Thursday, July 31, 2014

Products for Prep!

I can't believe that another summer has come and gone!  For me, it has been a great one, and I hope it has been for you too.  Often, my friends who are earning six figures in their corporate jobs express jealously about the fact that I have summers off.  I always say, "You can have summer off too! Become a teacher!"  Then, I tell them how much we earn, and they quickly change their minds about having summers off!  :)

We need it so much!  When we are "on", we are ON!  Every teacher knows it!  I hope that you had lots of time to rejuvenate and rest so you can be great for your children this year.

I am linking up with some music teacher bloggers for "Products for Prep" to help share some ideas for teachers to explore as they start that journey back to school for the 2014-2015 school year!

Let's start with Aileen Miracle's Polished Planning!  She has created a product here that will help you create your vision for your entire school year!  It's an overview of how to plan everything from your year to your daily lesson plans.  She's included a song list template that can be used for any grade level. She has a tika-tika concept plan that include 39 visual, aural and kinesthetic activities to help prepare 16th notes.  She guides teachers on creating concept plans and so much more.  I copied and pasted one of the product reviews here:

Fantastic! Even though I have taught for many years and have developed year plans, I always like to see how other respected teachers do it. Many fantastic ideas that I will incorporate. I like the way your brain thinks :)!

Check it out:


Last year, I made a commitment to myself to document ALL of my sight singing process as I taught my 6th grade beginners how to read.  From the very first day of school, I took video of the process, created video teaching tips, created and shared my sight singing examples using Finale (which I had no idea how to use before), rhythm examples, bell ringers activities and assessments.  I had to overcome so many personal fears about technology because I had so much to learn!

...But it's done!  This year, I plan to pull up power points I created and use them myself day by day. While I use them, I will "tweak" them and improve them to make them better and better for teachers who discover this program.  I want everyone who finds the program to be successful as they teach it, and I want the children to be successful in learning the material!

Here is a link to the Complete Bundle:  S-Cubed-Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers.
I sometimes call it "How to teach Sight Singing to Middle School Beginners" because it is for that group of children...and I think those are the children most of us actually teach.  I've taught for 22 years, and I still haven't had any little "Mozart's" in my room.


For the first day of school, I want to establish the atmosphere of "fun" and structure.  I use a game in "S-Cubed" called Forbidden Pattern on the first day.  The kids love it!  Here is a video description of the game.  And here is a video link of us actually playing the game.  This was taken on the first day of class about 10 minutes into the first day I'd met them.  There were 64 students in the room.

Many teachers ask how I create that sort of structure with 64 students so quickly on the first day with nervous and excited 6th graders.  Well...I like to hit the ground running!  One of the ways I do that is by creating name tags for every single student who is on my roll, creating seating charts and placing the stickers on the chairs in my classroom.  Here is a picture:
That is what I want them to walk into!  
Their first inclination, especially with 60-plus children, is the ask questions.  So, I work to wrap the arms of structure around them from the very first moment they enter.
I play "spa" music to relax them as they enter. 
I've copied a simple music word find puzzle that I place on a chair in the front of the room.  On that chair, I place a sign that says "Take One" with an arrow that is pointing downward to the puzzle.
I place a huge sign in the entry hall to my room that says "Read the front board".  Then, on my Promethean Board that is in the front of the room, I write this:
1)  Take a puzzle from the chair.
2)  Find the seat with your name on it.
3)  Sit down.
4)  Put your name on the puzzle and complete it silently.
5)  If your name isn't on a chair, come see me.

This gets them off to a good start and helps me have time to deal with the late arrivers, schedule changes, etc.

Then, I teach them the game Forbidden Pattern from S-Cubed!

I created this product for teachers who struggle with the first few days of school.  "Back to School! What do you MEAN I can't Smile Before Christmas?!?" covers some of the things I've mentioned above.  It also includes a game called "Cup Up".  It's great fun that includes many important lessons to set the tone for the year!  This product can be used by any middle school teacher in any subject!  


I am hoping everyone has a wonderful start to the new school year!  It's filled with so many possibilities!  Let's go out and change their lives in wonderful and positive ways!

Make sure to check out the other ideas in the linky party!


Another Giveaway! This one is for Secondary Teachers and it's Back to School!

With "Back to School" season quickly approaching, I decided to enter a few more giveaways!  This particular giveaway is focused on products from Secondary Teachers!  The giveaway begins on August 1st and ends on August 9th.  The winners will be announced on August 10th.  There are SIX different bundles of prizes to win in all subject areas.  Winners will be announced August 10th!  This giveaway includes Middle School ELA products, Secondary Math Products, High School ELA products, some Crafty Products and of course, my own products are included in the Mixed Studies Giveaway...Social Studies, Science, Music and Foreign Language Products! 

Click directly onto the pictures below to link to the blog where the giveaway is being hosted and enter! Tell all of your friends who teach secondary!  You can enter any and all of the giveaways!  Best of luck!  

Have a great start to your school year!





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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Huge Music Teacher Giveaway! July 25-27

26 Teachers!  Five different Giveaways!  Great products for teachers of all grade levels!

Enter to win these fantastic lessons from the expert music teachers at Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are five separate giveaways, and you are allowed and encouraged to enter them ALL!

I am partnering with my music teacher peers at Teacher Pay Teachers for this exciting Music Teacher "Back To School" Giveaway.  It will begin on July 25 and end on July 27.  

All of the participating music teachers are offering large bundles of lesson plans!  This is a GREAT giveaway!   I decided to offer my bundle of the lesson that includes Lessons 1-5 of my Sight Singing program! S-Cubed: Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers and Their Students!   It is normally valued at $25.  Enter to win it for free!

Remember!  There are FIVE different giveaways, and you are encouraged to enter all of them!  
So...here are the instructions:  
a)  Go to the links below.  The picture is a link.  Then, below the picture, you can click the "blue" links to enter some more of the giveaways.
b)  Click on the various links.
c)  Enter!  If you want to enter multiple times for each giveaway, all you need to do is to "like" each individual teacher's Facebook page and by "follow" the individual teacher's store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Start entering now!  Here are the links!

Click the picture to enter the middle school giveaway that includes my sight singing bundle and many other great products!


To enter the other music teacher giveaways, go to these links!  It's ok to enter ALL of them!  Enjoy!

Grades 3-5 Music Teacher Giveaway!
A SECOND Grade 3-5 Giveaway! Yes! Enter both!
Music Teacher Giveaway!
And another music teacher giveaway!

Check out my blog!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How I use the bell ringer/warm up activities in S-Cubed Middle SchoolSight Singing Program

The S-Cubed Bundles ("How to Teach Sight Singing to Middle School Beginners") have been up on the web on my store and ready for use since mid-April 2014.  I am so excited that teachers are finding the lessons and studying them to use in their classrooms.

I am hearing from teachers that S-Cubed is helping them with their classroom management too.  That is GREAT news!

One of the specific questions I have gotten from several teachers is related to the "Bell Ringer" or "Warm Up" activities that I use to begin each of the 10-15 minute sight singing lessons in S-Cubed.  Here is what the teachers ask with panic in the tone of the emails I receive...."Do you grade all of those?!?"  :)

The short answer is no.  With 300 students, it isn't possible.

Once I say no, the question becomes, "How do you hold them accountable and keep them doing it?"

Before I launch into the details, keep in mind that the "Written Warm Up" can be an "Oral Warm Up" instead.  That's why I call them "Written/Oral Warm Up".  Every teacher has unique situations, so you have to decide what works best for you in your situation.

I like to have my students write the warm ups and keep them inside their folders.

Here are the requirements of the folder:

1)  My students are required to keep the written warm ups inside their folder.
2)  They are required to label each warm up (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc.).
3)  They are required to keep the warm ups in sequence so that I can easily locate specific warm ups.
4)  They are required to either write the full question and answer OR they must write the answer in a complete sentence in such a way that their parents would understand what they were answering if they picked up their folders to see what they were doing in Chorus.  Occasionally, I will announce to the students that I am exempting them from the "full question/answer" rule to save time, but the general requirement is as stated above.  I teach the process early in the year.  Sixth graders are slower at writing than eighth graders, so keep that in mind.

Here is how I hold them accountable for the work:

1)  Daily, I walk around the room and look at their work while they complete the warm up activity. With classes of 84 children, I can't get to everyone everyday, so I mix it up.  I place stickers on their work ("Good Job", etc.) when they are following procedures and starting the work immediately upon entering the room.  They LOVE stickers.  It helps them start work fast, and it encourages them to do it the right way (complete sentences or question/answer).  I use the candy "Starbursts" to reward students for doing good things.  Once they get 3 stickers, they get to go to the Starburst bucket and get a Starburst.  The stickers allow me to keep track of which students I've checked more easily.
2)  The second piece of the puzzle is "Random Folder Checks".  The key is "Random"...but to be quite frank, it isn't always random.  About once or twice weekly, I put a list of children's names on the board by class period.  I pick about 2-3 children per class.  Those children have to turn in their folder for the "Random Folder Check".  They leave it on my desk.  I have a trustworthy student "checker" do a preliminary check using a rubric.  I pick a student "checker" early in the year for each of my classes, and I train them how to check the folders.  If the folder gets a "100" from the student, I place the folders in a bin for pickup the next day after I enter the grade.  I may give it a quick look and write a comment or two.  If my student helper gives less than 100, I go through and grade it carefully and write comments in detail.

The rubric has these values assigned:
Folder Rubric

1)  Is the folder in sequence (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3...)?  20 points
2)  Did the student write either the question/answer or a complete sentence that is easy to understand?  20 points.
3)  Is the folder missing any warm ups?  20 points.
4)  Does the student have his/her name on the outside of the folder and his/her class period on the outside of the folder?  20 points
5)  Did the student turn the folder in on the day it was requested?  20 points
If the student doesn't have the folder the first day it's requested, the student gets a "one day grace period", but the student will automatically lose 20 points.  In other words, if the folder is late by one day, the maximum grade is an 80.  The folder isn't accepted two days after the original request was made, and a zero is given.  The teacher will not remind the student.  The student must keep the rubric inside his/her folder all school year for each check.

Total Points_________________________
Date of the Folder Check______________

I give every student a copy of this rubric during the first week of school when I am going over my classroom procedures.  Once the folder is graded, the student checker will put a new, blank rubric inside the folder for future checks.   

Early in the school year, before I know the students well, I randomly pick the students I want to check.  I simply pick names from my roll book.  As I get to know them, I pick the students who are "dropping the ball".  Perhaps I've noticed that they aren't doing their warm ups.  Or perhaps I've noticed they aren't bringing their folders to class.  Or maybe I've got a student who is absent a lot, and I want to see if he is getting the warm ups from his peers as I've instructed him to do. 

Random folder checks can occur at any time, any day and for any reason, but I try to do at least one per week, and I make a big deal out of announcing it.   I "unveil" the list on my SmartBoard in dramatic fashion.  I make sure everyone sees that I am doing it.  I make the children who are being checked walk it up to my desk to turn it in.  The atmosphere isn't punitive in any way, but I make sure everyone sees the process happen...especially early in the year.

Having the students keep a folder is a great way to document the work of the children.  I have found it to be a great visual tool for parent conferences as well.  So often in chorus, grading can be subjective.  This evidence-based document speaks volumes about the work of the child in your classroom.

Back to School is quickly approaching!!!  One year ago, I began this journey of documenting my sight singing program in Power Points, on this blog and on video to share with other teachers. This year, the program is fully complete, and I am hoping lots of teachers find it.  I spent thousands of hours putting it together, and I truly believe it can help teachers in so many ways that have nothing to do with sight singing!  Please let your peers and your district directors know about this resource!  I start with the program from Day 1 with my students.  So, I altered the cover for the Back to School Season!  

Thank you for your support, comments and ratings on TPT!  Please Google +1 all of my products!  It helps get the word out online!








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Day 4 of the Giveaway! Grades 9-12 and Grades K-2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 3 Giveaway! Middle School Products Featured!

It's Day 3 of the Giveaway and two more to go!  Today's featured products are middle school level!
Enter below to win!  Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Five Day Giveaway! Day #1

Enter to win lots of great free products for teachers K-12 coming up this week starting Sunday, July 13th! I will blog daily with the new entry info for each day!  Click the Rafflecopter links to enter!   Day 1 is for K-2 teachers!
Enjoy!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some Resources for Warm Ups for your Middle School Choir!

Here are my three favorite books for rounds and choral warm ups:

This is the "round" book I like the most.  I like it because it uses music through which you can teach good choral technique quickly to this age group.  

This 2nd resource is one of my "go to" books when I am drawing a blank with warm up ideas on those days when I need to vary it up a bit:

This Rollo Dilworth book is my favorite though.  It has so many fun ideas that teach great concepts.  With this special age group, they learn best when it's fun yet meaningful!  The ideas you find here fit that description.





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