How Being Techie Can Keep Your Head From Exploding

This has been a pretty crazy week moving back to a different school, unpacking, getting back into the groove of this schedule and on top of that getting ready for TMEA! Times like this I am grateful for the technology I use and have at my fingertips to keep me organized and ready to go for when I switch every quarter. I’m one of those OCD need to be organized to a point so I can find everything and not freak out people.

  So what do you use to stay organized with paper work and everything else in your lives? From my calendar in my phone, to the notes apps I use, to even post it notes on my desk. It is all ways I keep organized even though it may seem messy at times. To those who are still scared of using technology, starting small with yourself can make it seem less stressful.

 So what do you use to keep yourself organized as a teacher? Here’s what I use or have used in the past:

Evernote- I use this note taking program religiously. With it’s ability to tag notes and search for them later, store pictures, documents, and automatically sync notes from one device to another, I can easily type a note on my iPad and find it sitting on my laptop when I look over moments later. Download Here

TeacherKit- An all in one grade book app for the teacher attached to their iPad. Teacher Kit helps with attendance, holds behavior notes, creates seating charts, lets you input grades, and all the while allows you to generate reports on any student in your app. I use this app everyday to organize my teacher life. Download Here

IDoceo- Another grade book app for teachers that I have used before. This one is a little more intense than TeacherKit but has received fantastic reviews from friends. With the ability to set your own grading system, store lessons, set grades, and plan seating charts for each class this app is a can’t miss! Download here

DropBox- I use Dropbox every single day. This is a hard drive in the clouds holding all of my important files for work and career. I can download the desktop version and have it act as another hard drive on my computer, grab something I need off the website, or I can grab what I need right off the app on my iPad. It holds so much and can be accessed from anywhere! Learn more

Google Drive- Similar to Dropbox this is a place to store files and can have a desktop version download, access it from an app, or right off the website! The difference between Google Drive and Dropbox is that you can collaborate on a document with another person at the same time making it easy to work with a colleague who could be half way around the globe! Learn more


What do you use to organize yourself? Have you tried turning that paper and pencil into a computer or iPad?

Being a Connected Music Educator and How to Connect with Others

I cannot believe how fast this week has flown. Did you know I’ll be down at TMEA presenting two sessions one by myself and the other with the amazing Amy Burns in a little over two weeks?…Is it February yet? I’m SOOOO excited! it reminds me of how connected I’ve become over the past few years. If I had not taken a leap of faith and attended my first #musedchat a few years ago, I really don’t know if I could have made it through my first few years of teaching and come so far in such a little time. There is no excuse for any educator out there who tries to say they have learned enough. With the added resource of social media, your resources have become endless and ideas for changing and growing are never ending. The amount of educators connected on sites such as Facebook and Twitter are rapidly growing everyday, if you haven’t yet its time to join the bandwagon. I may only see some of my online friends once or twice a year, or in some cases maybe we’ve never met but it feels like we’ve been friends forever sharing our trials, successes, ideas, and just downright funny stories on social media.

I have three reasons I stay connected.

It makes me not afraid to speak up– I am extremely shy in real life (or I can be) but online I speak up and say my mind. It’s my soapbox, its my courage, I find it easier to type than say it. In real life I stand in the background completely content with being the stage manager to my fellow teachers and my students. I would never suggest new ideas in a staff meeting, with social media its normal for me to talk with somebody and bounce ideas off of them without hesitation.

I can get almost instant answers- When’s the last time you sent an email and it came back within 3-5 minutes with a solution that worked perfectly for you? With social media, that happens. I can get many answers to my question from people who have been there and done that and know how to help me.

I have an infinite support system with impartial critiques- Let’s face it, we all go through our hard times and my PLN (Personal learning network) has always been there for me through the good times and bad. I can always turn to my PLN for impartial advice, comfort, support, and to make me smile. Every new teacher needs a PLN to get through.

You have people who are there, who push you to be great and do things you would never have the courage to do on your own. I’ve started great relationships with companies such as Quaver Music and Joytunes, and created friendships with people whom I look up to and consider as mentors such as Amy Burns @awillis2, Joe Pisano @pisanojm, Jim Frankel @jimfrankel, Barb Freedman @MusicEdTech, Richard McCready @ramccready, Julia Jackson McCready @macsmom, Stephanie Sanders @Stephdon,Sarah Mayer @musiced20 and so many more.

Without these people I would have never joined TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators)

    Without these people, I would have never started blogging again.

    Without these people, I would have never started presenting.

    Without these people, I would have never had met some of the people I have met, such as my awesome friends at Quaver Music. 

Without these people I would have never been nominated and later voted TI:ME’s Teacher of the Year..Catherine Dwinal:2014 Mike Kovins TI:ME Teacher of the Year  

So this is a thank you, for those of you who have stood up for me, to those who have always offered me a smile, an ear to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on. Especially to those who still have faith in me and are not afraid to give me a kick in the pants to help me realize I have reached greatness and it will only become greater from here. I can’t put into exact words my thanks yet, but in 18 more days I will do so at TMEA.


Awards from my 2nd Graders for their Award Winning Teacher!

Ready to get connected? Try these first!

Music Teachers Facebook Group: 

Twitter Hashtags: #musedchat, #mused, #musedmot, #mpln

Music Education G+ Community:

Using Google Forms

      It’s been such a long week mixed with recovering from this illness to craziness at school mixed in with some really good news mixed in between all of that. (I will probably let loose SOME of that news in the coming weeks as TMEA/TI:ME looms closer.) With everything thats happening. I realized that next week is the LAST week of our 2nd marking period which means..I’m moving back to my other school next friday! AAHH! How do you start finishing everything up in such a short amount of time? Well, I had one more assessment to hand to 7 different classes, so I created a Google Form.

    I hate paper quizzes. I do, it kills trees and why not complete something on the computer as a healthy alternative to save the enviroment? So what I did was head to my Google Drive and clicked the create button to the left. This button allows me to create a form.

  So what can you use a form for?

  •        Assessments- Create a quiz and hand a student a device to let them complete it on. The beauty about Google forms is they can be completed on any device, computer or tablet.
  •        Exit tickets- See if your class got what you were trying to convey in your lesson. Have them complete a quick exit ticket before they leave and you get instant results.
  •        Survey- Want to see who is the favorite band or who their favorite composer is?
  •        Worksheet- Skip the paper and have them do a form instead!

       The best part about using forms is:

  •      I have found students tend to do better using a device as opposed to paper.
  •     You get instant results in an organized spreadsheet located in your Google Drive.
  •     No paper!
  •     Easier to grade and then copy grades right into a spreadsheet or a gradebook.
  •     You get to create the form the way you would like. 

       With each form you create, you can develop your own questions in a variety of formats such as multiple choice and fill in the blank. It can be submitted multiple times on a device (Goes back to a blank form after each submission) so multiple students can fill out the form and all the information is instantly updated on a spreadsheet created in your Drive. With each form you can add pictures, videos, choose your own theme. It becomes a really cool way to create a quick assessment for your students and it’s free!!

So how do you create one?

  • Head to your Google Drive and click “create”
  • Choose form then type in a title and choose your theme before clicking OK.
  • After that it is up to you how you want the form. The whole interface is very user friendly.
  • Just remember, if you want to collect responses remember to click “Choose reponse destination” to make sure the responses are going where you would like (you can have multiple assessments head to the same spreadsheeet!) Also, be sure to have “Accepting responses” turned ON so your responses are recorded!
  • To aquire a link for the form, after you are done creating and hit “Send Form” a link will be created for you to share with your students or book mark for them to get to later.


    Have you used a Google Form before to assess your students?  What other ways could you use this form form? 

Help! I’ve Been Tagged!

My wonderful friend Sarah (@musiced20) pulled me into the PLN blogging challenging. I was hoping I would skate by here it goes! 😉

My 11 Random Facts

1. I played field hockey for almost 10 years. I started taking camps in 3rd grade and played goalie from middle school to senior year of high school.

2. I have wicked bad wanderlust. If someone was to hand me a plane ticket today and say “I need you here tomorrow” I would go no hesitation.

3. I had a lot of learning challenges when I was younger, from fine motor to processing. I couldn’t even skip till Kindergarten. Picking up an instrument helped me adapt and was one of the few places I could walk in and be on the same level as everyone else in the room.

4. I see an allergist and have since I was at least a teenager. I have major asthma issues when I get sick and tend to be out for the count for at least a couple of weeks when this happens.

5. There has been a lot of “no” in my life. I’m not the kind of person who leaves with a “no” though.

6. I’m deathly afraid to touch or eat fish. I don’t mind looking but touching is a big no no. The last person to get me to eat anything from the ocean was Buzz from Quaver who got me to eat a piece of calamari at MMEA last year! (He was so nice I just couldn’t say no)

7. I’m a huge SyFy nerd. I grew through my awkward teen years addicted to Babylon 5. So much so I made some life long friends through it. I still write Fanfiction based on the series and have been for many years.

8. I don’t think I could ever live away from a body of water. I’ve been practically raised in a kayak and have ha my NH boating certificate since I was 16. Where ever I move too next needs to be close to water.

9. I wanted to be like Laura Croft when I was younger..I wanted to specialize in Egyptology and work with Zahii Hawass at the museum in Cairo and go on adventures..I still do. Anybody got a Mummy problem?

10. My dream music teaching job would be part instrumental part music tech. I occasionally find myself looking through the online classifieds for such a wonderful position.

11. I’m a daydreamer who’s full of hope that one day we’ll all be at peace among the stars.

My answers to Sarah’s questions:

1. Why do you blog? I blog because it is really my weekly brain dump. I think about things all through the week and being able to get it on “paper” finally makes it stop bouncing around in my brain. Also, I blog to help other music teachers I’ve met along the way enhance their tech skills to be the techy ninja they know they can be.

2. Who is the most intelligent person you know? Probably my Mother, I have had many brain freezes in my life and she guides me through them (most of the time without judgement like my sister does)

3. Name 1 professional accomplishment you are particularly proud of. As I write this? Probably having my story heard in NAfME’s October issue of Teaching Music Magazine. I have something else I’m dying to gush about but I don’t want to jinx it.

4. If you could quit your current profession and take a new one up, what would you choose? Archeologist, I want to dig up bones and play in the dirt and get chased by mummies.

5. Name the most interesting place you’ve ever visited. Right now it’s gotta be Seattle, it has been one of the furthest places I’ve been from home and was a really cool experience. I want to go back to visit soon.

6. Mac or PC? Do I really need to answer this? As I’m surrounded by 3 iPads, an iPhone, 2 MBs…etc..

7. If you were given $1,000,000 to give to charity, what cause(s) would you give to? Speedway Children’s Charities. I’m a diehard NASCAR fan and wouldn’t give it to anyone else.

8. Name a movie you can say most or all of the dialogue along with. AnchorMan 1..I need to go see 2..

9. Where did you complete your undergrad? Plymouth State University in Plymouth NH

10. Where would you like to live when you retire? Ireland or Scotland probably..I wanna meet a nice guy with a cute accent and a kilt and settle down there 😉

11. If someone were to visit the city where you live, what would be the best thing to see or do there? Visit me? hehe or they can hit up Pitman’s Freightroom for some killer jazz and blues nights.


Now, For Your Homework Assignment

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate and let the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
6. Post back here (in the comment section) with a link to your finished assignment.

11 Bloggers

1. Amy Burns (@awillis2)

2.  Barb Freedman (@Musicedtech)

3.  Joe Pisano (@pisanojm)

4.  Joanna Griffin    (@IJoannacg)

5.  Richard McCready (@rammccready)

6.  Julia Jackson McCready (@macsmom)

7.  Ruby Boyden (@RubyVBoyden)

8.  Margaret Lundberg (@mklundberg723)

9.  Eric Bonnett (@musicteacher25)

10.  John Martin (@edventures)

11. Nick Greenwood (@njgreenwood)

My 11 Questions for You

  1. What was your favorite food when you were a child?
  2. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
  3. What is one of your favorite quotes?
  4. What’s your favorite indoor/outdoor activity?
  5. If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
  6. If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
  7. When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
  8. What would you name the autobiography of your life?
  9. What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or tear up?
  10. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?
  11. Where’s IS Waldo?


To those tagged..enjoy! 🙂

Coloring time

I’ve been sick most of this week with some sort of respiratory plaque that has tried to slowly kill me. I love to draw so today to keep myself busy I drew a cute little coloring notebook you are more than welcome to steal when your classes are learning about instrument families. It is a short little book with 5 lines on each page for each student to write down facts about each family and then color the page before moving to the next family. It would make a nice step by step activity and each student would have a cute book all their own after they are done learning about all of the families. 

I couldn’t find my printer USB cable to scan these in properly so if there is an interest for it I will scan them at school. Leave a comment below if you would like a better quality.

Here are the original drawings:



Front Page:













Again, these are jpegs take with my phone, if you are interested in PDFs of the original drawings just comment below. Little books like these are a great interactive lesson for your students that encourages them to listen and teaches basic note taking skills!