Saturday, August 31, 2013

Music Verbs

Hello, everyone. Yes, I am alive and well and I even still teach music! 
Life has been very busy and I've been enjoying being with my family. 
I can't promise to post weekly but I plan to post more regularly!

School started for me two weeks ago and things are in full swing in the music room.
Colorado has a new law, "Educator Effectiveness", which has many teachers a bit high-strung this year. (I will give more details regarding that law and it's implications later.) While I am not panicking over the law, I am really evaluating what level of learning goes on in my room on a daily basis and scrutinizing my use of time. There are learning targets, KDUs (Know, Demonstrate, and Understand), and essential questions that I'm working with but for now I'd like to share something very simple that I've been incorporating in my room: music verbs.

"Hey kids, did we do any of these things today?"
Many years ago the Orff chapter in Colorado made t-shirts that I used to see many music teachers wear to workshops. The t-shirts said: "Music is a verb." I love that sentiment and want my students to embrace that idea.

On the closet closest to my door I posted several stars with verbs showing some of what we do in music, (my class star charts are also there). I want my students to understand that music is a verb and we do so much through and with music. During the last three minutes of class I walk towards the display and ask, "Which of these action words did you do in music today?" Students' hands raise and we briefly review. I've found this more effective then the open-ended "What did we do today?" I am giving them a limited number of verbs to choose from, (I purposely did not include all the verbs happening during class. I add more during the year).

I am fortunate to have 45 minute classes but I still find myself scrambling to get everything in! This year I've actually set iPad alarms to go off five minutes before the class is over. I know that may seem clunky and may not always fit in with a lovely closure to the last song/activity  but that's just what I have to do to get our verbs in and get out of the room on time. And being on time is something I value; it shows professionalism and respect for the classroom teacher who is getting their class, [ I used to be one of those "if I'm not 5 minutes early, I'm late" kind of people in every area of my life, and then I had kids, but that's another story for another blog. And that blog doesn't exist, and I won't be starting it anytime soon. (No Mommy Blogs here, please move along)].

Another fun thing about my alarms is I've set it for "piano riff" which plays the blues riff  la, re la, do la, until you shut it off.  (Think of the beginning of Elvis Presley's Trouble or George Thorogood's Bad to the Bone). I'm able to improvise/sing quick directions when it goes off which the students find very entertaining. la, re la, do la, "When ya hear that sound,"  la, re la, do la, "it means find your seat la, re la, do la, "Put the wood blocks away," la, re la, do la, "And make 'em real neat." (Of course I do that in my best Elvis Presley imitation voice).

Speaking of the iPad, yes, I just received one at my school and I not yet full throttle with all the amazing things that I've heard are possible. So far my favorite "teacher use app" is Teacher Kit which I'm using for my gradebook and seating charts. I will be getting more familiar with student uses. If you are really looking for more info on iPad uses you should be reading Aileen Miracle's excellent blog. 

Have a wonderful, action packed teaching week!