Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting to Know You Blog Hop

Hi! I have teamed up with several music blogger friends for a blog hop! We're collaborating as bloggers to bring you music education ideas using a variety of methodologies and approaches. However, before we dive into music education topics, we thought it would be fun to "hop around" a bit and introduce ourselves!

How will this blog hop benefit you?

1. Getting to Know You
  • We want a chance to get to know you! Understanding our current and past experiences helps us to form stronger professional learning communities, and we'd love for you to be a part of it!
2. Giveaway
  • After you're finished with the hop, you can enter a giveaway for your chance to win lots of teacher goodies that are sure to make you smile! Simply leave a comment on this post with an answer to the highlighted question at the bottom of this post. Then, do the same at each blog hop stop. When you reach the end of the blog hop, you'll be able to enter the giveaway for your chance to win!
    And the winner is...LAUREN DANLOE!!!

What state/region you are in?

I am a true midwestern girl!  Born and raised in Michigan - I've done quite a bit of traveling in my lifetime.  I've lived in Hawaii, Texas and Pennsylvania and have traveled the world, but I always come home to Michigan.  A true Michigander will show you where we live by pointing to our hand (Michigan as known as the "mitten state").  I live and teach in Farmington, a suburb of Detroit.  Note: that is not my actual hand.

What is your background education/experience?
My story to education is an odd one.  I completed my bachelor's degree in flute performance from Michigan State University. I tried hard to be an education major as an undergrad but what I observed didn't speak to me.  I didn't know how I wanted to teach, but I knew how I didn't want to teach.  Nothing inspired me until I took a 3-credit elective in early childhood music the last semester of my senior year.  Little did I know how that experience would change my life.  I loved early childhood music so much that I dropped out of my master's program two weeks before school started and enrolled in a teacher certification program at the University of Houston.  A few year's later, I completed a master's degree in music education from Temple University.  In addition to my degrees, I hold certifications in Music Learning Theory and Orff and teach MLT levels in both early childhood and elementary general music.

What kind of music do I listen to in my spare time?

The right answer would be that I "love classical music" but the truth is I am a Dave Matthews Band girl through and through.  I've been a fan for 20+ years.  Love them!  Love their music (seriously, who has a woodwind specialist in their band?)  Love the improv.  Love the never-ending jams.  Love the quirkiness of Dave himself.  Love it all!  I once read a quote from Dave that said as he was creating his band, he "surrounded himself with musicians that were better himself."  I love that he had a vision for the band, but part of that vision was growing and improving himself musically.  I see them in concert whenever possible and to this day, their songs rank #1 in my Top 25 on iTunes.

So what kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?

After you've commented with your answer to the question above, simply click on the image below to visit Mark at Musical Gems!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Construction Zone

I am really excited about the next few weeks.  Staring July 13th, my blog will be under construction!

I will be working with Gabby from Gabby's Classrooms to give my blog a fresh new look.  I've wanted to give my blog a facelift for a long time, but it was simply outside of my skill set.   
I am so excited to be working with Gabby to create a blog that reflects who I am as an educator!

Throughout this time, I will still be blogging about things that are important to me, but don't be surprised if you see some changes!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

July Small Goals

I am linking up with my friend Jennifer Hibbard to talk about Small Goals.  But first, let's recap my June goals.     

1.  Eat cleaner 
I am going to give myself a 6 on this one.  The biggest goal was to give up Diet Coke, and I did that for a few weeks.  Then after a very stressful day, I bought one and it wasn't the last one.  To my credit, I have greatly reduced how much soda I drink and I have greatly increased the amount of water I drink.  I am going to keep on it though.  I will not give up!

2.  Read more
This one is a complete and utter fail.  1.  It's not that I don't want to read.  It's simply that I don't have enough hours in my day.  I am a single momma.  There is never a moment alone in my life.  If I get my son to bed, I work on my TpT store.  To my credit, I did purchase a couple of books and they are sitting on my bedside table.  I will read them before summer is out.  I promise.

3.  Connect more
So I'm conflicted with this one.  Let's say 5.  There are times when I feel so close and so connected to God.  I feel like I know what He wants for me and that I am living His will.  And then there are seasons when I feel disconnected. It's me, not Him.  We go to church and I pray but I want to study His word more.  Time.  I need to carve out more time.

That was brutal.  And honest.  I wish I was accomplishing my goals with flying colors, but that's the challenge of being a parent.  My time is never my own.  So I practice grace and try to do better each and every day.  Onward and upward!

So what are my Small Goals for July?

1.  Move more
I have a four-year old son.  He never stops moving.  Ever.  In fact, sometimes I am taken aback at his need for physical play.  It is a constant-pushing-pulling-wringing-jumping-lunging-leaping need wired into his very being.  I need to find a way to meet it (I'll never match it).  I used to be very active (B.C. before child).  I used to work out 6 days a week, bike and/or walk 5 miles a day, kayak, kick-boxed, swam - you name it.  But that went away when I became a momma. I want some of it back.  For me and for him.  

2.  Sleep better
Remember that ever-moving four-year old son from goal one?  Yeah, he sleeps in my bed every night.  Every.  Night.  It started a while ago.  My son suffers from illness-induced asthma.  Every cold means breathing treatments through the night and it was easier to give those breathing treatments if he was in bed with me.  One night turned into two and months later, he is still sleeping with me.  Remember when I said he never stops moving?  Yep, he's a helicopter.  I am woken up 3-4 times a night by him.  I want him to sleep in his own bed.  Now.  And forever.  Goal 2?  To get my child to sleep in his own bed.

3.  Continue working on my June goals
My June goals were worthy ones and I refuse to give up on them.  I'm choosing to continue to work on them because I know I can do better.  Say a prayer for me...

What are your small goals for yourself?  Check back in August to see how I did!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Make Your Masterpiece!

It's week three(ish) of the #TPT Summer Challenge!  I am a little late to the party, but it's because I've been working so diligently on my masterpiece!  Really!  (Ok, and playing with a 4-year old.)

My Masterpiece is my Sing & Strum: Ukulele for the Elementary Music Classroom.  It's my first go at a growing bundle and my largest, most comprehensive resource to date.  Even as I sat sketching it out, I couldn't imagine the twists and turns it was going to take before it was (almost) done.

Sing & Strum includes over 60 songs organized by chords and tonalities.   I've included four formats for teachers to choose from, color coded charts, and students books for each level.  I can't wait to use this in my own classroom this coming year.  I started this project as I taught ukulele this past year and found myself desperately searching for child-friendly material to use with my students.  I am really proud of this 1000+ page resource and can't wait to share it all with you!

To purchase Sing & Strum, check out my store on TeachersPayTeachers!

You might also like my Sing & Strum Sampler to see how the resource is organized. (It's free!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Children's Literature in Music Education: Read Alouds

As many of you, I had to take a reading class as part of my requirements to become a teacher.  I think every music teacher struggles making the class meaningful because we're unsure how we're going to incorporate reading skills in our instruction on top of everything else we have to do in 30-45 minutes once a week.  I chose to take a different approach to my reading class.  I researched music books specifically written for children and authentic strategies I could use to enhance and support literacy in the music classroom.

Over the course of the next month, I will highlight some of the ways I integrate children's literature into the music room.  This week's topic is The Read Aloud.
So what is a Read Aloud?  It is exactly as it sounds.  "Teachers read books aloud to students.  Teachers incorporates variations in pitch, tone, pace, volume, pauses, eye contact and questions...  Reading texts aloud is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for successful learning" (McCormick, 1977).
(And I may have bought most of them...)
Pitch?  Tone?  Replace pace with tempo and volume with dynamics and it's starts to sound a lot like music instruction to me! 

So how do you incorporate Read Alouds in the music room?  I use them primarily with my K-1 students in the final five minutes of class.  I see my students for 40 minutes every 3 days.  Although I love my time with my students, sometimes 40 minutes can feel like a long time with Kindergartners.  I started using Read Alouds to help students transition and calm them down before leaving the music room. 

Now, I feel like I should clarify something.  90% of the time, I am not reading.  I am singing.  Sing Alouds?!?  I choose great children's literature associated with songs and sing them.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

Because so many of the books I use for my Sing Alouds also happen to be folk songs, I read/sing them twice over the course of two classes.  Students love the familiarity of the story the second time around and often times will begin to sing along too.

Do you do Sing Alouds in your classroom?  What are your favorite books to sing to your students?

In the coming weeks, I'll be discussing books for instrument exploration, poetry and composition, and favorite books about composers.  Be sure to check back each week!

Oh - if you are looking for a list of children's books for the music room, check out my "inventory" list.  I'm sharing it on Dropbox this month!