Reflecting Goodness

In a few days, students and I will be starting classes for the 2016 – 2017 school year. I think many teachers and students share the same kind of excitement, nervousness, hope, and even some fear.

The text in Reflexionem by Patrick Hawes are:

Veritas vertuatem redit, pulchritude vertatem redit.

Truth reflects goodness, beauty reflects truth.
This is how I want be this year: being true, reflecting goodness and making beautiful moments with my students.
Here’s to a great school year, reflecting all that is good!
Enjoy listening to this beautiful choral work performed by Voces8.

For the Love of Reading!

{I have been quite reticent lately due to my involvement with the middle school musical – which I will reflect later. I wanted to quickly write this post while it’s still  the Read Across America week!}

There’s been quite a celebration this week for

Reading!

Inspired by two second grade teachers, this reading project was born. They got many teachers to read a page of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You! for the Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day, March 2, 2014). They efficiently uploaded mp4 files  and scanned PDFs into a shared GDoc folder; I took the recordings and PDF pages into Keynote and  iMovie. We introduced the video in the morning to our PreK-3 this morning and the response has been great! Guessing names of the teachers will not be that fun for people outside of our school, but the students and teachers had fun guessing who is reading.

The following are my take aways from this project:

  • The project was simple and manageable.
  • It’s fun when teachers collaborate. (Teachers want to make more of these books!)
  • It’s a great way for the students to see how teachers collaborate.
  • The project benefits everyone in the school community – the shared link may inspire families to read together or even older middle school students to make similar book projects for their younger buddies.
  • This video was designed such way that it can be used in multiple ways. It can serve as an audio book, as a reading book and for reading practice, and to inspire students/teachers to read and create digital storybooks.

There was another event that took place yesterday to celebrate literacy: Book Swap. K – 5th grade students brought books they already read and are willing to part with. The library was set up with tables with these books for classes to swap books. I thought it was a brilliant way to recycle and distribute books. I can see how the Book Swap can be an on-going literacy event.

Wait, there is more. All the remaining books have been donated to a local children’s library.

I’m thankful that I took a part in this win-win project! If you would like more details, or have better ways to create a project like this, please leave me a comment!

 
Here is the video:

PS: My music classes and I will see about adding music that will go with this video. I will follow up when this has been completed!

 

~@Doremigirl

Interactive Music Class Olympics

Happy February!

Over the last decade, I have come to really appreciate the Olympics  (and another one here) -maybe it’s a maturing process. 🙂

My students love listening to classical selections and learning about various composers. So I thought I would combine these components – composers, their music, the game of the Olympics, and some technology – together.

When you click here, you will get to a ThingLink page that looks like this:
The Music Winter Olympics ThingLink Page

Because iframe codes don’t work on my blog, I thought I’d just embed what the actual page will look like. When you move the cursor over each block, all the buttons will appear like the picture above. Each composer has 4 different areas of information:

  1. Biography (yellow bullet)
  2. Music selection (red play button)
  3. Flag of the composer’s country (blue bullet)
  4. National anthem (most current anthem; black play button)

Since this is the first of my online composer playlist, I started with mostly the “Greats” in classical music. The second page (forthcoming) has other interesting composers my students have not heard about.

Canva & ThingLink

  • I came across Canva through Twitter teachers who were putting out polished posters/infographics. It’s an amazing site to create newsletters, posters, documents etc. Why I like it: There are many choices for you for choosing layouts, graphics, colors, fonts, and sharing. It might take a bit of time to navigate and for you to create what you want, but it’s worth your time! If what you put on your project are “free” designs, it’s absolutely free for you to download your project as PDFs. All other premium items, you’ll need to pay $1 for each. I haven’t used any premium for any of my 4 projects so far. What I used for this project: Moodboard template. I modified the fonts, colors, and uploaded composers’ pictures. I highly recommend this site!
  • ThingLink is another terrific site for teaching.  ThingLink is a site where you can create touch points for students to touch your  parts of the image on the ThinkLink board to explore and learn. Why I like it: It’s interactive! When I use a ThingLink board for lessons, I can have the page open on the SMARTBoard and have my students interact within the lesson. What I used for this project: Uploaded image of my composers from Canva. I added 4 links on each corner. I used this board as a mystery game so many squares were filled with a question mark with only the country label. Right now, ThingLink does not let you replace the image so I had to re-add all the links every time I revealed new composers. But I highly recommend this site!

Useful Sites for Music Teachers and Students:

  • Biographies I normally use New York Philharmonic Kidzone or Classics for Kids for bios, but while researching, I came across a terrific site called 52 Composers. I love it because it has a comprehensive timeline, quotes, videos of musical performances, composers in art videos, lists of related book and online resources. I highly recommend it!
  • Musical selections – Spotify is still my go-to app for music classes, but I decided to post a YouTube video link instead (all linked to Viewpure.com – this site only shows the video you want, not all the “you might like” videos). If my students come across other related videos about particular videos, I can always tag another link onto the ThingLink.
  • Flag from each country – I found Flags.net to be a helpful site. Images of the flags are big and the site has pertinent information about the country.
  • National anthems – This site is also new for me. It has over 400 anthems past and present. I love it because it has a big database of national anthems in many forms: PDF of the music, audio playback so you can listen to the anthems (recordings or Midi), and download the anthems.

Beyond these sites:

  1. Because my students will be watching the Olympic games with their families, at the end of each music class, I will challenge them to write down or remember what music they heard in skating events (if any – some event broadcasters will mention these pieces). I also encourage my students to explore and learn about composers who are not on our board on their own. Some kids bring their findings (or email me interesting facts) and have a chance to present facts and repertoire in class.
  2. After the facts and repertoire is learned, my students will be participating in our own Music Olympics. Due to snow and no power days, our schedule has been delayed. But my plan is to divide K-4th graders in 3 different teams (somewhat random and mixed grades). Some of the games will simulate the Winter games. I have to be creative with using different parts of our campus or by making some games. Once my planning is done, I will also post the games along with the second page of composers.

I am happy that my students are excited to learn!

Music is, really, all around. Let’s help our young learners to keep learning!

If you’re a music teacher, check out my playlist of useful resources I use for my music classes here.

~@Doremigirl

Thoughts on December #2

Christmas gifts.

I can breathe now. The Holiday Concert is over, comments (for student reports) are finished, and my Middle School Choir has visited three senior homes. In the midst of busyness, our school community was fortunate to receive an important message on Wednesday morning.

It was Mrs. B’s 5th grade class giving a chapel on generosity. The students walked us through their thoughts of tangible gifts (iPad, games, iPhone etc.) and abstract gifts.

Hold it, right here. Abstract gifts?

I have to admit, as an adult, I worry about buying the right gift for families and friends (I am extremely behind because of work). When was it when I thought about abstract gifts – gifts of thought and mind?

Remarkably, the 5th graders exchanged the following gifts with one another:

Love 

Friendship

Compassion

Philanthropy

Kindness

Time

Charity

Encouragement

Hope

Support

Hospitality

Laughter

Courage

Respect

Peace

Caring

Appreciation

Smiling

Some beautifully created posters from the 5th grade:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This simple yet profound message touched me and our community. I’m grateful – especially during the height of commercialized-I-want-this-and-that holiday season, it is SO good to focus on the heart-felt love we can give throughout the year.

I love that these young people are mindful.

I love that I learn from my students.

What gifts from the heart will you choose today and share with your loved ones?

So Put a Little Love in Your Heart, y’all!

A huge thanks to my friend Ro and her great love for her students. She models kindness and care for those around her. I’m so blessed to work with her!

~@Doremigirl

Sounds of Music #3

kids-singing-christmas-carols

My PreK students came to class this morning; yesterday was their PreK Holiday Sing! Program

17 adorable, cherubs sang their hearts out yesterday, melting all the hearts of the audience members. Grandparents and parents made up most of the audience ;-), but the PreK’s buddies (the Fourth Grade class), the Eighth Grade class, and other teachers came to show their love also.

So when the PreK students walked into class today, I greeted them and because I’m a curious cat, I told them when I sing each student by name, they should sing back, “Yes, Mrs. Lim” and say what their favorite part was from the program. (I was expecting things like seeing their parents, siblings or buddies).

So I sang, “Hello, G________, ” and the student sang back (with the cutest and beautiful voice), “Yes, Mrs. Lim.”

He said,

“My favorite part from yesterday was that you were there.”

Sweetness! There is nothing better than this kind of love I receive from my youngest students.

We all hugged. And I told them they were my favorite part of yesterday.

Kindness and mindfulness. I learn a lot from my students!

Happy 12th day of December!

So I sing on!

~@Doremigirl

Smolder in Tenderness

I listened to Beethoven Clarinet Trio, Op. 11 for the first time earlier this week. It was my first hearing the work; I was struck by magical textures of clarinet, cello, and piano. Listen to the second movement, Adagio, if you please:

If you don’t use Spotify, listen to it via YouTube (audio quality isn’t great, but this is one of the best examples I can find):

Graceful.

Tender.

The movement is just beautiful. 

This is how I will describe my experience in Washington DC since Tuesday. I’m fortunate enough to be included in this year’s cohort of NAIS Teachers of the Future (ToF) program. 19 of 25 ToFs made it to DC to advocate our loves: students, passion, teaching, and learning. This particular group of educators were not only talented, they were personable and engaged. Our discussions continued over meals beyond session times. For most of us, this summit was the first time we interacted with the National Assocation of Independent Schools, its President, and staff. From large group sessions to small group breakouts (unconference model), we shared, discussed, and brainstormed ways we can better serve our students, schools, and the educational community. NAIS, thank you for making this possible!

The movement is just beautiful

Each teacher’s passion and purposeful initiatives sparked interest and excitement during this vital, two-day retreat.  It’s my hope that this movement of the independent school teachers will be more than a single spark. ToFs, let’s keep the fire going. Just like Beethoven’s tender music, let’s keep the fire smoldering in tenderness…for our students and for the independent school community. Our work is just beginning…let’s make it count!

You can follow our discussions and posts on NAIS Connect site. Look for posts from Teachers of the Future discussion group.

Student Project: Year in Review

I have been wanting to write about this project for some time now. Now that I have the summer to reflect last year and plan for the fall, I wanted to share a fun project and highlight my students. 

One of the perks of being a “connected” teacher on Twitter is that I have an easy access to numerous resources. I connected with Katherine Schulten (@Kschulten), the editor of The New York Times Learning Network, on Twitter and had a chance to meet her in person at ISTE ’11. She is a former English teacher who is passionate about education. I enjoy learning from her and edu related people on Twitter. Some of these teachers have collaborated with me and others have been a source of learning inspiration (read about two examples from my previous posts: Connecting with students in Australia & Music in Me Project).

Right after the Winter break, I read a tweet from @Kschulten about a rap contest for students. The NYT Learning Network partnered with Flocabulary, an online learning site that teaches just about any subject through songs and raps. This project intrigued me because it combined music, tech and research. What important world events would my students remember and care enough to mention?

On the day I read through the contest rules, I realized that the contest closed the following day. I was disappointed that my students would not have an opportunity to submit their work. But I decided to go ahead and tailor the project for my students anyway 🙂

Project: Year in Review

  • PREP – The students and I watched Flocabulary’s The Year in Rap:  2010 and discussed its content and style. The students compared and contrasted the this rap to popular raps they listened to (Kayne West, b.o.b., Nikki Minaj etc.). Discussion topics  included through-composed vs. strophic forms, the rap length, accompaniment, solo vs. BGVs, and what role words and music have in a rap. I segued way into the project by asking, “What do you remember about 2011?”
  • PROJECT

Research: We went over this Google Doc which contains all of the information about the project. I let the kids know that they can decide to work in a group or individually. Most worked in a group, but a few chose to work alone. I worked on this doc with the frame work of NYT Learning Network contest rules, but adjusted to what I thought might work best to my students. I asked several Twitter social studies teachers on #sschat what sites are good for current events and listed a couple links they can go on. My reason: instead of citing just one source for all major news, I wanted to guide the students to seek out multiple primary sources. I allowed 4 class times (about 4 hours) for this project to be completed. Many of the students chose to come during study hall to get their work just right!

Music & Audio Recording: The NYT Learning Network contest provided music tracks from the fabulous folks at  Flocabulary, but since I teach music, I added this important music component to the project. My students have been using GarageBand (Apple app) for some time so I didn’t have to prepare them much for using loops. Unlike previous recording projects, I did not have the students use a separate recording mic. All audio recording and mixing were done from GarageBand.

So take a listen!

MY TAKE AWAY

  1.  FASCINATING TO SEE THE YEAR’S HISTORY THROUGH 12 AND 13-YEAR-OLDS. There were a wide range of topics and highlights. I loved that I discovered that my students are developing global citizens who, for the most part, care about world events. Class and 1:1 research conversations proved to be invaluable. Because students were documenting their work on Google Docs, I was able to follow their work and comment real-time.
  2. EXCITING TO SEE THE STUDENTS BEING EXCITED TO CREATE THEIR OWN MUSIC TRACKS. It was very interesting to watch students work. Partner groups needed to collaborate in class while listening to music (a headphone splitter is our friend). And because they had their Google Docs open, some chose to chat back and forth this way. Student group discussions on music style, lyrics, rhyming scheme, and instrumental choices were happening at a rapid pace. More than anything, they were listening. #win
  3. IMPORTANT STEP: SEEING THE STUDENTS IN HIS/HER LEARNING PROCESS. Some students were great researchers. Some were fabulous at writing the lyrics and some were just excellent at creating the music. The same students, while being so successful at these areas, struggled to use class time, or struggled with another part of learning. Partners were good  (since they chose their own) in this case. They motivated each other. It was important for me to recognize each student’s strengths and struggling areas and work through challenges. I have to say that guiding each group/student was a time consuming task, but to their credit, they worked hard! So…
  4. CELEBRATE & GIVE FEEDBACKS. It’s exhilarating when students call you like the world’s ending because they want you to listen to the short segment they have been working on (remember, I have {dramatic} Middle School students?). Run to them. Be excited for their successes, however short or minor. Also give them honest opinions and guide them to think about things they may have missed. The NYT Learning Network provided a rubric on their site, but I decided to give my own feedback as well as class feedbacks on each project. 

At the end of the school year, this project was mentioned many by my students as one of the memorable learning moments! If you decide to try, let me know how it went.

We live in a well-connected and resourceful time. Take some time to connect with teachers around the globe. You’ll be surprised how many generous teachers/organizations there are. Take time to learn and share! 

Last one…

This project has been shared via Skype with Samuel Wright (Wrightstufmusic) and for his Music Technology Presentation in March. He  is a music teacher and tech guru from Australia with whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Samuel recently blogged about his presentation and mentions my students here. W00t!

Happy Summer!

~Yoon

 

Challenging What We Take For Granted

I’m thankful for the summer to rest, to learn, and to get ready for my students. Just this morning, I came across this TED Talk given by Sir Ken Robinson (filmed February, 2010). I am challenged to think about my passion, about my role as a teacher,  about my students (how they learn and how I am guiding/not guiding them to spend time learning), and about my role as a parent and about what my kids need from their teachers and schools. I am inspired to rethink what I do daily in my classroom. Being a teacher is hard, but is also a great privilege.  I love sharing my passion with my students who are growing up fast in this world.  And I know that I will be a better teacher by changing how I think and do things.

What impact do you think your teaching or interactions will have on your students? 

~Yoon

A Beautiful Message from the Students

This morning I experienced something totally unexpected.

It made me :-), it made me think; it filled my heart with such joy to be a teacher.

A fourth grade student gently knocked on my door and brought this to me on behalf of his class:

Every year around 9/11, our school has a gathering around the flag pole for a moment of silence and reflection. Children from PreK to grade 8, along with faculty and staff walk in silence. Remarkably, even the youngest students know the solemnity of this observance; they walk in silence – with purpose and with care. After the American flag has been hoisted to half-mast, and our Head of School’s short poignant remark about the observance, I sing America, the Beautiful by myself. It’s hard not to choke up… After the song, we all leave in silence back to our classrooms to begin our day. 

The messages of these children stood out and made my heart full:

You made me remember 9/11.

I wish the firemen were still alive.

You made me respect America more.

The strength of America will not fall.

It was my privilege to bring some kind of comfort for our community through a song. These children, on the fifth day of the new school year, thought deeply about people, our country, and service.

These students make me very proud.

I am grateful to be a teacher. 

 

 

Songs for Japan

Since my last post, my students have been busy thinking about making song collections to bring hope and encouragement to all in Japan. We dedicate these songs to @barbsaka, @m_yam, @captainC, @johnstonb, @mscofino, and their students.

My students were to think of a song that would bring healing, encouragement and hope to people facing hardships in Japan. They wrote out their reasons on GoogleDocs and shared the links.

We send our love to you! May these songs lift you up and bring you healing.

~ Yoon

PS: I’m encouraging teachers and school elsewhere to add their songs and messages here or make their own playlst! Also check out Paper Cranes for Japan project. My school will get busy with crane-making after our Spring Break.

UPDATE:

1) We will be adding our message posted on the gloster and linoit sticky notes to We Love Japan message board as mentioned by Barbara. It’s really simple way to raise money – I hope YOU will also take a part!

2) Messages added to We Love Japan site!    ~ ysl