Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grab My New Button

My blog got a small facelift. I also got a new button. First of all, thank you to those bloggers who were already sharing my button! If you have the old button, please consider updating your blog and replacing my old button with my new button. If you are not already sharing my button, please consider adding it to your blog. Just copy the code under my button and paste it into a box on your sidebar. My button will appear on your page.  Thank you so much!
Music With Mrs. Dennis

If you have a button, please let me know and I will add it to my blog too! If you are interested in creating your own button, a very easy code generator can be found on this link:

All you have to do is insert your Blog Title, your Blog Link, and the URL Link for your desired image. It is suggested that blog buttons be 125 pixels by 125 pixels.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Masterpiece Bulletin Board

I've seen this bulletin board on many teacher blogs and my student teacher and I decided to tackle our own version. We both fell in love with the quote "Each Individual Is a Single Note--Together We Make A Masterpiece". Some of the displays we used as inspiration can be found at the bottom of this post.


The Notes

Each student cut out their note and wrote their name. (The kindergarteners wrote their initials.) Second grade and up got to also write either their favorite instrument, favorite song, or favorite singer. Each grade level was given a color from the color wheel--K-Red, 1st-Orange, 2nd-Yellow, 3rd-Green, 4th-Blue, 5th-Purple. I had about 4 different shades of each color.

The Staff

I first attempted to put electrical tape on the wall. Overnight, most of it had fallen. So, I cut poster boards in half and still used electrical tape to create the staff lines. I laminated them so they can be reused in the future. The notes were scotch taped onto the staff.

The Title

I traced the words onto small poster boards using my projector. Then, I hand painted them with black acrylic paint. For those of you who do not care to paint, I added a nice art gallery frame around the title. You can download the title and music notes from my Teachers-Pay-Teachers Store.



Other Bulletin Board Examples

Musical Musings and Creative Thoughts used a die cut to cut the notes. Unfortunately, my school does not have a music note die cut.


A Cricut could also help you cut the music notes very quickly.  This picture was found on Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog. The names of students and staff were handwritten on the notes.

Another teacher allowed students to draw their own music notes an symbols. They were assembled in more of a collage instead of on a staff.

Mrs. Mattson's Music Room created a very colorful board. If you don't have time to let students help create their own note, you can add the notes yourself.

Another example added the National Standards to the music notes.

Music Centers Assessing the Treble Clef Staff

I have previous posts on how I use centers in my music room. You may click this link to read those posts.  
I recently planned a lesson for 4th and 5th grade classes to review the pitches of the treble clef staff using centers. My class periods are 50 minutes. So, we planned for 10 minutes or so to explain the centers and then each group would have about 10 minutes to rotate at each of the four centers.

Giant Staff Twister

 In one center, students played Twister using the giant floor staff. I used gym tape to create the staff lines on my floor and used the existing 12 inch tiles to keep my lines perfectly parallel. I have one spinner with the letters of the lines of spaces and one spinner to determine which body part should touch the correct line or space. The spinners are available on my teacher pay teacher store. I introduced Giant Staff Twister last year and it has become a favorite for the students.

Treble Toss

Many people who have blogged about the giant floor staff have had students try to toss bean bags on a specific line or space. Here in Kentucky, cornhole has become a very popular backyard game and I knew my students would love the challenge of tossing a bean bag through a hole. So, I used 2 trifold display boards (like you would use to display science fair projects) and created a staff with holes on the lines and spaces. Students would draw a popsicle stick to randomly select a pitch letter. Then, they had 3 chances to toss their beanbag into the correct hole. After their turn tossing beanbags at the spaces board, they would get in the back of the line for the lines board.
This game was a hit! To set up the boards, I borrowed a couple spare student desks from our furniture storage room. One flap rested on the top of the desk and I set a heavy object (a chromatic glockenspiel) on top of the cardboard. You could use a few heavy books or whatever items you want. The bottom flap would rest against the legs of the desk and caused the board to be slightly tilted which helped stabilize the board when the beanbags were tossed. The boards fold flat and lay horizontal in my cabinets, so it will be easy to pull these out and use them again in the future.

Staff Wars

The third center involved the Activboard. I downloaded Staff Wars from The Music Interactive. This is a free download for your pc. They have a new app version which is only 99 cents. The object of the game is to click the correct letter name of each note as it scrolls across the staff. The game gradually gets faster and more difficult. You can select the clef of your choice and also adjust the range of the  notes it will give the students. The students LOVED this game! There are also several other free music games available on I look forward to downloading some more and trying them out.

Exit Slip and Flashcards

The fourth center involved an exit slip assessment which would be graded. The exit slip had students identifying letter names of some notes on the staff. The students were also asked to practice drawing a treble clef. The exit slips can be downloaded on my teachers-pay-teachers store
As the students finished, they got to quiz each other with flash cards until it was time for the next rotation. The flash cards were a free download from Making Music Fun! The cards are one sided, so I added the letter names on the back so the kids could quiz each other. I printed these on cardstock so they would be more durable.

 I know your students will enjoy these games as much as mine did! Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Favorite Musicians!

I LOVE my new shirt!!!

I got lots of compliments today!
If you would like to order one, follow this link:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Protecting Your Interactive White Board

I suppose I should've shared this information at the beginning of summer. I apologize. But, if you have an interactive white board, like a SMART board or ActivBoard, you may worry that it would get damaged over the summer with cleaning crews, painters, and other strangers working in the schools during break.

I protect my board during the summer with a full-size waterproof mattress cover. It eases my mind that someone cannot accidentally write on it with a marker. It is protected from paint and/or wax splatter. It is somewhat protected if there was a roof leak or if the sprinklers malfunction. The best part is that I bought it at Big Lots for only $5! Buy one new and stick it in a drawer so you have it ready for next summer!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Musical Toms


Today is my birthday and my husband just scored major brownie points. He gets all the credit (even though I shared a link to the Toms ordering site on my Facebook page. I also included a coupon code ... and tagged his name ... but he gets all the credit! ;)
I have several shoes that are made like Toms and they are so comfortable for teaching. I can't wait to show these off at school. Our first day of school is tomorrow!

If you would like to order your own pair, here is a link:
If you search RetailMeNot, you can also find a coupon code to get $10 off!
Also, the Toms website is currently offering free shipping for orders $25 or more.
Don't miss this great deal!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

8th Grade Throwback

All summer, I have been organizing and decluttering my house. My productivity was paused briefly by this lovely blast from the past. It is a project from 8th grade English class. We were given half a poster board and some rough guidelines. I'm not sure if it served much of a purpose other than to ease us into writing and let us learn a little about our classmates.

At first glance, I thought, "What a great pic for Throwback Thursday on Facebook!" But, as I kept reading the words I had written as a student nearly twenty years ago, I kept thinking about my current students and my role as an educator.


How My 8th Grade English Project Made Me A Better Teacher

1) Student Goals: The Difference Between Setting Goals and Achieving Goals

My proudest moment of the previous school year was the success of the quick recall team, making it to the state level competition for the first time in school history. Even though I wasn't a star on the team and only played for a few minutes in scrimmages, I was proud to be a part of the team.

I set my goal for the current school year "become very successful on the academic team". But, I never became the quick recall champion. I used the excuse that I was too shy and not fast enough on the buzzers. A teacher asked me to set a goal, but that goal meant nothing unless there was a plan to achieve it. My high school band director, Mr. Parker, asked us to write a few specific goals at the beginning of the marching season. He taped them on the wall in the back of the band room to remind us what we were working for. Most of those goals were achieved because they were short-term goals and we were reminded of them often.

I chose a quote by President John F. Kennedy--"Never settle for second when first is available." I find this very ironic considering how I abandoned my goal to become a quick recall star. I had the desire to be the best on the team but I had no plan to achieve that goal.

Do you ask your students to set goals? If you do, don't forget to ask them how they will reach that goal and offer support along the way!

2) Lesson Goals: Some Of the Most Important Lessons Will Not Have a Core-Content Number

I chose my grandmother as the most influential figure in my life. I further explained, "She taught me to do the right thing and to learn from my mistakes, not grieve over them." This seems like a simple lesson that everyone learns at home. But, teachers must assume the role of positive adult figure and often offer guidance and support beyond our job description. Sometimes we must abandon the learning objective written in our lesson plans and take the opportunity to guide students through a life lesson. 
In my room, we learn about respect for peers, respect for authority figures, respect for property, and self-respect. Through teamwork and cooperation, we learn about community and compromise. We learn about acceptance, embracing differences in abilities, cultures, beliefs, and traditions. These are the lessons that can never be measured on a standardized test. But, these are also the lessons that students will remember for years to come, long after the learning objectives (and, perhaps, even my name and face) are forgotten. This poster reminded me that all teachers should share one common goal--"To help our students become better humans."

3) Long-Term Goal: Find Happiness

As an 8th grader, I was only 12 years old. I was asked to imagine my life ten years in the future. I thought I would be in Harvard getting a law degree, but that is far from reality. I don't even remember being interested in law. It was probably just an answer I thought others would want to hear. This vision was far from my actual path. In August 2005, I was not sitting in a Harvard classroom. I was sitting in an elementary classroom beginning my first year as a music teacher.

There is a trending buzz word in the education field to prepare students to be Career/College Ready. Elementary teachers are pressured to get students thinking about their future--a future they simply cannot grasp. When we ask children to envision their future, we need to make sure they aren't pressured to give us answers they think we want to hear. Encourage them to answer honestly so they will find happiness in their career path.

I can say, now, that I am certain I was put on this earth to teach elementary music. Music is my passion. In 1995, I was beginning my 3rd year in band. Music was more of a hobby instead of a passion. I was a mediocre trumpet player sitting comfortably in the middle of the section playing a 2nd trumpet part. But, there were other clues that music important in my life.

In my spare time, I enjoyed listening to music. My favorite album around that age was Mariah Carey's Music Box (Yes, that is a hand-drawn cassette tape!) My passion for music grew more each year and began challenging myself to improve my trumpet skills. By senior year, I knew I wanted to teach music. I was very fortunate to have the support to pursue a career in a field that gives me true happiness. I hope that all my students can be guided to find their own happiness in life.

Thank you for letting me reflect on the past. This was a great opportunity to reexamine my teaching philosophy and provide some perspective as I start fresh with a new school year. Our first day with kids is August 6th. Happy Back-To-School, everyone!