Friday, 30 August 2013

What I Accomplished in Two Weeks

The 2013 school season begins on Tuesday! I have been in my classroom the last two weeks tidying, organizing, and planning and I'm still not done. Oh well! I've had to remind myself that my program doesn't need to be 100% ready to go on the first day. Here are some before and after shots of my room. I'll go into a bit more detail later on.



The sad part is that the photos don't really look that different. I did stuff I promise! The good thing was that I didn't have to change the paper or borders on my bulletin boards so that saved a lot of time. Here's what I did:

  • Re-labeled my bank of drawers (finally!)
  • Put extra method books in the drawers and got rid of a rolling cart that was taking up space
  • Set up my SmartBoard and added a computer for student use
  • Moved my rhythm instrument/materials shelf beside the piano
  • Removed student work from bulletin boards and moved posters to the high bulletin boards so that I don't have to stand on the ledge to hang things during the year
  • Took down everything from bulletin/chalk boards except for the Learning Goals. I'm going to be posting more anchor charts/student work on those boards
  • Dealt with the pile of instruments in the gym. Thank goodness for great colleagues who helped me bring them up two flights of stairs!
  • Rearranged the instruments to make room for the new ones on the shelves
  • Assigned instruments to Grade 8s
  • Put Grade 8 mouthpieces in cups and labeled cups and reed cases with student names
  • Inventoried left over mouthpieces to determine the number of instruments the Grade 7s could choose. I'm hoping for an influx of trombone players this year!
  • Set up chairs and put tape "Xs" down to ensure (hopefully) that the students set the chairs up each day in the "right" way. I want them to be beautifully curved with an aisle down the middle. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him about the "Xs". We'll see how crazy I am. 
  • Put duct tape on the ends of markers and pencils
  • Set up my office - labeled magazine boxes, prettied up my mailbox, removed most of my non-music resources, set my Day 1-5 baskets out
  • Created class lists and seating plans for my 16 classes
  • Revamped my daybook
  • Planned my first week
  • Got most of my materials ready for the first day!
Now I feel better! I still have a bit of work to do this weekend but I'm feeling good and ready for Tuesday!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Making My Mailbox Pretty

Here is a project that I completed yesterday that was not really on my To-Do List. 

I used this mailbox last year to organize student work that I needed to return to them. I found it to be very useful and helped eliminate a million piles of paper on my desk. 

I used some colourful Washi tape to cover up some ugly labels that had been stuck on my mailbox for three years. Needless to say, I was having some trouble taking the labels off and decided that instead of wasting my time (and my fingernails) by peeling and scraping that I would cover the ugliness with some pretty tape. 

Can I say how much I love binder clips? I covered some large clips with two strips of grey Washi Tape and wrote the name of each class on the clip with a Sharpie. I then attached each clip to a shelf on the mailbox. Please note that the reason I didn't start with my Grade 8's on the very top is because I can't see into this shelves. They are too high! 

I am planning on using the extra shelves to store extra handouts and other random pieces of paper. I'm quite pleased with how the mailbox turned out. Now on to some tasks that were actually on my To-Do List.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Super Excited Yet Somewhat Terrified

Today was a good day. I am feeling pretty excited about this school year as there are some big changes in our school. A local K-6 school has amalgamated with us. That means we're going to have almost 3 classes for each grade level and our staff size has doubled. For me, that means I get to teach Music all day and I get more band and rhythm instruments! I'm sure there will be some rocky moments ahead as students and staff members adjust to this major change but I'm looking forward to it. 

What I'm not looking forward to is this:

This is the sight that greeted me in the gym. Instruments were lying everywhere and mixed in with yucky gym equipment! This pile terrifies me. Where will I put another bass drum? How exhausted will I be after carrying these instruments up two flights of stairs? Yikes!

Thankfully the actual Music Room is sparkling! Our caretakers did a great job and I was able to spend today rearranging my room. Actually, I spent a lot of time walking around trying to visualize how I am going to set things up. The pictures below show what my room looked like when I first came in. Once I get more accomplished I will post more pictures. 

My office - I rearranged some things today to give me better access to Music resources and removed some non-music resources. 

View of my room when standing by the window - I removed all the white labels from the bank of shelves.
View of my room when standing by the sink - I was given a new shelf for my rhythm instruments that actually allowed me to create more of a teaching space by the SmartBoard. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will get a carpet.

So what's on my agenda for the next couple days? Good question! I'm pretty sure I will be adding to this list daily 

  • Create labels for shelves
  • Design a new daybook that is better suited to teaching the same lesson to multiple classes
  • Come up with a new way to recognize students who conquer a GPS level
  • Adapt Grade 7 & 8 GPS lessons to fit with where my students were at the end of last year
That's a good enough list for now! Is it just me or did this summer fly by?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

"I Have, Who Has?" Game for Recorders

I'm writing this blog post while looking out my window at the gigantic willow tree in my backyard. That's right...I actually have a backyard now! Yay! My husband and I moved into our house last weekend and I am super pumped about it. We have already replaced the not-so-attractive red carpet, green linoleum, and most of the parquet with some pretty, dark wood laminate and I feel like the design possibilities are endless. The move, my sister's new baby, and the fact that I broke my baby toe all contribute to the lack of blog posts in July. Also, I really needed a break from school and I still do! I'm not quite ready to go full blast into planning for September so I thought I'd share a game I created a few months ago but never got around to writing about. Click here to see where I first mentioned my "I Have, Who Has?" fail. 

I had seen this game floating around on Pinterest from Mrs. Miracle's music blog and thought I would adapt it to use with my recorder students. I found some free frames from Clip Art by Carrie and got to work designing my own game. It took a long time which is why I was so annoyed when I didn't attach the file to my computer to print at school. 

Most of my students were comfortable playing BAG and whole notes and half notes which is why I focused on only those notes and rhythms in this activity. Since I played this with different classes I had to make sure I knew how many students were in each class so that I could randomly hand out the appropriate number of cards and still have the game link back to the beginning. I always check to see who gets the "whole note B" card and they begin and I make sure that I get the final card. When the game is done I keep the "used" cards separate from the extra cards. That way I know which cards to add or subtract for the next class. Yes, some organization is required!

To play this game, one child starts and says "I have" and they play the top pattern on their card. They then say "Who has?" and they play the bottom pattern on their card. The students listen carefully to the "Who has?" pattern and the child who has the matching pattern will say "I have" and play the top pattern (which matches the bottom pattern the previous student played) and will then say "Who has?" and play their bottom pattern. This game continues until everyone has played. 

Mrs. Miracle has some great advice for playing this game and next time I will make sure we read and play all the cards as a class before handing them out to individual students. I gave the students a bit of time to practice and any student who was unsure what to play came out in the hallway and I secretly showed them how to play their card. During the game, I would circulate and help students who needed it. 

The game pretty well took up the whole 40 minute period. It would probably have gotten easier the next time we played. The students were really focused and it gave me an opportunity to assess who could successfully sightread their cards. What I really liked was that the game got off track but the students were able to figure out what went wrong and fix it themselves!

Click here to download the game for free!