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Saturday, July 29, 2017

iPads in the Music Room

Technology in the music room is just as important as in the general education classroom. Providing opportunities for students to create digitally is exciting and engaging – even for the most difficult music students. Some of us already have interactive boards on our walls, but few have their own iPads, I would imagine. Keep reading to find out the means by which I received a class set of iPads and how I incorporated them into my lessons.

No Computer Lab, No Problem

I was fortunate to open a new school last year. It was beautiful with all the latest bells and whistles, but I was surprised to learn there was no computer lab in the plans. “What is a school without computers?” I thought. It wasn’t long before I discovered we were well stocked with technological devices including iPad carts for every class of younger grades and Chrome books for each class of older students. That said, there were no carts available to checkout or reserve when I wanted to use technology in Music class. As a result, I took action.

Grants Are Our Friends

Knowing I didn’t have the budget for even one iPad, I sought other avenues of achieving my goal. The district in which I worked had amazing grant opportunities, especially for technology. I had heard about teachers applying for a few iPads or Chrome books or Maker Space products in the past, but I was extremely intimidated by having to write. Finally deciding to step out, I wrote a technology grant for a set of iPads, two charging/docking stations, and headphones. The process was fairly easy and the reward was great! If I can do it, you can too. :)

iPads Delivered, Now What?

When I finally received the new iPads, there were only six weeks left of school. Eager to get the equipment into the students’ hands, I concentrated on a few different apps to enrich the music learning process. The following is a breakdown of how I led the students to “learn” by playing with technology…  

6th Grade -Composers. Each student chose their favorite composer to research, answering 15 questions such as country of origin, primary instrument, famous works, etc. Students were guided to search on kid-friendly websites and were allowed to listen to famous works using the YouTube Kids app. When research was complete, students created an “autobiography” on the Chatterpix Kids app by taking a picture of their composer and recording a summary of their research findings. The end result is a video of a composer “talking” about their life. It was a lot of fun and we got some laughs as we learned about the historical musicians while watching the presentations. **Bonus –this project is cross-curricular. L.A. and History teachers give this lesson an A+.  

5th Grade – Recorder. With only a few weeks left to earn their recorder karate belts, students took advantage of independent practice time before being called to play off a piece. Developers have made a fun recorder app called Play Along Recorder that my kiddos absolutely loved. They created their own avatar and followed the directions for fingerings, staff reading, and creating a good tone. Many of our “testing” songs are included on this app, so students were able to play along/practice while receiving feedback. This was a win/win for them and for me.  

4th Grade – Orchestra. I was surprised to discover my students were not familiar with using QR codes, so the first thing they did was an instrument scavenger hunt where the codes were read on the iPad camera and the name/family was revealed. Following this activity, students were asked to choose an instrument they might like to learn to play when they reached middle school age. The kids researched their instrument using a short question page. The information learned was turned into a narrative where the students had become a local news anchor explaining about their instrument escaping from the orchestra. Any prompt could be used, but this was fun for us to let creativity run wild. The best part about this project is creating the media presentation. Telestory is an app where you can tell your story through different characters and scenes such as aliens from outer space, news anchors reporting about the sports or weather, spies on a mission, and others. I was amazed at how well students explained characteristics of their instrument using their creative juices. We laughed and laughed as many really got into character. **Another cross-curricular bonus.

 3rd Grade – Composition. Crayola DJ, Incredibox, and Toca Band were perfect for my student to get their groovy beat going. Each of these apps are different whereas one involves beat boxing, another uses aliens, and still another gives the choice of fun genres and DJ capabilities, Similarly, all three teach looping and mixing of a variety of sounds to compose your own groove. What I love about this activity is students work independently to create and then they proudly come up to show me what they have done. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by listening to their “songs.”

2nd Grade – Rhythm. Rhythm Swing is good for any level, but my students were practicing half notes/rests. Going on a jungle adventure is part of the fun, but watch out for King Crocodile, he’s out to get the swinging monkey if too many mistakes are made. This app has a “play, practice, learn” feature to use depending on where you are in the teaching process. It was a hit among my class.  

1st Grade – Orchestra. After a brief introduction and some short videos of different families, students were able to do some exploration of sounds and visual identification by playing games. Meet the Orchestra and Sounds of the Orchestra were two apps I found to be suitable for the younger kids. Some students partnered up to play matching games and take quizzes, but many chose to continue independent guidance as they navigated through the options. Fun. Fun.


Is That It? What Else Can I Do?

There are TONS of apps for music education on the iTunes app store. Some are free, but some come with a price. Part of the fun as a teacher is browsing through all the options and finding the apps that will best suit your students. You will have them doing back flips to play on iPads without even realizing the scope of learning that is taking place. Need an activity to leave for emergency sub plans? iPads are easy to use in your absence and allow music education to continue – even when your sub isn’t musically proficient (wink, wink.) Many of the apps don’t require any explanation prior to playing/exploring, so the kids can do it on their own under the substitute’s supervision. Do you celebrate “fun day” or “reward day” in your Music classroom? iPad time is an excellent way to encourage good behavior or working toward a goal. Students love free choice apps where they can have control over which music concept they learn. I hope this information was helpful when it comes to adding technology to your music lessons. Of course, these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. I encourage you to discover some resources for obtaining iPads, as well as use your creativity in developing fun and engaging lessons for your students.  Save

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Music Resources for FALL!

My friend, Sally, at Sally's Sea of Songs, has created an amazing resource list chock-full of ideas for just about any time of the year.  Since we are currently in the Fall months, I thought I'd feature her resource lists for Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
Check them out by clicking on the pics below.
Enjoy browsing through the many fabulous products.  I hope you find the perfect one that fits your classroom!  Happy Fall Y'all.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Celebrate America - Part 3


Welcome back to Celebrate America.  Let's recap this great deal happening on TpT through July 4th. Click the pic to head on over to my store for this new Western Music Decor - Welcome Banner. #LetFreedomRingMusic gives you the opportunity to hunt down some crazy FREE products from nearly 50 music educators.
Today and tomorrow I'm celebrating with 20% off my entire store.  Grab your wishlist items - everything from music room decor to Boomwhacker activities, from drumming to rhythm cards. Click the pic to visit The Bates Clef and shop the sale!
 Thanks for stopping by.  Have a happy and safe holiday with your family and friends :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Celebrate America - Part 2

Have you had a chance to visit #LetFreedomRingMusic yet?  Time is still available to catch your FREE music products through July 4th. Just click the pic!
 Today brings more exciting news.  It's #RedWhiteAnd2 time!  Many music educators will have a chosen product for $2 TODAY ONLY!  Be sure to go there to grab some super deals. Click the pic below to grab my Camo Music Orchestra Posters while they're on sale!
But wait...there's more!  Come back tomorrow for 
Celebrate America - Part 3!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Celebrate America!

Happy 4th y'all!  Come celebrate with me, and other fine music educators, on TpT for a few days while stocking up on some most AMAZING deals!
The first deal is #LetFreedomRingMusic.  It's all happening now on TpT.  Find FREE products from today through the 4th of July!  CLICK the pic below to pick up my new Western Music Decor - Welcome Banner.

 Come back tomorrow for another sweet deal to celebrate America!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Three Summer Goals

I love summer!  It's a time to rest, rejuvenate, and accomplish those mundane tasks I've been avoiding during the school year.  I've linked up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room today to discuss my 3 Summer Goals.

1. Family Time!
I am a family girl at heart.  I love spending time with my husband and three kids.  Whether it's all five of us snuggled up in the living room watching tv, or riding go-karts and eating sno-cones, my fave thing is doing life together. It's been a while since we've taken a family vacation, so I'm really excited about our week-long water trip.  It's nothing fancy-in fact, our destination is only about 5 hours from home, but we'll be swimming in a natural swimming hole, riding tubes down a river, visiting one of the world's largest waterparks, and exploring other relaxing adventures.  Making memories is top on my list for this summer :)
2. Organization!
My house is a wreck.  I've gone in and out of my closet for the last few months thinking, "I need to clean out and organize."  With summer months upon me, now is the time.  Not only will I be tackling my closet (and other areas), it's time to sort through all the kids clothes taking out what doesn't fit any longer, and making room for the new school clothes that will soon come into our home.
In addition, I've moved my whole classroom to my garage over the summer due to changing schools in the fall.  My plan is to organize my files, throw away old stuff, gain some new ideas, and start lesson plans.  My brand new school won't be open until the week before kids come, so I've got to buckle down and be prepared.  Thank goodness for summer!
3. Shape Up!
Whew!  This is a tough one that requires time and dedication.  Often times we think of "shaping up" our bodies and this is definitely a serious area of concern.  I'm trying to eat more healthy and workout at least 4 times a week.  I hope to shop for school clothes in a smaller size when August comes.  My physical appearance is not the only shaping up that's on my agenda, however. 
My spiritual self is way out of shape too.  With summer schedules open, the time has allowed me to focus more on my faith and belief in Jesus Christ and developing my relationship with him.  Summertime shape-ups are in full swing!
I've set my summer goals.  What are yours? 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

First Year Flashback


Ahhh....the early years.  For me, there's plenty of memories from 1995.  Not only did I graduate and get married within weeks of each other, but I also moved back to my hometown to begin my life-long adventure of teaching.  Welcome to my "flashback."

 1.  What subject/age and where was I teaching?
 I began teaching K-5 music in the hometown where I was raised - a small town south of Dallas, TX.  Funny story...I actually replaced a high school friend's mother who had long taught music.  Talking about BIG shoes to fill.

 2.  What was my first classroom like?
 Actually, the room was awesome.  It was odd shaped, but HUGE.  I remember the students sat on benches that could be moved in and out, or rearranged - about 4 kids to a bench.  They were a nightmare because the kids would wiggle, and the benches would fall over.  Now, we would call that a "safety hazard."  Hahaha.

3.  Was I given supplies and materials?
 I remember having a class set of music text books and some rhythm instruments, also a CD player.  Nothing else really sticks out in my mind.  The room was pretty sparse.

 4.  What do I remember about my first day?
 Other than wondering "what on earth am I going to do with these children?", I don't remember much else.  I think I lived in a fog from then on.

 5.  What was the hardest part of my first year?
 Other than crying A LOT, the hardest part was jumping in and trying to figure out what I was doing without any help.  Many new teachers have the luxury of working with a co-teacher or team.  I was all alone on this journey.
 6.  What was the best part of my first year?
Truly, I think the best part was the end when I could finally look back and reflect on my survival and accomplishments.  Sometimes it's hard to see the good when you're covered in stress during the year.
 7.  What did I discover during my first year that I didn't learn in college or student teaching?
 Pretty much everything.  I learned how to do fundraisers, monthly PTA programs, a large end-of-the-year school-wide program, how to plan, how to communicate with parents (BIGGIE), etc.  College is great for prepping you with knowledge of your content.  Student teaching is great for introducing you to school life, but there's nothing like figuring it out as you go.  That's real life!

 8.  From where did I draw most of my lesson plan inspiration?
 With limited internet resources back then, and few tricks in my bag, most of my first year lesson plans came from the text books.  I pretty much followed it from start to finish.  Now I hardly EVER open a text book.

 9.  What is one thing I know now that I wish I knew then? (except I have more than 1 thing:)
 I wish I had known:  
  • kids are forgiving and certainly won't remember if I make mistakes during my lessons  
  • programs eventually come together - no matter how bad it seems the week before
  • parents want to hear the good things their children do - not just the bad
  • colleagues are willing to be supportive and helpful if they are asked
  • life would be so much easier if only I would delegate
Visit Pitch Publications for more 1st Year Flashbacks from other music educators.