This week I started seeing students on Wednesday! So I've taught 3 days this past week and it was so joyful! I've always enjoyed teaching and especially starting a new school year but this year seems to be more fun teaching than I've had for a long time! I worked hard on getting my classroom K-2 friendly and making it relevant to my curriculum! I'm thrilled with how it turned out (you can see pics of my classroom to the right of this post!) and I'm even more thrilled with my students' reactions! They walked in going "oooo" and "ahhh" and one child said "this is beautiful!" They were so excited!
I was determined to be active on these first music classes of the year! I did have to cover expectations (our school uses MACS) but I didn't want to lose too much of my 30 minutes doing just expectations! That 30 minutes goes so fast!! 2nd grade ended up doing all of my "drill" that I start class with and we did a "tour" of the new music room since there is so much that is so new in the room! My drill consists of Circle Movement where students copy my steady beat movements to music! I change the music every week and I try to give them lots of variety! Then I sing "Hello 2nd grade" (s l ss m) and they sing back to me "Hello Ms. Sullivan" (s l ss m) and then I sing to them individually. I do 1/2 of the class each time they come so I don't use up too much time! I believe it is extremely important that they are singing alone EVERY week and since I see them 2 times each week, I can do 1/2 the class and still hear them all each week. My students love to sing! After singing, students read rhythm patterns. 2nd graders did rhythms including quarter notes, 2 eighth notes, and quarter rests in 1st grade so I was anxious to see how much was retained! I was pleasantly surprised how well they retained them! That is the benefit of doing something like this EVERY week! It is consistent and it sticks with them! We then did my name game lesson "Ickle Ockle" which you can purchase on my Teachers Pay Teachers store! This has been a 2nd grade go to lesson for me for many years! It includes speech, movement, and starts to help students focus on syllables of their names!
1st grade played a name game this week! I did the older standard "Say your name and when you do, we will say it back to you" and they loved it! We kept steady beats with pats and went around the room and each student got to say their name and we all echoed back! Then I changed our steady beats to alternating hands and I changed the words to, "Play your name and when you do, we will play it back to you" and I asked students to identify the changes! Then I passed out hand drums and we played steady beats with alternating hands (hand drums were flat on floor) and then students played the rhythm of their name! Most students did great and were able to articulate the syllables of their names. Some students struggled to understand the sounds or syllables of their name. It was a very successful lesson!
Kindergarten was the only grade level with all students that were new to me! That unknown is always a challenge and this year was no different! The kinders are clearly babies and I have some gutsy kinder friends who were quite naughty this week. But, I think with time they will be just fine! The best part of my lesson was "Sammy" the Sloth which
is new for me! I bought this large sloth with very long lanky arms and legs and used him to lead steady beat movements. The students were absolutely giddy about Sammy! I thank my pal Sarah Hassler for the idea of a large stuffed animal leading movements! Sarah has her "Solami" that she uses with her students! I wasn't that creative with Sammy's name. Even my little naughty boys were mesmerized by Sammy! Then Kindergarten did some "Head & Shoulders Baby" and we did it many times with different body parts each time based on student suggestions! I did have to have the conversation with my kinders about only sharing instruments and my animal friends with students who are good listeners. Hopefully, their behavior will improve but if it doesn't I will be limiting what they get to do in my room. I think it is really important to put those expectations in place and follow through right at the beginning of the year. Hopefully, it will be a learning experience and it will nip the behaviors in the bud!
I have discovered one big drawback to teaching in a K-2 school is the amount of repetition that I have with my lessons. It's not an issue for the students but it is for me as the teacher who teaches each Kindergarten lesson 8 times, each 1st grade lesson 8 times, and each 2nd grade lesson 9 times! That is a lot of repetition. So one thing I will be focused on this year will be finding ways to enhance and/or extend lessons to change things up a bit but still covering the same curriculum for all classes. Another goal for me this year is to offer students multiple experiences in composition and creating music. I'm looking forward to creating lessons for these young students that will have them composing and creating! I have not done much composition at these levels in the past but now that I teach solely K-2 I really want to see what they will do with the opportunity to create! So stay tuned to hear how these lessons turn out!
In the coming weeks I'm hoping to get some video of my students! I teach an extremely diverse population and it is awesome! My students are very excited about music and they are an absolute joy to teach!