Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Meryl Streep, Advocate For the Arts

On August 17th, 2012, CBS aired a benefit concert called "Teachers Rock." A variety of singers and groups performed and several celebrities were interviewed sharing stories of their favorite teachers. It was a very lovely concert supporting teachers and education with several student musicians performing along with the celebrities.

If you missed the concert, you need to check out Meryl Streep's video. In the interview, she explains that her favorite teacher in school was her music teacher. She also brings up the fact that kids who are involved in the arts and other extra curricular activities actually look forward to coming to school and likely have higher attendance rates. In the era of extreme budget cuts, I hope my administrators and district board members share her view.

P.S. I am adding this video to my classroom webpage hoping some parents will view the video as well. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tour My Classroom

Tomorrow is the first day of school. The kids are coming! I took pictures of my classroom before it gets disturbed by the chaos of the school year.

This is the view standing in the doorway. The students always enter and sit around the edge of the carpets in a circle.

You can see most of my instrumentarium stays set up at all times and is readily available. The glockenspiels are kept on the short bookcase under the white board. When it is time to play, it only takes a few seconds to add the glocks to the front row. The red baskets actually flip over and become the tables for the glocks so the students aren't hitting their arms on their knees when trying to play.

To the right of the white board you can see my learning objectives. I'm ready for kids tomorrow!
This is the view of the left side of the room. You may have seen my storage cabinets in a previous post when I discussed "Organizing Instruments" or "Boomwhacker Storage". 
To the left of the storage cabinets you see a class set of 30 chairs. These chairs are rarely used in my classroom. I used them for beginning band about 6 years ago and kept them in case I ever started band again. But, due to scheduling conflicts, it is just impossible to have a successful beginning band. I wasn't seeing the kids often enough and they were really developing more bad habits. The students start band in 6th grade at the middle school and the band director has told me that my students excel even though they did not have beginning band in 5th grade. Instead of band, I have an Orff Ensemble which is open to 4th or 5th graders by audition.

On the music stand next to the congas, you can see my "Fake Instrument." If you missed the post on my "Orff Visual Aid" read the post to learn more about how I use the visual and how to make one for your classroom. 

On the left side of the white board you will see our classroom expectations and school-wide discipline clip chart. To learn more about these, please visit the post "Star Musicians Classroom Expectations."
This is the view of the left side of the room facing the door. 

You can see the music notes hanging from the ceiling. By the door, there is a treble clef to show where the line leader should stand. Be sure to check out the posts on  "Line Leader" or "Assessing Music With a Line-Up Song" if you missed them. 
Next to the door, you see a bulletin board that I use to record the stars at the end of each class.

Behind the door, I have posted our school-wide pledge of excellence (which is recited every morning after the pledge of allegiance), our school-wide voice levels, and our school-wide expectations using our school acronym CGES (Cedar Grove Elementary School).
The is the view of the right side of the room, my teacher corner. 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these dance posters! They are posted above my filing cabinets because this is really the only space that I can put all 4 of them together. My students loves these posters too because they feature pictures of actual kids demonstrating the dance terms. They are awesome. For several years, I taught dance on a Monday rotation instead of music. Starting this year, I will teach visual art on Mondays, but will still incorporate dance and movement into my music lessons Tuesday-Friday. I purchased the posters from West Music several years ago but could not find them when searching online. This is a direct link to their manufacturer.

These are my resources. The top shelf features children's literature and poetry I use in lessons as well as some other binders (teacher handbook, core content binder, etc.) I have grouped several of my supplemental books and materials by categories (Dance, Multicultural, Games & Flashcards, Song Collections, Orff Volumes, Orff Arrangements). On the bottom shelf, you see several teacher manuals from text book series, but a rarely consult them for lessons. I usually pull stuff from my Orff Levels Binders or other supplemental books. You also see the KET Arts Toolkits which are some fabulous resources too, but I don't consult them as often as I should.

On the center shelf, you also see this organizer. This stores all my small items so that I can get to them easily. The top rows hold my recorder strings. You also see some office supplies, loose screws and bolts, etc. I stole this idea from another teacher that I observed during college visits. (Thank you, Lisa!)

To the right of my computer desk, I have 2 short file cabinets and 2 taller ones. (These are underneath the dance posters.) On top of the short cabinets, I have several file stackers. One stack has a slot for each grade level to keep papers seperate that need to be copied or returned and also any books or visual aids needed for that week's lesson. This is the cleanest you will ever see this area. I actually "LOL"ed when I took this picture thinking of how quickly it will fill up. The shorter stack on the left is where I keep papers for each of the student groups I am in charge of (Orff Ensemble, Choir, Academic Team, Future Problem Solving). With this many student groups, this is a necessity to keep rosters, parent letters, music, and other handouts separate.

I love peeking into other teachers' rooms. Whenever our academic team scrimmages at another school, I always sneak away to check out the music teacher's room. I also love Pinterest and blogging which allows me to see into music rooms across the country or across the world! 

Here are few links to check out some other teachers' rooms:

Mrs. King always takes some nice pics of her classroom each year.
Here is her most recent post, but be sure to check out her post from last year as well.

Miscellaneous Me overhauled her classroom in the spring and has some nice pictures as well.

Yourangelofmusic.com has several classroom photos in a gallery in the right column.

If you have pictures of your classroom, feel free to post the link in a comment below.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Magnetic Hand Signs

Good bye, old hand signs! You have served me well for 7 years . Even though you were laminated, your thin pink paper is still curled on the edges and show years of use. You have been ripped by students who did not treat you with respect, and taped back together with care. But, the time has come for us to part.

Hello, new hand signs! I look forward to using you in many lessons! I hope your freshly laminated yellow card stock and magnetic tape will be strong enough to last years and years!  

Mrs. Dennis

These hand signs are magnetic and stay on along the side of my magnetic whiteboard. I use them often when singing solfege to songs. I like the fact that they are magnetic because I can slide pitches side to side only selecting the ones I need. When we are in pentatonic, I tell the students that fa and ti are on vacation. They think its so funny to put fa and ti in vacation. They make up stories about where they went. They think its amazing when we actually get to use fa and ti or when another pitch gets to go on vacation. 

You could spend money on a pitch ladder or posters of the handsigns, but I like that these are shaped exactly like the hands and are movable. Plus, THESE ARE FREE! I drew these and scanned them into a pdf. You have 2 options to choose from, one with the words and one without. ENJOY!


UPDATE: Be sure to check out the follow-up to this post, "Follow-up: Magnetic Hand Signs"

Storage For Die-Cut Letters

Today, I'm sharing my storage system organizing my die-cut letters used for bulletin boards. I am a very thrifty person and hate to waste, so I save anything I think I can reuse.  This storage system is something I copied from Sunday School many, many years ago.

When I acquired this position, the teacher before me had placed all the numbers and letters in this Pampers Baby Wipe Container. I was estatic to find any organization at all! But, inside, all the letters and numbers were just jumbled together. It would take a long time to hunt and find the letters you needed and you would probably give up and go cut some new ones at the Ellison press.

So, I bought a cheap box of envelopes from the Dollar Store. (Make sure you get the ones with rectangular flaps instead of triangular flaps.) Each letter of the alphabet and each number was assigned an envelope. The flaps of the envelops kind of act like index tabs on file folders. The envelopes are first in alphabetical order and then in numerical order.

Here, you can see the "M" envelope contains all the M's no matter what color, size, or pattern.

Sure, you could put a cute fancy label on the front of the baby wipe box, but this is something that is stored in the cabinet and is not sitting out in plain sight. I have never wasted my time decorating the wipe box. At Sunday School, we had a big shoe box because all the Sunday School classes shared the same letters and reused them over and over. Their selection was much bigger since they changed their bulletin boards more often than I do  here in my music room.

I hope you enjoy!!!