Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wish List Linky Party and TpT Sale!

Hello everyone! I am super excited to be trying 2 new endeavors today!  I'm joining my first linky party and participating in the teacherpayteachers 3 million teachers strong sale!  The sale is Thursday and Friday, Feb 27-28.  Click here to go directly to my store where everything will 20% off Thursday and Friday! Enter code TPT3 at checkout and enjoy an extra 8% off! Thanks to PoppyDreamz for the TpT sale clip art!

I'm happy to join my first linky party -  "Wednesday Wish list" Linky party hosted by Amy at  For this linky party I will blog about something from my TpT store, a music item from another a TpT store, and a non-music item from TpT.   Thanks Amy for hosting the wishlist party!

An item from my Tpt Store:

Rocket Ship Run - if you have younger children you have probably heard this song and many others by the Laurie Berkner Band.  The inspiration for this activity came from my own children's enjoyment of the cd "Rocket Ship Run".  In listening to the title track over and over again, I was drawn to the repetitive words, verse/chorus format, catchy groove, and opportunity for creative movement. I had to come up with something more than just listening to this fun song!

In this activity, the students act out the words of the song but rather than just listening and moving, I have created a SmartNotebook file where the slides go along with the words of the song.  The students fly to the sun, moon, stars, and back home to the earth.  The students love counting down  - can't have a rocket ship run without a countdown - and then blast off!  This is also a great cross curricular activity that classroom teachers appreciate! Rocket Ship Run is activity is requested again and again by students and teachers alike!!  The download comes with the Smartboard file, detailed directions and some teaching stratigies.  Fly on over to TpT and check it out!

A music wish list item:

As one who is always looking for new ideas to implement in my classroom, TpT can be soooooo overwhelming and exciting all at the same time!  My pick is Cup of Cocoa by TpT seller Malinda Phillips.  
"In this game, students will sing so and mi on a five lined staff while also reading simple treat rhythms using quarter note and barred eighth notes.  

Students gain points for how accurately their group is able to sing the treat melodies.  The team with the most extra treats for thei cup of cocoa wins!"

I think that my students would really enjoy - hope it goes on sale!!!

A non-music wish list item:

Ok - I will admit it, I am an office supply junkie and since TpT started I am a clip art junkie!  Can you ever have to many backgrounds, borders, images, or fonts?  I don't think so!!!  So my wish list item from a non-music TpT store is for clip art! I have to admit it was difficult to pick just one as my list is quite long!  So, I decided to go with Bird Clip Art, Birds on a Wire.  (This is by Dancing Crayon Designs - one of Aileen Miracles favs I just learned at her blog!!!) I think there is a whole lot of stuff I could do with those birds and the 2 line "wires" they sit on - don't you see some so/mi prep activities just waiting to be born!!!!  Maybe I'll purchase during the sale and blog about how I use it next time!!!

Thanks for reading, happy shopping during the TpT sale - I know I will be grabbing some great bargins!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Thursday!
I'm off to the New Jersey Music Educators Association Conference today!

Why?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

As I mentioned in my first blog, I was very fortunate to study with Dr. Sandy Mathias when I was in college.  I learned so much from her, and was able to work with her at the Kodaly Institute  at Capital.  Over the years she has paid me the great compliment of asking me to have some of her students do their student teaching in my classroom.

So I'm headed to New Jersey to talk about student teachers!  Tomorrow afternoon I will give a presentation called:  What To Do When You Are Expecting... A Student Teacher.

"So, you’re getting a student teacher... GREAT but where do you begin? The role of student teacher and cooperating teacher is vitally important to the education of our children. As one of the first real life teaching situations for the college student, it is important that the cooperating teacher make the experience a time of true learning while not sacrificing the music curriculum and the ever shortening time for the students in the music classroom. In this session, participants will gain insight from the experiences of a veteran teacher and a recent college graduate just beginning her journey in the field of music education. The presenters will share ideas on introductory materials, a timeline for incorporating a student teacher, feedback, lesson planning, and classroom management strategies."

I presented the same material last year at the MKMEA 2013 Conference in Chicago. with my colleague and good friend Katie Wynkoop.  It was a lot of fun for us and people seemed to appreciate the information.  So here I go again!

If you're interested I just added these materials to my TPT store.

Looking forward to meeting some new folks and seeing old friends Andrew Ellingsen and Jo Kirk, who are also presenting!  If you happen to be in NJ, please look me up and say Hello!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Keeping Students Engaged During Class

As I continue to reflect on the wide-eyed wonder of my first year of teaching, I've been thinking about different approaches to engaging students during class.  I mentioned in my first post that I have always embraced using technology in my classroom.  In the last 20 years technology and my students access to it has changed so much!  Nothing will ever replace the sheer joy of children singing and dancing, but in these days of video games and virtual worlds a little bit of tech savvy can really help to perk up those young ears.

Almost 3 years ago I had the opportunity to have a Smartboard installed in my room.  Little did I know how much this one device would impact my teaching!!!  Now on those days when the computer isn't working or the network is down, I'm getting frustrated or even rewriting lesson plans because I cannot do what I had planned without the technology!

The Smartboard really helps with keeping kids engaged during class and is a great tool to have in my bag of tricks.  My students are excited about coming to music class because they know that will have an opportunity to interact with the Smartboard.  Since I've gotten it I've created most of the files I use myself.  I like being able to tailor the activities to my students and can always fine tune them over time.  The kids really love it!

If you have access to a Smartboard here is an add-on that can be really helpful, the SmartResponse Clickers.

These are individual remote controls that students use to interact with the Smartboard.  The version I have (SmartResponse LE) are for younger students and have basic options for yes/no, multiple choice, and true/false questions.  There are other models that allow for short response answers where students enter words like they are texting!

The Smartnotebook software can also record the results.  The kids answers can be collected anonymously, which is great for voting on class favorites or getting a general idea of class progress.  Or the clickers can be set up to record individual students results that are automatically graded for you!  These results can then be exported to Excel or your grading program.  With almost 900 students this year, this is a great time saver for me!  This week I have been using the clickers to do an assessment on "Could It Be sol mi sol mi?".  The only thing I added was the clicker questions and now I have a very quick and accurate data collection tool!

Another thing I have been doing more is using the Smartboard for literacy purposes.  Teaching in a K-2 building, this is an area of focus for everyone and the teachers and administration in my building really appreciate having it reinforced in the music room.  An example of this is the song "Ant Beat".  Students are introduced to the song from the Smartboard activity that requires them to fill in the last word of each verse.  I have it set up so that when one of the choices is tapped it links to another page that tells the students if they are correct or not.

This activity is now available in my TeachersPayTeachers store!  Click here to purchase it!

Don't have a Smartboard?  This activity (and most others) can be adapted very easily to your classroom computer by using a TV or projector.  You or a student will have to use your computer mouse to click on selections, but the whole class can watch and follow along.  If you don't have Smartnotebook software (available here here for free 30 day trial) then many teachers use Powerpoint for in the same way.  I'm beginning to transfer my Smartboard files to Powerpoint so I can make them available on my TPT store.

What do you do to keep your students engaged in the classroom?  I would love to try some new ideas in my classroom if you are willing to share!  Please comment below or contact me at

Saturday, February 1, 2014

An Old Game with a New Twist

Happy February everyone!  I wanted to let you know about a game that my students really enjoy playing, only I've added a twist to it! Inspired by my daughters love of mustaches, I have taken the traditional "I Have/Who Has" game and made a version called "I Mustache You a Question".  In this version, students read the "I have" pattern, then say "I mustache you a question. Who has (read their pattern)?"  It has been fun listening to their voices when they ask the question, some students really get into it and others are super shy.

I've posted 4 different sets at my TpT store at