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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: ideas for Music In Our Schools Month

Well, the end of February is fast-approaching. Can you believe it? Time to get ready for March, when we get to celebrate Music In Our Schools Month! If you haven't celebrated before and you want to learn more about it, go check out the official website, run by the National Association for Music Education. They have music your students can learn and sing together with other schools, logos to print for newsletters or posters, advocacy materials, activity ideas, and more!


Today I want to share some of the things I do to celebrate Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM) with my students. I have always tried to stay away from anything that requires any change in routine or other effort from any other staff member, because I want it to be seen purely as a fun celebration and not an inconvenience, or worse, an intrusion on their teaching content. With that said, there are three main areas on which I focus for MIOSM: hallway displays, music class activities and contests, and casual performances.

1. Hallway Displays

I've tried a lot of different ideas in the past to help promote the importance and value of music education to every person that walks through the building (and, to be honest, I'm targeting the adults more than the students with this one- the kids hear it from me all the time but this is my chance to be a little more obnoxious with the adults and get away with it!). Usually the students are involved in helping to create the display, and it becomes my activity for all the students to do the first time they come to music during the month of March to help them think through their personal connections to music.

Here are some of the displays I have done in the past:

What's Your Style: each student wrote down their favorite music genre


How Would You Like: students wrote their favorite ways to "do" music (dance, sing, listen etc)


Music Is Everywhere: students thought of places they hear music (elevator, radio etc)


Last year, I printed the logo for MIOSM 2014 shown below, and had students fill in the blank on a post-it and stick it around the logo. I wish I had a photo of the final product- it looked great with all the different colored post-its and the students had some great ideas (rich, calm, happy, smart etc)!


This year I'm going to be building on a display that I put up a few months ago:


I am planning to have the students come up with examples of each of the values of music I have listed (encourages movement, develops sense of beauty, expresses our feelings/souls, develops brains/intelligence, fosters connections to history, community, and other disciplines), and then put those up around the big letters. I've put this poster set in my TpT store here if you want your own set. 

2. Music Class Activities and Contests
The bulk of the MIOSM celebrating happens during music class. I am building it up this week to get the students excited about the special activities we will be doing only during the month of March!

The first is a game called Disco Duel, and it is a "just-for-fun" activity that we do each class period, with the students competing against each other in small groups.


Cards with the name of a movement (like "cowboy", "DJ", or "hop"), along with a matching picture, are on the whiteboard in a few columns (I usually do 3-4 columns). Before we try it the first time, I teach them the movements for each- they are all movements that can be done with the beat. The last card is always "boogie", which is free dance- students make up their own. To play the game, students perform each movement for 8 beats, reading from the left column, top to bottom, with the beat of the music that I play. BUT I start each group at a different time (I relate it to a canon for older students), so that when the first group finishes the first column, the second group starts. When all the groups finish, I pick the winning team that did the best job of performing the moves correctly and staying on the beat for the correct number of counts. I've updated the movement cards- you can get them here if you're interested.

The second game is called Rhythm Battle, and this one is a contest between the classes in each grade level. The winning class in each grade gets a prize (I usually have free choice time the following music class)! I choose a song with a clear, steady beat- usually the instrumental version of an upbeat pop song to rev them up :) We start class with this each time they come to class. They sit down, I start the music, and I put up a slide on my projector that says "Rhythm Battle!". When the intro is ending, I count off 4 beats and click to the next slide on "four". There is a 4-beat rhythm on that slide. If the class claps it correctly, I click to the next 4-beat rhythm slide on the 4th beat, and they have to continue clapping with no pause. They keep going until they make a mistake. When they mess up, they go back to the first slide and start over. Whatever their longest run is before the song ends, that is their class score for the day. I have a score board for each grade so we keep track throughout the month, and the class with the highest total score at the end of the month wins. If you want to see the slides I use, you can get them here.

You would not believe how much the students LOVE both of these games. And, of course, I love that they are practicing musical concepts while they do it! I have a different set of cards for each grade, so they can practice the rhythms they are working on that year.

3. Casual Performances
This is the part that gets the most attention from the community. The last week of February, I start letting students sign up to perform in the lobby in the morning before school. It's basically like having a short talent show every morning. I tell students they can perform by themselves or in a group, they can sing, play an instrument, or dance, and they can use any style of music that is appropriate for the kindergartners to hear. I also limit the performances to 3 minutes each, because I generally have 2-3 slots filled each day. The students and staff love seeing the different talents that come out in this activity- because I tell them that there is no audience sitting there staring at them (just the people walking by on their way in to school in the morning), there are always a few students that sign up who never volunteer to perform in front of other people! It's a great way to lift everyone's mood in the morning too. If you want to read more about this performance program and how I set it up, I've written a separate blog post on the topic here:


And that's it! What are your favorite MIOSM activities? I can't wait to get started next week!

10 comments :

  1. I would really love to know how this performance thing works! I would love to do this maybe on our morning news show!

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    1. It's very casual. I have a blank calendar that I print out, and students sign up for a day to perform. They have to tell me what they are doing (singing, dancing, playing an instrument), who (If anyone) they are doing it with, and if they need any equipment from me. On their day they show up, go stand in one corner of the lobby area, and start their song. Usually the students that are around linger, and most students tell their friends when they are going to be performing so sometimes there is a "fan club" waiting even before they start ;) When they're done, they head to class and that's that. Oh, I also post a copy of the schedule in the lobby to students can see when they are scheduled to perform if they forget.

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  2. I like the Rhythm Battle idea. Sounds like fun!

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    1. The kids go nuts! It's crazy how focused they are, and they will practice a rhythm between classes if they get stuck on one.

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  3. I love how you set up the informal concerts! I love it when shy students get a chance to perform in a non-threatening environment :)

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    1. It's like they're busking! :) I love seeing what comes out every year.

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  4. These are such great INTERACTIVE ideas that weave musical concepts with celebrating MIOSM! I especially like the Disco Duel and plan on using that with 4th graders. I also love the informal performances that you schedule with your students. I might try to do something like that but maybe every Friday as a special thing. This is great! Thanks for the good ideas.

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    1. Your kids will love the disco duel- I guarantee it! :) It is so much fun.

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  5. Do you happen to have the Disco Duel cards on TpT? I have about zero time this year to prep stuff, and it would be lovely if I could just print and laminate!

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    1. I do now! Here's the link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Modern-Movement-Cards-for-Big-Kids-2997452

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