Friday, August 29, 2014

"The Star-Spangled Banner" Quiz Show, developed by Nicole LeGrand

Looking for a creative way to honor and celebrate the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner" with your students this month? If so, look no further! Nicole LeGrand has created a fun and interactive game to help your students connect with and learn more about our national anthem!

Here are the instructions for the game:

Print each of the category posters and five sets of the point cards (laminate these for durability). 

Affix sticky tack or magnets to the back of each of the posters and cards. Arrange them in a traditional style Jeopardy game board.

Divide the students into small groups or teams, giving each group a small dry erase board and marker.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This is Your Brain on Music

Over the years, there has been plenty of circumstantial evidence about the connection between music and academic success, but, if you are middle aged (or even more “mature”), much of what we learned was based on speculation. With newer brain imagining tools, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), scientists can actually see neurons firing. With more rigorous scientific studies, researchers can dig deeper than the chicken-and-egg theories that were the best we had twenty or thirty years ago (remember the one about music and SAT scores? Did music cause higher SAT scores or did kids with higher IQs gravitate toward music?). The current research is exciting because the correlations are being drawn and they are strongly supporting the theory that music participation creates better brains. As music teachers, it is important that we keep up on what current research is saying about how participation in music improves our thinking. Share these morsels with your administrators, students, and their parents to remind them that music is not just an activity, but an integral part of academic development.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Save Your Voice!: Tips for Maintaining Vocal Health in the Elementary Music Classroom

Every teacher knows that the most essential tool in our teaching is our voice. Our voices are overused and often tired. We strain them on a regular basis. And if we are hit with an unfortunate case of laryngitis, it can take weeks if not months for our voice to be back at 100%. It is in times like these that managing the classroom becomes more of a challenge. 

As music teachers, our voices also have an additional strain: singing…all day, every day. After my first bout of laryngitis (which happened three weeks into my first year of teaching), I made a promise to myself: I would never again speak over children talking or playing instruments in order to gain their attention. I needed nonverbal cues to communicate with the students, not only for classroom management, but also for my vocal health.I introduced a rhythm to the students (ta ta ti ti ta) and had them echo clap it to me. I told them that anytime they heard me clap that rhythm, they should echo me followed by all of their eyes and ears on me. I immediately practiced this with the students until it became a solid routine in each of my classes. I must admit that it has really been nice to not have to work all that hard to get my students’ attention over the years. And it is especially rewarding to be able to quiet an entire gymnasium full of children. However, I must stress the importance that if students have never before echo clapped a rhythm that was used to get their attention, the step of teaching and practicing the procedure is imperative. In order to be effective, a solid routine must be established.