Centers Round Up

Wow, another post? I must be on a roll, or was just snowed in up in the great white north for a few days, you may never know. 

Centers, one of my favorite things. I loved being able to create tasks that students were able to take the lead on as I sat back and watched them work and guided them along their journey. Some students would jump right in to the task while others needed a little extra hand holding. This was ok though and gave me not only insight to the student’s level of ability but also allowed me to do some observational assessment as well.

Since I was a music teacher, doing centers in my room was a little tougher to schedule but I was able to get creative with it. There are two types of centers that are useful and can be done in the music classroom. The first are permanent centers, ones where they are always in a space in your classroom and can be used by students during certain periods of the class or day. These are the perfect type of center for students who need a little extra challenge or for some who need a little extra practice.

The second type of center are ones that are just temporary and are used as the instruction rather than a permanent center. There were times that I would schedule centers for grades 3-5 and would do them for the entire week. I saw each class at least 1-2 times a week and saw all my grade 3-5 classes in the morning so I could have centers set up all morning at different ability levels, have students come in and sit, explain the schedule for the period and directions, and then set them free. If I saw the class twice that week I would just let them come in and go since they already knew the directions.

I’ve already written a lot about centers on this blog, here are a couple of the good ones!

One of my most popular posts about a centers kit for your classroom!

Outdoor Music Class Kit

Quick and Easy Center Ideas

Some center ideas to start your day!

Some out of the box ideas for center time.

Spooky Centers

Ready for Music in the Schools Month?


What kind of centers have you done? What could you try out in the new year?

Robot Coding Maps for the Music Room

Hey, remember me? The one behind the screen who has been busy up to my eyeballs as of late (news on what I’ve been up to coming soon!) In the meantime while you wait with bated breath for what is coming next (yes, wait on the edge of your seat, you know you want to!) I come to you with another idea, another tiny spark of creativity that flutters back into my brain. I hope over the next coming months there will be more flutters and sparks again like there used to be. These dumps of the mind are therapeutic to me even on a rough day, I can sit here and type, figuring out the best words to make you sit here and read interested in what is coming next, what do I have to share?

The theme of the day is “Robots”, my current favorite vocabulary word, it just flows right off the tough “Rooooo..bots.” One of the many things in the current realm of educational technology that is categorized under accessible innovations. They have taken the EdTech world by storm and keep finding stronger connections to student learning experiences. I follow a bunch of educational robot toy companies from WonderWorkshop to Sphero and am always in awe of what I see students and teachers doing with them in the classroom. From navigating through mazes to drawing a masterpiece using the bots. The possibilities are becoming endless and crucial for students to experience. In the coming years, coding is going to become a mandatory 21st century skill required for students to have proficiency in to acquire a job when school is over. Coding is like composing and creating music. If you can bring in your new robot friends to the classroom the right way, the experience will be so memorable.

Here is just one idea of many, robot maps are not a new idea but you have a hard time finding any music themed ones. So I’ve made a couple below to go alone with the activity.  These are photos you can download and get printed onto larger paper or a material like vinyl or recreate the idea on the floor with masking tape or take a piece of butcher block paper and redraw it on there to place on the floor.


Objective: To compose a piece of music using the notes and rests the programmed robot moves over on the mat.

Essential Question: How is coding the robot to move like composing a piece of music?

Materials needed:

Before Class Prep:

  • Acquire a couple of programmable robots. Sometimes your technology coach or media specialist might already have a small army of them that you can borrow. It does not need to be one to one robot but having a couple would make it easier.
  • Make sure that you have individual devices for students or small groups and they have the necessary programs on there to work with the robots.
  • If you would like students to compose on the devices, make sure the composition program you want them to use is on there.
  • Create or get the map printed to use. I recommend having a couple maps available! Lay one out on the floor for the start of class.

Pre-Existing Knowledge Requirement: Basic knowledge of meter, notes and rests, and basic composition skills.


  • Have students come in and get ready for the lesson. Have the Essential Question on the board for them to start thinking about.
  • Give directions for class.
    • Each student or small group will take a look at the floor map and will each program the robot through the coding software on the devices.
    • Students must program a robot route through the map that will give them enough notes and rests to fill up 4 measures.
    • The piece must have 4 measures and include a variety of notes and rests and be in either the meter of 4/4 or 3/4. Students cannot use a note or rest more than once in the composition and must use all of their collected notes and rests. They can use the notes and rests out of order from how they were collected! (or not, up to you!)
    • Groups must be able to perform their piece for the class and be able to demonstrate their robot collecting their notes as well.
  • Have students break off either by themselves or into groups and hand out materials and devices.
  • Ask students to program and plan their robot route first and check in with you before heading to the map to collect their notes and rests.
  • While collecting notes and rests, make sure students are writing down every note and rest their robot goes over. (It will be at least 10 notes and rests.)
  • Once they have collected their notes and rests have students go off and begin composing. Have them check in with you after composing their piece before they start practicing.
  • Make sure students have ample time to practice.
  • Once everyone is done, get together and listen to everyone perform their compositions and demonstrate their robot adventure!

Assessment tip: Bring a device and video each student’s performance to use for a portfolio artifact or for a grading rubric after.

Map 1 (without sixteenth notes)

Robot Map 1.jpg

Map 2 (with sixteenth notes)

Robot Map 2.jpg


Let’s Talk About Being Explorers

I consider myself an inquisitive traveler. With a passion for adventure and learning more about what I’m experiencing. I’m luckily in a position where I can take the time to go explore the world and learn about new cultures and customs while just enjoying it. This wanderlust started at a young age and only kept growing due to the encouragement of my teachers, family, and popular media. 

Teaching students about what is out there in the world beyond what they know is an important part of education. Teaching them about what is going on in the world and connecting them to different cultures opens their eyes to a whole new way of thinking. The music (or any arts) classroom is a perfect place to turn those students into little inquisitive explorers

1.) Show them pictures and videos! A simple substitution by finding photos and videos of rare instruments, people of other cultures, and beautiful scenic views from all over the globe. You can store them in a folder on your desktop, inside a powerpoint, or in a Google Drive folder. You can pop up a visual on to your board about a place or a culture to show the class as you discuss it in class.  There are also so many digital field trip videos out there that give your students a small peek into that place.

2.) Set up a video chat between your students and another class somewhere else across the globe. You can do this easily through social media platforms or Skype in the Classroom’s website:  You can do song sharing with other classrooms, listen to ensembles performing, or even connect up with guest speakers and bring them right into your classroom!

3.) AR and VR are making their way into classrooms in all sorts of ways and making a big impact by bringing the rest of the world in. AR will put objects right on the table in front of you, while VR will bring you to a table halfway across the world. Apps like AR Makr and Merge Object viewer make it easy to create AR experiences while CoSpacesEDU allows you to create VR experiences and Google Expeditions takes you to far off places to learn all about the world.


Isn’t it time to take your students on an adventure? No field trip permission slip needed!



Aw Man..

Summer is almost over for most. You are getting ready to get back into the swing of the busy school year and remembering all the things you wanted to prep to be able to do with your new school year. Maybe you wanted to incorporate centers, maybe more work with Chromebooks. Or you might even have a brand new curriculum that you wanted to plan with and just haven’t had enough time to go through everything you wanted to do. So what do you do? Do you dump the ideas altogether? Or do you jump on the opportunity of the new school year and still give all of you amazing ideas a shot?

The answer should always be to step outside your comfort blanket burrito and try something new. It might not go as planned, but really what does ever goes as planned? You just need to follow the simple steps of integrating new ideas into your classroom in order to start something new. I usually pull out a very familiar framework to help me integrate new ideas into instruction.

Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR framework ( Lays it out in 4 simple steps to really implement new ideas in the classroom.

S is for Substitution. Instead of copying all of that sheet music, project those warmups on the board instead.

A is for Augmentation. Take that PDF copy of the sheet music you are projecting on the board and put it into composition software like Noteflight or Finale. When you click play, students can follow the pitches along with the computer.

M is for Modification. Share that music and have students be able to access it from individual devices to read by and notate on their own.

R is for Redefinition. This is where you can have students take what you did in the composition software and add or change the piece to transform it into something new that they can share with the class and school community.

Those 4 steps took me from a simple projected image to a brand new innovative project where the students were in control of the activity and showing off their creativity. I could do all of those steps while school was going and it didn’t take up a bunch of my time planning it all through.

So take those ideas and make them a reality, why not try something new at the beginning of the school year to make it more interesting?


Need some help? Follow me on Twitter! @musiccargirl14


I am here to help coach you through new innovations and ideas.



ISTE 2019

Oh, I am so excited! Next week is a trip to the edtech nerd holy land called ISTE 2019. One of the largest educational technology conferences in the US with thousands of participants, hundreds of workshops, and football fields worth of vendors to visit. It is like comic-con for #edtech nerds like myself!

I’ll be there the whole time from set up to tear down with a full schedule and a happy heart.

When I’m not attending sessions, you’ll find me most of the time at the Quaver Music booth (Booth #108) talking with attendees about Quaver’s Music and SEL programs 

Then I have two poster sessions during the conference.

  • Coding in the Music Classroom
    • Monday, June 24, 2:00–4:00 pm EDT
    • Level 4, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 13
  • Do You Really Have the A in STEAM? *Presented with Megan Endicott
    • Wednesday, June 26, 8:00–10:00 am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
    •  Level 4, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 12

I’ll be sure to do a lot of tweeting during this conference. You can find my handle here: @musiccargirl14 (If you are not going to be able to make ISTE, feel free to catch up on the #NotAtISTE tag to catch up on all the latest and greatest news!)

It is going to be a busy time but I am so excited to catch up with friends and make new ones! Want to meet up for coffee at ISTE? Let me know! Let’s meet up and talk shop!



The Art of Reflection

There are many times when we put ourselves on auto pilot and cruise through our lives day after day without a second thought of what we did and how it went because its easy to get into a comfortable routine and not reflect on what we do, how we do it, and what we could do to make it better. I know I’ve been guilty many times of getting into a routine without a second thought as to what I could do to evolve and keep life fresh and exciting. In the words of Yes Theory, we don’t Seek Discomfort enough, but we can start by beginning to reflect a little bit more and make small changes. 

When we begin teaching, it takes some time to figure out what we want to do and how it fits our standards, our curriculum, and our kids. Then, once we find that niche, that way we teach, sometimes we stick to that road and lose the reasons why we are on this road and sometimes forget to re-evaluate what our audience at the time needs. Reflecting every step of the way is important to the process whether it is a quick thought of “How did that go?” to writing out blog posts like this. (When I was in the classroom I literally reflected on my week every Friday on this blog!) Don’t forget to not only reflect on what your lessons were like, but also reflect on yourself and reflect on your students. It’s about everything that creates your environment. It could lead to elevating your lessons to a whole new level and bringing the excitement of learning every day.

Need some ideas on how to reflect on your week? Why not try these,

  • After every day or every lesson, write 2-3 sentences on how the day went and how you felt into a journal. At the end of the month, re-read what you wrote and think of  1 thing you are going to change as you go into a new month of teaching and learning.
  • Have a smaller bulletin board or whiteboard out of direct sight from students and keep a post-it note pad and pencil handy. Write a short sentence about how your day went, how you handled a particular activity, or maybe a new idea to try later  with the date on the back and post it to the wall. Take some time right before every school break to go through them and read what you have wrote. Find two things you know you need to improve on and 1 new idea and implement them when you get back to regular lessons.
  • Get together with some friends during a PD day, come up with a few reflection questions like, how to implement the new standards that were just released, how to avoid burn out before the end of the school year or ideas for using the new Chromebooks the library just received. Put each question on a large piece of paper and put some time on the clock. Have everyone idea vomit onto each piece of paper. Take some time reviewing each question after as a group to reflect and get ideas from each other.
  • Take a friend out for coffee and talk shop with each other! Make it a constant thing. I have found setting a Google Calendar invite keeps everyone coming back.
  • GO TO A CONFERENCE! One of the best ways to get so many new ideas and reflect on your own practices in a short amount of time. Make sure to meet up with friends (or new friends!) for dinner or drinks to chat about the day and reflect on what you learned and how you’ll use it in your classroom! 
silhouette of man at daytime

Photo by Prasanth Inturi on

Tech Tip Corner #2- Basic Troubleshooting​ for your computer

Welcome to Tech Tip Corner! A recurring feature on the blog here to answer commonly asked questions about the technology in your room. If you have questions that you want to be answered, leave a comment below!

This week we discuss the most important skill any person using any sort of technology can have, basic trouble shooting. A basic checklist anyone can memorize with basic problem solving tricks to try to do quick fixes on a computer or device. This will help not only you in a pinch especially if something minor happens during class and you can fix it quickly, it can also help your IT department get down to the root of the problem quicker if it is more involved than what you can do immediately.

Not all problems have the same fix, but sometimes multiple problems can have the same fix. Turning your device off and on again might solve a whole slew of issues, changing browsers, etc. If you are having a technical issue, follow these steps first before you call technical support!

  1. Close out your app or internet browser completely and go back in. Sometimes a quick restart of an app can solve a minor issue.
  2. Clear your browsing history and internet cache.
  3. Try another internet browser, surprisingly enough, not every web browser is created equal. Some play nicer with certain websites than others. If one doesn’t work, try another to see if that solves the issue.
  4. Check to make sure that all of the cables going into your machine are plugged in tightly.
  5. Shut your computer all the way down, count to 10 and restart it. We’ve all heard that tech support joke that restarting your computer fixes everything, a lot of time, it does.
  6. Try to switch machines if you can, it might be a hardware problem.
  7. If a website you are running is loading slow, head to a speed test like Anything below 10 Mbps is very slow. Try closing out any extra web tabs you might have open to try to speed things up a bit.
  8. Make sure your programs and software are up to date. Having an operating system or software go too far out of date can cause some serious issues later on.
  9. Try to find a status page or the social media page for a program you are having issues with. It might be down today and might not be you!
  10. Run your virus software, you might have a rogue bug running around!


Try these ten basic trouble shooting tips before you call your IT or Tech support. Let them know your findings too. If these tips did not fix the issue the results will be a big help to them as they do some deeper trouble shooting!