Monday, June 24, 2013

Exit Tickets

Exit Tickets are quick assessments you can do as kids are wrapping up an activity.  I have seen several different versions of these, some using Post-it Notes.  Although I know there is value in written assessment and I do use it on occasion, having kids write quickly, in my experience, never works out.  I would rather do something aural/oral on the way out.  I've used my rhythm cards several times throughout the year as exit tickets.  Here are a couple:

1.  To assess understanding of the whole rest/whole note in 3rd grade.  Each student performed an 8 beat rhythm pattern containing one or the other before lining up to leave.  Sounds like it would take forever but we completed this within a couple of minutes.  Way better than searching for pencils and clipboards and getting a post it note.  Ugh!  I hate tedious time spent on passing out materials.

2.  In 1st grade I assessed note names using rhythm cards.  After labeling quarter/eighth notes, I would point to a note randomly on the rhythm cards and ask students to name it.  I could see whether they knew the name instantly or at least knew where to find the answer in my room.

These are just 2 ways I've used rhythm cards for exit tickets.  Do you have any other ideas?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Handy Headphones

I'm sure I'm not presenting anything new with this one but it is something that makes a huge difference for my kiddos.

We have 3 self contained VE classrooms at our school and some of these students attend specials as part of their IEP.  When kids from the VE units join us I want them to experience music but there are times when this interaction can be stressful for them.

Many of my students who are on the spectrum have a hard time with loud sounds.  This can be hard for some kids, especially when we discuss soft/loud or piano/forte in the lower grades or play recorders as a group in the upper grades.  I happen to have a listening center equipped with 6 sets of headphones.  In cases when I have a friend who is having a hard time participating because of sensitivity to sound these headphones come in handy.

I always have a set at the front of the room and I have made sure that the paras who attend specials with these students know where they are.  Having them ready helps all of my students participate successfully in the lesson and prevents me from having to search for a solution on the spot.

This simple step allows the child to stay in my room and participate, which is what I want, and it ensures that it is a positive interaction.  The last thing I want is for a child to associate my room with something unpleasant.  Plus, keeping things positive aids in transition time.  If music is associated with a positive experience, a child is going to have an easier time transitioning and then participating in my lessons.

What do you have in your bag of tricks to help all students successfully participate in your lessons?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Survey Winner!

Thank you to all of you who completed the survey.  The information you provided will help me to shape my blog. 

And the winner of my Sink the Ship game is......Krista Hillier!!!  Congratulations!  I will contact you about claiming your prize!

If you didn't win this one, don't worry, I am planning another giveaway.  Look for more details throughout the summer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Brand New Beginnings

There are only 2 more days with kids and 2 days of post-planning before I am done for the year.  While I love these last few days with my students before summer vacation (I really do, despite the fact that they are bouncing off the walls!), this year I am just as excited as the kids to start the break.  I'd love to say that it's because I have an amazing trip planned to the beach to relax by the shore but it is far from that.

In January my best buddy and I, Mrs. M (the art teacher from my school), embarked on the journey of starting our own business.  I am proud to say that, after a lot of research and hard work, I am the Co-Owner of a Summer Art and Music Camp!  While I won't be lying on the beach for the first few weeks of summer, I am relishing the opportunity to make music with children and share the experience of running our own business.

Tonight I was working on some of my camp lessons and going through some supplies I have gathered from family and friends over the years and this is what I camp up with....

It's kind of hard to tell what they are from the picture, so let me explain.  I had a bunch of chopsticks that I was trying to use in some way and then it hit me.  Cup Drumming!  After unwrapping a set and trying it out on a plastic cup, I was happy with the sound but the chopsticks were splintering and a bit flimsy.  

Being the band nerd that I am, I remembered that the drum line in marching band used electrical tape to wrap their sticks.  So, I ransacked my tape drawer and found some!  Yes, between two teachers, we have a whole tape drawer in our house.  We have everything from duct to scotch to double sided and beyond.  Then I wrapped the sticks in an assortment of colors.

Here is what they look like in use:

My patient husband as a hand model.

While this is something that I am planning for camp, there are so many practical applications for the classroom.  Here are some I've thought of so far:

1.  Play-a-long to famous pieces.
The sound of the drumming is light enough that you could have a whole class playing-a-long without it covering the musical selection.  If you do your sticks multi-colored like mine, you could have different groups play-a-long to different sections in the music; A-red, B-blue, etc.

2.  Centers
These would be great for rhythmic centers.  Again the light sound wouldn't be distracting to kids working other places in the room.

3.  Improv
These would be nice for a variation on an improv activity.  I'm thinking Q and A.

How do you think you could use these in your classroom?

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