Countdown to First Day: Be Prepared for Your Music Classroom with Checklists        It's the middle of July, and you know you still have vacation left. But, you are noticing announcements of PD Days for July. You see the dreaded Back to School Sales. It dawns on you that the fight for the copiers will begin August 1. And unfortunately, the COVID cloud is hanging over once again as the vaccination dance continues in earnest. Then...............THE LETTER arrives. I don't know what you receive, but we always got the "Yeah, it's starting!" letter from the superintendent, along with schedules and must-dos for convocations, team meetings, deadlines for insurance, building meetings, deadlines for watching the required HR videos.....the things that make your head spin because there are so many, no matter how experienced you are. Top that with excitement of seeing colleagues again, and suddenly you realize you're on Day One, and your bulletin board isn't finished,...
  It's summer. It's time to chill with Netflix binges and poolside lounging. Some of us obey when we hear people say things like, "It's summer. Get your mind off of school!" Of course, then your hackles get up when people say, "It must be nice to have three months off." and you want to be able to prove just how busy you were on your more-like-two-months-break. Or, you just try to get in as much living as you can and you don't worry about what others say.. Go, you! But, for many of us teachers, it's also a time of ruminating what went wrong last year and endless PD book reading, workshops, and fretting.  I get it. I was there! Anytime I was on vacation, and my husband and I traveled, he got pretty peeved when I wanted to take my computer. Computer stayed home, but sometimes I was busier using my phone to check school email (as little as there was in summer) than I was taking pictures of gorgeous mountains. When we splurged on that Danube rivercrui...
One of my most favorite assignments ever in my teaching career was teaching summer school music at the elementary level. The coordinator of summer school when I taught it knew the students needed down time. They needed enrichment. They needed higher level thinking. Summer school offered enrichment options for kids whose parents choose to have them attend. Then there were the "remedial" students. They could not sign up for classroom enrichment and could only attend "specials" if their work was finished. You know, those kids who needed art, music, and P.E. the most? But that's another soapbox for another time.....Anyway, after three years, the district assigned another coordinator. Gone were all the enrichment opportunities, including (you guessed it).....art, music, and P.E. Still another soapbox, but I digress.......Summer school music opportunities were a treasure for both the kids and me.      If you are considering teaching summer school or have been assigned...
Children's Literature Corner: I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes and Gordon James This beautiful little treasure was written to the memories of young Black men such as Tamir Rice and acknowledges the inner strength in young Black boys, or any child in particular. This book would be beautiful to use for Social Emotional Learning or any time a teacher wants to highlight positivity and self-esteem. Musically, this book can also tell this story, with some enhancements. Positive words such as "energy", "go-getter", "leader." This words can be either used as ostinati,  as an expressive speech piece accompanying the reading of the book. Let me give you an example: Example One: ostinato Example Two: expressive speech Adding a little melody with a book that intersperses with sections of the book re-emphasizes the tone and lesson of the book. The little melody I wrote is: You can also add instruments to enhance certain words like ENERGY (with a drum roll or...
Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Associate. When I link items to Amazon in any of my blogs, the link leads to them item. If you purchase through the link, I get a small percentage. So, you don't have to, buy if you do purchase through the link, I really appreciate it! We've all had them. We have our usual concepts that we teach year after year. But somehow, we tire of the same presentation. We might want to create a new theme. But, we've used the usual holidays, music themes, general sports themes, etc.  Why not try crazy holidays? There are various websites that list things like "National Ice Cream Day" or "National Save the Kumquat Day" (OK, I don't know about that one). Consider the fun it would be to introduce these to your kids! Here are some ideas for holidays January-April.   JANUARY January 21 is "Squirrel Appreciation Day." I don't honestly appreciate squirrels when they're in my birdfeeder, but they're cute nonetheless. Ther...
I usually had a difficult time getting some fun stuff in for Thanksgiving for my first and second graders because they were getting ready for their holiday programs. However, I thought it was important that we start rehearsals early enough to 1. incorporate concepts within the music and 2. add other fun stuff that had nothing to do with program songs.  In November, one of the most favorite games was "Shoo, Turkey." There are various arrangements of this song/game in publication, but the one I always used was from the Bessie Jones/Bess Lomax Hawes book Step It Down.  This is a great call and response song you can use for assessment! Alan Lomax, a well-known folk musicologist, recorded Bessie Jones singin g this ditty during an interview on the music she remembered growing up in a Georgia farming community. (By the way, her biographical information in Step It Down is fascinating! If you don't have this book, you should. It is a treasure.) The "call" in the record...