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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Using Exit Slips in Music Class

Exit slips are one of my all time favorite assessment tools. You can use them for a grade, student portfolios, or as a gauge for whether or not you should move on in your lessons. Here are a few quick tips on how to implement exit slips in your music classroom.

1. Keep it short.

Exit slips should take less than 5 minutes. They should be a small snapshot to provide you some information on student learning. I like to make sure my exit slips can fit on 1/3 of a page. This saves ink too!

2. Develop a system.

I don't have desks, pencils, or any other supplies readily available for student use in my classroom because students sit on the carpet during music. After a few attempts at different systems, I've found the best one for me is to set up a clipboard with the exit slip and pencil ready to go.

I sort my clipboards into 6 stacks of 4(my average class is 24 students) and store them in front of the classroom so they're ready to be passed out when I have about 4-5 minutes left at the end of class. I have students in the front row take one and pass it back. Once students finish, I have them reattach the pencil and collect the clipboards. In the afternoon after school, I take the filled out exit slip out and replace it with a fresh one for the next day.

3. Stay organized!
If you're like me, you see a few hundred students a week. These tiny slips can become disorganized in your teacher bag or on your desk very quickly. At the end of every day, I make sure to gather them, paper clip the stack, and place a sticky note with the classroom teacher's name on them. If I want to take them home to grade or grade at a later date, I'll know which class's slips I have in front of me. After grading, I file them away their class's manilla folder. Be sure to have students write their classroom teacher's name and/or the date on their slip. It can help if the exit slips are accidentally mixed up!

Need some ready to go exit slips? Check out these composer exit slips sets one and two!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Brain Breaks

With Iowa testing this week, my students were definitely in need of wiggle breaks during music. Sometimes you just need to take 2 minutes and move a little to focus!

Here are some of my favorite brain breaks:

Shake Your Sillies Out is a great song to get kids moving. In fact, I use this one every day in kindergarten. They have music for 55 minutes so it's much needed. This song is easy to follow and works best for younger grades.

Simple Stretches  are an easy way to give a brain break. If I see students getting restless on the carpet, I have them stand up reach for the sky, touch their toes, jump five times, and wiggle their nose. Sometimes that's all they need!

8-4-2-1 is a good, quick movement break for older students. You shake your right hand 8 x's, left hand 8 x's, right foot 8 x's, and left foot 8 x's. Repeat with 4 shakes, then 2 shakes, and then 1 shake on each limb.

If you're interested in brain breaks in video form, check out Go Noodle. The Spanish teacher loves it and recently recommended it to me. The website features a ton of brain break videos, including yoga, kids zumba, and more!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Using SQUILT in Music Class

SQUILT is one of my students' all time favorite activities. What is SQUILT you ask? SQUILT stands for Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time. During SQUILT time in my classroom, students listen to a piece of music and then imagine a story in their head. It is a great, fun way to introduce classical music to young children. Students do this activity immediately following the Welcome to Music song we sing each week.

Looking for a fun way to introduce classical music to your elementary music students? Try SQUILT (Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time)

I have my students spread out, sit or lay down, and close their eyes. I let them listen to about 2-3 minutes of music and then have them sit back on the carpet. I choose 3-6 students a week to share their stories, depending on how elaborate the stories are. I post the Youtube videos on my website each week so students can share the music and their stories with their parents/guardians!

You don't have to use SQUILT every week though! Use it as a brain break, an extra time activity, or just something fun and different. They can journal, draw/color what they hear, describe music using musical terms, or simply put their heads on their desks, close their eyes, and imagine!

Lastly, here are the musical selections I've used for SQUILT so far:
William Tell Overture Finale, Rossini
Shepherd's Hey, Grainger
Le Vent Dans la Plain, Debussy
Hoe-Down from Rodeo, Copland

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teaching Melodic Contour with Debussy and Ribbon Sticks

This week in 1st grade, we learned a bit about melodic contour! 

We started by listening to some simple melodies played on the piano. First I played melodies that only went up or down and had students point towards the ceiling or the ground to indicate direction. Then I played melodies that went up and then down or down and then up. Again, I had students point in the directions one after the other.

Next, we took a listen/look to Debussy's First Arabesque:
While we listened, we followed the purple/orange bubbles with our hand/arms for about a minute.

Then we took a look at another video once they got the hang of following the pattern/music. This video was the one we were going to add ribbon sticks too.
Here's the choreography I used:
:06-:16 side figure eighth(infinity sign) in front
:17-:26 large movement side to side over head
:27-:42 center swirls - stir the pot motion
:43-:45 side figure eighth in front
:47-1:05 side to side over head, ending with ribbon falling downward downward
1:06-1:40 hold ribbon and sway to music
1:42-1:51 side figure eighth in front
1:52-2:04 large movement side to side over head
2:05-2:16 small shake side to side over head and bring movement down as melody moves down
2:17-2:26 shake side to side raise with melodic contour

2:17-end shake side to side all the way down

Before teaching the choreography, I had students do similar movements without ribbon sticks. But if you're pressed for time, you could go right to the choreography!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why I love the Youtube channel smalin (and you should too!)

Wouldn't teaching melodic contour would be easier if it were visual? Well, now it is! This great Youtube channel includes dozens of classical pieces that have been transformed into visual masterpieces. It is easy for students to see the way the notes are moving

 I'm planning on using Debussy's Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum next week!
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Good King Leopold - Four Voices

Do you love the game Good King Leopold, but wished it had a story to go with it? I  sure did but couldn't find anything kid friendly. So I wrote/illustrated(in powerpoint) one! 

If you've never heard of the game, here's how to play:

Choose one king/queen to sit on a separate “throne.”  All other students stand on the other side of the room and sing:

Good King(Queen) Leopold                                   The king/queen responds:
(sol   mi  sol-sol-mi)                                                 You must ask again
May we cross your kingdom?                               (Sol  mi   sol  sol-mi)
(sol  sol  mi     la    sol mi)                                       This time use your ________ voice.
                                                                                   (sol  sol   mi   la  sol sol    mi)
                                                                                   Student chooses  the voice–
                                                                                   whisper, speaking, shouting, singing.

Students repeat “Good King/Queen Leopold, may we cross your kingdom?” in the voice that was ordered. The king/queen only grants permission to students when all have complied with the order. When permission is granted, students cross over the kingdom. I had my students walk from one end of the carpet to the other. A new king/queen is then chosen.

Add a foam crown from Walmart and you're all set!

Not only is this a great way for students to practice their four voices, it's also a great way to individually assess!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Four Voices - Kindergarten

In this week's edition of kindergarten, we learned about the four voices(whisper, speaking, shouting, and singing)!

First, we labeled each voice. I used these fun penguin posters during my lessons. 

I wanted to start with some global citizen/world themes right away, so I created a powerpoint with videos of children singing all around the world. After watching the video, we looked at the globe to see all of the places where people sing. I stressed that even though people may live far away, speak other languages, and look different than us, everyone sings!

After discovering the whole world sings, we finally used our singing voice with this short song I wrote.

You can download the four voices penguin posters for FREE from my TPT page. 

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