Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Some days, no matter how great your lesson, some students have other plans. I have a class of 32 non-band/non-orchestra 6th graders. They are not the brightest and the best, but most days they get the job done. Sometimes I have to explain and demonstrate that job several times and in different ways. Some of the boys want to hide in the back and not participate. This is not permitted. They are there to do their job which is move, sing and play. I had to go back and walk through each step of the body percussion piece with 4 of the boys when I noticed that they weren't doing anything. They finally realized that I wasn't going to do anything else until they attempted the piece. I explained that performing the piece was what we do in this class, broke it down into tiny steps and guided them through it until they could perform it with the class. They succeeded eventually.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Student Involvement or Teacher Involvement

I am at my worst in teaching when I am the one doing the work in my class. I am teaching elementary music now and I have to constantly examine my lesson plans and monitor who it is that is working in my class, the students or myself. Who spends the most time talking or singing, myself or my students. Yes, it's ok for the students to talk more than the teacher, as long as they are on task and it's a part of the lesson plan. Why should I have to individually ask students fact questions? That is a time waster and the only people that you can guarantee are paying attention are the teacher and the one student who is being addressed.
My class was working on a circle dance and I wanted to check to see if they understood what I meant by clockwise and counterclockwise direction. It's a digital age. Instead of asking one student if they new what an analog clock was, I asked them to tell students around them what an analog clock was. I could hear from their mass conversations that they knew the answer so I just asked the full group to show me with their hands a clockwise circle. The whole process was quicker than asking one or two students individually and had everyone involved. They did the work and not me.

Orff Approach.

I just completed my level one Orff completion. The Orff Approach is great for keeping all students involved. If you're an elementary music teacher and are not using some of Orff and Keetman's approaches to teaching music, you and your students are missing out.

Check out my other website for more information:

Friday, June 1, 2007

No One Works for Nothing

Who works for nothing? Would you? Me neither and not many of my students would either. Why do I work? Money is the obvious answer or at least for what money buys. I also work for recognition and for a sense of accomplishment. I work because I am interested in helping people. I work because I think my subject matter is interesting and meaningful. I work for many reasons besides money and so do my students. Work is no fun without some sort of pay off. Work without a payoff is slavery or at least punishment. Why and for what do my students work?
Some like to do a job because it makes them feel important or in charge of something. I wouldn't be excited to be the person who answers the door and greets visitors, but I have students who think that being a door monitor is the coolest job in choir. I pay them for doing the job also. I pay them with bucks, points and there are other names for them. Ms. Casey could give them CC's. I could call mine BB's. Who would like to take this note to the counselor for 25 BB's? I have a job that pays 100 BB's a week. Who would like to be trained to set up the computer cart before school starts each day?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Classroom Rules

A responsible student needs to know the rules of the class.

I "borrowed" these three rules from a wise master teacher.
Now they are mine.

1. Raise your hand and wait to be called on before speaking.
2. Raise your hand and wait to be called on before getting permission to get out of your seat.
3. Follow all the rules in the school handbook.

These are the rules, but we have dozens of procedures.
Each procedure must be practiced until it becomes automatic. More on procedures later.

My List

Here is a list of jobs that have to be done to keep my classroom operating:

1. Answer the door for visitors and student aides who frequent the class.
2. Help with roll checking
3. Papers-passing out, collecting and filing
4. Passing out and collecting music
5. Handing out pencils to students who have lost theirs.
6. Filing music
7.Filing tests
8. Keeping chairs in order
9. Posting work on walls
10. Cleaning chairs
11. Picking up paper
12. Leading physical warm ups-Simon Sez, stretching etc.
13. Changing PowerPoint Slides
14. Operating the CD player
15. Time keeping.
What jobs do you have in your classroom that can be done by trained students?

Who Does the Work in Your Classroom?

Make a list of the tasks you have to fulfill to keep your classes running. Look at the list. Do you see any tasks that can be completed by a competent student? Are these tasks the reason you started teaching? Did you often dream....when I grow up I want to file papers, sharpen pencils, answer the door to my classroom, operate a cd player etc.? I don't think so. As a music teacher I want to choose suitable music for my singers then help them gain the skills to perform the music with knowledge of what is on the page and how to achieve the goal of intelligent singing as a musical ensemble.

The student must be competent. That means they must be trained to do those tasks, but I'm getting ahead of myself.