5 strategies for passing out “stuff” without losing your mind

5 strategies for passing out “stuff” without losing your mind

One challenge common among music teachers is the challenge of setting up classroom routines and procedures when you don’t see students very often.  Additionally, any given music class can have a variety of different teaching scenarios, like movement activities, instruments, games and even pencil and paper tasks that provide the need procedural reminders.  With that in mind, I’ve gotten in the habit of fitting my procedure of the moment to what my students present when I greet them at the door.     Here are some of the ways I get the things my students need for a given lesson into their hands as quickly as possible with minimal fuss.  “Singing Game” – Sometimes the long way is shortest.  Depending on the stability of the class and how they walk in the door, I’ve been known to pass out papers materials one at a time, calling each student up to the front to get their materials.  It may seem like that would take forever, but with little kids, it is often faster for me to do it, even one at a time than it would be to ask the students to help.  They like having my attention for a moment and I may even make a singing game out of it….. “Sarah, Sarah, come up and get your paper!” …. to some made up melody. “Assembly Line” – Every moment counts.  I don’t know about you, but I could sure use more time with my older students.  We have so much learning to do and so little time!  When I have papers (or materials) to pass out AND when I feel pressed for...
Music Teacher Hack – How to save your Giant BIG BOOKS with one easytrick!

Music Teacher Hack – How to save your Giant BIG BOOKS with one easytrick!

As I was setting up my classroom I was looking for a place to store my MASIVE BIG BOOKS!  I found a good place for them that kept them accessible, out of the way and easy to move, BUT, the pages are not strong enough to stay upright and I don’t want to damage the book….   All of a sudden in the midst of my annual beginning of the year mess, I spotted one of my HUGE binder clips!  It fits!!!!  AND it holds the pages to the cardboard back so that the book can be stored where I want it.   Woohoo!!!   Please follow and like us:0 Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...
3 things to record that will make your life easier

3 things to record that will make your life easier

Sometimes a simple recording can make your life easier.  Sometimes a simple recording can make your lesson run smoother.  Sometimes a recording can help you keep your voice healthy so that you can teach another day.  I find that taking the time to record the following tracks throughout the year can help me tremendously. 1.  Record practice tracks – These don’t have to be fancy at all.  Typically I use practice tracks for my choir kiddos and for upcoming grade level rehearsals.  This is most helpful when you want to isolate a particular voice part or if you want to have students practice a certain pronunciation.  I literally set my recording device on the piano and start singing.  I only play enough accompaniment to keep my entrances correct and myself in key.  You can either create a play list and burn it to a CD or you can host the playlist on a website like podsnack and share the link with students. 2. Record voice commands on top of dance tracks – Nothing taxes my  voice like the “dancing days”…..Obviously I want my students to internalize the form and timing of the music so that they know when to move independently using only the music as a cue.  However, I find it very useful to have a “guided practice” option that helps me move the class toward independence without trying to carry my voice over the mirth and merriment that is found when “peeling the banana” during the Virginia Reel.  I create these recordings by importing whichever dancing song I’m going to use into Audacity.  Then I record the voice...
3 things to record with children in general music

3 things to record with children in general music

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, having an app that makes it easy to record on a device that is easy to use and easy to carry means that I am more mindful and therefore have found myself recording MUCH more often than I used to.  Here are my favorite things to record. 1. Solo singing – Although I still haven’t found enough time to formalize this well…… I record soloists MUCH more often than I used to.  I record them during class, I record them as we line up when they want to share a song they know, I record them when they drop by during their recess and I record them when they audition for a special part.  I only have limited success in capturing recordings from everyone so at this point as long as I am required to give participation grades rather than content mastery grades, I mostly use these solo recordings as positive reinforcement for students who are VERY motivated to share what they know AND as a way to formalize any auditions that I have. 2. ensemble work – No one is prouder than the class that has mastered an ordinary song on a ordinary day to the point that the work is beautiful and ready to share.  For years I have motivated students to work even to the end of class by gambling that their home room teacher would pick them up a little early with the time to hear our performance.  NOW I don’t have to hinge our class motivation on a classroom teachers ability to telepathically read my mind and know...
Voice plus for iphone – my new right hand

Voice plus for iphone – my new right hand

OK, so i find this title little ironic since I’m left handed.  However, I want ya’ll to know that I really love this app.  The best part is that I got it as sort of a joke because I thought it would be fun to make funny sounds with it….. But now I find that it is the app that I use almost daily. Last summer I got my very first iphone.  I have always had an “un”smart phone before, so to say that I took a technological leap in my personal phone capabilities is an understatement.  I really don’t know how I functioned as an adult without an iphone. One reason why I got an iphone is that I knew that my school is always looking for new ways for students to use technology in the classroom and I was pretty much entirely unfamiliar with apps…. So I got an iphone and started exploring. I think that this might have been the first app I actually paid for.  Now I know that you can do all sorts of goofy things with the effects to change what you record…. BUT, here is what this program does that makes is useful to me virtually every day. 1. It records with pretty good sound quality.  I’m certain that if I attached some real microphones to my iphone I could get a cleaner sound, but for on the fly, in the moment recording, it’s amazing! 2.  The saving process is EASY!  The sharing process is EASY! No fuss 3. The files are easily retrievable and can be played back. 4. AND THE BEST...
Scratch recording students on the cheap without a lot of fuss.

Scratch recording students on the cheap without a lot of fuss.

Wildcat’s Roar Necessity is the mother of invention and in preparation for our annual round of standardized tests, I wanted to record my students as they chanted a rap that I wrote for them last year. Last year because of time I had no choice but to circulate a recording of me rapping….. no one wants to hear me rap….. so I knew that it was not a permanent solution. I don’t know about ya’ll but sometimes my to do list doesn’t fit in the hours I’ve been given, so it was REALLY close to testing time and I was faced with a choice…. suffer through another year of listening to myself rap on the announcements for 3 weeks OR record my students……. Since I didn’t suddenly wake up with a recording studio in my classroom I had to get creative. Here is what I did. 1. I used one of my classroom macbooks. 2. I opened up a track that included the instrumental loops that I h ad used when I recorded the vocals originally. 3. I connected and then ” daisy-chained” 2 headphone splitters so that as many as 12 students could listen to the accompaniment at once and be free to record vocals, 4. I asked groups of volunteer 3rd,4th and 5th graders to come to the music room and take turns laying down tracks. 5. Each time I would record a new vocal track, I would mute it so that the next group could match their voices to the original. 6. Then using Garage Band, I balanced the voices and mixed the tracks down to one….. Not...
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