Thursday, June 2, 2016

Winding Down... Or Up?

Kiddos are gone, have been for a week, the halls are full of recycle bins stuffed to the gills, pieces of paper are strewn everywhere, bits of detritus scattered about classrooms and hallways.  Teachers sit at desks among four sterile, unadorned walls, looking bleary eyed after ordering textbooks and supplies for next year and doing some early planning.  In my room the ukuleles and Orff instruments are packed away, the bookshelves have orange posterboard covering them and the unpitched percussion and large drums are covered with drop cloths. There is nothing bright, colorful, or eye catching adorning the walls, there is no life here.  But wait, there is a music teacher, sitting in a chair, her eyes sparkling, the ideas practically palpable in the air.  What is she doing?  Planning, thinking, evaluating, and getting excited about the possibilities.

This has been a very exciting school year for me; we began to look at ways to deepen learning with our students through true integration.  It has been fun, and yes, challenging.. um.. how do we authentically integrate camouflage or water into music.  Social studies has been crazy fun to integrate, as has geography and some mathematical concepts.  Verbs and adjectives were broken into syllables, transferred to musical notation, and we have danced and sung and spun around planets and galaxies!  The past two days have been filled with meetings with grade level teachers to further develop our understandings of how to team teach, integrate, and help teachers to integrate art, music, Spanish, technology, Science, etc. into THEIR classrooms; we're not there yet, but it's an exciting time of change!


One of my goals for the end of this school year was to look at all the picture books and lessons and catalog and cross reference them by skill, concept, theme, etc.  HUGE undertaking as I use so many books.  Click here  for previous posts about books I use; this is a smidgen of the lessons I use in the music classroom. 
Another of my goals was to go through and re-write my entire inventory- every jingle bell, boomwhacker, and book.  Every drum, dragon (stuffed), and dance CD.  HUGE job, but last time I did it was 10 years ago; I have simply added an addendum to the first list every year.  It took me almost 2 full days but I am so glad it is done!  It also helped me to look at a book, CD/video and ask, "Do I really use this?" and "Will I really use this?"  It helps me to focus on the coming year and evaluate what songs/games/activities I use and are they sequentially correct and appropriate for each grade level and the various learners we have.  Tough stuff, not easy, but so rewarding for an organization nut like me. Now my CD's are organized by Children's, with like musicians/composers grouped together, and I will be able to lay my hands on all my global music when I have a teacher wander in and ask if I have a CD of Peruvian music.  Yup... it's right here!  Although this happens less and less with the popularity and plethora of music available on youtube!
I have also been thinking a lot of how I spend my time giving back and am excited to go to an assisted living facility to conduct a therapeutic drum circle... need to spend more time researching that one before I "give it a go"!  Change is exciting and I am pushing into an area I haven't experienced and can already feel the flutters of nervousness extending into my quickened heart rate!
I hope you have an amazing end of your school year and are able to find the time now or over the summer to mentally unpack your school year and evaluate the effectiveness of your lessons.  I hope you try something new or something different and step into discomfort, you never know where it will lead!

9 comments:

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  3. Hi Aimee, I discovered your blog yesterday and have been enjoying all of your creative ideas. I start my 3rd year as an elementary music teacher this Fall. I use GamePlan books, but I can feel the need to start branching out and relying less on them. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about this transition. It seems a bit overwhelming to sequence new lessons of my own and to make sure they are in context with an overall yearly plan. Maybe the first step is to look at what GamePlan is doing and then try and to find another lesson that is similar. The GamePlan stuff is great, but I'm wanting to branch out. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. GamePlan is a wonderful place to start; how lucky you are to have had it so early in your teaching career. I still use GamePlan occasionally, but I supplement a LOT! Since you asked for advice, here's mine. First, determine where specific lessons fit in your curriculum; do you teach half notes late in first or early in second grade? Do you begin iconic notation in first or later? I think your idea of using GamePlan as a jumping off plan is a good one, but know that your students might be ready for something more advanced (depending on students in the class, frequency of lessons, etc.). Develop an overall plan for where you want your students to understand/demonstrate by the time they leave you for middle school and then work backwards based on what the students can achieve. Start slowly and think of teaching as a marathon; develop 4-5 great lessons this year and 4-5 next year, in a few more years of teaching you will have 15-20 amazing lessons you will tweak every year. I am entering my 23rd year of teaching and never do the exact same thing as my students are different or I see a different way of teaching the same material.
      Best wishes and let me know if you need any help! I love mentoring and helping new teachers! Blessings!

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  4. Great advice about thinking backwards from middle school and developing a few lessons per year. I like the marathon analogy. I'm a runner! Thanks the reply. I really appreciate it! I teach at a private school in the Seattle area and don't have a school district of other teachers to collaborate with. Your advice is meaningful. Thanks!

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    1. I also teach in a private school. Have you joined a local orff chapter? You will find some others to collaborate with there. Also, try to attend the orff national conference coming up in november... Well worth it!!

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  5. Yes, I'm signing up with the Evergreen Orff Chapter this year and attending some events. I'm excited, thanks!

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    1. I am so excited for you to begin working with a chapter! They are great places and people to learn from. Get involved and ask questions!

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