Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Eastern Division Kodaly Conference

November 7, 2015

Yesterday I presented a session at the Eastern Division Tune Up. My session, Kinesthetic Kodaly: Enhancing Literacy Through Kinesthetic Learning, was better attended than I had anticipated. We ran out of packets! Due to unfortunate WiFi issues at the hotel, I was delayed in posting them. For those of you who did not get a copy, please click below for a PDF version.

Kinesthetic Kodály handout <—– Click there!

The participants were great, jumping right in to each activity. We were walking, running, moving with scarves, and “skating around the room. Thanks for being such great sports about it all! I hope you were able to walk away with at least one idea you feel you can use or modify for your classroom. Happy music making!

"Painting" the melodic contour with scarves after decoding a melody from a known song.

“Painting” the melodic contour with scarves after decoding a melody from a known song.

Action shot!

Action shot!

Decoding a known melody using solfege cubes.

Decoding a known melody using solfege cubes.

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Dusting off the site (and my classroom!)

November 5, 2015

Oh, dear.

Motherhood has taken its toll on this poor blog. So many times I told myself I would give it a kickstart. Ah, well. Better late than never!

I have renewed purpose this year. I have been trying new things in my classroom, which I plan to share soon.) I gave the actual room a bit of a facelift. I will WILL post on here with more regularity.

I’ll start this new kick off with a tour of my classroom. I had an owl theme when I started at my current school, which managed to last for three years. Frankly, I was ready for a change. The furniture and physical layout of the room didn’t allow for a major overhaul, but I achieved a nice facelift. I absolutely love the look of the bulletin boards with the black fabric. This will be so versatile over the next few years. Some of it is still a work in progress, even in November. I am, however, happy with the overall look. Now if I could just get my desk in order I will be set. (I don’t see that happening for…10 years?)

Warning, photo avalanche ahead!

View from the door

View from the door

View from the corner

View from the corner

iPad and manipulative storeage

iPad and manipulative storage

Piano and Orff area

Piano and Orff area

On this board I highlight our newest vocabulary words. It is a small version of a Word Wall.

On this board I highlight our newest vocabulary words. It is a small version of a Word Wall.

SmartBoard and more storage

SmartBoard and more storage

Learning those note names!

Learning those note names!

Storage (some still need labels), my anchor charts that are not currently in use, and another cabinet. The hand signs and self-assessment folders are attached with magnet tape. Best invention ever!

Storage (some still need labels), my anchor charts that are not currently in use, and another cabinet. The hand signs and self-assessment folders are attached with magnet tape. Best invention ever!

Finally! Ukulele storage!

Finally! Ukulele storage!

Goals board and Solfege Superheroes.

Goals board and Solfege Superheroes.

Different ways that we celebrate our successes in class. They are all dying to know what the Alaskan Hurray entails.

Different ways that we celebrate our successes in class. They are all dying to know what the Alaskan Hurray entails.

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One Prop, Many Uses

July 20, 2014

I’m surfacing from the depths of new motherhood for a moment to type up this post. The idea has been floating around in my head for a while, but I have been trapped under a baby for the past 11 weeks. OK, maybe not literally the entire 11 weeks, but it can sure feel like that! (But what a beautiful little dictator she is!)

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When I started work at my current job two years ago, I spent many days during the summer culling through years of materials and flotsam. Some of it was brilliant (Orff instruments!), some of it was rubbish (crumbling and broken rhythm sticks), and some of it I was unsure how I would put to use. One such item was a set of about 20 wooden hoops, about three feet across. I believe they are part of the Kindermusic materials.

Over the past two years I have found these to be such a wonderful addition to my teaching arsenal. They are so versatile! Here are just a few ways in which I use the hoops in class.

1) Movement Idea the First: For the little ones in PreK and Kindergarten, it can be challenging to participate in movement activities without bumping into one another and maintaining personal space. This can be a safety issue, or can just be a cause of classroom chaos. Easy peasy fix! I lay the hoops on floor around the room. Each student stands within a hoop. Instant “perfect spot/personal space!” They can jump, wiggle, spin, sway, show melodic contour, stomp rhythms, etc. and no one can complain that So-and-So is touching them. Darn, So-and-So, always causing trouble!

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2) Movement Idea the Second: Prepositions Through Movement. Students use the hoops during movement activities to show the Space concepts of over, under, around, inside, and through. (Space is one of the elements of movement, and part of BEST-Body Energy Space Time.) This movement can be done to a musical selection. Encourage the children to move with the same mood (Energy) and tempo (Time) that is expressed by the music. Pause the music and call out one of the prepositions. The students might leap over their hoop. They might hold it aloft and dance under the hoop. Perhaps they will crawl through the hoop. The kids come up with far more creative ideas than I do! You can draw a parallel between the prepositions they demonstrated with movement to part-work in music. A descant is sung above the melody. A bordun is a repeated do-so pattern played under the folk song.

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Inside!

3) Music Centers: I like to have learning centers about once a month in each grade level. It is a great way to give the students multiple activities to practice an element. It can also provide a great opportunity for individual and small group performance assessment, without the rest of the students growing restless as they wait their turn. One aspect of learning centers that I had found to be a challenge was organization. How do I keep the centers contained and tidy? I set a hoop out around the room for each center. All materials for that center are placed inside the hoop. When it is time for the children to rotate to the next center, they know that all materials must be gathered and put neatly back into the hoop. This sets parameters and expectations for where they are supposed to be located, what they can use, and when they can move on. No one rotates centers until all of them are tidy.

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4) Hula Hoop Conducting: This one I found on Pintrest. All of the students are given an instrument, usually small hand percussion. When the teacher steps into the hoop, the children may play their instrument. When the teacher steps out of the hoop, SILENCE! This is great for very young children. It allows them to explore a new-to-them instrument, and helps to develop attention and self-control. For older students, this could be an opportunity to improvise in a safe environment (everyone is doing it and no one is listening to you.) Once they get the hang of it, I call on volunteers to be the “conductor.” The kids LOVE being in charge, stepping or jumping in and out of the hoop. Similarly, this works for inner hearing. The students sing a known song. When the teacher/conductor is inside the hoop, the class sings out loud.  When they step out of the hoop, the class sings “inside their head.” It is great to hop in and out of the hoop a couple of times to see if they are truly continuing the song internally.

 

So how have you used hoops like these? I would love to expand my milage with these great props. Please, share with us!

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2 Meter

April 4, 2014

I make two-meter conscious in the latter part of 2nd grade with my students. By that point, they have a very solid grasp of the steady beat, tempo, and have learned half note. Since Kindergarten, they have been tapping, moving to, and stepping the beat.  This type of kinesthetic activity is vital to truly understanding and internalizing the beat. Now I want them to understand that “not all beats are created equal.”  They are ready to “measure” the music and organize the beats!

There are many songs that can be used to focus on two-meter. This year I have primarily been using Rocky Mountain and Deedle Deedle Dumpling. Deedle Deedle Dumpling lends itself perfectly to the first step in my process: feeling the beat “differently” in each foot.

Deedle Deedle Dumpling

Because the song is so silly, the kids are eager to have one shoe off and one shoe on, just like the character John. In a circle, the students remove one shoe. While singing the song, we step to the beat, making sure we all start with the foot wearing the shoe. This creates clear sensory input that is easily discernible by all of the students. It just feels different to step with a clad or unclad foot. We identify that the beats feel different. I tell the children, “I have a music secret to share…not all beats are created equal!  Some are strong and some are weak!”

We tap strong and weak beats (strong= pat on lap, weak= touch shoulders). We try out a strong-weak pattern, then try a weak-strong pattern. The students identify that it “fits better” when we start with a strong beat.

Over the course of a few classes (this is Kodaly-based after all) we label beats on the board with “S” and “w” to denote which beats are strong/weak, and we add an accent over the strong beats. The students immediately notice that it looks like a less-than symbol from Math class. I like to tell them that it looks like an arrow that lost it’s stick. The arrow is pointing in front of the beat. It is showing us where to draw the bar line. We add in bar lines to “organize the music.”

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In pairs, the students use the dictation bags to set up 8 beats. We say “strong-weak” as we tap our hands across the beats. The pairs use yarn to create accents over the beats, then place popsicle stick bar lines in front of the strong beats.

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Now it is time for the kids to try this on their own! I bought these fabulous dry erase sleeves from Oriental Trading Company. They come in sets of 12 and are really easy to clean off. They are big enough to fit a 9×12 piece of construction paper, so the regular copy paper fits with no problem.  I guide the students through each step of labeling the beats, adding the accents, and placing the bar lines. We learn that we add two bar line (DOUBLE BAR LINE!) at the end. I call it a musical stop sign. We “measure” the music by counting how many beats are between the bar lines, and marked it at the beginning of the song. I have the student write the number 2 over a heart. I have seen other teachers use a 2 over a quarter note, or just use 2/4.

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I pulled these out again after Spring Break and asked the kids to draw in the bar line for 2 Meter all by themselves. It was a good way to see who got it and who didn’t.

One thing that I always do is teach the students how to conduct in the new meter we have learned. They love it! First we just conduct with out hands, then we add a baton. I found clear, colored plastic cocktail stirring sticks at the dollar store. Cheap and pretty strong, the kids think they are magical! We are just about ready for the students to be the leaders and conduct the class as we sing Rocky Mountain or Deedle Dumpling. They feel SO important when they are chosen!

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Loud and Soft

February 9, 2014

In early childhood music class, we focus on exploring opposites in music: fast/slow, high/low, and loud/soft.  These are concepts that very young children can easily experience, demonstrate, and identify.

One of my students’ favorites is exploring soft and loud. We sing lullabies and talk about what might happen if you sang it too loudly. “The baby would wake up!” “He would start to scream!” (You can definitely tell which kids have little babies at home.)  We sing the song “Bye Lo, Baby, Oh” and rock our arms, as though cradling a baby. This helps to develop an internal sense of the beat, as well. This year, the song has a greater meaning for the kids as I am visibly pregnant. They love the idea that their song will be sung to my baby one day soon. Since the song only uses so and mi, we are able to explore high and low pitch. (I do so love when a song provides so many learning opportunities!)

Bye lo baby oh

Once we have talked about soft and loud, and what is appropriate for a lullaby, I share this gorgeous book with the students. They are transfixed by the illustrations as I sing All the Pretty Little Horses. The haunting melody is one of my favorites. It is so gratifying when you finish and the students start calling out, “Again! Again!”

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The students are now ready for one of the best Sesame Street videos around. I have to admit to not being a big fan of Elmo. Sorry, that little red guy really gets on my nerves. That being said, when paired with Rick Gervais, I just have to giggle. This is such a great example of loud and soft, and exactly why we sing lullabies gently.

My husband, also an elementary school music teacher, shared a great extension activity with me for loud and soft. He tells the story of a great castle. If it is close to Halloween, he might say it is haunted. The students are going to explore the castle, but they don’t want anyone to know they are there. They must be VERY quiet! He puts on “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg and the students begin to tiptoe around the rug. At the end of each phrase, during the rest in the melody, the students put their fingers to their lips and shush each other. As the music gets louder and faster, so do the students! After the activity we sit and discuss what happened. I don’t talk about it beforehand. It is so much more powerful for them to experience it in their bodies!

What do you do to explore loud and soft? Do you have any go-to songs or activities?

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Sorry for the delay, but while I was away…

August 1, 2013

I’m not sure if anyone is out there paying attention, but I know I have been an absentee blogger lately.  I do have a really good reason, though!  I have been a little bit busy getting married  🙂  

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After a ceremony and reception close to home, my (now) husband and I drove over 700 miles to do it all again for my side of the family. Almost a month, and an untold number of hours driving later, we are finally on our honeymoon. It finally feels like our summer break has finally begun!

Before we know it we will be back in the classroom. I have a bunch of ideas spinning around in my head regarding blog post topics, so there will be more to see here in the coming weeks.  The countdown to school has begun, and I am quite excited.  

But not too excited.  I have some beach time and vineyard visiting and dolphin watching ahead of me. Now this is what I can a vacation!

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