Thursday, October 29, 2015

Differentiating With Student Tutors in the Music Classroom

It can be hard to manage a classroom while trying to give each student what he or she needs. I have developed a recorder program that enables my 5th grade class of 27 students to receive individualized help and learn at their own pace.

Five years ago, my favorite mentor teacher and I designed a black belt system for the recorder. We incorporated 24 folk songs that my students know and love since they started singing them in Kindergarten. The students earn 9 belts culminating with a black belt.

Yarn and beads for the Black Belt

At the beginning of 5th grade, I review the folk songs by singing them, doing the solfa hand signs (solfege), playing the associated song games, and reading the notes. This builds up a great desire in the students to start recorder, which starts at the beginning of the 2nd term, only after every student can read the notes for the black belt system.

I start the students as a group to get them all through the first three belts in the system. The most eager students come to school 15 minutes early to work on the recorder and pass off songs to me. Some students start earning their black belt in a matter of weeks and become tutors in order to help other students learn and pass off their songs.

For the past four years, every single 5th grader has earned their recorder black belt. They wanted to learn even more songs, so we now have 75 songs beyond the black belt. When students earn the black belt, they receive a special black belt chart on the bulletin board outside my classroom. They get a picture icon on the chart for each song they learn beyond the black belt. The students who pass off every available song also use music software to write arrangements of their favorite songs to play on the recorder.

My bulletin board gets taken over by black belt charts

This is a win/win system. The advanced students develop leadership while advancing at their own pace. I also have happy students who are motivated by passing off fun and interesting songs. All students work hard to earn their black belt so they can move on to the extra belt songs and also be a tutor. It is amazingly motivating. 

This student has earned a ton of belts beyond the black belt

My free black belt system has 9 belts (24 songs) and the details of how I run my program. 

My 315 page Recorder Mega Pack has everything you need to further motivate and keep your students learning way beyond the black belt.

This is a HUGE hit at my school and is something that even little brothers and sisters look forward to! It has become a big tradition at my school and is a wonderful way to help every student reach his or her potential.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Creepy Eyeball Activities

Creepy eyeballs have always gotten my attention around Halloween. They are so colorful and well- creepy! I have seen posts by regular classroom teachers and came up with my own game. Read on to get my creepy eyeball ideas with freebies, other music teachers' ideas with freebies and a classroom teacher's ideas with freebies, just in time for Halloween! 

Where did I get those creepy eyeballs and pumpkin trays? I got them at Dollar Tree. If you can't find the eyeballs there, the Halloween stores also carry them. If you can't find the pumpkin tray, you can use an egg carton. 

I came up with some short melodic phrases to put on the ball and a creepy eyeball active activity where students will start in 2 teams with a container for each team's eyeballs to play a fun game. 

First review the ten phrases for the class on your promethean or smart board or posters, having kids figure them out. 

Make two teams. The first person on the team will take a creepy eyeball out of the container and sing it. He can turn to the team if help is needed to sing it. He will then put the eyeball on a spoon and walk it carefully down to the pumpkin tray. If it falls, he must go back behind the original line and start again and then put it into the spot with solfa (solfege) that matches the melody. 

When every spot in the pumpkin tray is filled, the teacher will check to see if it is correct. If any are not correct, the teacher will put those ones back into the container behind the team line and the team will continue to play until it is filled. The first team with the tray filled with the correct answers will win. 

**This same game could be used using an egg carton, instead of using the pumpkin tray. I also added a 2D pumpkin tray and 2D eyeballs in case you can't find the creepy eyeballs near you.

While writing my blog post, I saw that Tina Morgan wrote on Facebook about an activity she did using crazy eyeballs. She made a station where students would take an eyeball with dynamic symbols out of a plastic cauldron and put them into containers with labels that with the meaning of each dynamic symbol. Tina gave me permission to share her game and make labels and pieces for making it.


Eyes on Dynamics Game

Once they matched the eyeballs, she hoped to have them write the Italian term, the dynamic symbol and the meaning on a worksheet. She found that she ran out of time in the short time she had, but could do that in another period. 

Get my Melody Match, along with things for Tina's Eyes on Dynamics game, plus pieces to also use the dynamics in my game as well! 

I also found that Tracy King has written about using rhythm for her Creepy eyeballs. You can read about her activity at her blog. She has the funnest activities!

Finally, read about some activities and get some freebies if you are a regular classroom teacher at Kindergarten Smorgasbord's blog. She made ten frames and lots of fun activities!

Kindergarten Smorgasbord I Can Count Freebie

We had so much fun last year and I look forward to playing our Creepy Eyeball Melody Match again this year!