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Thursday, July 23, 2020

First Steps in Music - Face-to-Face without Singing, Touching, or Shared Instruments

First Steps - Face to Face

I know the 2020-2021 school year is going to be very different than a typical school year. As someone who absolutely loves First Steps in Music and has been using this curriculum for 4 years with much success I'd like to share some ideas on how to continue using this program without singing or shared instruments. I'm going to go through each step of the workout and give you ideas for continuing this great curriculum through the pandemic. It can be very difficult navigating but remember it is only for a while! You can do it! (I plan on posting in the future about using First Steps in Music in a hybrid or virtual format. Let me know if this is something you are interested in.)

Pitch Explorations
The goal of pitch explorations is to help our students find their head voice and ultimately we do want students to sing, but since we are currently avoiding singing you could work on using high and low sound stories. Feierabend includes several stories in his Book of Pitch Explorations, but if you are looking for your own, try using stories like Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Three Little Pigs. Students enjoy saying different parts of the story in high or low voices.

You could also work on students head voices through humming as the studies are currently showing that humming is a safer alternative to singing. Humming would also make a great alternative for all the singing activities.

Song Fragments
In class you could play recordings of echo songs and/or call and response songs. During class students would be encouraged to either listen only or hum on the echo or response. Following a few lessons you could assess their ability to sing the response through a recording at home. I find students can record easily using Seesaw. If you are looking to cut this section from your workout I'd suggest adding another Beat Motion activity or Movement Exploration to fill up your class time.

Simple Songs
Though students will not be able to sing these simple songs in class I'd recommend recording a simple song and playing it for at least 4 times each lesson. Students aren't suppose to sing with the teacher making it great listening skills practice for everyone. Just think what excellent models we can be for our students by showing that it is possible to just listen and not sing along. After about 5 or 6 lessons you could again invite students to record themselves singing the simple song at home using Seesaw. You could also send home an Ask Me sheet to encourage students to sing the song at home for their parents.

In my opinion, singing and tunefulness are such important skills that we need to encourage students to be singing at home this year. However, if you choose to cut this section from your lessons I would encourage adding a Beat Motion or Movement Exploration activity to take its place.

*Note: Following students' video submissions, I'd suggest sharing certain examples in lessons by using their voices as your recording for the week. You can use Audacity, Garage Band, or Band Lab to actually put together several audio recordings into one recording. This will allow students to hear their peers sing, which will help them progress even faster in their tunefulness.

Movement Explorations
Not much needs to change this year as far as Movement Explorations. The only changes will be making sure students are spaced apart and some creative re-working of partner and group work.
Some examples of Socially Distanced Partner Work:
  • Mirrors/Distorted Mirrors/Finger Follow/Same or Different - Students could be moved to 6 ft apart from their partner instead of standing directly across from them. Each exploration requires no touching, but still allows students to learn to work with a partner.
  • Tap and Flow - Typically the sculptor taps on a part of their partner's body and their partner responds by moving it into a different position. Instead of the sculptor tapping on their partner's body they could tap on their own body. Their partner can then move that body part. When the sculptor is happy with their partner's position they recreate it with their own body and the partner becomes the sculptor.
  • Group Statues - Have students work in small groups of 3-4 and have them line up 6 feet apart from each other. You could have students start with one student creating a statue and each adding on (without getting any closer to their group members) -OR- do something where each member has to be at a different level.

Another thing we'll have to be careful of is making sure that activities that normally allow for free movement or include lines allow for more spacing between students. We will have to have a few more limitations on moving "freely" around the classroom.
Some suggestions:
  • I like to use scattered spots in my classroom for Move It's. These are normally colored velcro dots that are scattered on the floor. These would be great for making sure students have plenty of space between them and others.
  • For those that will be on a cart you could use students desk areas. Students can stand in front of their desk or to a certain side of their desks.
  • Think ahead about using activities like Going Fishing! where you may not have enough room. It may lead to students bumping into each other. Choose alternatives to these activities or plan ahead by selecting a small number of "fish" at a time. Maybe have a select area in your room for those participating at that moment.
  • Non-representative and Representative movement will also need to be a bit more structured. You may need to provide a specific area for each person to dance in. This could be near a scattered spot, near their desk, using a hula hoop, etc.

Movement for Form and Expression - Fingerplays/Action Songs
These fun songs can continue to exist in varied forms. First, you could choose only chant style songs to allow your students to participate more fully. If selecting a song you can again play a recording of the song and remind students that it is our chance to practice the motions. Personally, I plan on using chants this year as much as possible. Not because I don't love the songs, but because students will be listening to all the other songs in the workout and I want more active participation.

I'm guessing that the work out is going to fly by quickly this year due to less chances for solo opportunities. That means we can have more time for additional fun activities. I'm looking forward to incorporating more Orff experiences into my classroom specifically during the Movement and Beat Motions sections. If you don't own First Steps in Music with Orff Schulwerk or haven't taken a class on First Steps in Music with Orff I encourage you to. I have taken the class twice and really enjoyed it. One example of a way you can incorporate an Orff activity into your use of finger plays or action songs is through the song Chop, Chop Chippity Chop. As students get to know the song they can create their own ostinato patterns using different vegetables. You can encourage students to create their own movements for each vegetable or create a sound effect like clapping or patting for each.

Movement for Form and Expression with Classical Music
I'm so happy I will still be able to do Move It!'s in class this year. The only thing you'll have to be careful of is making sure it does not require students touching, but there are so many to choose from it shouldn't be a problem.

Beat Motions
I'm going to work on nursery rhymes this year. Every year less and less of my students know their nursery rhymes and I enjoy using them for Arioso time. Just like in the past, I will allow one student at a time to keep the beat while I say the rhyme to their beat. I plan on using no instruments this year since I don't have enough instruments for all 500 students. However, there are so many places students can tap on their bodies and if you are in their classrooms they have added chairs, desks, etc. to use. You could even have students use two pencils from their desk as rhythm sticks or tapping their desk for a drum.

Beat Motions with Classical Music
No major changes to this area of the work out, just make sure your students are spread out. I like to play a game of follow the leader every so often and tap a different student to lead the motions, but I'll be changing this to saying the student leader's name.

This is the one I struggled with. It is the highest form of music aptitude for students to be able to make up their own songs. I think it is extremely important to include it, but how do we do it safely? Here's what I'm thinking currently.
  • Teacher Demonstration - Create a video of yourself singing around your house while doing mundane things like laundry, cleaning, etc. (This is my real life...anyone else?)
  • No words - Students are invited to hum their own tune
  • With words - Demonstrate through pre-recorded audio or videos and then later have students demonstrate the skill by recording a video at home using Seesaw

This is an easy fix. Find a recording or record yourself singing a SongTale. After a few lessons you can introduce the pictures for any picture books just like normal. I think I'm actually looking forward to just listening to these SongTales and modeling what an audience member should look like.

Finally, I have started creating my own curriculum guide for this school year for Kindergarten. It follows all the suggestions I made above and gives an outline of my first 20 lessons repertoire guide. I have added it to my Teachers Pay Teachers store for free. The great part is you can edit it to your own liking while having a starting point. You'll notice a few numbers were made bold. My plan is to assess that skill around that particular lesson (meaning I would send home my Seesaw assignment that week). I tried to make it so students were only being assessed on one thing and it would give me time to look through the 100+ videos.


I hope that this post gave you lots of insights on how to make First Steps in Music work for you this school year. Do you have other questions about including First Step in Music this year? How are you planning on using First Steps in Music with your students this school year?


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Lesson Plan Template Tutorial - Lesson 2

Last week I posted how I use Powerpoint to display my lesson plans each day along with directions on how to do it yourself. Today, I'll share how to follow this same process on Google Slides. I personally prefer Powerpoint when teaching in person, but when we transitioned to virtual learning in March I switched over to Google, since that is what all my students had access to. Having these lessons made it easy for students to follow their normal music routine, while also allowing me to include recordings, videos, and more.

If you did not see the tutorial for Powerpoint and would prefer that method you can find that blog post by clicking HERE

  1. Start with an empty slide. You'll see below that I made mine decorative and inviting, but this is definitely NOT a necessity. I started with plain backgrounds about 8 years ago.
  2. Click insert and add a text box in the blank area of your lesson plan template. You can add your lesson plan information in that area.
  3. When you are done entering your lesson plan information it may look something like this (minus the bitmoji and shape in the corner):
  4. Once you have your lesson plan typed up you can hyperlink text to a different file or video. In order to do this you want to highlight the text
  5. Click "insert" then "hyperlink"
  6. You'll receive a pop-up that allows you to enter the link to another website or click "slide in this presentation" to select a slide in your current Google Slide project.
  7. To add an audio file select "insert" and then "audio". Make sure the audio file you want to use is already saved in your Google Account otherwise you won't be able to add it. You'll also want to make sure the audio file is shared to everyone with the link. Otherwise, you'll have issues with students not being able to play the song. (If you need a tutorial on this I'd be happy to do one in the future.)
  8. When you are finished you will see a speaker appear like you see below:
Hopefully this tutorial helps you get started.

Below is a link to my Lesson Plan Templates that I created if you are interested in using them instead of creating your own. My full version will be on SALE for the next few days. ENJOY!
Lesson Plan Templates - Full Version Lesson Plan Templates - Freebie


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Lesson Plan Template Tutorial - Lesson 1

Years ago I wrote a blog post about how I create a tech lesson plan to project on my SMARTboard. You can read that original post HERE. Since then I have continued to do this to save time and energy and make use of every second of class time. Some ways this helps in my classroom:
  1. It provides a visual schedule for students to keep track of what needs to get done and I avoid the "What are we going to do today?" questions
  2. I can link video clips, audio clips, and even attach extra projected files with hyperlinks
  3. It is something pretty for me and my students to look at

If you do not want to start from scratch and would like some cute backgrounds to start with you can download my pre-made Lesson Plan Templates. I have a free version that provides one background for Kindergarten-5th Grade, as well as a version with multiple different backgrounds for purchase. Please note that this is NOT necessary. I personally choose to have a different background each month to keep things fresh, but you could definitely keep the same background for the whole year or even just have a blank slide. That is how I started. Links for my backgrounds are at the end of this blog post. (See below to see a picture of my title page for an April slide):
April Title Slide

Today, I will start with some of the first steps you should follow on PowerPoint or Keynote to get started. You also can do this in Google Slides and I'll put up a second tutorial with how to do this in Google Slides. I found this strategy helpful when teaching online this spring. I could send them the Google Slide lesson plan with linked videos, games, activities, audio files, etc.

  1. Begin with your blank slide that you want to list your lesson plans on. Here is an example of what mine looks like:
    Empty Slides
  2. Click insert and add a text box in the blank area of your lesson plan template. You can add your lesson plan information in that area.
    Adding a Textbox
  3. When you are done entering your lesson plan information it may look something like this:
    Prepared Slide with Lesson Plans
  4. Once you have your lesson plan typed up you can hyperlink text to a different file or video. In order to do this you want to highlight the text and click insert hyperlink.
  5. You'll get a prompt like you see below and you can click the file you see or browse for another file. When you have selected the file you want then click "ok".
    Hyperlink to a different file
  6. You could also hyperlink the file to a different slide in your lesson plan presentation. To do this click "insert", then "hyperlink", then click "place in this document", select the slide you want it to go to, then click "ok".
    How to Hyperlink to a different slide
  7. Another great use of this is to add an audio file to your presentation. I like to do this for adding folk dance music, beat motion songs, or a piece of Classical music we will be listening to. Not matter what you want it is simple to add. Click "insert", "audio", select whether you want something from your computer or you are recording it yourself, then click "ok".
    Adding an Audio File
  8. When you are finished you will see a speaker appear like you see below:
    Audio Added
Hopefully this tutorial helps you get started. I will create another blog post soon to give directions on how to do all of this on Google Slides for those interested in using Google Slides instead.

Below is a link to my Lesson Plan Templates for download on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. My full version will be on SALE for the next few days. ENJOY!
Lesson Plan Templates - Full Version Lesson Plan Templates - Freebie


Friday, July 10, 2020

Big Changes = SALE & Giveaway

It's been ages since I wrote in this beloved place. I can truly say I have missed it. Life has changed so much since the last time I wrote here and I hope that I'll be able to return to this blog again. 

The last four years have created so many changes that took away from creating. First, I got married and had to start a brand new job where I tried to balance teaching everything from elementary general music to 8th grade general music and 7th grade voice lessons. I had so many hats on that I could hardly keep track. 

Then there was the switch to teaching all elementary school with an emphasis on teaching 5 classes of Kindergarten and 1st Grade. Thankfully I got to study with John Feierabend at Silver Lake College and get First Steps in Music trained. I'll be writing more about the magic of First Steps in a later blog post. Watch out for that.

My son was born in March 2019 and being a mother adds yet another hat to my wardrobe. I absolutely love being a mom, but there are definitely days I struggle as I'm sure any mother does.

Now, tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow is the day I finally present my capstone project as the culmination of my Masters of Music in Music Education with a Kodaly Emphasis program. After four years I finally get to share some of the things I have learned during the process and I'm truly excited about it. (Nervous, too.) 

Changes have occurred not only in my life, but in my philosophy of music. So many great professors have opened my eyes to new ways of doing things and I'm hoping to share some of these new ways of teaching with all of you. I have even began creating new products to go along with Conversational Solfege and First Steps in Music. If you already are a Feierabend follower these will be great additions to your collection and if not, please stick around anyway. Check them out. See if you can integrate them into your own teaching. I'll try to show you how!

So, to celebrate all the changes and the new additions being added to my store I have decided to hold a giveaway, as well as a big sale. Details about the giveaway can be found below and the sale banner will lead you directly to my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. Please tell any of your friends that are Feierabend followers who probably haven't heard of me yet.

How to Enter:
  • Follow me on Instagram @makingmusicmemories
  • Like my post about the giveaway & sale on Instagram
  • Comment Below (include your instagram handle so I can check that you followed directions)
Giveaway Prize: $20 credit towards my TpT Store
Giveaway ends: Monday, July 13th at 6 PM CST

My sale will be taking place this weekend and everything will be 20% off. This is a great time to check out all the new products I've added the last few weeks, as well as check out some of my top sellers. You'll notice I have actually added several FREE products to my store. 

(More games for Conversational Solfege are on their way!)

Make it a Musical Day!
Brittany Ward