Music Room Ramblings

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

4th, 5th, and 6th graders

What do you do with the older grades? I've had several people ask me for help with those grades through the years and especially for the 5th-6th graders.

Many school districts have K-5th grades in their elementary schools. Mine did not until 3-4 years ago. They added 5th grade to a few of the elementary schools. It was not successful. So now the district in Nashville is back to K-4th for elementary, 5th-8th for middle, and 9th-12th for high school.

That explains why most of my items posted on TPT are for K-4th grades. At one point,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Word Walls in the Music Classroom

Several years ago, because of the need to incorporate literacy into all subject areas, music teachers found themselves confronted with mandated vocabulary words and the need to create word walls. This was a good thing.

Of course, I created my own set of vocabulary cards and printed these on colored card stock to match the grade level colors for the rhythm flash cards. I actually had so many requests, that I began printing these for other teachers in our district.

And it was amazing! Students who transferred from one school to another, were so excited when they entered my room to see the same colors and cards that they had been using in their former school. And then we took it a step further and the PE and art teachers began using the same colors too! Students could quickly find their word walls and the teachable moments were increased tremendously.

The way I used my vocabulary flash cards was to place new words that I was going to introduce on the board. After I felt like the students understood the words, I would then move them to their word wall. It was fun for me and also the students to look at the progression of learning from grade to grade. For example, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders could look at the K-1st grade words and see that they first learned the words, loud and soft, and now know that the musical terms are forte and piano. 

 These are pictures of my room and word walls.

I used doors and whatever wall space I could find. I kept the Kindergarten and First Grade walls close to the front.

This is how to make those reading, vocabulary, and literacy connections. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Work Smarter, Not Harder! How to Manage Flash Cards

Many years ago, I made myself a set of rhythm and melody flash cards. As I'm sure you'll understand, my classes at that time were 30 minutes in length, I had 10 classes a day, and they were back to back. My schedule would invariably be different each day. I might have a 4th grade, a 2nd grade, then a Kindergarten class, and so on.

I started each class with echo-clapping and singing. And then I would use the flash cards to reinforce music reading skills at all grade levels. Every class was a scramble for me to add to and/or remove the cards that were or were not needed for that particular grade level.

Then one day, I had a brainstorm! I designed a set for each grade level. Imagine that! And each grade had their own color for the rhythm and vocabulary cards. The melody cards were all white but were also very grade-level specific.

I found the greatest notebook dividers for my cards. They are clear and have pockets. I used a stapler to divide the pockets so the cards would stay put. Look closely and you can see the staples. This is a picture of the kindergarten melody and rhythm cards.

Then I found another great pocket divider for the vocabulary and symbol cards.

These had an extra pocket for a CD insert that I used for the symbol cards which fit perfectly.

I could now set up my cards for all grade levels in my lesson plan notebook and just quickly flip to whichever grade was coming into the room next.

And, believe me, the kids loved the color coding of the cards. Especially the vocabulary cards. 

Fantastic plan! Why didn't I think of that sooner?

Rhythm Flash Card Bundle, K-4(5)
Melody Flash Card Bundle, K-4(5)
Vocabulary Word Flash Card Bundle, K-5
Symbol Flash Card Bundle, 2-5

Question from customer

QUESTION: Hi Janis, I just bought your lessons, which look very extensive to say the least, however I am thinking that it must be crucial to have the resources that you used to go along with them, i.e.(CD books ext) any suggestions?

ANSWER: It is helpful to have the resources but not crucial. You can take the standards and ideas and substitute your own resources. Actually, most of the recordings, songs, and resources are folk tunes and PD things that you can probably find on iTunes. I've had several folks who have made similar observations and who have also said they are taking the suggestions, templates, and using whatever they have on hand. For example, if you're teaching the Virginia Reel, there are countless YouTube videos/tunes that will help with that.


Inspiration for the New School Year

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion