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Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall is in the Air! Singing Game and Assessment

Fall is certainly in the air here in North Carolina. While the days are still hot and sunny, mornings are crisp and cool. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to sing about the change in seasons with my kindergartners!


A fun lesson for fall in your music class! The best part is that it has a built in singing assessment. Used this activity with my kindergartners but you could use it for other elementary grades as well.



I started by asking if someone knew what season is coming up next. A few enthusiastic hands shot up. After we determined the next season is fall, I read a short book about fall. There are so many great options out there!

Next we learned a song/game celebrating fall called "Fall is in the Air!" Students sit in a circle while three chosen students stand in the center of the circle and pick a fall object. I printed out pictures of a scarecrow, pumpkin, squirrel, acorn, pile of leaves, and sun flower. I did not have time to laminate my pictures this time around but will definitely do so in the future!

The whole group sings this song while the three students "show off" their fall objects:

Fall is in the air!
  s  m  s  m   s
Fall is in the air!
  s  m  s  m   s
Gather round,
   s   s   m
Let us see!
  s   s   m
What do you have here?
  s      s     m     l       s

Students in the center of the circle are called on one by one to sing what they have with this response:

I have a _______________.
s  m    m      s-m or just s depending on syllables

The whole group responds immediately after with:
She/he has a ________________.
     s       m  m     s-m or just s depending on syllables

This group response is a good sol mi reinforcer.

Assessment
I assessed students on their individual response with the following rubric:
4. Sings sol mi pattern in correct key 
3. Sings sol mi pattern in tune but in a different key 
2. Sings but does not sing sol mi pattern 
1. Uses speaking voice, even with I sing, you sing prompt
0. Would not attempt to sing, even with I sing, you sing prompt


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Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Get the Word Out - Virtual Newsletters

We've heard it time and again: parent contact is important! But us music teachers, who teach 300+ students, may find a positive phone call for each student to be a daunting activity. In order to keep all of my parents in the loop, I use Smore.



While looking into virtual newsletter options, I found Smore to be the best. Here's why:

1. Affordability. They offer a free version that allows you to send up to 200 emails a month. That wasn't going to be enough for me so I upgraded to the pro version, which allows up to 5,000 emails per month. Thankfully, the offer educator pricing. Right now they are having an awesome educator sale, which puts their pro version at $39/year. This comes out to abut $3.25 per month.



2. Professional, clean look. These newsletters are easy to make and look very professional. I've had multiple parents comment on how nice and put together my newsletters are. Smore offers a bunch of different styles and backgrounds. While there are many school themed newsletter templates, there aren't any music specific backgrounds yet. They are planning on adding them within the coming months though!

Here's a snippet of my most recent newsletter. I work at a year round school so we just finished our first nine weeks!


It goes on to give a quick description of a music class activity for each grade with pictures and videos!

3. Analytics. One of the coolest features of Smore is the analytics. This has been one of the most helpful tools because Smore tells you information such as any email addresses that have bounced, how many people have actually opened the newsletter, and how many times each person has opened it.





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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cross Curricular Music Centers

This week in 2nd grade, we did centers! Students spent about 7-8 minutes are each of the four centers I had set up. I created these centers with the intention of incorporating other subjects.

Looking for some new center ideas for your elementary music class? Check out these cross curricular centers.


Music and Math

This station combines rhythm, addition, and composition into one activity. Students started by practicing writing notes. I created a quick practice work sheet for quarter, half, and eighth notes.



Next students became rhythm composers! Students were instructed to write out a four beat rhythm pattern using quarter, eighth, and half notes. They labeled the number of beats each note received and then wrote an addition sentence to double check they had four beats. One student even commented to me, "Hey! This is kind of like what we do in math class."







Music and Art

I had two music and art stations in this batch of centers. One was color by note. These color by note worksheets are a musical spin on the popular color by number! I made this activity into a coloring contest for students. I plan to feature the best colored owls on my fall bulletin board. If you're interested in the fall color by note worksheets, you can find them here.


The other music and art center was the draw what you hear center. I played two short pieces of music for students over the stereo system. Students used their imagination to draw scenes to match the music. Playing music out loud also helps keep the noise level down at other centers.

Music and Technology

Students at this station used the iPads to create their own compositions by using the free app TuneTrain. Students guide a train through towns to pick up people at their houses. Each person has a specific pitch. The higher the house, the higher the note. The closer together the houses selected, the shorter the rhythm will be. Students can also choose the accompaniment style (examples include pop, classical, R&B, and more) and have the option of viewing their composition notated on staff. Its a great way to get students thinking about basic music theory concepts!