Sunday, August 11, 2013

Classroom Tour

I think I am finally done with my classroom for this year! It was so much easier the second time around!
Here are some pictures!

First, my new curtains! I reused some sheer panels from last year and made 2 panels from fabric we found at Wal-Mart. The valence is actually a vinyl table skirt that we found at a going out of business sale! It already had the peel and stick feature so all we had to do was cut it off to fit the window.

The ukulele cart is now between the windows. I added a vinyl sticker that my husband bought for me. Last year, I had an old tv on a wooden cart there. After an entire year of not using it, I gifted it to another teacher in need. So, I had a big open space to fill this year.

This was on the first day getting back into my room. Thanks to Pinterest, I am using book covers on the backs of my chairs to house pencils, expo markers and erasers. I think that will save time when transitioning between activities.

Also, the cabinets I covered in a scene-setter background last year are now serving as an additional bulletin board. I covered them with a vinyl tablecloth and used magnetic tape to attach my border! Very Easy!!

Thanks to Cara at Miscellaneous Me for the anchor charts! These are so great and fit my classroom perfectly. You can get them from her blog here.

 My piano will work so much better here! BUT, I needed wheels so I could roll it out. The scooters were just for moving purposes but it gave me a great idea....

Furniture movers! I found these at Big Lots for $9.00! And they are the perfect size! When I looked at an actual piano mover/roller/cart, I could get one for $350.00!

I'm also loving the new cover on the piano bench. I love that pattern.

I bought these genre posters last year and placed them above my board; however, that was just too high to use them. So, this year they are more accessible and I'm so glad. They will really help during the 6th grade History of Rock unit.

I debated about using Recorder Karate and finally decided to try it. I didn't want to go overboard with the karate theme so it is very subtle.

Again, thanks to Pinterest, I found so many recorder resources so I didn't have to reinvent the wheel! (which has made my summer so much more relaxing)

Thanks to...
Lauren at Rhythm and Glues for the recorder fingering charts. You can visit her blog here!
Emily at The Sweetest Melody for the Recorder Job Lanyards. You can visit her blog here!
The recorder rules picture from Pinterest! See it here! (If it is yours, let me know so I can give credit!)

I created an 11x17 chart to keep up with who has passed off which belt. You can write the students' names in the blanks and fill in the appropriate box once they have passed off that song. Download it here.

I also made a chart that lets everyone know which song correlates with which belt. I had a fear that students would be asking a million questions about this so I made this chart. You can download it here.

My choir section of the board. I included the choir tips charts and the singing shapes posters as well as a dry erase calendar from the Dollar Tree.

Finally, the ukulele section of my board. This one is not totally complete. I kinda just stuck it up there. I have my student expectations and the 4 chords we are going to (hopefully) master. Also, love that little ukulele chihuahua.

 My one and only formal bulletin board. I wanted to use birds in my room this year so I am calling them song birds. Song birds sing solfege so their word bubbles are do, re, mi.

I made the birds from scrap paper that matched my theme with inspiration from Carson Dellosa's Boho Birds (they kinda scared me a little...weird eyes)

Here is a close up of the poster in the middle. I want to print it 11x17 but that requires a trip to Office Depot. I'll get to it...  This came from here!

My door!! I kinda love how it turned out! I wanted to do an advocacy type door for Back to School Night when parents will be buzzing about. I just cut out a thought bubble from poster board, added some letters and cut out some question marks.

Here is an up close of the answers to the question! You can download them here!

 Unrelated to my room, are these two pictures. The guidance counselor and I have teamed up to make a bulletin board for parents and students to identify ways they can get involved. I added band and choir and she wanted to include a Get Fit program. Between the two of us, we came up with other programs we already had at school to include on our board.

Also, the librarian and I came up with a no curtain, no blinds, no sew, window covering for her windows in the library. We coordinated our fabrics, covered cut pieces of foam board, attached the fabric with no sew double sided fabric tape and stapled the corners (essential upholstering the foam board). We cut the board the exact size of the window so the squares fit snug in the window.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hello, Goodbye

This past week was our first week back to school for inservices. Our band director is retiring after this year and he has asked me to take over more of his band responsibilities at the middle school. So, there is a big chance that I will be moving to beginning band for grades 5-7 and only teaching general music for K-4. Nothing is official yet due to scheduling but it is more probable than possible.

So, being the obsessive preparer that I am, I created some resources for my (hopefully) new band classes! Plus, after sitting in those teacher evaluation meetings, standards are on my brain.

Here are some sample standards posters for beginning band based on the Virginia Music Standards of Learning, which are based on the National Music Education Standards.

The wording is adapted for a middle school level. A teacher I worked with in college (while Tennessee was going through their new teacher evaluation training), created a poster that had basic beginning band standards that we do everyday because we are developing skills throughout the class, hence "Everyday, we will.."

You can download all 8 HERE.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Guest Post and Freebies!

In the spirit of "Back to School", my sister (who is starting her internship with the math department at a Knoxville, TN high school) designed a planning packet and included related arts teacher in her designs!

I voiced my complaint that I have 7 classes a day and typically can't find plan books that accommodate that many blocks for lesson planning. I'm sure there are others that can sympathize. So, she created a plan book for secondary teachers (weekly pages) and related arts teachers for K-5, 6-8 and K-7. The best part...they are SO cute and trendy!

Here is a shot of the contents.

Below are some previews

Related Arts K-5

Secondary Weekly

 Like the blue quatrefoil? Here is the link! (All three class breakdowns are in one file.)


Secondary Weekly

Like the teal? Here is the link! (Again, all three types are in one file.)

Friday, August 2, 2013

First Year Reflections and Advice for New Teachers

I spent the last two days working in my classroom and WOW! it is so much easier the second time around! This led me to think about just how different I feel going into year two. I am so much more relaxed and calm and minor details seem to matter a whole lot less.

So, this post is about reflections but also about what I learned and the tips I can share.

1. Pace Yourself...and your students.
You won't be a master teacher on your first day. In my first weeks, I had my (very detailed) lesson plan right next to me during every class. By Winter Break, a lesson plan was no big deal! It was all in my head and if an activity didn't go as I planned, I had a similar activity instantly. You will develop an arsenal of activities based on topic and student interest. Give yourself time.

1a. Give your students time to learn from you.
You have no idea what the teacher before you taught and what their teaching style was. I was lucky that I took over for a great teacher! However, they had to get used to me, my personality, and my teaching style. It took time to see their progress based on the goals I had set for them.

2. Remember why you love music.
I guarantee there will be days that you would rather be anything than a teacher. There were days when middle school attitudes drove me crazy, but there were also days when my students made me so happy and proud. In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad (but be prepared for the bad.)

3. Change is good!
Just because something has been done the same way for twenty years doesn't mean that it is necessarily the easiest or best way. Use your new, fresh ideas and energy for the good and don't be afraid to at least try.

4. Mistakes are the best learning tool.
This is just common sense, really.

5. Invest in a personal laminator!
When you spend so much time creating resources you want them to last! Personally, I don't care for the school laminator. It is very temperamental and if it isn't hot enough (aka you don't have 30 minutes to wait) it doesn't seal well.

So, invest in a personal laminator for home use. I got one from Wal-Mart for 30 bucks! The best money I've spent on my classroom.  Also, if you have a Sam's Club membership, check for the laminating pouches there. I found a pack of 200 for $20.00!!! At Wal-Mart, a pack of 50 is $14.00.

6. Be a friend, especially to the custodians and the secretaries.
These people run the school! And if you need something, they are the ones to ask. It is good to have them on your side. Thank you notes and appreciation gifts go a long way, especially around concert time when stress levels are already high (winter break, testing, etc).

7. If you can't be nice, be quiet.
Again, common sense. You don't know who is friends with whom. It is best to just keep quiet and observe. When in doubt, be quiet and smile.

8. Comfort before the case of shoes!
Let's be honest, high heels just aren't made for this job! Cheap flats aren't either. I learned that really quickly. Invest in some quality shoes that you can stand in all day, because you will be standing all day.

9. Embrace Technology!
Technology is here to stay so the more you know about it, the better. iPad apps, Interactive Whiteboards, Document Cameras, Powerpoint, graphic design software, sound equipment, Netflix (documentaries/rockumentaries), and a VGA adapter for iPad/Pod/Phone are all things I use everyday in one way or the other. It makes my life so much easier! Technology is awesome.

9 a. Sound Equipment
If you don't have quality sound equipment in your classroom, invest in some NOW! A boombox will not cut it. My wonderful, rocker husband loaned me his portable Marshall guitar amp and it has been amazing. I use it all day, every day (choir practices and performances, ipod with aux cable, iPad with aux cable, computer speaker for videos, microphone plug in)

10. Always have a Plan B.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Think ahead.
Be prepared.

Something will go wrong and if you think it won't, you are in for a rough year. Always having a plan B will save you from those "uhhhhh" moments.

Plan B Tips
*Arrive early.
*Have the classroom set up for the day (to avoid any "unprepared" surprises)
*Write out your lesson plans and PLAN MORE ACTIVITIES THAN YOU NEED!
*Practice your songs, instruments, dances, etc.
*Test your technology.
*Save multiple copies in multiple places.
*Check the compatibility of those saved copies.
Have all the necessary cords at your disposal and within arms reach.
Establish classroom routines and practice them to avoid chaos in the event of an "uh-oh" moment.
 (entering the classroom, Hello Song/Bell Ringer, passing out instruments and supplies, etc.)
*Know your IEPs and Allergy Care Plans
  (especially for walk through observations and to avoid health emergencies)
Keep your keys around your neck. Don't lock them in or leave them somewhere!

*These tips are all first hand experience that I observed and helped teach my student intern this year. Take this advice, things will go wrong! Be prepared.

As much as I've learned last year, I'm sure there is more coming this year. It is just so wonderful to have the stress of the first year over with. Looking back though, it was nothing to stress about or worry with. In the words of my college professor, "if you love music and you love kids, you will do great."

Be patient, be creative, be positive. The rest will fall into place.