Friday, December 16, 2016

NOW: Five Minute Friday

Going to try something different today....just a bit of brainstorming for Five Minutes on words that catch the essence of living NOW...not in the past...not in the future:

N:  New, Not planned, nicer than expected, not in control, notice other people,
O:  over the top!, open to change, over disappointment, onward, observing details, ok with it,
W:  WOW!  Wonderful!  whimsical, with those around me, win, whispers to each other, winks, winter stillness, warm coffee

Friday, December 9, 2016

JOY: Five Minute Friday

Joy.  Where does joy originate in my life?  Not from external circumstances, not from my own efforts, but from the deep assurance that I have that God is in control of my life.  If I were to rely on myself or my environment to place that joy in my heart, I would come up empty many times.
For me, real joy is deep within me.  It might not always be evident at a passing glance, but I hope that upon deeper insight, my joy is reflected in how I live my life.  Joy is not something to hoard, but rather to be shared.  Joy is contagious, joy is comforting, joy is real when your life is focused on the very real Love that Jesus has for each one of us.  
Where do you find your joy?

Friday, December 2, 2016

CRAVE: 5 Minute Friday

When I think of the word "crave" my mind often goes to those intangible things in life.  I crave time with my family, hugs, kind words, opportunities to help others, peace, joy in my soul, an atmosphere of love.
When I crave something physical, like sweets, I go hunting for something usually in the kitchen.  What is the most likely place for me to find something sweet?  Not the laundry room, not the living room, but the kitchen.  If I spend my time searching in other rooms, I will come up empty-handed, and will have wasted precious time that could have been spent enjoying those cookies I made earlier that sit on the kitchen counter! My hunger would have been satisfied!
Where do I go when I am craving spiritual fulfillment?  Watching sitcoms on TV probably won't fill that craving.  Mindlessly cruising the Internet and buying more "stuff" won't do it either.  I need to focus in on the most likely place to satisfy this craving!  For me, it's spending time in prayer, reading Scripture, and both talking and LISTENING to what God has to say to me.  It's taking the time to be still, be silent, await the nourishment that will satisfy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November....Thankful for Much

It's the last day of November, and our school district is having Snow Day #2 already!  Two days in a row the snow has fallen and the wind has blow it into drifts everywhere!  Sounds like a good time to write a blog!  November has flown by, as it always seems to do as we enter into the holiday season!  

Third Graders are preparing two songs on their recorders for their performance on December 13.  We have now learned five different note fingerings:  B-A-G-high C- and low E.  
Students did an activity that is part of the Candy Corn Music Puzzle Bundle by Tracy King on TPT.  The bundle includes puzzles for Dynamics, Notes and Rests and Recorders.  In this activity, students matched up note names, notes on the staff and the corresponding fingering on the recorder.  It was an enjoyable way to learn!
The highlight of our month was the entire school performing for our Veterans on Veterans Day.  We sang "Thankful for the USA" written by Teresa Jennings.  It's a fun, upbeat song, and we enjoyed learning it.  With the audience, we also sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", a song by American writer Julia Ward Howeusing, the music from the song "John Brown's Body".  Students sang three verses to this patriotic song, and from Kindergarten to Sixth grade, it was a favorite!  Students dressed up in their patriotic attire and proudly honored the veterans who were able to attend.  Many classes helped decorate the gym, with many many art projects.  It was great!
A special part of the day was that the Veterans stayed and shared lunch with the students.  Two of our grandchildren were happy to share some special time with Grandpa!

"I'm The Fastest Turkey" has to be students' all-time favorite musical game to play at Thanksgiving time!  The game is an echo game, with elements of Duck Duck Goose involved.  My beautiful turkey puppet is used as a prop.  Mr. Turkey gets lots of petting too!  For me, it gives me a chance to hear the students sing alone, to assess their singing voices in areas such as pitch, rhythm and dynamics.  I think that even high school students would play this game if given a chance!

Students in grades 4-6  in technology class have been blogging this month.  They are finishing up blogs on a favorite book they have read recently.  If you have one of these students in your family, ask them to share their blog with you!  Third graders will begin blogging.  Students are required to apply what they have been taught in other subject areas when they are writing....good grammar, correct spelling, appropriate sentence structure.  There are different specific requirements for each grade level, corresponding to what's required of them in their other classes.  
Integral to writing is the skill of proofreading.  Students not only proofread their own writing, but work together with a partner to proof each other's work.  It's always good to have another set of eyes look at your work!

The holidays provide a variety of games that not only work on computer skills such as mouse control, Internet navigation, typing etc. but also skills from other academic areas.  Kindergarten students reviewed counting by 1's, 5's and 10's while completing this turkey activity.  

Students in all grade levels continue to improve their speed and accuracy when keyboarding.  "Awesome posture" is something we visit about frequently as well!
Holiday Concerts are coming soon!  Hope to see many friends and family there to share the joy of making music with our students!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Surrender: Five Minute Friday

Sometimes we hear the word "surrender" and think of things like "giving up" "Throwing in the towel" "letting the other guy win".  These are all ideas that reflect a lack of achievement, a loss, failure.  There's really not anything uplifting here is there?
For me, when I think of surrender, I think of freedom.  When I surrender my agenda, my day, my life to the will of God, I am not bound by what might happen.  Plans hardly ever materialize the way we have imagined them.  What I've learned is to give that control to God.  HE alone knows the totality of my days, of my entire life!  When I have surrendered control to Him, instead of stressing about details that are not perfectly in order, I can relax, and look around for the blessings that are about to happen BECAUSE my plan did not come to fruition!
I'm not an expert at this stuff.  I am very much a "Type A" personality.  I plan ahead, I make notes, I get the word out, I think about what order to do things as I lay in bed at night.  BUT, each day I am better at not melting down because the floor didn't get cleaned, or because I forgot to cook the vegetables, or because not everyone could come.  Instead, I am that God has this.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: ENJOY!

For me, it's important that whatever we are called to do in life that we ENJOY it!  There is so much around me to enjoy...both big and small.  Even in the midst of stress, there are things to choose to enjoy.  To FIND JOY!  Here are some things that I enjoy in life:

Teaching:  I love to share my knowledge with others, both young and old.  To see the light turn on when another person understands something is awesome!

My Family:  I am a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, and a great-grandparent!  Sure, there are times when "enjoy" may not be the best description of events...BUT overall, there is always something to find joy in.  Might be small, might be large...but there is always something.

Living on a farm:  This was not on my bucket list 30 years ago, for sure!  BUT....I LOVE IT!  I love looking out my window and seeing the neighbor's cows grazing, the crops growing, wildlife, open spaces.  I also love the feeling of safety here.  Neighbors are people I can count on for help if I need it.  

Being part of a small community:  People are quick to help each other, to celebrate with each other, to just be with each other.  Our faith community as well is small enough that I know most of the parishioners not just on the surface, but on a personal level.

I could go on for quite awhile!!!  But time's up!

Friday, November 11, 2016

COMMON: 5 Minute Friday

Common.  For me, I think of the words ordinary, unsurprising, plain, many of, not unique..... when I think of "common."  I am common.  I am a mother, a teacher, a musician, a lover, a leader...many others in our world fulfill these same roles, and many much better than I do, I'm sure!  Yet, I know that really, I am NOT common.  Neither are you. 
We are each unique beings. created in God's own image.  Our talents, our vocations, ARE unique to us in the way that we live them out.  We each have been chosen to be EXTRAORDINARY in this world.
Think of the people God has chosen in the past to be EXTRAORDINARY.......COMMON people such as Abraham, David, Moses, Mary, Joseph.....none of these were royalty, they were people just like you and I!  Inasmuch as we all share COMMON experiences in our lives, we are also each so very UNIQUE as an EXTRAORDINARY creation of our God!

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Journey Begins with One Step

Five-Minute Friday:  Journey

We are always on a journey in our so many areas of our life.  The journey isn't always easy, though.  I saw a quote the other day, it was something like this: "Make the boulders in front of you stepping stones to a closer relationship to God."  I know that when my journey has been difficult, hey, agonizing, terrifying, heart-wrenching...not JUST difficult....those are the times when I have grown.  Those are times when I have learned more about who I am and who God is.  Those are times when I have, once again, relinquished my own control to One who is really in control.
I do savor those spans of time in life when things are going smoothly.  No one in the family is in a crisis, we are all getting along, life is good.  However, that is rare!  Especially in a large family such as ours.  Even when I may THINK that life is on a smooth path, there is usually something going on that is causing pain somewhere to someone I love and care about.
I can only put my trust in God to take care of my friends and family, to guide them on their own journeys, to guide me on my journey in this life.  We all long for reaching the same destination, eternal life with Jesus.  Keeping my eyes focused on that makes my journey worthwhile!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday: EAT

Joining in on "Five Minute Friday" this morning....a community of bloggers joining together to write for 5 minutes each Friday on a one-word prompt given Thursday evening.  Here I go!


Two things come to daily eating habits as well as how I spiritually feed my soul.  Eating is necessary to live a healthy life.  In the past few weeks I've been concentrating on changing some of my eating habits.  Much less sugar, gluten and dairy.  The results have been good.  I've lost weight and I'm feeling good.  Attention and diligence are paying off for me.  I do not give in as much as I used to when I'm confronted with options that are not good for my body.  Not to say that I don't enjoy a piece of birthday cake on a special occasion, but now I'm more mindful of what I'm eating, and make conscious choices, not mindless choices.
Spiritually, when I think of the word eat, Eucharist comes to mind.  The pure joy and total satisfaction when receiving the Eucharist never lessens.  The oneness with Christ, the coming together of a community of Christians for worship, it is at once new each time, yet also a comforting experience that I know I can always count on.  The conscious decision to partake in this sacrament nourishes my spiritual self as well, providing graces to rely upon throughout my days.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rockin' October!!

We are closing out our first 9-weeks of school at the end of next week!  Can you believe it!!  October is half gone, and at school we are in full "Autumn-Halloween-Veterans Day-" mode.  Here's a quick glimpse of October in the music and technology classrooms at MGS.
Musically speaking, October is a fun fun time! 
Native American Day provided us with the opportunity to hear the Legend of the Flute as well as listen to some traditional flute music and discuss and watch some pow wow dancing.  Many students have been very active in pow wow dancing, and we enjoyed them sharing their talents with the class as they danced for us.  We all learned some basic pow wow dance steps too!
Students are experimenting with spooky movements and sounds, environmental noises, and, as always, practicing keeping the steady beat!  One of the all-time favorites of students is a simple song called "Pass The Pumpkin"  We sing and pass the pumpkin around a circle to the steady beat of the song.  If the pumpkin lands on YOU at the end of the song, you move to the rhythm sticks to play the steady beat!  Another FAVORITE game is "Pass The Witch's Broomstick", especially with the older grades.  This video will give you an idea of the song/game.

Literature comes to life this month as well as we read/sing/act out a variety of stories including, 
"There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly"
"The Monster Mash"
"Pete The Cat: 5 Little Pumpkins"
"Shake Dem Halloween Bones"
"Pumpkin Soup"
"The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything"
"There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bat"
"There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves"
"There Was an Old Lady.........." etc. etc.
Jerald holding the Old Lady while classmates
stuffed her with a fly, spider, bird, cat, dog,
sheep, cow and HORSE (She's dead of course!)
As many 3rd grade parents have probably heard,  we have begun to learn how to play recorders!  So far, we have learned B-A-and G!  The students are quick learners and finding out what it means to be a part of an ensemble.  They have found that there is as much listening is involved as there is playing!  Hopefully they will be performing with the 4th graders at the Winter Program in December!
Veterans Day is fast approaching, and the students are looking forward to performing for our Veterans.  Our celebration will be held on Friday, Nov. 11 at 10:00 am at the MGS Activity Center.  Families and friends are invited to attend!
Before this month ends, students WILL be rehearsing selections for their Winter Program, to be held on December 13 for Preschool through 4th graders and on December 5 for grades 5-12.  Both performances will be held at the Activity Center at 7:00 PM.


Students in Technology Classes are immersed in learning new skills and technological terms as well as how to apply them to real life!  Kindergarteners have become proficient in navigation on the computer.  Activities are helping them locate keys on the keyboard as well as perfect their mouse skills.  They have made some scaaaaaary looking pumpkins this month!
Students in grades 1-2 have explored many ways of improving upon their keyboarding skills, and will soon be creating some of their own products with word processing.
Grades 3-4 have been discussing topics such as Internet Privacy, Cyberbullying, and how to safely and effectively do an Internet Search. A favorite way for them to review technology vocab is through the game Kahoot! The game is energizing, fun, and very competitive!

If you have a 5th of 6th grader, as them what a Boolean Operator is! 
 Do you know what it is??
Copyright, plagiarism, fair use, and royalty free music are timely topics we've been exploring.  The history behind these laws and how they impact both industry and personal creativity has been surprising to many students.
Stay Tuned for more next month!

Friday, September 30, 2016

♫♩♫♩Instrument Petting Zoo♫♩♫♩

Parent Teacher Conferences at Martin Grade School last night had an extra dimension added this year.  Ms. Tiensvold and I put together and Instrument Petting Zoo for parents and children to come and explore after their classroom conferences.  It was a BIG hit!  We used materials from TPT by David Row at Make Moments Matter to plan our night.  His signs, posters etc. were a BIG help!  There are several follow-up activities as well to take home or do in the classroom the next day.
We talked up the activity in our music classes and encouraged the students to bring their parents.  They did!  We heard comments from many parents similar to, "My son/daughter has been waiting ALL WEEK for tonight!  We HAD to come here!"  
The instruments were set up in the room next door to our music room, since it had easier access for parents.  Signs were up in the hallways directing people to "The Music Zoo".  Parents and children came to explore, and several came back again for more!
We had instruments grouped in categories around the room - woods, metals, skins, melodic, scrapers.  There was an informational sheet on each table explaining the instrument group.  It wasn't just the students who were involved in the petting zoo, several parents explored the instruments as well, and many times parents/children joined together to make music!♫♩♫♩.

Both young and old
enjoyed the instrument exploration!  
We all enjoyed the activity, parents, children and teachers alike!  I have to say, this is the MOST parents I've seen in all my years combined during Parent-Teacher conferences when I've actually been in my own room!  Normally, I'm stationed by the front door helping with the parent survey, so I have seen many parents then.  It was nice to have them come and see the space where their children explore music during the school day.

In other news, we did a fun activity in technology this week.  It was a sort of typing relay race.  The class divided into teams and had a text to type.  We used the verses to the Battle Hymn of the Republic since we are all learning that for Veterans Day.  Each student typed for 1 minute, then the next in line would continue typing from where the previous student had left off and so forth.  After all team members had typed, the team who got the furthest with the least number of errors were declared winners!  The kids loved this, and it was a cool way to incorporate some musical learning into technology!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Off and Running.....♫♩♫♩

In music classes we have been talking a lot about the Star-Spangled Banner  as well as other patriotic songs as we begin this year.   Veterans Day isn't that far away!  We are already preparing our performance for the Veterans! 🇺🇸🇺🇸
 September 14 was the 202nd  anniversary of Francis Scott Key writing of the poem, "In Defense of Ft. McHenry" which later became known to us as our national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.  
We gathered as a school at the beginning of the day to sing the Star-Spangled Banner together in celebration of this special day.
Mary Pickersgill was known as one of the top flag makers in Baltimore.  Major George Armistead wanted something flying over the garrison guarding Baltimore's waterfront that would be seen by the British, even from a distance.  Mary was commissioned to make the flag...30 by 42 required 300 yards of wool, and had 2-foot wide stripes as well as 15 stripes and stars.  She had to work on the flag in a nearby brewry as her own home wasn't even large enough.  Taking 6 weeks to sew with the help of about 5 other women, Mary Pickersgill completed the flag and was paid $405.90 for her work.  The main flag weighed about 50 pounds (23 kg), and it took 11 men to raise it onto a 90-foot (27-meter) flagpole.  There was also a smaller storm version that flew during the battle, costing $168.54. 
In addition to reviewing proper etiquette while singing the Star-Spangled Banner, students have done a variety of activities to reinforce the lyrics as well as the pattern of colors in our flag for the younger students.  We are all very proud to be citizens of our country!
Technology Classes have been busy, as usual.  Kindergarten students are learning names of parts of the computer as well as what they see on the monitor.  Mouse control is a biggie for them, so we are doing lots of different activities to "get a grip" on handling the mouse!  Everything from tracing letters and numbers to creating pizzas!  We have some VERY creative pizza chefs in Kindergarten!
First and Second graders have been refreshing their keyboarding skills using Dance Mat Typing and TTL4.  HOME ROW and AWESOME POSTURE! are words they are hearing frequently not only in first grade, but in all grades!  
The students love Dance Mat Typing.  It's a mixture of fun, music, and goals to accomplish that reinforce good typing skills.
TTL4  (Type to Learn) is very engaging for students. Students begin TTL4 at the end of 1st grade and continue the program through 6th grade.  It includes more than 100 lessons that target typing skills, and includes diagnostic, formative, and summative keyboarding assessments.  We are all excited when someone passes their lesson and advances to another level.

All classes have been talking about online safety, both at school and at home. This is emphasized continuously throughout the year.  The older students are completing activities in Digital Passport to reinforce what we have been discussing as a class.  Topics such as not revealing personal information online, cyberbulying, choosing between being an upstander or a bystander, benefits as well as dangers of sharing information online, how to effectively search for information online, and learning about copyright, credit and plagiarism and how to apply these concepts to their own creative work.