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STEAM in the Music Room: Makey Makey

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

I'm a gadget girl.  I have always been a gadget girl.  My heart leaped the first time I saw the Makey Makey in action and I knew I had to give it a try.  Makey Makey is an electronic invention too.  It allows you to connect everyday objects to computer programs.  It uses a small circuit board, alligator clips and a USB cord to connect to your computer and the objects you choose.  Essentially it is creating an electric circuit and sends closed loop electrical signals to the computer.  The computer responds in virtually any app because the Makey Makey uses mouse clicks and key strokes.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

So what, right?  Well did I mention that it can connect to simple percussion and piano apps?  This let's you essentially play the piano on bananas, Play-Dough or even hot dogs.  FUN!  The Makey Makey can allow your students create new "instruments" to play with every day objects.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

The Makey Makey comes with instructions that are ridiculously easy to follow so I won't go into a step by step.  Basically you plug the USB cord into the Makey Makey and your computer.  You connect yourself to earth (which is a section on the circuit board) and then you connect the circuit board to some other object.  You can choose any of the arrow keys, space bar or click.  When you touch the everyday object (like a banana) you complete the circuit and the computer receives the command.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

Actually, you can connect to much more than just those basic six.  If you turn the circuit board over there are more options.  I have played with this advanced option but I haven't used it with students yet.  One of my struggles with STEAM lessons is that my students don't always have the tech skills that they need to complete projects like this.  To ensure student success, I have to plan time to teach the technical skills they will need and THEN we can focus on the musical part. 

In a perfect world, students would already have experience with the Makey Makey and understand the basics of how it works.  They would have experimented with different objects to see what choices conduct electricity.  They don't come to my classroom with these experiences under their belt. At least, most of them don't so I take the time to teach them about the science and the technology portions of this lesson.

I have created a few mats for students to use.  They contain the same notes as the Makey Makey piano.  I place some simple song sheets with them and students can play songs on marshmallows, hot dogs, gummy worms, etc...

After students are able to use the Makey Makey, the next step is to set them free!  Inspire students to compose a simple melody based on the objects they have connected to the computer.  For example you might challenge students to compose a melody with the Makey Makey connected to spoons and then also create a percussive ostinato on more spoons to play with it.  My students always love creating punny titles for their composition.  I imagine this one might be "SPOONlight Sonata" or "The Spoon Tune".  

Here are a couple of my favorite ideas:
The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!
This composition was based on a Play Dough keyboard.  They used different colors of dough and formed them into different shapes and then connected the Makey Makey.  They used stick notation to indicate how many times to play each pitch.  The title is "Dough a Deer, A Playdo Deer".

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

Can you guess what this composition was played on?  Gummy bears!  I love that they included a key at the bottom of their composition.

The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!

The set that I have for the Makey Makey in my TpT store has 3 task cards for getting the Makey Makey setup and trying it out, 3 different staff and keyboard displays (I laminate these and students set their objects on the note they will play.), 4 simple songs and a workstation sign.  You can download it HERE.

You can find more information about the Makey Makey on their website.  If you liked these ideas, PIN them for later:
The Makey Makey is a great invention tool!  Help your students use it in the music room with these music class tested ideas.  STEAM learning can be fun!


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STEAM in the Music Room: Found Sounds

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

Found Sounds Workshop has always been one of my favorite ways to teach about the science of sound.  Actually, this magic little box is more than just a toy box.  It is part of a larger, more comprehensive project that can end with instrument design and construction. 

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

To begin, I collected many different items from around my classroom and home.  I made sure these items would be safe to use in the classroom, made an interesting sound and were not valuable items.  In considering safety I did not include forks, rubber bands or anything with a sharp, pointy edge.  I didn't include anything valuable because kids break stuff.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.
 I also purchased a few items from the dollar store because I wanted them to be new.  For example, the scrub brush is a great addition to the Found Sounds Box, but a dirty one would not be fun!  I also purchased a couple of cheese graters (that were not very sharp) and some gum in a plastic wrapped container.  Every thing else was found at home or school.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

I wanted to make sure that I included 4 types of items:  shakers, strikers, scrapers and mallets.
Shakers:  gum or candy containers in their plastic wrapping, cups of ramen noodles, Tic Tacs, a box of paper clips (that I taped closed) and keys on a key chain.
Scrapers: cheese graters, wire cups, beaded necklace, metal jar ring, scrub brush and combs.
Strikers: small lids from deodorant, spray paint, perfume bottles, etc..., tins and small boxes, miscellaneous containers, toys or pieces from toys and cups.
Mallets: pencils, pens, straws, chopsticks, etc...

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

Over the years, I've used several different kinds of boxes to store my found sound objects.  Right now I'm using a small file folder box.  Plastic shoe boxes are a great size to start with.

Activities

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

I most often use the Found Sounds Workshop as a workstation.  Students can complete one activity in the time they have at this center.  I have worksheets that ask students to categorize objects by how they make the best sound: strike, shake or scrape.  Other worksheets as them to distinguish between pitch and unpitched, high and low and what material they are made of.  Students love exploring the different objects in the box and often come up with some creative ideas for how to use them.

This activity works well with a variety of grade levels.  With Kindergarten and 1st grade they often drew pictures of the objects than coming up with a name or description for them.  My 4th and 5th graders were able to name (sometimes with great detail) the objects in the box.

   

After students have had an experience with classifying the objects in the box, the next activity is to create a composition and perform with their found sounds.  I've experimented with this activity and discovered that it saves a great deal of time if I give them a framework that their composition can be created within.  This includes a 16 block grid with room for writing/drawing their "instrument" choice.  With some classes I chose to complete most of the grid for them so that they only have a few choices to make.  This really is just a time saver, as students are able to complete the entire composition themselves.  This ensures that everyone is ready for performance during the same class period.

The composition worksheets and all of the ones I've mentioned above are available for download HERE.

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.

After students have completed the composition and have experience with what works best, it is time to create their own instrument by combining found objects.  I've done this many different ways.  If your school has a dedicated maker space, you may already have all of the raw materials that you will need.  If not you'll want to send out requests to co-workers, parents and possibly some local factories for items your students can use for instrument construction.  I have a large list of items that you can reproduce and send home with your students in the Found Sounds Workshop download in my TpT store.

One way to approach this project is to have students examine the materials that they have available to them and then sketch a design for an instrument.  (I have them use a planning sheet during this part of the project.)  Another way is to have them dream up a great idea, sketch it and make a list of needed supplies.  Next, students find their supplies from your found sounds collections, recycle bins or from their homes.   This way allows students the most creative experience but depending on students to bring in the needed supplies can cause problems.

In a small school district that I worked in, I had students complete their instruments at home and bring them in to class.  This was mostly successful, but it was quite obvious which students did the work and which students' parents did the work.  

If you are interested in using the worksheets that I use, they are available for download HERE.

Found Sounds Workshop by The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King Found Sounds Workshop by The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King


If you like these ideas, PIN this post for later!

Learn how to use a found sounds box to engage your students in classifying and describing sounds, composing rhythm pieces and even creating their own new instrument. STEAM in the Music Room at its best.


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STEAM in the Music Room: StikBots

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

Scientific and technological innovations continue to become increasingly important in our every day lives. To succeed in our new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities so much more than what was considered acceptable in the past.  As schools around the world focus on STEM initiatives, forward thinkers are looking to the arts to strengthen this focus to STEAM.

As music educators, how to we incorporate the idea of career readiness and technological proficiency in our lessons?  How do we provide problem solving, project based learning activities when we see our students one time a week for 50 minutes?  I must admit that I don't know all of the answers.  I'm about to embark on a STEAM journey and am inviting you to join me.  I'll be sharing some of my ideas for incorporating science, technology, engineering and math into my classroom.

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

I picked up my first set of StikBots at Target months and months ago.  I had a few ideas about what I wanted to do with them and then life happened and they just sat on a shelf looking at me with their half-smiles, waiting for me to pick them up.  When I did, I was delighted with how easy they were to use!

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

The studio pack comes with two StikBots, a simple tripod and a green screen stage.  I sat it up in just a few minutes and downloaded the app for my phone.  I was creating my first stop animation video before I knew it!  If you would rather not just jump in, you might like to watch this Stikbot tutorial I found on YouTube.

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

Although the StikBot figures are an obvious choice for creating your videos, you can actually use anything!  Barbies, figurines, LOL dolls, stuffed animals, action figures are great.  Be creative!  Try salt shakers, rocks, Play Dough blobs, shoes or whatever you want!

For class I chose to use the Stikbots because it eliminated one of the decisions that that students would need to make and it created the same experience for each group. Due to limited time, I had to plan for students to be able to find success in creating a video with as few choices as they could.  With more time, allowing them to choose different characters or even creating their own would be an excellent addition to these lessons. 

STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!

I had enough sets of the studio packs to divide my students into several groups.  I also had enough old phones with wifi that I could bring in on the days we worked with StikBots.  I've sent out a few requests to friends and family members for old phone donations.  I hope to get enough so that I don't have to bring mine in each time I want to use them.  If your students are allowed to use their own phones at school you may have a student volunteer to use their phone and just message or email their video to you when they are finished.

With minimal instruction, here's a video my 6 year old daughter made in just a few minutes.


When using Stikbots with students, their first experience with them is learning how to use them.  They can create any kind of video with them.  We take enough shots for a 9-15 second video.  This doesn't sound like much, but it takes quite a few photos of slightly different moves to create a video of this length.  I want students to understand how much they need to move the Stikbots and I want them to experiment and make mistakes.  Sometimes the best way to gain understanding is to make many mistakes and keep going!

After students have taken all of the shots they need, they can view their video and discuss things that need improving and things that worked well.  The next project that they do, they can include a background and music.  There are several different backgrounds included and there are also a few music tracks that work well with a variety of scenes.

This video uses one of the Stikbot animal characters and a picture of the elementary school outside my front window.

So, what can students use Stikbots for in music class?  Here are a few ideas:
1.  Demonstration of an original dance they have created.
2.  Demonstration of movement concepts like time, space, flow, shape, levels, pathways and more.
3.  Demonstration of a folk dance or play party game.
4.  Choreography for a song they are working on in class.
5.  Commercial and jingle for a teacher given scenario.  (Create a commercial and jingle to sell product X.)
6.  Music advocacy videos for promoting MIOSM
7.  Composer interviews.  (You can purchase sticker packs for the Stikbots or add your own details to them to create the composer of your choice.)
8.  Tips on performance posture.
9.  Music Theory Hour -discuss an element of music.
10.  Write a parody and create a video for it.  (Try this parody writing kit.)

There are SO many possibilities for using Stikbots in music class.  If you've tried it, I would love to learn how you are using them!

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STEAM in the Music Room Use StikBots to create easy stop animation videos in your music classroom.  Simple and intuitive to use, your students will be stars in no time!




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Boomwhacker Storage Ideas

Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.
My students love Boomwhackers and so do I!  Like most of you when I first got mine (many years ago!) I put them all in a bucket and then in a big rope handled tub when my collection grew.  This caused a bit of confusion and chaos when I had students get a specific tube out of the tub.  In this post I'll share some of my favorite ways to store Boomwhackers.  Links in this post are not affiliate links.

Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.

My first attempt at organized Boomwhacker storage was to recycle plastic coffee cans.  I spray painted them, added labels and sorted the Boomwhackers by pitch.  This worked great on my instrument shelf near the window.  I loved the way they looked.  I think if I try this again that I might try painting the cans to match the Boomwhacker colors.  That would be a little bit more of an investment, but I bet it would look great!

Read this blog post about how I made this storage and download some free labels for your classroom.

Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.

In my current classroom I don't have much space for horizontal storage.  What I do have a lot of is wall space!  I purchased these plastic bag storage containers from IKEA and attached them to the wall under my white board.  
Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.
They fit well and look great!  I may add labels to them at a later date, but right now I like the way they look without labels.  They are easy for the students to access and are in a great place for a Boomwhacker workstation.

Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.

Christine Skog at Elementary Etudes used over the door shoe organizers to create an inexpensive and beautiful display.  Check out her tutorial HERE to see how to make your own.


Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.
Jena Hudson at Sew Much Music used some available wall space to create a beautiful and functional way to store Boomwhackers.  Her secret?  Velcro!  Check out this post to learn more. 

Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.  Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.
I've always thought that these crates or an empty wine box would also make great storage options for Boomwhackers.  I haven't tried them yet, but I think they have potential!

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Clever ideas for storing Boomwhackers in your music classroom are highlighted.  Boomwhacker storage can be inexpensive and beautiful with these ideas.

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Workstations for Teaching Treble Clef Pitches

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.

Workstations are one of my favorite things to facilitate in my classroom.  I tend to use workstations with a similar theme.  For example if I am teaching instruments of the orchestra, I will create 4-6 workstations that review that topic.  In this blog post I'm sharing some ideas for using workstations to review treble clef pitch names and practice using this skill.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.

Worksheets
I know it sounds boring, but completing a note naming worksheet only takes a few minutes and provides me with a written assessment of their understanding.  I always include worksheets in my rotation.  You probably have a plethora of worksheets that would work perfectly.  I have a growing bundle of worksheets that you might like for purpose.  Download them HERE.  

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.

Flashcards
Yes, old timey flashcards are a GREAT workstation to include in your rotation.  Students can quiz each other or just quiz themselves.  You could create a PowerPoint or Google slides show that could be used as digital flashcards too.  In the picture above, my students are playing Treble Clef Uno by Amy Abbott.  They aren't really flashcards, but do reinforce the pitch names while they play.  

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.

Keyboard Work
I found this beauty at a local yard sale and snatched it right up.  It is so fun to "dance" and play music.  This big piano is great for several workstations, but in this rotation I just sat out a Recorder Karate book and a beginning piano book with a few pages marked.  I've also used some simple folk songs as well.  Students read the notation and played by stepping on the notes.  Some clever students sat on the floor and used their hands too.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.
Music Apps
My students are huge fans of Staff Wars.  This game is free for your computer and is fun to play projected onto your interactive whiteboard.  If you have iPads, the app is $ .99 and worth every single penny!  Other pitch name apps that you may like:
Note Names Lines and Spaces (This game is on Kahoot.  Your students can play this game against each other.  Project it onto the Smartboard and students login with their devices to play. FUN!)


Computer Games

Note Names (by Classics for Kids)


Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.
Boomwhackers
My students love playing Boomwhackers and I love that they can use them to work together.  I use a set of color coded folk songs from Musical Magic for Boomwhackers.  I've printed them and laminated them (you could also use page protectors) and just set them on a stand near my Boomwhackers.  FUN!

I've also used desk bells (also colored like Boomwhackers) for this station.  If I have a large group I usually add another center with some of those folk songs and a set of bells.  The bells are much louder than the Boomwhackers so I have to find a place for them to work that won't disturb the whole room.  Usually a corner or facing my desk works well.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.
Dabbers
I use dabbers for any centers rotation I can because my students are 100% engaged when they use them.  I have 2-3 worksheets available at this station for students to complete.  You can read THIS blog post to learn about how I use dabbers in my classroom.  You can take a closer look at the dabber worksheets that I've pictured above HERE.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.
Bottle Caps
If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I love recycling bottle caps to use in my classroom.  I use them as note heads on staves I've printed on paper.  It's fun to say a word and have students move their bottle caps on the staff to spell that word using the lines and spaces of the treble clef staff.  I have a set that you can download in my store that contains the words (as answer keys) and a blank staff for this activity.  See it HERE.

You can also use the bottle caps as part of sorting activities.  Read THIS blog post to learn about how to create a sorting workstation with bottle caps and dip and chip trays.  It's a great workstation and you can download the notes shown on the bottle caps above in that blog post.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.
Treble Clef Twister
This is an oldie but a goodie!  Treble Clef Twister is pretty easy to play.  I've used tape to create a staff on my carpeted floors.  Now I use a shower curtain.  I created the staff using electrical tape.  Students use THIS spinner to hear "Left hand G!" or "Right food E!"  


Sometimes I'll create a station for assessment.  I'll sit there with students and either quiz them with flashcards or have them complete an exit ticket.  This gives me an idea of how much more I need to teach on this topic before we move to something else.  In reality I am always reviewing pitch names and rhythms in 3rd through 5th grades, but a day of treble clef pitch workstations is always well spent.

If you like these ideas for treble clef pitch name workstations, PIN this post for later.

Learning the names of the treble clef lines and spaces is a basic music skill.  Using workstations to practice it only makes sense. See ideas for using centers in your music classroom  to teach pitch names of notes on the treble clef staff.


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Music Assessments with Seating Charts


Not every educator faces the challenge of authentic assessment for hundreds of students a week like specialists do.  Some of my teaching friends see up to 200 or more students a day.  WOWZA!  In one school district I taught in, my administrator required 6 assessment grades per quarter.  I'm sure this worked well for classroom teachers, but I only saw my classes 8-9 times a quarter.  Who gives an assessment after 50 minutes of instruction?  It was then that I devised a plan for daily grades.

Using a seating chart template that I had created for my classroom setups, I adding a means for recording a participation grade and a daily grade.  I'm not a fan of participation grades.  It feels like I'm saying "Just do as you are told and you'll 'get' an A."  What I discovered is that occasionally I needed that participation grade to record to meet the requirements from my administrator.  Not what my kiddos NEEDED to be assessed on, but what I was being required to submit.
As this idea evolved I decided that I could take my student learning objectives (SLOs) and use those as a means of daily assessment without too much of a hassle.  The reality is that I was constantly using informal observation and formative assessments in the form of exit tickets and that I could make this work in my classroom.

I have multiple copies of these seating charts with the daily grade rubric and participation rubric right on them.   I sort them by class and then place them in  a three-ring binder in the order that I will see them on the schedule.  For example, all Monday classes are in order and then Tuesday and so on.  This makes it easy between classes to turn to the next class and just add the date and be ready to go.

At first I sorted by grade level, but didn't like the way I was still flipping through my book to find the class I needed.  Sorting by grade level may work for your classroom and schedule.
My seating charts function as my attendance book and partial grade book.  I add the date to the large box on the left and if a student is absent, I mark A in the corresponding box with the student name.  When setting this up, I include a color coded system to remind me about students that I may need to make special accommodations for including alternate activities or extra time for assignments.  In my district we have very few students that opt out of activities based on their religion so if I have a student that can't participate in holiday or patriotic activities, I'll mark that to remind myself to alter the activity or provide another one for those students.
I've tried to simplify this system every year.  Currently unless a student has a less than perfect score I do not record it on the seating chart.  If a student was in class and consistently displayed evidence of mastering whatever skill were working on then their box for that day is empty.  When I transfer grades to the computer it's less clutter to look at.

Look at the example below.  Phillip Washington has been in class all four days and earned all of the points each day.  He has four empty boxes.  Hillary Zenith below him has a similar report except on September 11, she earned 2 points instead of 3 on mastering the skill that day.

In addition to daily grades I also record grades that I take during class time on the seating chart.

Note:  This examples were created to look like sheets that I have used in my classroom, but I have made up the names to protect my kiddos' privacy.

My seating chart functions as a partial grade book because I don't write down every grade on the seating chart and then copy them into the computer.  I grade papers and enter them into the computer directly whenever possible.  Some activities like echo singing attendance, simple rhythm detection or performance are recorded in the seating chart as I take attendance or go down the row or whatever.  If we do a worksheet in class and grade it together, I may quickly record the grade and pass them back out.  I write this in my book because it is faster than pulling up my grade book program.


 I use rubrics for almost every performance event that I grade.  I post the scoring guide or print each student a copy so that they know how they will be graded.  The rubrics (above and below) are just a few of scoring guides that are available in my Ready To Use Music Rubrics.  It's 118 pages of scoring guides and data tracking tools that I've been using for years.  Click HERE to download the set.

Ready to try tracking assessments with your seating chart?  Download this FREE set of seating charts.  Several varieties are included and because this is a PowerPoint file you can manipulate the pieces so that it is perfect for your classroom.


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Assessment in Music Class -What Do You Hear?

Looking for practical ideas for assessing hundreds of music students in your classroom?  Check out this idea for assessing rhythm skills called "What Do You Hear".

Can I confess something to you?  I have no idea how any of my elementary or junior high teachers came up with a grade for me.  Not a single one.  Did they just "give" me a grade?  Did I do something to earn it?  Was there every any real assessment?  I don't think so.  I think that I got an A because I was a good kid that did what I was told.  Of course, that must mean that kids that didn't do that would have received a different grade.  Is that crazy?  Have you been guilty of that?

I guess that is one of the reasons that assessment has been so important to me.  I've created hundreds of rubrics, sat through dozens of assessment workshops for math and reading teachers trying to glean everything I could and challenged other music teachers to show me how they plan for authentic assessment.  I've learned that there is a wide variety of strategies for grading or assessing students in music class.  I've seen elaborate data tables and heard others say "I just give them an S, no matter what."  Whaaaat?  I've tried to find a balance based on how often I see my students and what I want them to be able to do when they leave my classroom.

Today I'm going to share with you one of my favorite tools for assessing rhythm skills.  I call it ear training, but it isn't exactly what I remember doing for my Ear Training classes in college.  I use these assessments most often with 3rd through 6th grades but they could be adapted for use with younger and older students.  When I taught high school band I used this type of assessment all of the time.

Check out this video to see how I use my What Do You Hear set of worksheets.  You can download them HERE if you are interested in trying them out in your classroom.





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Looking for practical ideas for assessing hundreds of music students in your classroom?  Check out this idea for assessing rhythm skills called "What Do You Hear".



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Erasers as Music Manipulatives

Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!

My 5 year old daughter is a collector.  Okay, she is probably a future hoarder.  She loves putting things in her "collections" and one of those treasures is erasers.  She loves those colorful, unique erasers not so much for erasing but for pretend play, counting and more.  This gave me a great idea for music class!
Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!
I decided to use the 16 block grid as a means for students to create and organize rhythm patterns based on the erasers.  I talk a little bit more about the grid and the lap packs they are used with in THIS blog post.

Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!
At this workstation, students choose an erase and put it in a square.  Then, students decide what to call the eraser.  They can be creative with this part (and often are!).  When they decide what to call the eraser they write the name under it.  In this picture they actually put it in the second row, but usually we put it in the same box as the eraser.

Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!
Students can be creative in naming the erasers depending on the rhythms they know or want to use.  For example watermelon could be called "fruit".  Pizza could be "slice" or "piece of pizza" or "veggie pizza".  This works are a means of differentiation.  Students can make this as difficult or as easy as they like.

After they have created the rhythms, they share them with their group.  I use this activity as part of a workstation rotation so there are 3-5 kids in a group.  Students can then choose body percussion or a small percussion instrument to perform their rhythm as an ostinato in their group.

This would also work as a whole group activity.  You could write the rhythms on the board or use a document camera, erasers and grids to replicate student compositions.  Then you could create ostinatos using percussion instruments, Orff instruments or body percussion to create a really fantastic piece.


Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!
I've found erasers in many different stores:  Target (Dollar Spot), Office Max, Five Below, Dollar Tree and more.  I'm storing them in a box that was designed for beads right now, but I think that I might try this organizer (from Michael's) as my collection grows. (Pictured below.)
Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!
 In addition to using the erasers for rhythm practice you could also use them with a staff and do melodic dictation using the erasers as note heads.  This would be particularly fun if you had erasers to match the theme of a song.  For example, fish while listening to "Aquarium" from Carnival of the Animals or Jack-o-lanterns while listening to "Night on Bald Mountain would be fun to create an activity around.

I hope that you have been inspired to try mini erasers in your classroom.  I also hope that I haven't created an addiction for you!  I have already started collecting erasers for Halloween, Christmas and Easter!

Like these ideas?  PIN THEM for later!
Mini erasers can be a valuable manipulative in the music classroom.  Use them for rhythm activities, pitch work and workstations.  Learn more and start collecting!


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