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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fermata Friday: April 1, 2016


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one post to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: interview with NAfME on new legislation (ESSA)

This week's post is going to be a bit different- I'm thrilled to share some important information on the new legislation that was recently passed called Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). I was invited to interview Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, and Lynn Tuttle, Senior Regulatory Policy Advisor, both from the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), about the impact that this new legislation can have for music education in the United States. You will find links to further information included below as well- I hope you will take the time to read about this, as these changes open up possibilities for real, positive changes in music education!


1.       For those who may not be aware of the new legislation, could you please summarize the key points of ESSA as a whole, and also how music is treated differently in ESSA compared to NCLB?
·         The passage of ESSA is a historic victory for music educators and advocates because it includes for the first time a specific and separate mention of “music” as an enumerated subject of the “Well-Rounded Education” provision. Although not a mandate, this language makes it clear that music education should be a part of every child’s education, regardless of their background or personal circumstance.  In addition, this critical stand-alone listing connects music to various provisions and programs throughout ESSA, providing increased opportunities to use federal funding to increase access of music education for all students.

·         Here are some of the many major funding initiatives that may include music:
i.                    Additional Flexibility in Title I Funding, including school-wide support and targeted assistance to Title I Schools to benefit students in most need.
ii.                  Funds from Titles I, II, and IV of ESSA may support professional development for music educators as part of a Well-Rounded Education.
iii.                Music now has access to a NEW pot of federal funds within Title IV – entitled ‘21st Century Schools,’ which may be used to support schools in their use of technology, in creating safe environments, and other Well-Rounded Educational opportunities.

2.       Will there be any changes to standardized testing as a result of ESSA? Will standardized testing in general decrease? Will there be standardized tests added for music?
·         ESSA does not impose additional accountability measures on music programs or require standardized testing.  States under ESSA will still have to create accountability systems that track student progress in tested subject areas such as reading, mathematics, and sciences, in order to get Federal dollars authorized under ESSA.  However, states have a lot more flexibility and ownership over what their accountability systems look like under ESSA in comparison to “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB).  

3.       Will there be any changes to teacher evaluations? Many teachers' evaluations, which tie directly into their employment, are currently based in part on students' test scores, usually in subject areas outside of music.
·         This is an excellent question - and one that needs to be watched state by state. Under ESSA, Congress forbids the federal government from mandating teacher evaluation systems, turning on its head the "Highly Effective Teachers and Leaders" evaluation requirements found in the ESEA Waiver process created by the U.S. Department of Education. So - the feds will no longer require this.

·         The question gets tricky, though, in that almost all states had to either enact legislation or administrative rule (such as State Board of Education rules) to create teacher evaluation systems which would meet the requirements of the ESEA waiver process. While the feds no longer require it, the states have put in teacher evaluation systems which are now built into law and education rule. So - we don't know what will happen. Will states continue to utilize the systems they have built under the ESEA Waivers and Race to the Top? Will they change their state level rule and law to ease up on some of these requirements - including the requirements of measures of student growth which don't fit the non-tested subject areas such as music? Will they keep their current rules and laws in place, but just ignore them - or not place as much emphasis on the rules? It's hard to say how this will play out. NAfME is hopeful, however, that with the easing of accountability rules, and the end of the waivers that states and districts will have more flexibility in terms of teacher evaluation, and time to determine the best ways to measure all educators, including those without state level valid and reliable measures of student growth.

4.       Are individual states now obligated to comply with ESSA, and if so, how long should teachers expect implementation at the state and district levels to take? If not, what steps need to be taken to ensure that this legislation is implemented at the state and district levels?
·         On August 1, 2016, ESSA will be in effect and serve as the “law of the land” for K-12 education, replacing No Child Left Behind.  Implementation and preparation for ESSA is already ongoing between the U.S. Department of Education and states, which NAfME continues to be deeply involved.

·         In order to ensure this legislation is implemented properly, this is where our educators come in and can get involved. Music educators should provide the resources and materials to their administrators from the NAfME Everything ESSA” webpage, in particular our “ESSA Implementation Guide.”   This will create a lot of open dialogue between the educator and administration regarding the ample amount of programs that are now available to music education. Because of this piece of legislation, the door is essentially wide open for open-dialogue on how to best use federal dollars to provide a broad and rich curriculum that includes music for students.

5.       How does the treatment of music in ESSA tie in with the Opportunity to Learn standards? Schools, districts, and states do not currently seem to be aware of these standards, let alone feel compelled to follow them. Will this change under ESSA?
·         The Opportunities to Learn standards (OTLs) tie in nicely with Title IV-A of ESSA. This chapter of the law, entitled "21st Century Schools," includes a provision for school districts to undertake a needs assessment for their well-rounded educational opportunities, which includes music. The OTLs are a wonderful tool by which a district can measure or assess what is going well in its music education offerings and where the district might need to do more. The needs assessment for music would then be added to the needs assessments from all the other well-rounded education subjects, and the district then prioritizes what areas need the most support in terms of supplemental Title IV-A funding. NAfME encourages music educators to get involved in the needs assessment work of their local school districts, and we certainly think the OTLs are a great place to start evaluating your district's music programs.

6.       Will ESSA affect the adoption and/or implementation of the National Core Music Standards in any way?
·         ESSA does not speak directly to state level adoption or revision of standards, outside of requiring states to have "challenging state standards" in the subject areas included in the accountability system - at a minimum, English, Mathematics and Science. With that said, the easing of the accountability system and the opportunity for "multiple measures" within state systems should create some breathing space for states to revise state level standards in subject areas beyond the tested subjects. Additional opportunities for revising state level music standards have been forthcoming as states are now 6 years into implementing Common Core State Standards, giving states time, funds and energy to focus on standards in other subject areas including music and the arts. The 2015-2016 school year has seen the most activity for revising state level music standards in more than a decade, with Idaho, Montana, Delaware, Illinois, Utah, New York, Connecticut, Kentucky, Alaska, and others either completing a revision process or getting one started.

7.       In what ways should the changes in ESSA affect the day to day lives of students and music educators?

·         Overall, ESSA will not make apparent changes to the day to day lives of students and music educators.  The most significant changes are those that are “behind the scenes” due to music’s “Well-Rounded” enumeration and the increased available funding opportunities for music programs.  Now the keyword here is ‘opportunities,’ as funding is not guaranteed, but this is where our educators come in. The door has never been more wide open for music educators to have a seat at the table to engage in high-level discussions with administrators.  That is why it is incredibly important for our educators to recognize the many programs that may benefit music when speaking their administrators. NAfME highly suggests all music educators and advocates check out our Everything ESSA” page for toolkits, resources, and implementation guides, which all may be provided to their administrators. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mommy Monday: DIY switch plate washi decoration

I'm back with another use for washi tape, and this one is so quick and easy but still adds a great touch to any room's decor: decorating light switches!


I cannot take any credit whatsoever for this idea. I saw this pin years ago- I actually think it was one of my my very first pins ever- and thought it looked so simple but so pretty! Aaaand then I never did it. Now that I am in my new house and trying to commit to making my own bedroom look nice (instead of letting it turn into a dump like my last apartment), I was reminded of the project.

This seriously took less than 5 minutes, guys. All you have to do is use a screwdriver to unscrew the plate from the wall, then tape strips of tape all along the front, letting a little bit go back into the inside so you get nice neat edges. You can go horizontal, vertical, or even diagonal. And you can get the same effect with 2-3 different kinds of tape- you don't need to use tons of patterns like I did. I happened to fall in love with this set of washi, and since they were already created to be together it was easy to use them all together for this project.

Once you have all of the tape on, you just need to cut out the holes for the light switch and screws. An exacto knife will work wonderfully, but I honestly just used the tip of a ballpoint pen to poke through the tape and it worked just fine. If the edges aren't perfect you can wrap the tape around the inside again. Screw it back onto the wall and you're done. Isn't it lovely?


Washi tape really is a busy / lazy / cheap decorator's best friend. If you want to see all of the ways I've used washi in my home, planner, classroom, and more, check out these posts. One of my favorites is the washi tape gallery wall in my last apartment- I'm working on recreating it in my new house (more on that another time!). And if you try this project in your own home let me know- I'd love to see yours as well! This would even be cute in a classroom- I have some music note washi tape that would be perfect in my music room!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fermata Friday: March 25, 2016


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one post to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: Maori music in elementary music class

Although I use music from a variety of cultures and traditions regularly in all grade levels throughout the school year, I spend about a month focusing on the music from a particular culture in each grade. Over the last few weeks, I've been sharing my lesson ideas for each of those countries. Today's focus: Maori culture- the native people of New Zealand! I'm including a list of all of the countries / cultures I will be writing about in this series at the end of this post. As I publish the posts, I will add the link so that you can find each post quickly from that list- you may want to bookmark this page so you can find all of the posts to reference later. You'll find links to my previous posts on Brazil, Mozambique, China, Native America, the Philippines, and Ireland already linked at the end of this post.


I study Maori music with my second grade students. It is a great way to get students more comfortable with triple meter (3/4 time) and introduce dotted half notes, the lyrics to the songs we learn are repetitive and easy to pronounce, and I can reinforce musical forms like A and B sections, verse/refrain, and/or call and response.

First of all, if you aren't familiar with the Maori people, they are a native people group from modern New Zealand. My first real introduction to their culture came through the movie "Whale Rider". I wouldn't recommend a complete viewing with an elementary class (although a short excerpt may be appropriate and a great way to introduce or close out a unit), but if you are personally interested in getting a better sense of the culture, the people, their history, and the place of dance and music in their lives, I would highly recommend it.

The main focus of our study of Maori music is the Tititorea sticks. I introduce the study by showing students the first part of this video:


I definitely get some giggles and grimaces when we first start the video, but as the level of difficulty escalates and they see the sticks flying through the air, the faces are quickly replaced by gasps of delight and awe! To teach a simplified version of the song and stick game, I first have students learn the one-line refrain from the song: "E hine hoki maira". Then I teach the students the first stick pattern with their hands by having them pat their legs on beat 1, clap their hands together on beat 2, and put both hands out (as if to clap a partner's hands) on beat 3. We then listen to the following recording of the song while we clap the pattern on the first verse and then stop and sing the refrain.


For older students you could certainly use the video to help students learn and sing along with the rest of the song as well.

Next I split the class up into pairs and they sit on the floor facing each other to practice doing the same clapping pattern with a partner (patting the floor next to their legs instead of on their legs on beat 1, and clapping each other's hands on beat 3). Once they can do that with the music, pausing to sing the refrain, we learn the clapping pattern for the second verse: pat the floor on beat 1, cross to clap partner's right hand with your right hand on beat 2, left hands on beat 3. We practice until students can do the first clapping pattern on verse 1, sing the refrain, then do the second clapping pattern on verse 2 and sing the refrain.

This is when I bring out the sticks. I have lummi sticks in my classroom that are plain wood (not painted colors), so we use those. I have students hold them as close to the bottom of the stick as possible, and when they tap the floor they tap the bottom of the stick on the floor (holding the stick straight).

Once they are able to do the 2 verses with the sticks, I have students invent their own 3-beat pattern with their partner for verse 3. Most students are eager to include some form of passing their sticks to each other after seeing it in the initial video. My only rule is that they are not allowed to throw the sticks, so they usually end up setting them in each other's laps or on the floor for the other person to pick up, or just using one pair to pass back and forth. This is a great way to assess which students are getting the 3/4 feel and which are stick stuck in duple meter- there are always a number of groups that either pause between each set of 3 beats (to add a fourth beat) or create a pattern that is 4 beats long!

With my second graders I want to really focus on triple meter, but in the past I have also used the song "Epo I Tai Tai E" with some of my older students to do a tititorea game that is great for teaching or reinforcing the "syncopa" (eighth quarter eighth) rhythm pattern (I stopped using it because the meaning of the lyrics is quite vulgar and my students are so used to me telling them what songs in other languages mean that I couldn't skip past the translation without them getting suspicious, but it is still a great song for these concepts...):


The song, "Hine E Hine" is also great for teaching whole notes. You can find the lyrics, translation, notated melody, and sound recording of this Maori folk song here on Mama Lisa's website. Along with the song, poi balls are a great way to practice whole notes as well- I have had students do the "helicopter" movement with the poi on the whole notes (basically swinging them in a circle to the side). There are instructions for making your own poi, and links to websites with more information on the subject, in this post from Instructables. You can see an example of traditional poi dancing in the first video at the top of this post, right after the tititorea stick performance.

That's everything I teach for music from the Maori culture. Do you teach Maori music in your class? I'd love to see any additional ideas and resources you have in the comments below! And don't forget that I will be posting more ideas, focusing on different cultures around the world, over the next several weeks. Check out the posts below and be sure to keep checking back for more ideas. Here's the schedule of countries/cultures I will be writing about over the next several weeks (country names will link to posts once they are published):

1. Brazil

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mommy Monday: DIY jewelry hanger

I was so excited when I recently completed this project! So easy but it adds both the functionality of a jewelry hanger and some instant wall art at the same time!


 I am a bit of a necklace lover. And although I had to give them up for a few years when my daughters were babies, I am back to wearing them and I love it! I have had my necklaces hanging on push pins stuck on a big bulletin board in my bedroom for years. I liked it because it was easy to find, and the necklaces themselves served as a bit of wall decor themselves.

When we moved into our new house, I promised myself that I was going to make my bedroom just as nice as every other room in the house. I was going to make sure I took the time to organize and decorate everything so that I could feel happy to go into my bedroom. So when I started unpacking my necklaces, I knew I wanted to make my jewelry organization a little bit more attractive.

I had been eyeing a bed spread that I had seen on clearance at another store when I walked passed this paper pack on sale at Michaels



























It perfectly coordinated with the bed spread, so I snatched it up (and snatched up that bed spread too). I got a 4-pack of 12x12 cork board squares at Walmart (they also have those at any craft store) and got out my Mod Podge. That's it! To attach the paper to the cork boards, I covered one side of each cork board with Mod Podge, then stuck the paper down. Once that was dry, I went over the top of the paper with another layer of Mod Podge. I attached the cork boards to the wall with command strips and stuck some push pins on a few of them to hang my necklaces.


The designs on the papers just make me so happy! I am planning to hang some smaller things like bracelets on the third patterned board. And I just love the one board that says, "Do amazing things". It's great to see positive messages when I wake up each morning!


I'm so happy with the way this turned out, and I'm even happier that I am keeping my promise to make my own bedroom a nice place to be.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fermata Friday: March 18, 2016


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one post to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: Irish music in elementary music class

Although I use music from a variety of cultures and traditions regularly in all grade levels throughout the school year, I spend about a month focusing on the music from a particular culture in each grade. Over the last few weeks, I've been sharing my lesson ideas for each of those countries. Today's focus: Ireland! I'm including a list of all of the countries / cultures I will be writing about in this series at the end of this post. As I publish the posts, I will add the link so that you can find each post quickly from that list- you may want to bookmark this page so you can find all of the posts to reference later. You'll find links to my previous posts on Brazil, Mozambique, China, Native America and the Philippines already linked at the end of this post.



I actually used to do a unit on Ireland with my 3rd graders in connection with their recorder study, and have since replaced it with another country (Philippines) for a number of reasons. However I am bringing back some of these lessons on music from Ireland this week to tie in with St. Patrick's Day (and because everyone needs a break with all the standardized tests, report cards, and other general craziness), so today I'm sharing all of those lessons with you!

My favorite place to start with Irish music is dance! Depending on the age of the students you can do more difficult ones (look on this YouTube channel for other tutorials), or make this one easier to do with kids as young as kindergarten, but this dance is a great place to start:


Those steps are for a hornpipe. With my younger students (or older students just learning), I like to use this recording to dance along with (I use the above video tutorial just for my own use to learn the dance- I don't show it to the students) because it has a nice slow tempo and it isn't too long:


After we learn the basic hornpipe steps with the music, I like to have students listen to examples of different types of Irish music (jigs, hornpipes, etc) and compare them. I also use some worksheets to have students describe some typical Irish instruments and compare and contrast them with instruments they already know. If you are interested, you can get the worksheets, teaching slides, and additional videos and resources that I use for this in my World Instrument Listening Unit (click on the picture to check it out):


The resource above also includes some basic information about the country of Ireland, but I don't spend a lot of time talking about generic facts about the countries we study- I find it is much more meaningful and memorable for students to simply experience the musical culture of the region, even if it is just one very small slice of the culture as a whole

There are lots of great songs from Ireland that are great for singing and/or playing on instruments in class. When I did this in conjunction with our recorder study, I had students learn some easy penny whistle tunes on recorder. You can buy penny whistle books for beginners on Amazon. Just be aware that most of the music will be in D major or another similar key with some sharps. Depending on the skill level of the students, you might want to take the time to transpose the tune to C major.

One song that I am planning to do this year in conjunction with St. Patrick's Day is "I Am the Wee Falorie Man". You can find the sheet music, lyrics, and a recording on Mama Lisa's page here. The meaning (and even country of origin) of the word "falorie" is disputed, but there seems to be a general consensus that it is referring to a leprechaun. First I teach the song, and I ask the students to guess what the song is about. Next we use some of the steps from the hornpipe dance to dance along while we sing the song. Dancing with the song helps students to really get the feeling of the 6/8 time signature (a great concept to cover or review with the song!).

Next we add some instruments. Depending on the age of the students, I have students keep the dotted quarter beat with some kind of repeated pattern on the tonic and dominant notes of the key (G and D if you keep it in G major), on barred instruments and/or boomwhackers. I also happen to have a few double-sided mallets, so I have some students hold the hand drums like a bodhran and play a quarter-eighth pattern (which they think is super awesome!). I show them this video to help them see how the bodhran is played and get them excited about the instrument:


Of course you can add lots of other instruments playing different repeating patterns- I've used rhythm sticks, finger cymbals, and other instruments when I need to have more instrumental parts or want to practice some different rhythmic patterns within the 6/8 time signature. You could even have students write their own 1 or 2 measure rhythms to add as well!

That's everything I teach for music from Ireland. Do you teach Irish music in your class? I'd love to see any additional ideas and resources you have in the comments below! And don't forget that I will be posting more ideas, focusing on different cultures around the world, over the next several weeks. Check out the posts below and be sure to keep checking back for more ideas. Here's the schedule of countries/cultures I will be writing about over the next several weeks (country names will link to posts once they are published):

1. Brazil

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mommy Monday: family chore chart

It is fairly common to have a chore chart of some kind for kids. I've seen so many different variations on Pinterest, and they all look super cute and functional. But where are the adults on those charts? I know they're doing lots of chores themselves. Many of them have their own cleaning schedules for themselves, either in a binder somewhere or hung up on a wall. But I am betting the kids either don't see it, aren't aware of it, or don't know what it is. And why have 2 different systems to achieve the same goal anyway? I've decided to create a chore chart that includes every member of our family, not just the kids, and I am loving it!


With my daughters now being 4 years old, I want to get them settled into the habit of doing more regular jobs around the house. At the same time, I have been thinking about ideas to update my current cleaning schedule for myself, because a) it is woefully inadequate for the new house in which we now live- the old one was created for our small apartment- b) I haven't been following it anyway, so clearly it's not working, and c) the chart itself was not very well-made and was starting to fall apart. That's when it occurred to me: I should combine these two things into one!


For us, the chart is quite simple because the girls have dinner at their dad's house on Tuesday, Thursday, and some weekends. So I created the schedule to only include the days that they're here: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and/or Sunday. I had just recently decided to start having them plan and prepare dinner themselves on Mondays, and they were already helping with setting and clearing the table, so it was easy to put those 3 tasks into a 3-day rotation for the weekdays (M is for Mommy, and S and L are the girls). If you want to read more about how it works having preschoolers plan and prepare an entire dinner on their own, click on the picture below:


Since we often eat on the go, with my parents, or otherwise do something special for meals on the weekends, I didn't schedule a particular person to do things for meals on the weekends. So far it has worked out fine- we basically do everything (cooking, cleaning up etc) together. Instead, I put some small cleaning tasks on the weekend (which for them is just watering the plants right now). I'm really hoping that this will help me be more accountable and stay on top of cleaning, since that has always been the hardest thing for me to stay on top of- I have always hated cleaning and I've never been able to find a way to really motivate myself to keep up with it regularly! 

What I know I love already, though, is the concept of a family chore chart instead of a kid's chore chart. I think it really helps to concretely show children how they are participating in what the entire family is doing, rather than making them feel like the parents are forcing them to do jobs because they are kids. I know most parents explain chores as a way of contributing to the family's responsibilities and talk to them this way, but I think having it clearly shown that way visually on the chore chart makes it much more real for kids. And it helps keep me accountable- the girls remind me of my chores too because they are looking at the same chart! And because I do help them with their "jobs" sometimes, by cutting things for their meals or helping them carry heavy dishes, they are more willing to help me with "my jobs" when I ask them as well.

I currently have the chore chart next to the rest of my command center. I'll eventually hang it on the wall with my meal planner and weekly calendar, but I am hoping to choose a color and paint the walls sometime soon so for now I'm just leaving it sitting on the counter. The nice thing about having it in a picture frame is that it's easy to change out if I decide to change the chores, and I can check things off with a dry erase marker and reuse it from week to week. Easy and cheap! :)


Have any of you tried creating a chore chart for the entire family? I am sure I am not the first one to come up with this concept- I'd love to see other examples and here how they have worked for your family, especially with different aged children. Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fermata Friday: March 11, 2016


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one post to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: music of the Philippines in elementary music

Although I use music from a variety of cultures and traditions regularly in all grade levels throughout the school year, I spend about a month focusing on the music from a particular culture in each grade. Today's focus: the Philippines! I'm including a list of all of the countries / cultures I will be writing about in this series at the end of this post. As I publish the posts, I will add the link so that you can find each post quickly from that list- you may want to bookmark this page so you can find all of the posts to reference later. You'll find links to my previous posts on Brazil, Mozambique, China, and Native America already linked at the end of this post.



I study Philippine music with my 3rd grade students. I always choose which cultures to focus on for each grade based on the content I can reinforce through the study, and in this case I am able to use music from the Philippines to focus on triple meter, and because it has so much fun movement, it is a great way to break up their focus on recorders that they study concurrently.

The main focus of our study of the Philippines is on Tinikling dance. If you've never heard of this, you are in for some fun! Here is a great example to show students a traditional Tinikling performance, including lots of different ways they can be used:


If you want to show a more modern take, here's a great example (I sometimes show this one towards the end of our study):


Once they figure out what is going on, the students are hooked! We start off by practicing the stepping pattern for the dancers without any poles- this alone takes a few classes! If you can, it is helpful to have lines on the floor, about where the open poles would be, to help students practice. Otherwise I just have them start in the middle in a straight line and I count "out, in, in" to go with their feet going out to one side, then twice in the middle (one on each foot). Once they get the pattern, we break out the jump bands! Jump bands are a great way to practice Tinikling without risking too much injury- they are essentially large elastics with loops on either end for people to fit their feet through, so I'm sure they would be easy enough to make. I got mine here (it was meant to be- they come in a set of the exact 6 colors I have for my 6 color groups in my classroom!). Kristin Lukow has a great video showing how she uses them in her classes (it's worth noting that all of her examples here are on 4/4, but I stick with triple meter):


We spend another few classes just working on the movement of the bands without anyone jumping- just close feet on beat 1, then apart on beats 2 and 3. Once we've got that down I will finally have students try jumping with the bands. After a few classes of that, those that are ready get to try it with some real bamboo poles! I was lucky enough to find out about some people that were cutting down some bamboo in their back yard nearby and I stole some :) There is definitely an element of danger (which some students like and some don't), so I make it purely optional and definitely keep a close eye on things (and by things I mean feet)!

I use the audio from this video to do our Tinikling with. It is a traditional piece used for Tinikling, but slightly slower than any of the other performances I have heard, so it's perfect for little feet!


We also sing and play other songs that we are learning in triple meter, either in the recorder program or songs we have done in class- I've even done it with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"! It is a great way to reinforce the "feel" of the meter. But my favorite is to use this song from the Philippines, also in triple meter, called Bahay Kubo. On Mama Lisa's page, you'll find the music notation, a sung recording, and lyrics in Tagalog and English. I've found the students are able to learn it relatively easily, and it is a great way to incorporate singing with the Tinikling movement. I usually have half of the students sing while the other half are doing the Tinikling- it is a great way to give students a chance to catch their breath!

That's everything I teach for music from the Philippines. Do you teach Philippine music in your class? I'd love to see any additional ideas and resources you have in the comments below! And don't forget that I will be posting more ideas, focusing on different cultures around the world, over the next several weeks. Check out the posts below and be sure to keep checking back for more ideas. Here's the schedule of countries/cultures I will be writing about over the next several weeks (country names will link to posts once they are published):

1. Brazil

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mommy Monday: DIY family initials (washi decor)

Last week I shared the latest update in my girls' closet, with each of their initials hung on the wall on their side of the closet so I can quickly see whose clothes go where. Today I wanted to show you this quick project to decorate those wooden letters you can find at most any craft store and use them as decor, wall hangings, and/or labels to indicate different members of the family. If you have a stash of washi tape like me, you can decorate these for free and it is so easy to do (and if you don't have any yet, maybe this is your excuse to go get some....just sayin').


First of all, there are so many ways you can use these in your home (and I'm already thinking about adding some more in other places!). You could spell out words, like your last name, "family", "love", or other relevant words and phrases, and hang them on the wall. You could label where each person's shoe box is, where each child should hang their backpack, or even label each bedroom by hanging their name or initials on the door. I actually used to use these letters (pre-decoration) to hold the girls' hair clips in the bathroom by hanging a ribbon from the bottom of each and attaching the hair clips to the ribbon. They're so fun, cheap, and easy, and they look great!

So now let's talk about how to make them!

Step 1: buy some letters somewhere.
I got mine on clearance at Babies R Us a few years back, but they also have them at Walmart, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael's, and lots of other places. They usually aren't more than a couple of dollars, and you can often find them on sale like I did for much cheaper.

Step 2: pull out all of your washi!
Now, of course, you could certainly decorate the letters with other things you might have like paint, ribbon, fabric, paper, or markers. But I love the way these letters came out with washi tape! I pulled out every roll that I own and chose every tape that had purple for the L and all of the ones with green for the S. If you are using these to label different family members like I did, color-coding is a great way to make things even easier to see. I've been using those colors for my two girls since before they were born, so I already associate each of them with those colors.


Step 3: lay strips of tape straight across the letters
I left some edges hanging off on either side and put the tape on straight across, each one lined up right above the previous one, until I got to the top. Once I ran out of different tapes I repeated the tapes until I got to the top of the letter. I tried to mix up the multi-colored ones, patterned ones, and plain, solid ones, as well as mixing up the different widths of tape, so it would look more eclectic.


Step 4: cut off the edges with an exacto knife
The final step is to cut the edges of the tape in line with the edges of the letter! Obviously, the S was a lot more difficult than the L. The good news is, if you mess up, it's really easy to take that piece off, put on a new one, and try again! I had to do that a few times but not only is it quick and easy, a small piece of washi is so cheap I don't have to feel like I'm wasting money if that happens.

Step 5: hang or display your creation!
I used command strips to hang mine up, but there are plenty of ways you can display these. Combined with the magnet board, clothespins, and hooks, I think they look pretty cool on the wall! :)


Yet another reason to buy more washi, guys. If you haven't fallen in love with the stuff yet, what are you waiting for?!? Let me know if you have done something like this before, or decide to try it out!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Small Goals: March

I'm linking up with Jennifer at The Yellow Brick Road to share my small goals for the month of March! Click on the picture to head over to the linky and check out the other linked up goals posts. I'm always inspired and I love getting a little peek into other teachers/bloggers' lives :)


First, let's review how I did with last month's goals:

1. Get curtains up in the basement: Did it! And I love the way the room is turning out. Update to come in a future post... :)

2. Get ready for MIOSM: Just barely, but yeah! As much as I try to keep my extra work load to a minimum, adding extra things to think about and do this time of year always makes things a little crazy... But it's so fun and definitely worth it. 

3. Start creating the 2016-17 planners: Yep. I haven't gotten nearly as far as I'd like because of family stuff that has come up, but that's OK, I've still got time ;) I can't wait to bring them to life after pondering all these ideas for so long!

OK, so on with this month's goals:

1. Finish organizing my jewelry

I actually don't have a ton of jewelry- I just don't care enough- but I have been working on what should be a very simple project to organize my necklaces for several weeks now. It's one of those things that I just keep putting off for other things, and it frustrates me to see it half-done! Time to finish what I started.

2. Finish filling out report cards without losing my mind

This goal may be influenced slightly by the fact that they are due next week and the project it looming right now... But yes, it is always a major undertaking to input report card grades for hundreds of students and do it well.

3. Teach on a cart for a week without losing my mind

Because of standardized tests that are happening at the same time as a whole slew of other things, I am actually going to be kicked out of my beautiful classroom to teach on a cart for a week this month. After some experiences during my college days, I swore the one thing I would never do is teach on a cart. I know some have done it for years and are able to make it work, but I just couldn't do it... And yet here I am. I know it's just a week but it is stressing me out! You can bet I will be frantically searching my favorite blog posts on teaching for a cart to get some ideas to get my through!

Those are all my goals for the month. If you would like to share your own goals, I'd love to hear them! You can leave a comment below or write your own post to link up. Cheers to a wonderful March!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fermata Friday: March 4, 2016


Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/search/label/Fermata%20Fridays"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8g8YQudJiB8/VaoWoBnpJ3I/AAAAAAAADuU/GeG51-nOB0Q/s1600/fermata%2Bfriday%2Bbutton.jpg" /></a></div><br />





2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one post to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Teacher Tuesday: Native American music in elementary music

Although I use music from a variety of cultures and traditions regularly in all grade levels throughout the school year, I spend about a month focusing on the music from a particular culture in each grade. Today's focus: Native America! I'm including a list of all of the countries / cultures I will be writing about in this series at the end of this post. As I publish the posts, I will add the link so that you can find each post quickly from that list- you may want to bookmark this page so you can find all of the posts to reference later. You'll find links to my previous posts on Brazil, Mozambique, and China already linked at the end of this post.


I study Native American music with my kindergarten students. I always choose which cultures to focus on for each grade based on the content I can reinforce through the study, and in this case I am able to use Native American music to focus on steady beat, same and different phrases, and basic movement such as left and right and circle formations.

The first song I like to teach is Wee Hee Nah. You can find an audio recording and game directions for the song here. I love this song because there is so much you can do with it! First I have students march in a circle on the steady beat while I play the song on the recorder. Then I have a small group of students play the beat on hand drums (I break out the bigger ones for this for extra cool factor!) while the rest of us continue to walk while I play the melody. This is a great way to get them to practice moving with the beat and listening to the music, since they aren't singing along yet! Once they can all keep the steady beat and keep a circle formation while walking, we sit down and I teach them the words to the song. At this point they have already heard the melody many times, so it's pretty easy for them to learn. Then I ask them if they notice any patterns in the song. This is a great way to talk about same and different phrases, because the first two measures are different and the last two measures are the same as the middle two measures. Then we repeat the circle formation, walking on the beat, while singing. If students are doing well with the steady beat, I will break out a few shakers, and I have a couple of students play the shaker on steady eighth notes while continuing to walk in the circle and sing. This provides an extra challenge for the more advanced students! Once they can do all of that, I teach them the game. It is very similar to London Bridge, so we usually play that game the class before and I make the connection to that game when we learn Wee Hee Nah. The students love it and everyone gets lots of practice with steady beat and instruments!

The second song I teach students is Epanay. You can find a notated version and directions for the song here. This song is great because it is repeated while gradually speeding up, and it has one phrase that repeats over and over again with a different phrase at the end. I start by teaching the song, then we sing it while walking in a circle, gradually speeding up each time. This provides a bit more of a challenge because students always want to speed up to their fastest possible speed immediately, and they have to keep controlling themselves to stay on the beat! As I do with Wee Hee Nah, I add a few students on hand drums, keeping the beat as well. Once they can all do that, we identify the same and different phrases, then I introduce them to playing a melody on boomwhackers! I like to use this song because it only has 3 notes, so it makes it easier for students to keep track of their part. I am lucky enough to have 4 sets of boomwhackers, so I can have 12 students play together and have several students on each note together. This takes quite a bit of practice for them to learn the melody, but they are so proud of themselves when they get it! As I do with the previous song, I will add shakers on eighth notes if some advanced students need more of a challenge.

After they have learned both songs, I talk with the students a little bit about the different tribes within Native American culture. I talk to them about the Sioux, since Epanay comes from their tradition, and I also discuss the tribes that were/are native to our area. I would encourage you, if you are considering incorporating this in your own classroom, to look into the native traditions in your area (or whatever is closet to you) if you are in the States. It is a wonderful way for students to connect something that can seem to foreign to their own lives.

I like to show students a little bit of what a pow wow looks like. You can find tons of examples on YouTube- you might want to try to find an example of one from your area- but here is one example:


That's everything I teach for Native American music. Do you teach Native American music in your class? I'd love to see any additional ideas and resources you have in the comments below! And don't forget that I will be posting more ideas, focusing on different cultures around the world, over the next several weeks. Check out the posts below and be sure to keep checking back for more ideas. Here's the schedule of countries/cultures I will be writing about over the next several weeks (country names will link to posts once they are published):

1. Brazil