BEST field trip ever!

BEST field trip ever!

These days I am VERY busy working full time while working to earn my Masters in Music Education through the online program at Kent State.  I am loving every minute of my time studying, but spending time on class work has kept me from blogging.   However, this weekend I got to spend my Saturday with my amazing crew of 5th grade choir members as we enjoyed our spring field trip to Moody Gardens.  It was really fun and was truly one of the most enjoyable field trips I’ve ever had.     I just had to share this video! My principal creates a vlog each week for our students.  This week’s episode is ALL about the 5th grade choir and our annual field trip to Moody Gardens.  I literally got teary eyed the first time I saw it because my students are just so sweet and I’m gonna miss them when they go to Jr. High.  If you enjoy this episode please be sure to subscribe to the vlog as it is really well done and a great idea for any school.   Please follow and like us:0 Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)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...
FREE Lesson plan!

FREE Lesson plan!

A few weeks ago, when I posted my lesson plan template, I was asked to show how I would actually use this template in planning.  With that in mind, I’ve included a version of a lesson that I teach often.  In this plan I refer to form books and mapping, both are tools used in ETM to help students develop both self-actuated and traditional music symbols. ETM refers to music education training and resources provided by The Richards Institute of Education and Research or Education Through Music.  “Let’s Do it Again!” is a collection of folk songs and song experience games collected and developed by the Richards Institute.   For more information about ETM and the research done by the Richards Institute, please feel free to check out the information I’ve provided here.  ETM   Please follow and like us:0 Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)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...
Extra Special Go Texas Day!

Extra Special Go Texas Day!

Everyone in Houston knows that Go Texas Day is awesome!  Go Texas Day commemorates the opening day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  Each year trail riders descend on the city from all different directions and converge on city as they make their way to the Reliant Stadium and Arena for opening day. Elementary schools all over town have events in celebration. Our school has a square dance and sing along with each grade level during their regularly scheduled “specials” time.  Our parents are invited and because the gym is so packed with dancers and guests it’s hard to find a place to stand where you aren’t in the way of a video camera. Once the dancing is over we sing together with whatever time is left after the dancing.  As soon as one grade level leaves, we set up another grade level for square dancing and away we go!  6 grade level programs in one day is A LOT!!!!!!  But it is really an adventure in precious! Each morning I have hallway duty and one of my primary functions is to help the 5th graders find the gym where they read quietly until their teachers arrive to pick them up.  (I have a few 5th graders who tend to get lost when it’s time to read, so I help them remember where it is and what they are supposed to do when they get there)  This morning was no exception, but unlike other ordinary mornings, I had a whole bevy of 5th grade girls AND boys primping in the nearest bathroom trying to get ready for the...
Top 10 Tips for an Excellent and Stress Free “Holiday Sing Along”

Top 10 Tips for an Excellent and Stress Free “Holiday Sing Along”

I gotta tell ya’ll that I LOVE our annual “all-school sing along”.  I came upon the idea of a holiday sing along completely by accident as it was already a tradition at the school where I first started teaching.  I’m now preparing for my 14th annual all-school sing along and I can hardly wait. We all have our own unique favorite parts of the holidays and activities that we involve ourselves in that make it feel like Christmas.  For some people, they don’t feel like it’s Christmas until they put up their Christmas Tree or wrap their presents.  For me, Christmas starts with “Sing Along”.  My students love “Sing Along” too!  They come in after Thanksgiving begging to start getting ready for “Sing Along”.  This year, with an entire extra week between Thanksgiving and Christmas break we’ve had time to do other very important learning, but we made sure to include at least a little “Sing Along” preparation in every lesson.   Top 10 ways to have an excellent and stress free “Sing Along”.   1.  Teach everyone all the songs – It’s a “sing along” not a performance. This includes your fellow teachers 2. Even the most complex songs have parts that your younger singers can handle…. For example, Silver Bells has complicated verses, but even kindergarten students can echo sing the refrain. Every student should know at least part of every song. 3. Spread out the “fun” songs!  Spread out the “slow” songs!  Spread out the “sacred”! Spread out the “secular”.  The idea is to keep the interest of your participants. Keep the contrast and movement alive!...
Reflections on a 4th grade “informance”

Reflections on a 4th grade “informance”

A few years ago I had the chance to work with a really great teaching artist by the name of Becky Valls.   You can find out more about how amazing she is at  Becky Valls  For pictures of some of her work with and for students, go to teaching.  I met her through our campus fine arts integration grant.  We actually had the funds to provide “artists in residence” from Young Audiences of Houston for each grade level teacher to work with.  Becky is one of the best teaching artists I’ve ever known so we kept her quite busy. One of her favorite ways to demonstrate what the children were learning through dance and movement was to invite students and parents to attend an “informance”.  I believe that this term is original with her and I have loved the idea ever since. After seeing such beautiful informances created and directed by Becky Valls, the word “informance” quite naturally became part of my vocabulary.  Here are a few ideas about “informances” that I think about when planning one. 1.  An “informance” is slightly less formal than a performance and intended to “inform” the audience about what learning is taking place. 2.  An “informance” is process based rather than product based, so rather than rehearse to the point of total student independence, you will see a little more obvious teacher facilitation through narration or through overt stage direction.   Remember – process, not a final product! 3. An “informance”  is almost like a snapshot of something cool you are doing in your classroom that might otherwise stay locked within the walls of...
Deep in the Heart of Texas – Hoe Down and Texas Sing Along

Deep in the Heart of Texas – Hoe Down and Texas Sing Along

Each February in Houston as we prepare for the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, we have “Go Texas Day!”  Everyone in Houston wears their boots to work.  Literal wagon trains converge on the city and meet up in time for the Rodeo parade that opens up the festivities.  My school is lucky enough to be able to claim front row status to a very large wagon train route.  The wagon train camps over night literally one block from our campus.   A couple of years ago, one train actually stopped for lunch in our parking lot. To celebrate Texas, my school hosts a Hoe-Down and Texas sing along and Rodeo Art Show.  I love it because I get to work together with my great teammates from PE and Art, whom I adore and who are the best teammates any music teacher could have.  Because we do our little hoe-down / sing along during each grade levels regularly scheduled block time, we don’t have much time and I must be super efficient.   First on the agenda is for each grade level to show off their fabulous square dancing skills for all the parents who attend and THEN for the last 5-15 minutes we sing cowboy/Texas songs. Preparation: If you are like me, I’ve got quite a bit to be teaching to do in January and February and only one element is Texas music.    Plus, most of the time, I go to TMEA which adds to the days when the students chance to prepare is not ideal.  Also, it’s at this time of year when students get pulled for...
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