One Day BOOST Site Wide Back to School Sale on TPT

Since lots of schools don't start back until after Labor Day, TPT has decided to have a special one day back to school sale tomorrow, August 20th!  I am participating by marking my entire store down by 20%.  Use the TPT code BOOST when you purchase, and you will get an extra 8% for a total of 28% off of everything.

It is a great time to buy your next set of bundles!  Some of you have purchased the small bundle with Lessons 1 through 5.  Now is a great time to stock up on the next bundle that includes Lessons 6-10.

Or, if you want to take the big plunge and get the best deal, buy the Complete 27-lesson bundle-How to Teach Sight Singing to Middle School Students!

I am updating my lessons all year as I teach them, so make sure to check back on TPT to get your updated PowerPoints.  I am working to make them easier and easier to use.

...and check out all of the products from my music teacher colleagues on TPT.  They are an awesome group with lots of great products to enhance your classroom and teaching experience!  

...One day only!

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What do I do with my middle school singers after the 10-15 minute S-Cubed sight singing lesson?

On Friday, I finished my first week of school.  I don't know about you, but the first week is exciting...and it is also exhausting!  I needed this quiet weekend to recover!  

I am humbled and excited that so many teachers are finding and using S-Cubed with their students.  I was extra excited when I received these pictures from Kelly Katherine Rainer.

She started the year off from the first day of school using the S-Cubed Complete Bundle Middle School Sight Singing System, and she took the time to write these comments about the program on August 15th:

Last year when I was a first year teacher, my main goal was to SURVIVE, but when it came to teaching sight-reading, I was sinking. I thought that the middle schoolers were going to be able to catch on fast like high schoolers could, but I was very wrong. I'm so glad that I found a method that progresses slowly and builds on the student's successes. Even more than the method, I like the philosophy surrounding it that people are allowed to make mistakes and that small steps toward a goal are praised. It also makes me feel less stressed teaching sight reading because I can see the kids understanding it. If you want a method that is fun, meaningful, and progressive, buy S Cubed! I will definitely help spread the word! I can't wait until you come out with something for the non-beginners!!

She made my day!

Later that same day, Wendi L. Bogard who posted this on the Facebook Group "I'm a Choir Director".

I played The Game with my middle school choirs today & they LOVED it! It went just like you said it would. I beat the 6th grade easily. Had to distract them but beat the 7th grade. Beat the 8th grade the first time. Played it again at the end of the hour. 2-2 tie. They did not sing the final forbidden pattern & the biggest cheer went up through the group! It was great!

Thank you both so much for those kind remarks. I've worked many hours on this program, and I am thrilled it is helping teachers.

I would love to see more pictures and videos from other folks!  I don't advertise in a traditional way, so I was very grateful for Wendy's endorsement on social media!

Kelly is doing what I do with S-Cubed.  I start from the very first day of school. I know many people who have begun the program in the middle of the school year and it also works in that setting, but I feel like there is an unwritten classroom management component that happens when you use this program.  ...sort of a side benefit...and that is very helpful when teaching middle school children.  

The philosophy of S-Cubed helps build positive relationships between the middle school students and their teacher. I have tried to share every secret I have learned about how I implement this program.  I made available the video teaching examples of me teaching my own students because I thought that teachers might learn much more than just sight singing techniques by watching them.

Right now, I am teaching my new beginners, and as I teach them, I am going right back into the PowerPoints and adding new YouTube teaching tip clips and cleaning up the PowerPoints.  I plan to continue to work to improve and streamline the program over the next two years because I want this to provide the best product possible to the consumer.   I am hoping people will find and use this program for years to come. Each time I modify the PowerPoints, I will send a notice via Teacherpayteacher's to all of the people who have bought that particular lesson or that group of bundles so that consumers can go back and download the upgraded product.

I have received many e-mails from teachers asking what it is that I do after 10 to 15 minute sight singing lesson. Here is that skinny on that...…

Before school each day, I create an announcement page on my active inspire software on my Promethean board. Once I finish my S-Cubed Sight Singing lesson each day, I immediately go into the announcements of the latest and most important information regarding due dates and concerts and auditions etc.  As soon as I finish going through the announcements, I launch into a 3 to 5 minute vocal warm-up. It always begins with some sort of physical awakening (massaging each other, for example,) followed by a focus exercise of some sort. For example I may ask the students to follow my physical movement. I will use the opportunity to do something silly at the end of the exercise in order to make people giggle. Then I do some breathing exercises of some sort. Then I launch into an a capella warm up.  I like warming up a cappella with my students because it makes them listen better.  Once I've done a few exercises, I have the students sing a short round so we can work on various elements of good choral singing using an easy song.  Then, for the rest of class, we work on repertoire for concerts.

I end the class with "starburst questions".   Usually, those questions are related to the sight singing lesson of the day and/or the concepts covered in the program music that day. I asked 3 to 5 questions, and I throw a starburst to the person who raised their hand and answered the question correctly. 

Class moves very quickly.  We work "bell to bell".  I rarely allow time for questions, but I encourage students to ask me questions after class as they leave the room.  Also, my students are encouraged to email me so that I can answer individual questions, and I always encourage them to come early in the morning for tutoring with me or peer-tutoring. This allows me to maximize learning time during class, and avoid stalls in the energy in the room.  

Fast paced wit clear objectives....that helps everything move, maximizes learning and minimizes class disruptions. 

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Why Teach Middle School?

Why teach middle school?

How many teachers ask that question?  When I was first hired for a middle school job, I thought to myself...."Middle school was the worst time of my life.  I cannot believe the universe has placed me back there!"

I accepted the position because I was in need of a job.  I affirmed to myself, as many others do..."I can do this!"

If only that were enough.  Alas, it is not, and that is why so many teachers...especially those who are hired to teach middle school...leave the profession.

For me, middle school was awful.  There are the normal reasons...our bodies are changing, pimples and awkwardness.  At that time, my parents were divorcing, and I was struggling within myself to figure out who I was and what I was all about...silently struggling with anti-gay bullying and doing so in secret because I, myself, was not able or willing to admit it to myself.

So many middle school children struggle with similar things and much, much more than I did.

I remember a profound and life-changing moment that occurred for me when I was 12.  That would be the summer between 6th and 7th grades...1976.

I watched the Olympics, and I saw Olga Korbut win three gold medals in artistic gymnastics.  I stretched in my living room and went outside and tumbled in the grass.  That moment changed my life...and I was 12.  

From that moment, I had this incredible longing to be an Olympic Gymnast.  I had no training and no background at all.  I had many natural gifts as an athlete, but technique.  My middle-class parents were working as hard as they could, but with their marriage falling apart, there was no energy, time or money to start sending me to gymnastics...which is a very expensive sport!  

So, I tucked that dream away...the way 12 year olds do.

This story does have a happy ending.  Promise.  :)

Over the years, I've connected the dots.  

I teach middle school because it is such an incredibly impressionable age.  Most of them haven't found their passions.  Most haven't had an actual experience where they get to be a part of something great. Mostly, they are just floating through life like a boat without a rudder.

As adults, we HAVE found our passions, and when we share those passions with our students, it changes them.  They feel it.  They know when we are gliding through and checking off an administrative box, and when we are truly motivated from a place of realness.  We can help them discover and develop their skill sets in ways that will absolutely alter the course of their young lives. As music teachers, we have the power to give them authentic, memorable, and life-changing performance experiences they will never forget...whether they are the star of the show or in the chorus. 

That's why I teach this crazy, odd, awkward little age group.  

So...back to my little Olympic dream...

About two years before I started teaching, I saw a woman rehearsing something I had never seen before.  It was part dance and part gymnastics.  I fell in love, but I had no idea what it actually was. was aerobic gymnastics!  It was a new, young form of gymnastics I'd never heard of....but I knew that I loved it.  At that moment, I saw my potential Olympic dream.

So, at the end of a horrendous first year of teaching, I got the rule book and read it cover to cover, trained myself and went to my first competition.  

Three years later, I was National Champion!  

It isn't an Olympic sport, but it is always been one of the goals of the leaders in the sport.  

So, now I am old.  I cannot be an Olympian in this sport!  ...But, alas, I have adjusted that Olympic dream!  I have become an internationally certified judge in the sport, and I hope that one day...even if I am on a walker or a cane, I can walk in and judge a round of this awesome sport at the Olympics!

...and it all started while watching television in 1976 when I was 12 years old.

That is why I teach middle school.


Happy Tuesday everyone!  

Over 30 music teachers from around the world have decided to have another $2 Tuesday sale on August 12th!  If you've never participated, here is how it works:  
1)  Go to the Teachers Pay Teachers website.
2)  Go to the search box.
3)  Type $2TuesdayMusicFlashSale

All of the products of the teachers who are participating will pop to the top of the search.  You will find items from all levels for music classes.

I know, I's a lesson from the middle of a method that I recommend is purchased as a sequential series....but I think this lesson sums up the essence of S-Cubed and that it can be used alone...especially for just $2.  Here is why: The idea in S-Cubed is to truly teach and to help our beginners MASTER each technique required to sight sing successfully and independently.  The process isn't haphazard.  We don't just "tell them" to do a skill we are teaching and then expect them to do it. We teach them how, take them carefully through the process of the element we are teaching and then immediately have them practice that particular skill.  We acknowledge and reward their willingness to do it, and then we make the new element/skill a part of daily practice.  In Lesson 6, the students are taught the importance of independent practice time as part of the process of working through an example of sight singing.  So, even if you haven't purchased Lessons 1-5, you can still learn how I recommend teaching the idea I call "Chaos" to your students.  ...and for $2, that is a pretty good deal, I think!   

Also, during the $2 Tuesday music flash sale, I have decided to mark down all bundles 20% in case folks decide they want to purchase a bundle!   The Complete Bundle of all 27 lessons is included as well as the smaller 5-lesson bundles!  So if you need a bundle, it time to buy!

Jump in!  The best time to start S-Cubed is at the beginning of the year!  

...and if you are already using S-Cubed with your students.... Word of mouth and social media are the ways that word is spreading about S-Cubed.  Please consider sharing on your social media sites  ...Especially on the group pages like I'm a Choir Director on Facebook, and Music Teachers.  It helps tremendously when teachers hear what is working from other teachers.  

Thank you so much for your support!

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The first 10 minutes of the first day of middle school Chorus! My Music Room Set Up

It's the final day of preparations before the children arrive!

It sort of reminds me of Christmas Eve.

It's all finished.

On the first day, I want my middle school students to know that I will wrap the arms of structure around them immediately, and that we are going to have fun too!   They want both of those things, and they need them both to flourish!  Whichever educator said "Don't Smile Before Christmas" should have been encouraged to find other work opportunities!  :)

With up to 85 students in my classes, it is critical that I have my systems and processes in place at all times!  So...let's go on the tour of the first 10 minutes of experience in my middle school chorus class on the first day!
Click this link to go on a video tour of my classroom set up for the first day!

To get to that moment, here are some of the things I did:

1)  I used Infinite Campus, our grade book, to print labels of the names of the children in each class.  It was quick and easy!
2)  I created seating charts.  It is very important that they have a place to be from the first moment of the first day.

3)  I placed the labels on the chairs to correspond with my seating charts so that I can call their names of the first day if I need to do so!  I don't check roll by calling names out loud.  On a normal day, to check roll, I do a quick scan with my charts and make quick notes in pencil.  More about how I check roll on the first day below the picture.
4)  I copied a word find for them to do.  This helps keep them busy while I deal with late comers, lost children, and folks whose schedules were changed at the last minute.  They will be busy with the word find for about 10-15 minutes.  I play "spa" music!  It relaxes them AND me!    I know my 7th and 8th graders well, but I am meeting the sixth graders for the first time.  So, I quietly walk up to each 6th grade student in their seat, make eye contact, and I say their names.  If I pronounce it wrong, they correct me, and I make quick notes on my chart.  I feel like this connection is critical for us to make with new students.  It's quiet, one-on-one, eye to eye and it sets up a relationship between you and the student.  When we call roll out loud on the first day, the children are put on the spot to perform.  Yes...even saying "here" is a performance for a middle school student, and it can go in a variety of ways!  Going around the room quietly in the way I described above eliminates the performance and gives you an opportunity to connect.  It is important to establish positive rapport immediately.

I often say to my students:  You get one chance to make a first impression.  Well....the first 10 minutes of chorus class is their first impression.  Structure....warmth.....calm.

The next thing I want to establish on Day 1 is FUN!  So, once I've gotten everything organized with late-comers, etc., and I feel like things have calmed down, I launch into the first lesson of S-Cubed: Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers and their Students.  Here is the video link to exactly what I do after things have calmed down on the first day

With shortened class periods in my building on Day 1, this is pretty much all I am able to do on that first day, but I wanted to share it with everyone.  Perhaps it will give you some ideas!

Here is a link to the full bundle of S-Cubed!  Click the picture to learn more about it.

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Announcing! TPT Site-Wide Back to School Sale!

All of the sellers at are participating in a site-wide Back-to-School Sale on Monday, August 4th and Tuesday, August 5th.  My Entire Store will be marked down 20%, and if you use the code BTS14 when you purchase, you will get an extra 8% off for a total of 28% off your purchases.

If you have missed my two summer bundle sales, now is a great time to get my Complete Sight Singing Bundle for less.  And if you've purchased a the first five lessons in a bundle, and would like to purchase the next bundle of lessons 6-10, now is the time to do it.  All of the bundles and individual lessons in my store will be reduced by 28%.

In "Back to School! What do you MEAN I can't smile before Christmas?!?", you will find a link to my syllabus, a great game for the first week of school, and some guidance of classroom set-up for the very first day to create structure in your classroom!

There are so many outstanding products to help teachers on this website.  Take advantage of the excellent ideas that real teachers are sharing with other real teachers!

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