it up.  If not, I get bored.  And if I get bored, the students will be bored.  Kids have a 6th sense and can know when you don't buy into something.  Ever try teaching a song that was brand new to you that you weren't exactly sure of?  Didn't go as well as a tried and true song I bet.  One summer in my Kodaly training with Jill Trinka she said she had to let a song "simmer" with her for at least 6 months before she could "own" it.  I think there's a lot of truth to that, especially with folk music.  not only are you learning the notation but you're also learning the stylistic traits of the song.

I hope that some of this helps!  I've got vacation brain so I hope that it makes sense!  Don't forget to go check out all the other fabulous blogs that linked up with Aileen!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
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Friday, June 6, 2014

Perfect Poolside Planning- Concert Planning

I'm so excited to be participating in Lindsay Jervis's Blog Hop called Perfect Poolside Planning!  (Just a note: the hop will officially be ready on Saturday.  If you try to hop through today (Friday) all the links might not be ready yet.)


All the participants are taking on a different element of planning pertaining to teaching music and I have concert planning!  I love planning concerts.  If you notice, I didn't say program planning.  I've got to give you a little background here.

When I started teaching I used those super cute, predone musicals that had speaking parts.  The parents loved them, the kids liked them and I was okay with them.    Now, before I go on, I don't want you to think that I'm going to start bashing pre-made musicals or if you do things differently I don't think what you do is right or wrong.  I'm just going to state where I am in my teaching and what I do.  That's the beauty, we all do things differently and there's no "right or wrong."

I struggled with the pre-made musicals and here's why: I felt that I was spending more time teaching speaking parts and less time teaching music.  When I started teaching I saw my students for an hour a week. Then when I started teaching in my current district I was seeing the students on a 3-day rotation, where the students have music for 45 minutes every 3rd day.  At my current school, as we've grown, some classes are now on a 4 day rotation (music for 45 minutes every 4th day).  Next year?  My 3rd and 1st graders will be on a 5 day rotation.  That means the kids will have music 45 minutes once a week.  I can't rationalize spending time teaching speaking parts, I want my students making music.

So, for MANY years now I've been doing concerts instead of programs.  There are not speaking parts.  And the parents don't complain, in fact they love them.  Again, I'm not right and someone else is wrong.  If you do speaking parts I'm in no way saying that's wrong, I just don't do them.

Okay, now that I have that "out in the open," here's what I think of when planning a concert:

  • A theme.  Yep, I don't do a pre-done musical but I do like having a theme that ties the song literature all together.  Often times I will also look at the grade level curriculum that the classroom teachers are working on to see if there's anything I can piggy back on.  For instance, my 2nd graders study weather systems so I did a rain themed concert one year.  The 4th graders study Colorado history so I DO use some Colorado songs that were written by a retired CO music teacher.
  • Song literature that fits the theme.
  • Song literature that practices known rhythmic or melodic concepts
  • Song literature that I will use for preparation of unknown rhythmic or melodic concepts
  • Part work: I like to have at least one song in which kids are singing harmony with each other. .. 2nd-5th grades.  SOMETIMES even in 1st grade.
  • Instrument work: I like to have one song that the kids accompany themselves on with Orff Instruments.
  • Piano: I have a number of students that play piano and at ALMOST every concert I have a student accompanist.  Granted, the accompaniment is sometimes very simple, but they love it and the parents love to see a student accompany the kids.
  • Solos: I do like to have at least one song that has singing solos.
Let me walk you through a concert that I'm working on right now.

I mentioned that my 3rd graders will have music ONE time a week (did you hear that?  It was the sound of my heart breaking. . . ugh.  This is my class that sang a two part octavo last year on their second grade concert and did a beautiful job with it.  Do you know how much I was wanting to do with them. . . . maybe I still can but that's really going to depend on amazing lesson planning. . .which you'll read about next on Aileen's blog.)  Sorry for the tangent.  Back to 3rd grade. First I picked a theme.  Their concert is the end of January.  (Yeah, forgot to mention that the first thing I do is set concert dates.  You'll see in my download that I have a check list for you and that's my first thing!)  I was wanting to do "Songs from the Heart" in February but due to Parent/Teacher Conferences I couldn't.  So, last week of January it is and I'm keeping the theme. 

I'm not completely done, but here's what I've got so far:
Yes, I usually do 9-10 songs on a concert. But, with no speaking parts I've got to have music to fill in, lol!

So, it might be hard to read off the worksheet. Here's the songs and any skills/concepts or other notes about the songs:
  1. Lazy John- I LOVE this song: 
      
    it's great because I can bring it back the following year in 4th grade for fa, it has solo singing parts AND there's "acting out" parts.  There is a boy and a girl solo.  The girl asks the boy to marry her.  Every time he has an excuse, he doesn't have socks to wear; he doesn't have a shirt to wear; he doesn't have pants to wear, etc.  Then the girl "runs out and gets it".  And every time the girl runs to get something that the boy needs to wear he put it on. I like to have the kids use my dad's old red suit.  It's super cute to see this little 3rd grader getting dressed up in an adult suit but further more, it's a great "seed" for a fa song.
  2. There's a Little Wheel a Turnin'- this has an Orff accompaniment
  3. Pourquoi- there's multiple verses so this is good for memory work.  I might also be able to add some visual effects to it with scarves on the different colors (maybe each class having a different color and being a different set of birds)
  4. Deaf Woman's Courtship- this is too sweet and they will sing it at the beginning of the school year to review do so I won't really have to "teach" this song for the concert.  By the way, with this concert, I have all the boys on one side of the stage and the girls on the other.  So, when the old man asks the woman to marry her all the boys (on stage left) get down on one knee.  Visually  it's very cute.
  5. There's a Hole in the Bucket- this will be a review song because we sang it for fun at the end of this year.
  6. Shoo My Love- I have an octavo for this so we'll do part work.
  7. Mail Myself to You- this is a "novelty" song in that there's not so much purpose behind it on selection because of concept or skill but chosen because it's fun to sing.
  8. Love Somebody- they'll learn this in the fall for tika-tika.  Again, it's nice to have some songs that you bring back and it saves concert prep time.
  9. The Riddle Song- this will be great when we learn about so pentatonic.  It's really a beautiful, slower song and we might be able to work on a dulcimer accompaniment with it.
  10. Love Me Do (maybe?)  or another song. I'd love to think of another one that will work into the curriculum either as a practice or prep song.  I know there's one out there! :)
From there, I scope out how many lessons it will take to prep for the concert and what I want to get done at each lesson for the concert but also allow time for teaching and other work.

You can download my worksheets by clicking here.  A special thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the font and frames! :)


Now, lucky you! You get to hope over to Aileen's blog for some awesome lesson planning tips!  Just click on this image:

Thank you so much to Lindsay for hosting this blog hop!  I hope you enjoy the hop!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Talk About Books, Linky

Now, ya'll don't faint with me blogging two days in a row, lol! This hasn't happened for a while! One of my goals this summer is to make sure I blog more often.

When I saw Deanna Jump over at Mrs. Jump's Classroom was doing a book Linky I had to jump on!
 I've blogged about books in the music classroom and this is one of my favorites.  It is out of print but you can buy it on Amazon. .. . and the kids will LOVE you for it!

 Of course, it's an older book. I adore the style of the pictures and love the soft, warm colors.  When I sing and show this book to my preschoolers they are the most calm you'll ever see a group of 3-4 year olds!  And because I'm a music teacher, of course this book is a song! :)



Here's Almeida Riddle's version of the song:

2.         What’ll it take to buy it with?
3.         We’ll take daddy’s featherbed.
4.         Where would our daddy sleep.
5.         He could sleep in the puppy’s bed.
6.         Where will the puppy sleep.
7.         Sleep in the piggy’s bed.
8.         Where will the piggy sleep?
9.         Sleep in the horse’s bed.
10.       Where will the horse sleep?
11.       Graze out on our front lawn.
12.       Where will the children play?
13.       They can swing on the garden gate.
14.       Yes, and get a spankin’ too.


But in the book, the verses are different.  In John Feierabend's book, "First Step in Music, Preschool and Beyond", you can find this version but I wish I had a better secondary source for you.

The book starts with 'Liza Lou seeing a doll on a peddlers cart and comes to ask her mama to buy it for her.  Like th Almeida Riddle version, the first thing she tells her mama to do is sell daddy's feather bed. But then this displaces Daddy. As the story continues on, the kitty, sister, grandma, chickens and piggies are displaced.  Even poor grandma needs to find a new place to sleep.  And in the end, Liza falls asleep on her mama's lap, dreamin' about a china doll.  Very sweet. And if you want to hear an amazing performance of it, listen to Jill Trinka sing it!

Pedagogically, this is a GREAT song for teaching ti-tika.  My good friend Tanya has an amazing SMARTboard recource for this.  This in on my bucket list of things to make in a PowerPoint.   Here's a link to Tanya's file:

I'm hoping this is a Linky I can hop on more often!  But not next week, we're going to Disneyland. Have a GREAT Tuesday and don't forget that $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale is going on today!!!

Happy Tuesday

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

June Currently

Today I'm linking up with:

 For June Currently.  I couldn't pass this one up, what a great way to organize myself!
Currently Listening:
I have a 4 year old and a 6 year old. They are LOUD. That's it.  That's about all I can hear, lol!  When they play nicely together it is BLISS.  When they fight.  Ugh.  We'll, if you have 2 or more kids you know what I'm talking about.

Currently Loving:
I'm loving sleeping in! But I can't wait for hubs to be on summer break too (tomorrow is his last day.)  I LOVE having the windows open and getting a nice breeze through the house. I LOVE the smell of it.  And I love how Colorado can have HOT nights but cool off in the evening.

Currently Thinking:
I have a long to-do list.. .  ugh.
This week I need to get my session notes ready for the session I'm presenting at the Dalcroze National Conference in less then 3 weeks.  I need to get pedagogy and analysis "stuff" to the incoming level 2's for the Colorado Kodály Institute, where I'm teaching in July also out this week.  I need to watch their teaching videos and create syllabi's for pedagogy and folk song.  I need to revamp all my notes and teaching materials for level 2.

Currently Wanting:
more time!  I need an extra day.  I need one day to be a mom and one day to get the rest of this stuff done.  I also want a pedicure (getting one on Thursday with my 4 year old!  We're getting them for our Disneyland trip. Hope they can do a Mickey Mouse silhouette on her toes or she'll be so sad.)  And I want a massage, but I also have the scheduled for Saturday.  We're leaving for a road trip to CA and to go to Disneyland on Sunday so I want to start the vacation out right!

Currently Needing:
to find balance.  Balance between professional and personal.  I feel often times that I'm missing out on being a mom.  I know independent play for kids is important but I also want to play with them and not be always working.  Especially during the summer.  Like I did last year.  I also need to find a balance or work vs. relaxation.  I've become rather grumpy.   It's not fun.

Summer Bucket List:
Spend time with my kids. Because, you know, they're fabulous and only this age once.
Date my husband.  Yea, the dude that helped me make the kids.  He's a pretty neat guy.  I'd go so far as to say he's my best friend.  I wonder if he'll go out with me if I ask him?
Work on TpT items.  There's SO much that I want to make. There's so much that I have clip art to make (slight addiction there).  But again, also balance.

Speaking of TpT, a lot of music teachers are participating in the $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale today!
Head on over and check it out!

My product on sale was just posted today and includes two fun games for practicing the orchestra/band instruments

 Thanks again to Oh' Boy 4th Grade for hosting this Linky Party! It was fun!

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Sunday, June 1, 2014

End of the Year Organization. . . always a work in progress

I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking up with Tracy from Mrs. King's Music Class:
I'm going to lay it on the line, this is not as tidy or as organized as I usually am at the end of the year and is a little like showing you all my underwear drawer, lol!  (Although, you REALLY don't want to see that right now!)  I feel like some things are organized and then some elements of organization are always a work in progress.  So, nothing in my room is ground breaking when it comes to organization, but that's okay!

I have A LOT of storage in my room, especially in comparison to the school I was at prior to Red Hawk.  At the previous school I had an orange cabinet, a book shelf, an industrial storage shelf and  a closet.  

Here at Red Hawk I have all that storage space in just on corner.  My daughter is in the photo here that's one reason why the pics aren't as tidy as I'd like them to be, the other is the mess that's up above.  One thing that I'm hoping to invest in are some storage boxes for up above so they don't look so cluttered. And then there's the pool noodles that have been waiting a year to be made into pool noodle ponies!

On my shelves, I love the plastic shoe boxes that you can get at Target, Walmart or the Dollar tree.  My flashcards, rhythm cards, manipulatives, etc fit in there perfectly. I don't have ANY filing cabinets, nor are there any empty walls in my room to put them against so I use the file crates to put things in , you can see some of them in disarray below. Again, some organization and some work in progress.

To the left of where Hannah was are a lot of my non-pitched percussion instruments.  I love open topped boxes for storage for these.  I can easily grab a box and have the instruments ready to go for class.

Across the room from that corner is this:
 The bottom of the cabinets houses my bigger instruments and more of my files:

(I'm embarrassed to say my bars are off my Orff instruments. . . )



The top cabinets look messier than they are.  In front is everything that comes out onto a table or counter top during the school year: pencil cups, hot water kettle, etc.  Behind the things that come out are my boxes full of stuffed animals and puppets.  I have A LOT of stuffed animals and puppets. ..  17 years of teaching will do that to you.  Well, maybe. ;)

 And in the opposite corner of the room from the corner storage area is this:

 The drawers are built into the wall and can't move from where they are. At first I didn't like it but that's the front of the classroom and is perfect for me to put my lesson plan book on and easily glance at it when I'm teaching.

Thanks Tracy for the blog party!  I  hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!


a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Top TEN Things I Want to do This Summer

Hi everyone!  I'm on SUMMER Vacation!!!  And I slept in for the first time in months this morning!  When I got up, after helping my two kids stop arguing, I noticed that Deanna Jump had a linky party going on her blog and I knew I couldn't pass this one up:


So, here are my top ten, in no particular order:

1.  Spend more time with my family-

I love my kids and husband.  I'm also fortunate enough to have a husband who is also a teacher so we should have lots of family time this summer!!!

2.  Go swimming!!!
I went swimming maybe one time last summer.  That's horrible!!!!  So the goal is to go with the kids swimming a lot more!

3.  Learn to run
I've never been a runner but I need more cardio (I've gained a lot of muscle this past spring with my weight training).

4.  CLEAN and organize

 My poor house has been so neglected!  It needs a MAJOR spring, summer and fall cleaning!  And we have so much junk!  We have all the kids clothes from when they were babies! So, if any of you are local (Boulder County, CO) talk to me, I'll set you up: I've got girl and boy clothes!!


5.  Sleep
I'm so far behind on sleep and the ability to fall asleep has been hard lately.  I think this will help me be a happier mom and a happier person in general!


6.  Go to DISNEYLAND!

We've had this vacation planned for a year now.  The kids are so excited!!  We were there 2 years ago, Hannah was 2 and Noah was almost 5.  They had such a good time and this time will be even better!!


7.  Eat more fresh or "real" food:
I'd love to do some type of detox (T.M.I.?) and feel better about my eating habits.

8.  Breath. . . . be present.  So much easier said than done, right?!


9.  Work on concept specific lessons, PDF's and manipulatives

It's been about a year since I've made a concept specific file and I would really like to get these organized so I can use them in my teaching.


10.  Get back to the essence of why I got into teaching music
Sometimes I get too hung up in the politics and logistics of teaching.  I need to remember why I got into teaching: it's the marriage of two of my favorite things, kids and music.  I have always loved working with kids.  In fact, I've only held one job in my life (and that was in college) that did not entail working with kids.  I need to relax, not take myself so seriously and focus on who and what I teach.

Thanks to Deanna Jump for helping me focus on this, what a great way to start the summer!

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott musicalaabbott.com
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