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.