Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song

You know those songs that you find and you are not sure if your kids will like it, then they love it? That’s how the Tick Tock song was for my classes. I thought it looked/sounded cute, but it was a HUGE hit! My kids wanted to keep doing this song over and over and over again.

And of course we love any songs that keep students singing!

I used this as a movement activity and for playing instruments, but I am planning to bring it back to teach rhythm. It is a ta and titi song as well as a sol-mi-la song. So of course you can use it for any of those.

I do have a TPT product for this, which you can get here. It has rhythmic and melodic practice with flash cards, slides with rhythm and melody, clock faces, beat charts, and basically everything you need for a super smooth class. If you just want to get a preview to use in your classroom with slides for lyrics, solfege, and rhythm, then you can get that in my free resource library. If you have not accessed my free resource library, then you will need to click here. You provide your email and then you get the password and you can download everything in the library! I only email twice a month, so I won’t be spamming you, and of course you can unsubscribe anytime (but you won’t want to because, again, FREE RESOURCES).

PS My second graders also really enjoyed this song!

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Brown Bear Brown Bear

Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



Tick Tock Song

  1. Teach students the Tick Tock song by rote. You can focus on rhythm or melody. You can find both the rhythm and melody on the free slide in my resource library or you can get all of the resources in my TPT.
  2. Teach the students the movements to the song. I always (ALWAYS) start non-locomotor movements and then switch to locomotor movements if the students can handle it. The movements are a little bit awkward because they really aren’t supposed to be non-locomotor, but my kids did not notice or care. Here are the movements:
  • Walk in place
  • At “open wide”, open your arms up wide
  • At “cuckoo”, bend your body sideways for each cukoo

I learned this from a video on this YouTube channel. It no longer seems to be on YouTube and the link from my Pinterest is broken. So he gets the credit even though you cannot see it!

3. Each time, ask a student to pick what time it will be. This can make it entertaining for hours, because they all want to pick the time. I like to use a plastic teaching clock like this one or the clock cut out in my TPT product to show the time, because most students cannot tell time on analog clocks. I don’t spend a ton of time on it, but we do talk about the big hand and little hand and the hours and then I will change the time each time we sing.

4. If they are doing a good job with that, then we will do it in partners. Now, of course, you have to make sure that you prep them VERY well before doing anything in partners. Since they are so young, I like to model with a student a few times before I let them do it. Basically, one person is the clock and one is the cuckoo. The clock stands still. The cuckoo walks in a circle around the clock. At “open wide”, the cuckoo opens the clocks’ arms. On each “cuckoo” the cuckoo pops out from behind the clock.

5. Use some small percussion instruments to play the beat to the song. Then use the instruments to play the rhythm. I tend to be partial to rhythm sticks and castanets, both of which are really cheap options if you don’t have much in your classroom.

6. Make the rhythm! Depending on where your students are in the rhythm reading journey, you can have them put manipulative (like the clock cut outs in my resource) onto heartbeat sheets. Use one manipulative for ta and two on a beat for titi. Mini erasers are usually a huge hit for this activity. Or you could use popsicle sticks like I talk about in this lesson to make stick notation ta and titi. I have also seen people use straws for this activity, although I have not used them.

7. Make the melody! Cut out the words to the song. Put two lines on the ground with tape. Have students put the words onto the two line staff. Then you could have everyone practice that by themselves with bingo chips or mini erasers on a personal two line staff.

Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



A few extensions:

  • Pair with Hickory Dickory Dock (free!)This is a fun nursery rhyme in 6/8. I like to use this as a warm up with movements.
  • Pair with a movement activity to The Syncopated Clock. I believe this is in the book Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!
  • A clock race: Have students get into teams. One student runs up and changes the clock to a particular time, rushes back and the next student goes.
  • Rhythm clock: Have students work in groups to make a rhythm clock. They have to make a rhythm for each hour that adds up to the hour. This is more fun with older students who know a bunch of rhythms with different beats, but it can still be fun with the littles.

Need those heartbeat sheets? Get them in my free resource library! If you haven’t gained access yet, then do it by clicking here.

So there is the Tick Tock Song! This is one of my students’ absolute favorites. Between thing on and the Que Llueva song that I talk about here, it is hard to get them to sing anything else!

What are your favorite clock themed activities? What would you pair with the Tick Tock Song? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Free Elementary Music Lesson: The Tick Tock Song. This is one of my kindergarten and first graders' favorite songs! We use it for movement, rhythm, and solfeggi. It is perfect for sol-la-mi or ta and titi. Becca's Music Room



 

This is a powerpoint to go along with the song Tick Tick. It has the song lyrics, lyrics and rhythm (in regular notation and stick notation!), and rhythm and solfege. Becca's Music Room.
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Differentiation, Elementary Music

But how do I actually differentiate in the music room?

If you have been to any meeting, any class, or had a discussion with any teacher in the last five years, then you would know that the hot topic is differentiation. I hear it all of the the time. And last year I thought, there is no way that I can differentiate in the music room.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Now, music teachers are constantly differentiating without realizing it. I have a whole post about that here (which is really great if you need to prove you differentiate on your TKES!). This post is about being intentional with your differentiation.

As far as differentiating goes, we are certainly at a disadvantage. I teach 650 students– and I know other teachers who have even more. Most of us see our kids once a week. And we don’t have any MAP testing or iReady or whatever programs and tests your state uses to tell us what the kids know.

So… how do you actually get started with differentiation? How much work is it to differentiate? And when do I have time to do it? Let’s talk. Because I promise, it is less work than you think it is.


But how do I actually differentiate in the music room? This is a step by step guide to how to differentiate in your elementary music class-- from gathering data to grouping students to ways and ideas for differentiation. Becca's Music Room

So where do I start?

The first thing in differentiation is finding out what your students currently know– AKA a pretest. You can do this via paper and pencil, or through observation (I talk about a lot of different options for assessment in this post).

I started at the beginning of the year with a (short) pretest and interest survey that covered the major concepts we are working on this year. If it’s the middle of the year, don’t stress. You can also go unit by unit.

For example, my fourth graders have been working on treble clef notes for a few months now. And some of them are still not totally getting it. So, I gave them a super short quiz which told me how much they know and what some struggles are.

You can actually get that quiz in the free resource library– if you have signed up for the library, than you can click the “Free Resource Library” tab at the top of the page. If you haven’t, then you can signup here to get the password. Once you have the password, you can download anything that you want from the library– and check back, because I add more resources monthly!

You could even just use an assignment that they have done and use it as an indicator– even if it is not a quiz. I did this last week with my fifth graders and their write the room activity which told me that they needed some help with differentiating between the brass and woodwind families. It wasn’t an official “assessment” but it game me the information I needed!

So I have data… Now what?

I am a fan of simplicity when it comes to differentiation.

I take out three sticky notes. Then, I write an X on one, a – on one, and a check on the other. Then I divide the number of questions by three. This gives me the ranges for each sticky note. (I like to get these with the lines on them.) So if I had 12 questions on a quiz, students who got 1-4 correct would have an X, 5-8 correct would be a -, and 9-12 correct would be a check. I also like to put a star by anyone who got 100%– more about that later.

But how do I actually differentiate in the music room? This is a step by step guide to how to differentiate in your elementary music class-- from gathering data to grouping students to ways and ideas for differentiation. Becca's Music Room
Setting up my sticky notes. I write down the ranges for how many questions students get right. On this one, I went ahead and split each sticky into groups.

These sticky notes are the basis of my student groupings during centers. I like to have six groups, so I will split the names on the sticky notes into two groups. Each sticky note represents two groups. If they are not even, then I will adjust them (or if I have students who should not be together, then I will adjust them). In general, I will put – with X or checks, but do not put checks with X’s.

But how do I actually differentiate in the music room? This is a step by step guide to how to differentiate in your elementary music class-- from gathering data to grouping students to ways and ideas for differentiation. Becca's Music Room
An example of (fake) students in groups. You can see I moved one person of make the groups more even, and I made sure to put a check by their name to remind myself that they scored better on their test.

It is also how I decide who gets which activity when I am doing something like my treble clef dice activity, which has many different versions for different levels of understanding.

But how do I actually differentiate in the music room? This is a step by step guide to how to differentiate in your elementary music class-- from gathering data to grouping students to ways and ideas for differentiation. Becca's Music Room

So I have groups… Now what?

So now you have to decide how you are actually going to differentiate. There are three main ways that you can differentiate in the elementary music classroom.

Sidenote– you do not have to differentiate every. single. day. I probably do portions of lessons that are differentiated once or twice a month. Because if you are having a drum circle or playing Lucy Locket… how are you going to differentiate that?

Ok. So. On the days that you do want to differentiate (intentionally), there are three main ways: chunking, centers, and tiered instruction. (Although when you think about it, it’s all tiered instruction.) We’re going to talk about each one so that you know what they are and how you can do them.

Chunking

Chunking is basically the concept of not making students do things they already know how to do. If you have a few students who are a bit ahead of the others and have proven they understand the material, then they can have an alternate assignment.

I did this in January with one of my treble clef activities. On the pretest, I had 1-5 students in each class who got 100%. Instead of continuing to make them practice every day, I had the other students working on treble clef activities, and they worked on their recorder songs. They were still working– even still working on reading because they had to read recorder notes– but they were not bored while going over material they had down.

This is not something I would suggest doing with every activity, but it is good every once and a while, especially if you have been working on the same unit for a while. (Plus it makes the other kids work harder because they want to play recorder too!)

Centers

Next week’s blog post is going to be a deep dive into differentiating with centers, so I am not going to go super in depth here. But there are a lot of ways you can differentiate during centers. It is a great way to give students activities tailored to their skill level without them noticing that different people have different activities.

My centers differentiation is really just in one of the groups. One group is always the teacher group, and that is where I assess and differentiate. Sometime I have different lessons for each group, but most of the time, it is pretty much the same, but with different levels of guidance. So the group where everyone understands may not get any help from me while the group that is struggling will have a lot of remediation.

I really love having a teacher group for centers because I feel like I can give more attention to each student. I actually know my students and their musical capabilities much better now than I used to.

Also read: Music Center Classroom Management for “Bad Classes”

Tiered Instruction

The third main way to differentiate is through tiered instruction. This just means that students are doing different activities based on their levels.

If you are just getting started, this is where I would start. I would pick a concept, pick two activities and split the students up based on data from whatever quiz or observation you have.

One thing I will say is try to find things that are equally fun. Don’t give one group a worksheet and the other one a game. They don’t have to be the same, but they do need to be equally fun.

A few examples are:

  • Have one set of students play rhythms from flashcards and have the other set make up their own rhythms to play. (You could use these and these.)
  • If working on treble clef, one set of students can identify one note while the others find words (such as egg) on the treble clef. You can check that out in my TPT product here.
  • Have some students matching notes on the staff while others match notes and staff and recorder fingerings. Or have the second group write notes onto the staff because that is more difficult than matching.
  • Have both groups play a game like Kaboom!, but give one group more difficult rhythms. (You can get levels 1 and 2 in my TPT)
  • Have students create measures of rhythms with words. (Kind of like in this or this) You can give the lower group only one beat rhythms to manipulate and the higher group one beat and two or three beat rhythms. They will have to work harder to make sure they have the correct amount of beats in the measure.
  • When playing instruments, you can tier up by having staff notation and tier down by having just the letters or the letters inside of the note heads.
  • Have one group finding all of the letters in words on the treble clef and the other group coming up with their own words (like BAG or EGG or FADE) to put onto the treble clef like on this.
  • Have students play hands together instead of alternating hands on the xylophones.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started, but you get the point. It seems sooooo daunting– “I not only have to come up with lesson plans, but now I have to do twice as many!”– but once you start thinking of ideas, it is much more simple than you think.

Also, if your school groups students into classes based on ability level, you can differentiate for whole classes. Even with whole group lessons, I will adjust based on the collective understanding. For example, last week my students did an Orff arrangement of a Japanese song called Star Festival. One group did a great job with four different instruments and different patterns on the xylophones. In another class, it was a hot mess. So I ended up making the arrangement easier for the second class (I took out the glockenspiels and changed the xylophone part to hands together on the steady beat) and they were much more successful. And yes, that counts.

So how often do I have to differentiate?

That totally depends on you! Personally, I think as music teachers, we don’t need to do this every day. I do centers once a month with my upper grades, and I usually do one other differentiated activity in the month– but it depends on what we are working on! Right now my fifth graders are working on Orff skills and drum circles, so, frankly, I am not worried about differentiating right now. Music is inherently differentiated (don’t believe me? Read my post about the differentiation you are doing without realizing it here.)

With my younger students, I really don’t differentiate much at all. That may sound bad, but it’s the truth. I am much more concerned with them singing, playing, listening to music, and more.

Some lessons also lend themselves better to differentiating than others do. That’s why I keep going back to treble clef activities– they are so easy to differentiate!

Basically, you know your students. You know what is best for them. So you should do what is best for them. Sometimes that means tiered instruction, sometimes that means centers, and sometimes that means whole group drum circles. Do whatever is best.

But how do I actually differentiate in the music room? This is a step by step guide to how to differentiate in your elementary music class-- from gathering data to grouping students to ways and ideas for differentiation. Becca's Music Room

Do you differentiate in your elementary music classroom? How do you do it? Let me know in the comments so that we can have even more ideas!

Happy teaching!

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte

Teaching piano and forte is really fun.

I know that may seem like a weird comment, but it is true. I have a lot of fun teaching piano and forte. I think this is because there are just so many different things that you can do with it– and it is so different from teaching rhythm and melody and styles of music.

This post has a few of my favorite activities for teaching piano and forte. It is not nearly everything that can be used for piano and forte, but it is a couple things that my students have enjoyed.

And make sure you read to the bottom, because I saved the best for last.

Also read: Creative Movement with Scarves

 

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Songs with Animals

The first thing that I do with my students is relate piano and forte to animals. I ask them to come up with ideas of what is loud and what is soft. This year, we did a series of lessons based off of mice and bears. This was an easy segway into piano and forte, because we were able to talk about how loud they were. (Are bears loud or soft?)

You could use something else, of course, like lions and bunnies or whatever.

For these lessons, we did Hickory Dickory Dock (FREE on TPT), Mouse Mousie, Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See, annnnnnd…..

Grizzly Bear

No list of piano and forte activities could be complete without Grizzly Bear on it.

Grizzly Bear is a super fun song that has dynamic changes in it, plus there are at least three different games that go with it. You can read all about it in this post.

You can also get a PowerPoint for FREE in my resource library. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. I only send out one email every other week, and I add new free resources to the library once a month (and sometimes more, because I can’t help myself!). If you have already signed up, then you can click the tab at the top that says “free resource library” and enter in the password that was emailed to you.

Responding to a Drum

Is that really the best title to describe this activity, Becca? I guess so.

This is one of my favorite simple warm ups. Seriously. I use it the first week of school and for piano and forte and for any other day the kids just need to move. I play my djembe (I have this one and LOVE it!) piano, and students tip toe. Then I play forte and they jump or stomp. With the younger kids, I play piano for 4, 8, or 16 beats, then forte for 4 or 8 beats. If your students are doing a good job, then you can also change the tempo on them for an extra challenge.

With older students, I use this to get them thinking about groups of rhythms (often in preparation for the game Extra Beat, Take a Seat). I play the downbeat forte, and then play seven beats piano. After a few times, they can anticipate the downbeat.

Then we make it even more fun– we do statues. I still play the downbeat forte followed by seven piano beats, but when it is forte, the students strike a pose. They hold that statue until the next forte beat, when they switch to the next one.

Closet Key (or Lucy Locket)

Closet Key is a fun game for piano and forte. It is a song (check it out here). After learning the song, students sit in a circle. One person closes their eyes. While their eyes are closed, the “key” (or whatever object you have) gets hidden (I prefer to have it so that it is hidden in the circle, but you could have them hide it in the room.

Then the students sing while the person who had their eyes closed moves around. The students sing louder when they are close to it, and softer when they are far away. It’s like hot and cold with your voice.

I have also heard of people doing the same thing with the game Lucy Locket, so I included that in the heading. I personally do not play my game that way, but you certainly could. Check out how I play here.

Playing instruments

Of course we are going to play instruments! I use these rhythm cards for piano and forte. Each one has either a bear or a mouse on them. If it has a bear, then the students play the rhythm forte. If it has a mouse, then they play the rhythm piano.

They also have an introduction to piano and forte. You can get them here.

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Student “Conductor”

This can go along with singing or playing instruments.

For the little people: Make a sign with “piano” and “forte” (I use the ones that are included in the Piano and Forte Rhythm Cards set). Have the students sing and hold up the cards. While they are singing, switch the cards so that the students have to change dynamic. You can change them at any time. Then have a student come to the front and change the cards.

For older students: They can conduct. Hand them a baton (or a pencil) and have them conduct while the students sing or play instruments. If you don’t want to teach them the conducting patterns, then you could just have them show the beat (so like in one) and get bigger when students should sing forte and smaller when they should sing piano.

Listening

Of course, there are all sorts of listening activities that can go with piano and forte. The piece Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks has a very distinct piano section. And–of course– the Surprise Symphony. I am going to play this for my first graders this week and I cannot wait to see their faces!

Students could hold up a card with a bear on it when the music is forte and a card with a mouse on it when the music is piano. And of course, you could always use scarves. Students can make large movements for forte and small movements for piano. You can read more about creative movement with scarves here.

 

 

Stuffed Animal Sort

To go along with our animal songs, I’ll often ask students what animals are forte and which ones are piano. For a quick review (or during centers), we will sort them. I will put piano and forte signs on bins or next to a pile, and students come and place their animal in either the piano or the forte pile. This is also great for centers, because it is pretty easy.

Don’t have stuffed animals? You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon. Check it out here.

The Monkey Game

I really did save the best for last. In The Monkey Game (which is really for crescendos and decrescendos, but I use it for piano and forte as well), one student hides a stuffed monkey. Another student has to find it. Then I have students at the tubanos who play forte when the person is close to the monkey and piano if they are far away.

You can read all about it here.

 

Favorite Activities for Piano and Forte. A compilation of songs, games, listening and moving activities for teaching piano and forte to your elementary music students! Becca's Music Room.

Well that was a bunch of ideas. I hope that some of them help you out in your teaching of piano and forte. What is your favorite activity for piano and forte? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Christmas Rhythm Composition with K-1

When it comes to rhythm, especially in the younger grades, some things are easier to teach than others. Making rhythms that match songs– easy. Repeating rhythms– easy. Even reading rhythms– easy. But what about improvisation and composition? That’s a little harder. I talked about improvisation and how I set that up in my Rain v. Llueva lesson (which was fabulous!). Today I’m going to talk about composition. Specifically, Christmas composition.

Because it’s time for Christmas lessons!

In this lesson, I am going to talk about how I set up the Christmas composition activity. I took parts of this and broke them apart over a few lessons, supplemented with some Christmas lessons like Arre Mi Burrito. 

If you are looking for some other Christmas lessons, you can check out my 2-3 grade lesson/game Oh Christmas Tree (which has a free lyric sheet and coloring sheet!) or 4-5 grade lesson/game for the 12 Days of Christmas. If you want something more comprehensive, you can get 6 different lessons for different grades in my Christmas in the Music Room Bundle (or follow the links and get one of the lessons out of the bundle).

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



Christmas Composition

A few notes:

First, my students have already learned about rhythm at this point. Kindergarten knows ta and titi and my first graders know rest. You definitely want them to know rhythm before doing this activity. If you need help, you can check out this post or this lesson.

Second, I am using the rhythm manipulative and worksheet in my TPT product here. You can certainly make your own, and do not have to use the product that I’m talking about. I am also using the ornament composition cards from this TPT product.

So here’s the lesson:

  • Start with singing a song that is only ta’s and titi’s (mine had a rest– oops!). I like to use a song that the students already know as a warm up. In this case, we are working on the song Arre Mi Burrito.
  • Write the rhythms on cards or on the board (I print them off of my computer) and go over those. Because we just started using rhythm names and reading rhythms, I do this as a call and response first. We sing the song. Then I will sing and point to the rhythm or one of the lines. Next I will point and we will do just ta’s and titi’s. Then I will have the students say it with me while I point. That sounds like a lot, but it takes all of 30 seconds.
  • Then, tell the students that we are doing an activity and we need some words. Ask if anyone could tell you a holiday word (and give a few examples). Write a ta and a titi on the board. As kids give you a word, sort them between ta and titi. I usually say the word a few times and have the kids “help” me figure out whether it has one syllable or two (ta or titi). I will say the word and clap or snap and let the kids try and tell me whether it is one syllable or two.
  • After they have told you some holiday words, guide them towards the words that you are using for the composition activity. For me, for Kindergarten I am using elf and stocking, and for first grade we are using tree and reindeer.
  • Once the kids have “come up with” those words, tell them that you have some cards you can use to make rhythms with those words.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



  • Then I grab four cards and make a rhythm. The kids say it. Then I make another one and the kids say it. Then I ask if anyone else could come up with a rhythm. A few kids will say a rhythm with the words. Then I tell them that all of them get to make me a rhythm. (This modeling is really helpful with the younger students and getting them to understand the concept of what you are doing.
  • Break the students into groups or two or three depending on how many students you have. Have on student make a rhythm and have the other student read it.
  • While they are doing this, walk around the room and listen to student reading. Help when needed. I also take grades while I walk around the room listening to students read.

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room

  • Next, I give kids a sheet that has boxes and lines (in my Christmas Rhythms Manipulatives product) and have them write four rhythms. They write the rhythms on the line and then draw pictures of the words we used in the boxes. (There is also another line underneath that the students can write the words on, but I find there’s not enough space for the younger students to write in them so we left them blank.)
  • Give out a small percussion instrument (like rhythm sticks or jingle bells if you are feeling festive) and have students play other people’s rhythms. I had one student stand up and read one of their rhythms and everyone else echoed it back with their instruments.
  • In the next class period, we review the composition aspect. Then we used the templates form my Ornament Composition Activity  to make rhythm Christmas ornaments! You can use any template you already have to this. Students just made a rhythm, and then colored it in, and they went up on my bulletin board!

Also read: Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Christmas Rhythm Composition. Super fun lesson for kindergarten and first grade for composition. Becca's Music Room



So there we go! Manipulatives, writing rhythms, instruments, sharing compositions, and coloring. That’s a lot of stuff.

My kids had so much fun doing these activities. Like I said before, I actually spread them out through a few different days and supplemented with other songs, books, and games.

You can check out the two products that I used in this lesson here: Christmas Rhythm Manipulatives and Ornament Composition Activity.

Or you can check out my blog posts about the 12 Days of Christmas and Oh Christmas Tree.

And check out the decorations and books I got for my classroom here.

Want to get access to exclusive content? Sign up to join my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you can download and use any of the content in the library. New things are being added every few weeks, so make sure you check back for more FREE stuff! Sign up here.

What are your favorite Christmas lessons? Any tips for Christmas Composition? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!





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Uncategorized

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas

Ah, Christmas. So many songs, so little time. Every year I feel like I cannot narrow down how many songs I want to do. How do you get to them all? Anyway, my fourth and fifth graders are in the middle of a huge recorder unit, and I did not want to put that on pause to do a bunch of Christmas music (we’re doing the Link Up curriculum, and we are on a deadline!). So I only picked a few songs for my 4-5 graders, and the 12 Days of Christmas was our main song.

This song is so much fun, and so easy because it is cumulative.

There are about a million things that you can do with this song, but I narrowed it down to a few. I used a PDF version of a PowerPoint that I made, which you can check out on TPT here.

It is also part of my music lessons bundle, which has 6 different Christmas lessons at a discounted price, which you can get here.

You can also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree Music Game (with free lyric sheet and coloring sheet) here.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

12 Days of Christmas

  • First, go over the words to the song the 12 Days of Christmas. It is super easy, so we just read through the words and then I started singing the first verse and by the second verse, they had figured it out.
  • Next, have the students sing through the song. You can play it on the piano or use a YouTube video to sing along with.
  • Pick one student to create movements for each gift. So one student will pick and lead movements for a partridge in a pear tree. One will do it for two turtledoves, etc.
  • Sing through the song and have the students follow the movements that the leaders for each gift choose. Again, you can accompany on the piano or ukulele or you can play a recorder version.
  • Then, you can create a new version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I project the page from my 12 Days of Christmas product that has the first half of each line and then write the students’ answers on the board. Let the kids pick what they get on each day.
  • Sing through the song with your kids’ version of the song. This will need to be done a cappella or with the piano or ukulele or guitar. You can’t sing it with the recording because the words will be different.
  • Have students create individual versions of the 12 Days of Christmas if you need to include more writing in your curriculum!
  • Last, you can have students color pictures or their 12 Days of Christmas or the original version. There are coloring sheets in my product, if you get that.

Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



 

So there you go! Movement, writing, singing, and fun. My kids enjoyed this immensely! They thought it was so much fun. And I enjoyed it too!

Also check out my free Oh Christmas Tree music lesson/game for what I am doing with my second and third graders. Or you can get the Christmas in the Music Room Bundle and get enough lessons for the rest of the year!

And check out the decorations and books I got for my classroom in my YouTube video.

Want to get access to exclusive content? Sign up to join my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. Once you sign up, you can download and use any of the content in the library. New things are being added every few weeks, so make sure you check back for more FREE stuff! Sign up here.

How do you teach 12 Days of Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!



Christmas Music Lesson: 12 Days of Christmas. Super fun lesson for upper elementary school to teach singing, movement, writing, and fun! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music

Assessment without “Assessment”

Assessment. This is one of the favorite words in education these days. Principals love assessment, district chairs love assessment…. Do teachers love assessment? Not really. Do kids? No.

But you can change that. At least you can change that in the elementary music room.
Most of us see our kids about once a week. My schedule is different this year, so I see one class for 45 minutes a day for a week, and then I do not see them for another five weeks.

Do I want to give up one of those days to stop everything and have kids do a test? No.
And a lot of our skills cannot be assessed from a paper. You cannot use your singing voice by writing on a paper.

So how do we do assessment in the music room without giving up all of our precious time? Here are a few ideas. You may already be doing some—or all—and that is great. You can add your ideas to the comments below. But if you are stumped by assessment in the music room, here are some ideas.

But wait…

Now, if you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I did give my students a drop-everything-and-take-a-test this year. I did this for a pretest with grades 2-5. And it did take almost the whole class period.

But I will say that it was worth it, because I found out soooo much about my students. The top half was a pretest and the bottom half was an interest survey. I found out what students enjoyed and didn’t enjoy (one of them said “Something I don’t like about music is not chewing gum.”).

It was also interesting, because I thought my students would freak out and be really miserable filling out this paper in music, but they did ok. And some of my worst classes actually behaved better, which I found interesting. If I continue to have issues with the one in particular, I may switch to a totally different teaching format for them.
Anyway. I would not do that for every single unit. I did one at the beginning, and I will do one at the end. Now, for what you came here for…

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment while doing an activity

This is probably the most common and easiest thing to do. You teach an activity and while they are doing it, you just check off who is doing is correctly. I suggest having a seating chart (seriously– you should have a seating chart!) with boxes on it so that you can mark students off.

I don’t do anything fancy when it comes to this. In my room, students either get a check (they are doing it right), a line (almost there), or an x (don’t have it right).

I do this almost every day. Sometimes I walk around during a game and check off who is matching pitch. If we are writing rhythms on white boards, I check off who has the correct amount of beats. We will play a game like Kaboom! and I will check off who is doing the rhythms correctly. If we are doing a form activity like this one, I’ll check off who is switching actions at the appropriate time. If we are keeping the steady beat, then I will check off who is doing that. If we are playing instruments, I will check off who is playing them correctly.

Even if you are not writing this down, you are probably doing it in your head. So just put it down on paper.

The more intentional you are about it, the more things you will find that you can use for this.

And the kids don’t even know they are being assessed.

 

Assessment during centers

This is also very helpful. If you have read this post about centers, then you know I usually have one group that is with me. And this is the perfect time for assessment. A lot of times I will do things that are very similar to what I would do whole group, but with only a few students it is easier to assess them all.

And if you are wondering, I do differentiate my centers. If you are interested in hearing more about that, let me know in the comments!

I also like to pull out things like writing rhythms on white boards or putting bingo chips on letters on the staff during this time. Those are easy things to assess that go over pretty well.

If you don’t anchor yourself at one center, you could just walk around and listen to students and check them off.

I like to have my station where students get a grade and also include some sort of written assignment where they get a grade. This could be writing a rhythm, writing lyrics, drawing a picture about a song we learned, etc.

Also read: Setting up Centers: The first Day

Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



Assessment through exit tickets

I will be honest, this is something I am not good at.

Exit tickets are traditionally quick things students write and hand to you at the end of class. People do this very well, and it is a good way to get quick information about if your students are understanding a particular concept.

The reason I do not do well with these is because my students sit on the floor. In order to write anything, we have to pass out paper, pencils, and clipboards. By the time that is passed out or collected, we have now spend 20 minutes on it, and it is no longer an exit ticket. This is a bit too much when we are also trying to line up (and with some classes, that itself is a struggle).

I am experimenting with some exit ticket designs that do not require a lot of stuff. Here is my first attempt, which you can get on TPT.

And if you know of something, please let me know in the comments.

 

Recording Assessments

This is something I have not explored very well either. I have, on occasion, filmed a whole class working on a dance or instruments or something like that and then gone back later to watch it and assess students. This can be done while students are already doing their stuff and it doesn’t take extra class time.

I have heard of people having students use the SeeSaw app on iPads to have students record themselves. I plan to try this once my iPads are up and running!



Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

You can also subscribe to my email list here. You will get two emails a month with updates about my blog, YouTube, and TPT shop. You will also get a FREE music interest survey for signing up!

How do you do assessment in the music room? Do you have drop-everything-and-test days? Do you do it sneakily? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Assessment without "Assessment" in the music room. I don't know about your music room, but in my elementary music class, I hate stopping everything to take a test. But we still need to know what our students know. Here are some ideas for assessment that does not interrupt your learning! Becca's Music Room



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3-5, Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate

Do your students speak Spanish? Whether they do or not, they will enjoy Bate Bate Chocolate! I have been using this with my 2-3 grades. I find it perfect for that age (and with students who speak no Spanish) because there are very few words. Out of the few words, the students usually know how to say uno, dos, tres. Chocolate is the same in every language. So you end up with only one line that is a little bit new or different.

I picked this chant because I liked it, but my students ended up loving it too. We used it for a few activities, and I have since thought of even MORE activities that we do not have time to do. Isn’t it always the way? It’s only October and I’m already freaking out about not having enough time to get through everything I want to do.

This is partially because of my super weird schedule and me looking to see how many times I’ll see my kids before the end of the year.

The answer is not very many.

Anyway, I created a TPT resource that goes along with this lesson. It has the words, words and rhythm, and two different worksheets for the students. One of them has heartbeats, and students can fill the rhythm over top (it is just quarter notes and eighth notes, so it is actually a little too easy for second grade), and another one for students to use with their body percussion compositions (more on that if you scroll down!) Check it out here.

And as always, you can do everything without using the resource. But it’s better if you do.

Also read: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

Bate Bate Chocolate

  • Show the students the words to Bate Bate Chocolate and teach it to them by rote.
  • Explain that this is a chant from Mexico that they use when they make hot chocolate—which is a pretty big deal over there.
  • Say the chant a few times, with the students copying your body percussion movements. I like to do three patterns to give them different examples. In the first one, we will change movements every beat. In the second, every two beats. And in the third, every four beat. I will point that out the patterns so that students get it in their heads.
  • Have students create their own body percussion movements patterns. They can use the worksheet included in my TPT resource. They assign each movement a color, and then color the box over that movement that color. So if the decided that clap was blue, then they would color the box over “bate” blue to show that that is a clap.
  • Have students perform their creations.
  • Transfer the compositions to actual percussion. You could have students change the body percussion to instruments. Then you could have the student “direct” the class in playing. So if blue was clap, now it could be triangle. When the student gets to a blue box, all of the triangles play.
  • Have students figure out the rhythms to the chant on the heartbeat worksheet. If you are using this with younger students (or even older students) you could have them point to the hearts as they say the chant.

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

Also, if you are looking for some sort of reward or Christmas themed party or something, a hot chocolate party would be super fun. And if you are, I would suggest this over individual packets.

Also read: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

And don’t forget to check out the Bate Bate Chocolate resources on my TPT here!

So there we go! One chant with five activities. Which one are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comment! Happy Teaching!

 

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Bate Bate Chocolate. This chant teaches ta and titi, body percussion ostinatos, and composition. It is great for your general music class during Cinco de Mayo or Hispanic Heritage month-- or any cold weather day, since it's about hot chocolate! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Lessons

Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

We are now entering week three of Hispanic Heritage month lesson on my blog! This week I am going to talk about the Guatemalan folk song “Vamos a la Mar”, which means let’s go to the sea. I have been using this with my second and third graders, and they love it. I also taught the song but not the lesson to some first graders and some fifth graders, and all of the students are enjoying it!

I found this song on this website. You should definitely go and check out the song and the lesson that goes along with it. It has a composition extension that goes along with it.

I really liked the lesson, but I was not a huge fan of the composition cards that she had because they are very small. I like to use larger ones, mostly because they are less likely to be destroyed, and partially because I like to be able to do activities like that whole group before my students do it individually. I find if we do not do it together, then they will have no idea what to do.

No matter how many times I tell them.

Anyway, so I created my own Ocean Animals Rhythm Cards that are in both Spanish and English, and you can check them out in my TPT shop here! I have been using the cards with all classes 2nd grade and up this week.

I won’t go super into detail about the composition extension or anything here because you can read it on her blog.

The reason I am writing this blog is so that we can talk about instruments!

I struggle with instruments. I will not lie. I know that sounds dumb, but I have a hard time remembering to use them, and logistically knowing what I want to do with them. I have to be very INTENTIONAL about using my instruments.

And I gravitate towards the smaller, non-pitched percussion, because frankly, they are easier.

I do use my keyboards a good bit, but still not as much as I should.

I’m working on it.

So for this lesson, I have done two different options. You can use one of these, or neither of these. Either one is fine.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



Vamos a la Mar Orffestration:

With Orff:

-Castanets playing the rhythm of the words (I have a few of these, and plan to order more!)
Maracas playing the “tum tum” part (I have two maraca groups)
-Xylophones play open C’s (or F’s) on the beat
-One bass F

 

All non-pitched:

Castanets playing rhythm
Maracas playing the “tum tum” part (I have two maraca groups)
Rhythm sticks playing the beat

Also read: Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



Side note: When teaching Vamos a la Mar to my students, I found that they were much more successful if we learned the words one day and the melody on another day. It seemed to be a bit too much for them to do the words and the melody in one day. If your students already speak Spanish, you may not have this problem!

And that is it! You can check out my ocean animals rhythms here, or listen to the pronunciation guide on YouTube here if the Spanish intimidates you.

What classroom instruments would you use with Vamos a la Mar? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!



Free Elementary Music Lesson: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration. This is an accompaniment that students can do with non pitched percussion or the xylophones to the song Vamos a la Mar. Perfect for hispanic heritage month or cinco de mayo, or just for fun! My students loved it. I hope your elementary music class loves it too! Becca's Music Room.



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Elementary Music, K-2, Lessons

Free K-1 Music Lesson: It’s Raining and Que Llueva

Do you want to know something? I love Hispanic heritage month. I love all things multi-cultural, and Hispanic Heritage month gives me the perfect excuse to do a lot of Spanish songs, Spanish dances, etc. My students are not Hispanic, and I am enjoying being able to expose them to different things through music. For my Kindergarteners, that has been through the song Que Llueva.

Now, my kindergarten and 1st graders have actually had the least amount of Hispanic Heritage month fun out of all of my grades. That is because they do a program called Musical Explorers, where they learn about six different styles of music a year. After I teach those, and we work on our normal beat and singing voice, we are out of time. So this is actually the only Spanish song that they were getting this year.

But it will probably be ok.

This lesson features singing (mostly sol-la-mi with one low do. You could change that if you want, but since melody was not my focus, I did not worry about it.), soundscapes, beat v. rhythm, and—of course—the rain stick. If you have one.

I have a Teachers Pay Teachers resource (right here!) for this lesson. It has the melody, rhythm, words in Spanish and English, and rhythm cards. Everything in the resource is in both stick notation and regular notation. You can definitely do the lesson without it, but it does enhance the lesson.

You can also check out the YouTube video (right here!) that explains everything here and give pronounciations! Don’t forget to subscribe while you are over there.

You can tell, I really liked this lesson.

Anyway.

Here it is.

Also read: Ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

It’s Raining and Que Llueva

  • Teach the students the song It’s Raining by rote. Have them keep the steady beat while they are learning to sing it. It’s the same song as Que Llueva, just with English words.
  • After they have learned it, have them play the rhythm of the words while they sing it. My students are not looking or reading the rhythm yet (and won’t for this song, because single eighth notes? I don’t think so), just playing as they sing the song.
  • Talk about how the beat is the same, but the rhythm changes.
  • Sing the song again, but with sound effects. You can have a student play a rain stick (get one here!) or an ocean drum.

Lesson Extension: Make a sound scape

You could also have students make a soundscape. To make rain, you could start by using “sh” sounds. Then tap two fingers together. Then tap your legs. You could even have them stomp. Then bring it back down to get quieter and quieter. Bonus points if you use a thunder clap like this one.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine

  • Teach students the Spanish words. (I like to tell them we are singing it without telling them abut the language change, and then start singing in Spanish because they get so confused. It’s quite funny. That’s really mean, isn’t it? Oh well.)
  • Once they have learned it in Spanish and English, then you can work on the creative extension.
  • If they don’t know about ta and titi, take a moment to introduce that aspect of rhythm. For my students, this was the first time they had heard of it. We didn’t even say ta and titi. I just said that rhythm has long sounds and short sounds. We did some echos of “long short short long short short” and other versions of that. My first graders already know about rhythm, so they did the example rhythms in the Que Llueva TPT product.
  • Then we said that rain was our long sound (or ta) and llueva was our short sound (titi). Like I said, this was a Kindergarten and 1st grade lesson, so my first graders already knew about rhythm.
  • I arranged the “rain” and “llueva” cards on the board (it helps if you have heartbeats or something to show the beat. I used chairs to represent the beat, and put the words over the chairs.)
  • After I arranged them, I would read the words and students would echo back to me. After a few tries, I had students come up and do a rhythm on the board that we would all say.
  • Then you can break into groups and have them create their own rain-llueva compositions.

Also read: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

Lesson extensions:

  • If student are already notating, you can have them write their compositions down.
  • Have students come up with their own rain soundscape in groups.
  • Sing Que Llueva and read a student composition as a B section.
  • Sing Que Llueva and have students improvise with rain and llueva as a B section.
  • Sing other rain songs like “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”.
  • Have students draw pictures of rain storms.

So there’s my lesson! Full disclosure, this took about three lessons in my room. Not necessarily because it was too much for one, but because it sinks into them better when you pull something out a few days in a row than if you do it all in one day.

You can do it however you’d like, of course.

Check out the YouTube version of this lesson (so you can hear the pronounciation!) and the Teachers Pay Teachers resource for it!

What is your favorite Hispanic heritage month song for Kindergarten and first grade? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

Becca

 

Free K-1 Music Lesson: Que Llueva and It's Raining. A lesson for ta and titi featuring a song in both spanish and english. Because of the two languages, it is perfect for cinco de mayo, hispanic heritage month, or schools with lots of ELL or ESL students. Perfect for your elementary music class. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music

Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching

My first year of teaching was ok. A lot of people have these stories where every single day of their first year of teaching is awful and they almost quit and so on and so on. I will say that I did not hit that point until about February.

That’s a pretty good time line, right? That’s quite a while for my first year.

Now that I am in my second year of teaching, I am realizing just how many things I did wrong in my first year. Or things I may not have done “wrong” but really, REALLY could have been better.

I thought all summer about things I’d do better in my second  year, and now that I’ve gotten through a week of school, I am able to nail down some of the things that I wanted to do differently but didn’t know how.

If you are in your first year of teaching, go ahead and take these tips so you won’t have to bother with as much of the first-year-ridiculousness. You can skip right into second year ridiculousness.

If you are a second year teacher, then go ahead and ake some of these ideas to help yourself! And if you are past the first and second years, hen you can still steal some of these ideas. They may still help.

And let us know in the comments what you learned your first year to help in your second year, and beyond!

Things I'm Doing Differently in My Second Year of Teaching. What did you change from your first year to your second year of teaching? The short answer is everything. Find out what mistakes from my first year teaching elementary music that i am not going to relive! Becca's Music Room.



 

Teaching Rules and Procedures

I’ll repeat that: teach rules and procedures.

People always said that, but I had no idea to what extent that meant. Or even how to do that.

Now, I got really lucky in that I teach at the school where I student taught. That meant I already knew a lot of the students, and I kept a lot of the procedures the same.

And thank God I did. Seriously. Because if I had not, it would have been a mess. Because I did not do a very good job teaching the rules and procedures in the beginning.

So what does that actually look like?

On the first day of school, have kids come inside. Give them assigned seats. I’ll repeat that: GIVE THEM ASSIGNED SEATS. Seriously. It helps you learn their names and keeps the chaos down. Not to mention the talking.

Have them go back outside and come in correctly. Correctly meaning walking straight to your seat, quietly, etc. This is something that I did not do on my first year, and it has made a huge difference already.

Let them do something quick and fun, then go over some of your procedures. What procedures are we talking about? Here are some ideas:

  • Getting water
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Fire drills
  • Answering questions
  • Getting tissue
  • Exiting class
  • Everything else
  • How to sit
  • How to stand

Kids need really specific procedures. And they need you to be a bit over the top.

For example: When talking about answering questions, I tell them that I only call on people sitting quietly and raising their hands. We talk about how you have to hold it high, so I can see it. If you wave your hand around, I will not call on you. If you say “Me me me!” I will not call on you. And we practice all those things in the correct and incorrect ways. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

And then you have to stick to that. When students call out answers, I say, “I’m sorry, I can only hear you if you raise your hand.” If they aren’t sitting correctly, I will make them fix it before I call on them. If they are making a bunch of noise, I don’t call on them until they stop.

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Giving them something to do immediately

Last year, I had a hard time with students coming into my classroom and running to their seats and acting ridiculous. I got a suggestion from a vetran music teacher to give them an assignment as soon as they get inside, to give them something to do. So far, it has been working well. You may want to check back in with me in February.

I have been doing this all week with my 2-5 graders. My k and 1 are usually ok with just coming in and sitting down.

Some examples of things that I have used so far:

  • Putting rhythms on the screen for students to play
  • Putting on music and having students keep the steady beat
  • Putting up a picture and having students guess what it may have to do with music
  • Reading lyrics to a song
  • Putting a question on the board for them to think about

Now, you don’t have to do all of these. Especially starting out, you can just pick one. Like every day, they will come in and find the steady beat. Or every day they come in and read lyrics to the song. Don’t stress.

It has made for really interesting conversations, and all of these require higher order thinking skills and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be perfect—they don’t even have to do it. The point is that if they have something to do, they will (hopefully) be calmer.



Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Not giving out pity points

In my classes, students earn class points. They get points for coming in correctly, participating, listening, lining up, transitioning, etc. I have had different versions, but the idea is that the class earns some sort of reward from the points.

In the past, I would sometimes be a little too loose with my point giving—especially at the beginning of class. I have moved to a if I hear any talking at all when you walk in, we do not earn the first point system. Although this may seem overboard, I am sticking to it, because I want them to actually earn the points.

Now, if I have one kid that is just ridiculous all of the time, I’ll ignore the one. Other than that one kid, we all work as a team. And if there is always that ONE, I will even say, “I can ignore so and so as long as the rest of you are correct.”

Also read: 3 Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Reviewing and referring to the rules

The first day we spent a lot of time on rules. And my first year, and that is all that happened. This year, we have reviewed them everyday (five times). We have talked about specific things I have seen to nip them in the bud. And on top of that, when people show what I expect, I point it out.

For example, one of our expectations is “Be respectful”. When I hear a student saying something nice, I say, “Thank you so much! That is really respectful!” And I literally point to it on the wall.

This way, the rules—sorry, they are supposed to be expectations now—are not just something that we go over once, but they are involved all the time.



Calling parents early

Y’all. I’m just going to be honest. I was TERRIFIED to call parents my first year of teaching.

I know, I know. Ridiculous. But seriously—did anyone else feel that way? Or is it only me that was a wimp?

Anyway, it took me a loooong time to call parents.

And once I did, I realized it wasn’t that bad.

This year, I started early. Like third day early.

But I called all of my students that can get a little more wild, but hadn’t yet, because it was so early. And I said, “Your child is doing a great job in music!”

This created a few things. 1. It establishes a relationship with a parent you may need on your side. 2. The kid gets really excited, and they continue doing a good job to get the same attention. 3. It changes the culture—my parents sometimes don’t even bother answering the phone when the school calls, because they get so much bad news. Sending home a positive phone call can really help change that. 4. You may find out things you did not know.

For example, I called a parent today, and she happened to mention that her religion does not allow them to sing songs that are not about God.

Y’all. I had no idea. I thought this girl was just refusing to sing. Honestly, she has some other behavior issues as well, so it wasn’t far fetched. But knowing that is valuable information! I talked with mom about what is and is not ok, and on Monday I am going to talk to the girl and make sure we are all on the same page. Because right now I’m not sure if she thinks she can’t do anything in music, and that is the problem. Even if it isn’t, at least she’ll know I am not upset with her about not singing.

 

Teaching my choir kids songs for later in the year

Last year, I got a choir together, and realized I had NO CLUE what I was doing.

I feel so much more prepared in my second year.

I haven’t started the choir yet (we’re only 7 days in!), but when I do, I have more of a plan.

I have a concert in December, one in January, one in February, and one in May. And possibly more. But at least those.

Last year, even without the January concert, it was a mess. It was a mess because I wasted my first few weeks when it is too early for Christmas music. Then after Christmas, we did not have a lot of time to get all of the pieces ready for February, and it was stressful.

This year, I am going to teach my students the songs for January and February right off the bat. This way, they already know some songs, and they will have something to do if we are asked to do a surprise concert.

Also, I am going to try structuring my choir rehearsals like this:

5 minute warm up

10 minute theory lesson (to help us learn sight reading)

15 minute work on new material

15 minute work on parts we already know

This way we are not working on the same thing for too long. I am hoping the pace will work out well.

Also read: How to do Auditions for an Elementary Musical (and why you should!)



More assessments and more centers

I don’t mean that every day we will sit down and write papers, but I want to do a better job knowing what my kids know.

This could mean that I just watch them play instruments to see them learn rhythms, walk around and listen to their singing voices, etc. I am trying to find something to assess in every class. That doesn’t mean that everything is a test, it just means that I am trying to know what they know.

Because if they know a concept, we can move on. And if they are struggling, then we can’t.

For some reason, this was hard as a first year teacher. I think you get caught up in the idea of assessment as sitting down and taking a test. That is part of it, but not all. In my second year of teaching, I am really exploring different (easy!) ways to assess students.

Yesterday I had my second graders playing rhythms on drums. I literally just watched a different student each time, and marked down whether they got it or not. It seemed to be about half and half (although I was happy to see that the students I had last year did better than the ones I did not). So that told me we can stay on the concept longer.

It also told me how to group them. So next time we do rhythms on instruments, I can group together those who got it and those who did not. Even if I don’t do “centers” specifically, I can still put them together and help the struggling group more. (By having them repeat the rhythm, deconstructing it, pointing to the rhythms as they play, etc.)

Elementary Music Classroom Tour. Becca's Music Room.

Closing Activities

I still struggle with this one. But when you teach kids, you should always have some sort of closing activity where THEY tell YOU what they learned. With the little people, this might take some prodding, but from second on, you can just say, “What did you learn today?”

You can have them tell their partner. You can have them do a Kahoot! I am personally loving (although I still it from a first grade teacher who I think got it on pinterest) having 2-3 students tell we what they learned, and then having them write it on a sticky note. They get to put the sticky note on my anchor chart that says, “What stuck with you today?”

Guys. They. Love. It.

Like they are super excited to write on a sticky note. And most of my students hate writing. But this is exciting.

The other things is that I can use what they wrote and transfer it to anchor charts. So I can take all of the stickies talking about rhythm and put it on a poster that talks abut rhythm.

Your administrators will be so impressed.

And you can do this every day until you run out of sticky notes. Then you can buy a bunch from Amazon through this link. 

Or this one if you want them to be pretty colors.

I also have all of my students tell me what they learned (or answer a question) as they walk past me while leaving the class. I have learned SO MUCH from their answers. You could also write them down to help you remember.

I avoid writing exit tickets because it is such a pain to get all the stuff out as they are leaving. If any one else has this figured out in your second year of teaching, let me know!

I’m still learning more about closing activities, so if you have ideas, leave them in the comments!



If you are reading this looking for ideas and feel overwhelmed– don’t. I know. It is a lot to think about. Having something for students to do immediately and closing activities and assessing…. That’s a lot of stuff.

But you can do it! If I can, you can!

Just pick one thing from the list– or from your own list of things you want to change– and work on it. Once you get that thing, add in another thing.

What about you? What did you do differently in your second year of teaching? Or your third or fourth? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!





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