Legos, we all know them, we all love them. To be honest, I still play with them even in my 30s. There is no better mindfulness activity for me then sitting on the couch on a Sunday morning building random things with Legos. I have built many a spaceship, musical instrument, and moving masterpiece with a morning cup of coffee by my side. There are thousands of possibilities with Legos which makes them a great creative tool, especially for education.
Through creative building with Legos students,
Work on creative thinking processes.
Build fine motor skills.
Work on critical thinking processes.
Build problem solving mindsets that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Are introduced to STEAM skills and thought processes.
Legos are such an easy toy to come by and are found in thousands of houses across the country which makes them a great resource to use for learning that can cross between the classroom and home. Some activities that could be useful and crossover from classroom to home are,
Provide parameters with a purpose. Maybe you need them to build something that holds at least 5 pounds or something that is over 3 feet. Let them figure out how to build it. This activity works on problem solving as well as unlocking their creative process.
Let them design. I had this activity that I loved to do with my students. I’d pour out the full recycling bin and say “I need you to design me a___” and let them get creative.
Give them a problem to solve and let students work through it. It might be building something to protect or creating a contraption to get an object from one part of the room to another. It might take several tries but that is what problem solving is all about trial and error. Give them space to figure it out and encourage to get back up again if they fail.
What are some ways that you encourage problem solving and critical thinking skills with your students?
Even though we were apart for TMEA this year, I was so thankful that we were still able to connect digitally. Every year for close to a decade, I look forward to traveling to San Antonio to connect with friends and colleagues and talk shop while we have a great time catching up. Even though this year was different, I was still able to connect with all of my friends and fill my happy heart again thanks to the power of technology. I will keep my fingers crossed that we will see each other again in person in 2022!
One standout moment was being able to be a part of the TI:ME Prestissimo Round Table with my fellow authors of the Oxford University Press Prestissimo series. This panel was about an hour long and we all were able to talk a little about our respective works and learn from each other.
If you remember back several years ago on this blog, a series of web quests were launched revolving around QuaverMusic.com. To this day those web quests are actually some of the most viewed posts on this blog, and I have been so happy to be able to inspire teachers to write their own over the years!
There is one problem that has come up recently though which brings the reason for this new post, with the exit of Flash, the Quaver site has gone through many new updates and changes and a lot of that which was once there has been updated and rearranged. In an effort to keep with the changes, I’m going to make some updates!
So here is what will happen, for right now, I’m going to give you three new quests, more will come but we are going to start with three. I actually really like doing web quests, they are fun to write so I plan to do more.
These quests can be made into assignments or you can get the links to each screen and using your own format or this template below to insert each link to give to your students.
Welcome Adventurers! This morning Quaver was cleaning the lab and found a mysterious door behind the organ! The trouble is, there is a code he needs to find to open the door. Follow the steps below to help him!
Listen to the song Rhythm is a Beautiful Thing to learn more about the code Quaver needs to open the door.
Get some practice in creating your code with the screen Half, Quarter, Eighth.
Let’s start learning how to crack the code using QBackbeat! Make a pattern and listen to how it sounds.
Time to crack the code using QComposer! Fill in the Blanks Below and then put it all into QComposer to hear how it sounds.
Web quest Two
Beat Boxing Warmup
Half, Quarter, Eighth
Quiz Builder Screen.
Greetings Treasure Hunters! Quaver’s Shop received a mysterious wooden chest this morning but Quaver and Gwenda need help getting it opened! Follow the steps to figure out the combination needed to open the chest!
Take a good look at the definition on this screen, you will need to remember this!
Remember what an ostinato is? Let’s try to build our own with the Rhythm Selectah! How silly can you make your ostinato?
Did you know that Beatboxers make ostinatos with their voices? Head to Beatboxing warmup and try it for yourself!
Time to build your own Ostinato, use the screen Half,Quarter, Eighth and give it a whirl.
Now, answer this question, what is an Ostinato? (You will need to make this Quiz Builder Screen yourself)
Web quest Three
Bell Pitch Game
Melody Maker (You will need to make a Melody Maker Screen for this)
Hot Cross Buns Lyrics Screen
Video Submission Screen OR a screen with a way to get a video to you
Hello Crew! Quaver woke up this morning and found that the Phonebox was missing! We need to sing the correct tune to bring it back. Follow the directions below to find get the right melody to bring it back!
Let’s learn a little more about Pitch first and play the Bell Pitch game first!
Quaver created a rhythm for you in Melody Maker, take that rhythm and add some solfege in to make your own melody!
Listen to Hot Cross Buns and pay attention to the recorder part, you will need that for the last step!
Video yourself singing Hot Cross Buns and send it to your teacher, they will send it to Quaver to help bring back the Phonebox!
Truth of the matter is, if you are in person right now, there is a huge chance you most likely will be going remote before the end of the year, even if it is just for a few weeks. With the holidays coming, families missing each other will get together and cases will spike leaving schools to make tough decisions. If this doesn’t happened to you AMAZING, but isn’t it better to have your backup plan ready just incase?
I know right now there are many districts and independent schools around the country who are remote, and many in person but with strict guidelines. It truly depends on where you are and what is happening in your community.
Living with this uncertainty is never good and for all of those teachers out there who are going through it, you are so strong, you are doing so amazing, and this too shall pass. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but things will get better.
What helps to ease my mind is to make a plan. I might never use it, but knowing it’s there would make me breath easier.
Get a list together of resources you can use if you go back remote. What resources will you use?
If you do not have it yet, get a few days worth of remote days ready. Your school could close at the drop of a hat!
Lastly, I highly suggest putting together just a 2 month outline incase you go out for an extended period of time or if you are already out and want to plan ahead a little.
What do you have on your list? What resources do you plan on using with your students if you go remote? Think beyond the video chat format or the platform you are using to push out content to students. You already know what those are. My top 5 resources to use while distance teaching are,
Quaver (https://www.quavered.com/preview/) I say this for obvious reasons but also because it is a huge library of digital resources for music educators and the new mobile link option is a GAME CHANGER for remote learning.
Incredibox (https://www.incredibox.com) This was a fan favorite for my kiddos back in the day and they continue to evolve. A great tool to get students creating and composing.
What happens if your school closes for just a couple of days? What do you have in your back pocket you could pull out to fulfill remote learning for those students? Even if it is just a couple of activities that they can go do.
Make a rhythm and perform it on items you find around your house. Take a video and send it to me!
Go for a walk with your family and listen for 3 things that have a steady beat. List them in this assignment and submit to me!
Give them a creation website like Chrome’s Music Lab and have them create a sweet tune!
Then you have the situation where you might be out for a long while. How are you going to plan? What about planning a whole unit that might take up some time?
This example would take about 8 weeks and has room for you to input links to video chat rooms and digital lessons and activities for each week. Feel free to use! If you have suggestions on how to make this better, let me know. I’ll make adjustments!
Take just a little bit to plan out, life has been to stressful this year for so many. This can be one of the many things you can do for a little self care. Need help planning? I’ll help you, reach out on Twitter! @Musiccargirl14
I usually ask a question at the end of these, but right now all I want to ask is,
I will admit, I have fallen down a deep rabbit hole with these Bitmoji Classrooms. I have made general classrooms, ones for centers, etc. It is just way to much fun! One recent mini project has been little virtual field trips built as a Bitmoji classroom. Taking a few activities, videos, and virtual tours that best represent that area of the globe and allow students to explore. Something fun for students to explore and learn about a place outside of their community. You could include songs, movement games, videos, all kinds of resources. I’ve made two examples in Google Slides below!
Interested in more? Let me know what part of the world you want your students to visit next!
As I sit watching the morning news over coffee, listening to the unsettling stories about administrators, teachers, parents and students fighting with the best way to reopen education. My heart breaks just a little with every new case, with every new fight, with every panicked teacher and staff who have to go through this. Education is not some place where people should be worried about life or death situations. It is a place for community, friendship, positivity, growth, and most important, learning. While I cannot sit here and tell you which way to start the school year is best. I can tell you, this is the time for hope, for creativity, and for preparedness. This is the year for teachers and administrators to make sure they are prepared for any situation that is going to be thrown their way.
Administrators and school officials should be pretty much creating a new handbook just for this year, all the what if’s should be answered just in case.
Parents should be ready for more lockdowns or online learning. What is your backup plan if you need to go to work?
Teachers, take a breath and remember you have a huge support community ready to help you. Right now, it’s time to make a list of everything you need to do and start checking it off. I got one started for you.
Checklist for the beginning of the school year.
What are your district guidelines?
Sanitizing standards? What will you need to do and what cleaning supplies will you be provided?
School learning environment, will it be in person full time? Hybrid learning? Fully online? Find out the plan.
In person environment standards, if you are going back in person what will the district except? How far apart will the desks be? Will there be mask requirements?(will you be provided a mask or shield?) Can students share certain materials?
Technology standards, this is especially if you are hybrid or distance teaching. What lesson delivery platform will your district be using? How will students log in? What are requirements for lessons?
2. Lesson Preperation
What lessons or units are a no go completely in your curriculum? What do you need to set aside and not do this year in order to follow safety guidelines?
What lessons need a creative solution? Can you adjust some lessons to fit guidelines and still make it a safe and fun experience?
What lessons are all good and you can still use?
What new lessons can you replace the ones who are a no go with for this year?
Do you have at least a 6 week plan for remote learning if a lockdown happens again?
With times like these, how are you going to implement more social and emotional learning into your lessons to help students (and yourself)cope with these times?
How are you going to sanitize your materials?
What instruments can you use? Which ones can you not use due to cleaning restrictions?
What materials do you need to get more of in order to follow district guidelines?
What do you need to make? Do you need to make kits for each student?
If you have families opting out of in person instruction, how will you communicate with them? What work will you be providing home?
For communication to parents and families who are opting for inoerson instruction. How will you communicate quickly if there is an issue at school?
Do you have prepared communications for transitioning again to remote learning if needed?
How about how you will communicate with families who are not in person but have little technology at home to communicate with?
This is just a start to help, we always know there is more to think about. Just remember, this is never a time to give up. It’s a time to take a breath, realize this is just another obstacle in your way that you will learn how to jump over, and remember that you are a strong and creative person who is ready for anything. Always know, that we are here to help.
That’s right, you heard that. After years of long nights, lots of coffee, and everything else that comes with a book. It is finally done and is here. I am so excited to be able to finally hold it and share it with the world!
Interactive Visual Ideas for the Musical Classroom Activities; Tips for Music Teachers. Is the 6th book in the Essential Music Technology: The Pretissimo Series. This book covers basic tricks and advice on how to use and take care of your projections systems in your classroom as well as activities and projects you can do right now and also provides a long list of recommended resources to use with your device.
What makes this publication stand out from the rest is that it lays out how to use your devices simply and easily in your classroom. You can take an activity or a resource, and start doing it right away.
As one of the most unique and eye opening ends to a school year is coming to a close and as we head into summer there is a big question on everyone’s minds, what is going to happen come the start of the new school year? How will classes look? Will there even be classes? There is so much up in the air.
One thing you can do is to make sure you are prepared for whatever the new year will look like. Make sure you have something in the back pocket for what ever will be thrown at you. Start with what you could learn, and then what you can make to fill your toolbox to prepare you and your students for whatever comes your way. Everyone is going to be different. Prepare for all situations. I literally specialized in online learning for my masters and could not tell you the right or wrong way to do this.
So let’s break it down into a few suggestions on where to get started.
What are some things you could learn? What could you immerse yourself in to learn more about to prepare for the next year?
Google Classroom – A widely used platform that your district might already have set up! Ask your IT, they might be able to add you right away. If they don’t have Google, they might have the Microsoft equivalent. Then start exploring, start playing, and look for tutorials on YouTube to get set up.
SeeSaw – Another content delivery platform as well as portfolio tool being used by many during this unique time in education. I have seem some creative educators start building choice board in SeeSaw to share with their students.
FlipGrid– A great platform to get your students to video themselves answering questions and recording their thoughts. A great way to capture thinking and you can see their smiling faces!
Zoom and Zoom webinars– Seriously, if you don’t know how to use Zoom, you need to and get administrative approval to do at least a couple of live sessions with your students if you still are apart this fall. Webinars in Zoom is also useful if you wanted to do a webinar style lecture to record for students to watch later!
YouTube Creator Studio – If you can, start learning how to use YouTube, make videos of yourself teaching, put it in an unlisted playlist, and then you have your instruction all ready for the new year. Having videos will help those students who have technology troubles as you can provide them a link and they can replay it on any device.
In this time of uncertainty and new everyday normals. Everyone is looking at education in news ways. What we call distance learning has brought out new creative measures for educators who would normally shy away from new innovations out of pure survival to last during this unique mark in our history. What comes with our new normal teaching day brings positive aspects of seeing children succeed at home in front of their families eyes, and still being able to connect with them through different technological means. It also brings a lot of downs as well, not being able to see your class in person, not being able to play together, learn together, and grow together under the same roof, having to change your instruction to a point where it looks nothing like how it was when you are in the classroom.
The world is different right now and we are all under a lot of stress but you need to remind yourself to breath and let the high expectations you have fade. This is not the time to continue on with normal, this is a time in our history where students need to know comfort and have options to keep their mind off the daily fears they might be facing. With each new day comes more challenges and this is a time to not weigh people down, it is a time to lift them up/.
I have seen all over the web frustrations from teachers and students over unfinished work, technology woes, and exceptionally high expectations. Most trying too much at once while others just barely make it through. If I had one piece of advice, it would be..you ready for it?…It would be to take the deepest breath you can, clear your mind of all of those fears, and high expectations. This isn’t a time for normal, it is a time of positive thoughts, all the smiles you can muster, and ways to get your students no matter what walks of life they come from making music, together, with their families.
I love to see videos teachers are making encouraging students to sing songs together or showing off their best dance moves. The websites and apps they are encouraging their more technology savvy students to do and their challenges and projects given to students who might not have the most access to technology. Some teachers are zooming with their classes or joining in regular classroom teacher’s zooms to sing a song with the class. I especially love Cherie Herring’s choice boards she is posting in the SeeSaw Teacher’s Facebook group, the teacher friends in my feeds using TikTok to grab their student’s attention, and even just sharing a book with them over a quick Facebook or YouTube Live makes all the difference in a child’s day.
Don’t try to overexert yourself in a time like this. You are doing your best by sending your students a bright spot in their day or even just week. Music is what brings us together, it brings kindness, positivity, and a warm heart. Especially with what is going on in the world, it is not a time to panic, it is not a time to be frustrated. Take this time to use the bent up creativity you have and do something good for your students and for yourself. We all need a little bit of that right now.
It’s been heck of a couple of weeks hasn’t it? I hope everyone is staying home and is healthy. I know if seems like this is never going to end, but just know there is a light at the end of the tunnel to all of this and we will all come out stronger in the long run.
Some ideas are below to help those music educators out there who are digging for more things to give their students during this time of online learning. Just remember, this is a great time to incorporate more discovery and project based learning into your curriculum. Let the students do the exploring as you do what you can to guide them along the way. You are all doing the best you can do. As long as you are still connecting with your students and keeping them excited to learn about music, you’ve done your job.
Virtual Field Trips, This is a great way to get students discovering what is out there in the world through virtual museum tours like the ones found on this list, Museum Tours. You could also look into an app like Google Expeditions to allow students to continue to explore the world from the comfort of their own homes.
Project Based Learning, If you have ever wanted to table into PBL this is the best time! Create a fun project that allows students to show off their musical knowledge and they can take their time with it and have fun.
You could have students research assigned composers, musical periods, or genres. Give them creative liberty on how to present their work. From a normal paper, to a video, to a live video demonstration. Have them show you their best work their way.
Craft projects are another great option. To have them build something in the comfort of their own home and with the time that they have now, they can dive deeper in and maybe enjoy a project to do with their family. Have them build dioramas of famous concert venues, instruments, even paint a picture of a famous composer.
Outside time, Give them challenges that will take them outside. Have them find outside sounds maybe using Samplebot to capture the noises and compose a piece. You could also challenge students to perform outside, a perfect way to bring some positivity to their neighbors!
Show off their talents, Living room talent show! Have students video themselves performing, then put it into a reel for all the students to see their friends.
Facebook or YouTube Lives, You as the teacher can do Facebook or YouTube lives to connect with your students. Do a lesson like normal but just to the camera. Students will be able to log on and see. Get creative and make it interesting!