I'm really excited as a new Teachers Pay Teachers seller. In order to celebrate 3 million members, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a great sale February 27 and 28. The products in my store are 20% off, and if you use the code on the image below, you can get as much as 28% off! Just click on the image to go to my store.....
                                                            Musical Cure for the Common Core Store

For instance, your kids can be creative with movement and still learn the parts of a sentence! The Subjects/Predicate Creation Game allows your students to put together wacky sentences that really don't make sense, but THEN....they have to act the sentences out, develop creative movement, ostinati, or other musical methods in order for the rest of the students to guess what the sentence is. Add a variety of music to the background for even more weird fun!

Something that is doing very well in my store is the Weevily Wheat Musical Multiplication Plan. Use the folk song Weevily Wheat in an Orff setting to help your students learn their basic multiplication facts.

I've definitely got my wish list ready and have joined in a linky party, courtesy of Amy Abbott.

Here are some products I've added to my wish list:

Tracy King has some new vocal exploration charts up at her store. Students picture the images and vocalize based on their perception of what they see. What fun!

In Amy Abbott's store, a wonderful kit of games and worksheets to learn the lines and spaces awaits you. The kit includes Power Points, matching cards,pre and post tests, and more!

Isn't this clip art adorable? 

This is from Scrappin' Doodles. These images would make for a great Music in Our Schools Month bulletin board, band promotional flyer, instrument informational sheet.....the opportunities are endless.

Please feel free to add your wish list to the comments below. If you are a blogger, feel free to request a link! Just blog about your wish list and contact me by Friday. We can have a nice chain going and let our music teacher friends know what is out there to help them in their teachings.

Stay warm. That old groundhog is apparently not finished with us yet, at least in the Midwest....Think robins and spring :-)

Proposed National Arts Standards Drafts: Heavy Thoughts on a Heavy Subject

As you most likely know by now, a coalition of various arts education organizations formed to review and propose new national standards. 

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards began organizing in 2009 to formulate standards to revise and serve as a "re-imaging" for the 1994 Arts Standards (NCCAS Conceptual Framework. )

Drafts for each arts standards was up for review last summer and apparently met with some strong opposition, based on what I had seen on music education Facebook groups. New draft previews were just launched on February 14, with comments closed on March 1. 

My thoughts? Well, my friend Tim Purdum highlighted my concerns very well (and probably more eloquently than I can!). This is a good read, but I will go ahead and voice my concerns as well (a little more colloquially, to be sure, but it's from the heart, as I listen to the Lenscrafters commercial, where the background music is "Street Song" from Music for Children Volume 3, Murray edition!):

  • As most of you know, I am working on my PhD. Now, readings for PhD sometimes take 2-3 rounds before the concepts sink in. Unfortunately, I had to apply this same process to these standards drafts. I'm an experienced teacher of 20 years, many hours of PD trainings, and becoming extremely experienced in the art of research. If these standards confuse ME, what would they do to a new teacher? What teacher, even an experienced one, is going to have this kind of time deciphering these between incorporating Common Core into music, working on programs, turning in lesson plans, doing grades, being a counselor, working on after school groups, and being a regular member of his/her family?
  • Where are the regular objectives? Why is it so difficult to decipher what were the original 9 music standards, so simply stated and so eloquently to the point. Would not composition and improvisation satisfy the higher order thinking and thought processes? 
  •  If a committee of teachers meet state-wide to draft new state standards, where is the independence for each state? It's not supposed to happen. Which leads me to the next bullet...
  • Not all music programs are created equal. Some teachers are lucky (like me when I am in my regular teaching position) and can see students 30 minutes every other day. Some teachers are lucky if they see their kids 30 minutes once a week. With holidays and snow days, many teachers don't see their kids at all. Some teachers see combined classes. Some music classes are taught by non-specialists. As desirable as it would be to have arts programs more equitable, it still isn't there. While we are still fighting for music programs all over the country, adding these standards and hoping they will be adopted will make a frustrating situation even more frustrating. Leading to yet another bullet point:
  • I am concerned that the true purpose of these standards is to "prove" that we teach higher level thinking. I'm really tired of "proving" ourselves. I feel I have proven myself to my students, my parents, and most of my colleagues, who acknowledge the importance of and a love for the arts. I am also concerned about the potential for forced assessment. I do not wish to be mandated as to which higher level skill is assessed, and HOW I do it. This is taking the autonomy away from the teacher. Classroom teachers are facing this more and more, and now, in classes that are havens for students away from this hardcore drilling, the shadow looms again. 
  • Like the Common Core standards, are all of these standards age-appropriate based on child development and again, amount of time in music class (called experience, review, and recall time?)
  • It is obvious from the title of my blog that I am not TOTALLY anti-higher order thinking and anti-Common Core, at what I consider the heart of the matter: cross-curricular at all levels to show how all learning disciplines are connected directly and indirectly AND teaching our students how to think for themselves. But when I have students ask me what time it is when the clock is right above them (and these are intermediate-aged students), it becomes apparent to me that students want answers given to them, which I believe is a side-product of too much teaching to the test. It is NOT the fault of the classroom teachers. It is NOT the fault of administrators, even. They are mandated these stipulations from those in government who have no idea what a child stage is like. I don't want our coalition of arts educators to feel they need to join in lock-step in order to save jobs.
  • I wish I had known about this coalition and volunteers. Somehow, I missed it. But, I feel these standards can meet the goals and desires of 21st Century Learning without being so vague, so difficult to read, and so esoteric.
But that's my opinion. Check out the standards for yourself and see what you think. Remember, preview and opinions are due by March 1. Please feel free to comment your concerns or accolades if you agree with the standards here as well. We learn from each other. I am always open to seeing possibilities in a different light, and I believe, as educators, most of my readers might be as well if explained in a thoughtful manner.

On to positive topics: Brace yourself for a Teachers Pay Teachers sale! More later......

Newest product at the Musical Cure for the Common Cure Store:
Sneaky way to get in some of that math Common Core using a popular folk song.


We are teachers. We like STUFF. I'm going to take the opportunity to present some items that can help you with your Common Core integration and some that are just plain old fun.

When you are looking for items for teaching, a great place to start, of course, is Teachers Pay Teachers. Besides my store, there are other great teacher stores with items that can make your teaching to the Core a breeze. Case in point:

  • Aileen Miracle is a popular TpT seller with a great product for kindergarten:
    Teaching Common Core through Music-Kindergarten. The kit can be used by both music teachers and classroom teachers and includes language arts and math integration with singing and movement. 
  • Cori Bloom's listening activity, Love Songs Music Listening Activity provides great writing opportunities for grades 2-3. Students have the opportunity to write and journal about the songs they hear.
  • I Am Bully-Proof Music provides many songs on character education, which are great segues writing 
     and critical thinking on facing life's challenges as a kid, such as Einstein.    
  • Tracy King is no longer known just for her great bulletin boards. She now has a wonderful exit ticket packet, which is an easy way to complete formative assessment.The packet includes tickets on assorted music objectives. Makes assessment more simple.
  • Highlighting one of mine:
    The Subject/Predicate Activity Game is a fun way to reinforce the LA objectives of sentence forms, while incorporating creative, higher order music/movement thinking. Students group together to form whacky sentences that can be creatively performed through vocalizing, movement.....for the rest of the class to guess!
Throwing in one more fun activity: my blogger friend Lindsay Jervis at The Pursuit of Joyfulness invited us to post about our favorite manipulatives. Well, I can get a little weird about that. When I want my kids to use something in a tactile manner, I often connect it with movement or games. One of my favorite activities is a note identification game popping balloons in Smartnotebook with a Koosh ball:

Good thing Smartboards are tough! (Games will be coming up in the store in the future.)

I also learned a great ball bouncing activity from my Level III Orff training at VanderCook University from Jean Hersey. The activity involves handballs, kids in a group, and numbering. 
The kids in each group are numbered, but they cannot be numbered in order. For instance, Kid 1 should NOT be next to Kid 2. Playing a work with a strong downbeat (I used "Thriller" by Michael Jackson), each student bounces the ball to the student with the next consecutive number. Sounds easy, right? Not when you start adding balls to the groups. <insert evil laugh here>. I took my fifth graders outside last year with my trusty sound cart and let them go. I think I got all my handballs back............

Thanks to all of you who participated in the comments about your requirement documentations and activities on Common Core. The insight is wonderful. I love hearing from you! I feel it is important that we understand what is going on from state to state so we can help each other out. 

Open for Discussion: YOUR Say......What Are YOU Expected To Do?

Music teachers: What type of Common Core objective integration have you been asked to incorporate into your music classrooms? (i.e., writing, literature, etc.). Are you asked to state what Common Core objectives you are covering in your lesson plans? Are you evaluated on incorporating them? Also, what type of higher level learning are you asked to prove? Do you need to cite Bloom's, or "I can" statements or targets? Open for discussion!

I believe this is something we need to share with each other as our schools and states work their way through this curriculum so we can help each other. Please leave your comments here. 

Coming soon.................products in Teachers Pay Teachers that can HELP you with your Common Core integration without pulling your hair out!
It's a pinning party! It all started with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room, and I'm hitching a ride to my 5 favorite pins from Pinterest.


A great place to get started on how you can incorporate Common Core and 21st Century standards into music.

I just love this bulletin board!

I've made one of these, and use clothespins with the students' class number. (See blog entry previous)

Another cute bulletin board idea!

Karen Stafford's pin on Pinterest.
I know Rob Amchin, and his YouTube videos are fabulous learning places.

If you have favorite music pins you'd like to share here, please let me know. If they are suitable for the theme of this blog, I will share them in a later segment.

Enjoy your Friday!

Refocus, Restructure, Revamp.....

It has apparently been a while since I've blogged. In the meantime, I've been finishing up a residency at the University of Kansas, one of the final steps in my (hopefully!) 5-year quest to earn a PhD in music education.

Because of finances, a teaching assistantship was not available for me this year. To help fund this endeavor (which means basically running two households,while my family is still holding down the homestead near St. Louis), I have been substitute teaching. I will be totally honest: I think every teacher ought to fill for a teacher of another subject at least once or twice in his/her career. Because Kansas has implemented Common Core (while Missouri is now in the pilot stages), I have learned quite a bit. One thing I've learned? I'm going to quit complaining, because our classroom teacher colleagues have some pretty difficult challenges facing them. Kudos to them as they work their best to meet all the demands required of them and their students.

So, I don't get too upset when I hear that music teachers (art teachers, P.E.....all across the curriculum) have to incorporate language arts and math into their lesson plans (unless demands get ridiculous, like mandating certain reading days or asking special areas to grade or literally TEACH something for which they are not certified). Other than that, I look at it this way: we've been doing this forever. How often have you heard music teachers say that? "We've been doing this forever". Veteran teachers know this is just another strategy that may or may not go away in a few years, another form and level of curriculum that has been implemented for years. The demand for accountability is higher, to be sure. Many of our specials colleagues are being evaluated based on test scores for which they have no control. (For that matter, how much control do classroom teachers have on test scores?).Students may be required to do work that is probably beyond their development stages.

But, specials have that extra benefit: we can help reinforce some of these objectives and still stay true to our own discipline. Consider all you do. Take a look at some of the Common Core standards . You'll notice there are parallels between music and language arts/math. Basically, all we need to do is make our administrators and parents aware of this. How can we let them know?

  1. Your kids are smart.THEY make the connection. I don't know how many times I have worked on music objectives, and students say, "Hey, we just learned patterns in class". "Hey, that rhymes." "Hey, this is like fractions." "Hey, we estimate distance in class.". Connect these with short writing assignments. Hey, if you have to incorporate writing anyway, here's a prompt: ask the students to write about something they do in music that is just like something they have learned in their classroom.
  2. Invite your administrator to PARTICIPATE in activities such as Orff process lessons in learning an orchestration, composing a song, or learning a folk dance. Kids learn best by doing; so do adults. 
  3. Include correlating Common Core standards in your written lesson plans. I don't know whether or not your administrator looks at your lesson plans, but I believe chances are increasing that they will, with more and more states adapting new teacher evaluation assessments. It is one extra step, but it is a relatively easy step. You probably don't have to chance your basic plan, but often a "lay person" to music does not get the cognitive correlation. Make it a little easier for them. Besides, when you write the Common Core standards in your lesson plan, you appear to be a team player and they know that you are at least trying to familiarize yourself with the current trend. 
As I contemplate possibly writing something about Common Core and music for my dissertation, I hope to come up with new ideas and insights on the subject. Please feel free to share any thoughts that you might have. I know the topic has many teachers concerned. I think, as we work together and advocate for ourselves AND our classroom colleagues, eventually, this too, shall pass.

I think Common Core has its benefits. (Running and hiding!). If you take away the heavy assessment part, I like the accountability for higher learning. I would like to see the standards be more aligned to the acknowledged and research-based child development stages. I would like the higher learning strategies of creativity and analysis and experimentation to become more common-place, instead of drill, which, to me, defeats the purpose of the 21st Century Goals. What are your thoughts?

Shameless commercial plug: I've been growing my store slowly but surely at Teachers Pay Teachers Store. As time goes on, I plan to add more Common Core-connected lesson plans and ideas. Please, I hope you will stop by my Facebook page and like it. Special deals, frenzies, and more are available to my followers there.

And for those of you suffering through possibly yet another snow day tomorrow.......spring is coming. It has to :-) Think about this to get you through it: