students

For the Love of Reading!

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{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

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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

Sounds of Music #3

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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

Sounds of Music #2 – Celebrating December Songs

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I have to trek back.

2013 Thanksgiving + Hanukkah  = Thanksgivukkah happened simultaneously.

Hanukkah ended in the evening of December 5th, 2013.

So here are my favorite new Hanukkah songs I found on Spotify. I used most of these with my students (to perform or to listen to).

Happy listening!

For non-Spotify users – here is the list to Google for your pleasure.

  • Swingin’ Dreidel – Kenny Ellis
  • Rock of Ages (Maoz Tzur) - Artaria String Quartet
  • Hayom Chanukah – Shira Kline
  • Hanukkah is Here – Joe Nelson
  • Happy Hanukkah – Matisyahu*

*Artist Hilli Kushnir created a beautifully illustrated storybook of Matisyahu’s “Happy Hanukkah”. Check it out. It’s great for teaching the song to students.

~@Doremigirl

Thoughts on December!

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Happy First of December!

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how 2013 has gone by so fast. And if you’re a teacher like me, chances are you will be busy during the 20 some days in school and not really enjoying the holiday season. Music teachers, you know what I’m talking about :-).

I’m making an effort this year to ready myself for a month-long celebration. I want to be awake and be present hearing the sounds and laughters from the children around me (especially my own), cry with those who are suffering, and living the moments with friends new and old during this month.

I have much to be thankful for!

Here are 3 ways that will help me to celebrate during December:

 1. iTunes Radio – let it work for you.

If iTunes Radio is new to you, you should try it. Although I’m a Spotify user, I use the iTunes Radio in the car because Spotify radio is only for paid users (read about it here). I love the iTunes Radio because

  • It’s free streaming music
  • It plays very few commercials (and most of the commercials are music/music concert related)
  • I can use it in the car
  • And I can look at the history of what I listened to and find new favorites

You can start by listening to featured stations like Guest DJ – Kelly Clarkson who picked her Christmas favorites. It’s fun listening to celebrities’ playlists and commentaries. You can also start a station by clicking on the + sign (see image below).  I’ve loved using the iTunes Radio since October (iOS 7 update) and found many stations that helped me to find new Holiday favorites. Can you tell how I’ve been looking for special holiday songs by looking at my stations? LOL!

iTunes RadioiTunes Radio

The Radio also works like Pandora when you star a song you like – the station will play more songs like the one you starred. Enjoy the season with music!

 2. I read an interesting blog post titled “Kindness Elves: An Alternative to Elf on the Shelf Tradition” this morning. I love this post because the  blogger shares her pursuit of kindness and character-building activities to kids during the Christmas season. I  share her sentiments about Elf on the Shelf being a bit creepy and about the whole behavior modification (or manipulation) through using Santa or Elf-watching. I’m all for wonderment and making magical moments for children. What I don’t like is that many things we do in our culture enable the children to play  the entitlement games. So what struck a chord with me is that her variation  on the Elf on the Shelf is about  Kindness Elves “who love to help and notice kindness in others”. I emailed the post link to my colleagues at my school already and want to see the kindness in my students each day. So here we go! Let’s look for kindness and give help to those who need it!

3.  Give a thought to giving. Anna, the Kindness Elves blogger, said that we give presents because we love those people not because they deserve to get them. I agree. Instead of buying random gift cards, wouldn’t it be great to find a meaningful gift? I know how hard it is to find a great gift, but I found one today. So here I want to share it!

I sure didn’t have to take 5 to fall in love with this amazing product ;-). I learned about Koostik from Kelly Tenkely (@ktenkely) who wrote a post about her dad’s craftsmanship here. I love that Koostik products are handcrafted in America with natural resources, aesthetically uber cool, and are highly functional. I think smaller models will be good for cars without Blue Tooth. I’m hoping to order one in the next day or two for my husband. I just have to make a decision for which device…(I hope he doesn’t read this post).

December 2nd update

The good folks at Koostik and I’ve been tweeting back and forth about some specs so here they are:

The Original is 8.5″ x 3.5″ x 2″ and is approx. 1 pound.

The Pivot is 7.25″ x 3.25″ x 2″ and is less than one pound.

They are super friendly and great with questions and follow-ups. Shhhhh - I ordered mine – you should, too!

So how will you spend your December? If you find meaningful gifts (the ones you make or find), please share them with me in the comments. Also share some good music you may find on the iTunes Radio. And please join me in celebrating the goodness of life with children.

May your December heart be filled with goodness, kindness, and music!

Cheers!

~@Doremigirl

Create a Great Playlist for Your Students: MentorMobEdu

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During the app share session at edcampHill, I shared MentorMob*.

*January 14 edit – MentorMob changed its educational site name to LessonPaths early 2014. All links from this post are still valid!
MentorMob is a great site to create a learning playlist for your students. You can paste any link (video, audio, article), upload images or PDFs, and create short quizzes to test what the students have learned. I think it’s ideal for any level of students. It’s not only great for teachers with IWB or SMART Board, but for teachers to create  playlists for learning-centers.
Why I like this app:
  1. All YouTube or Vimeo videos I selected for my students are in one place without the clutter of suggested videos or comments.
  2. Documents or slides for learning can be directly added to the playlist so that teaching and learning time is not wasted.
  3. Easy to view the entire playlist collection on the sidebar.
  4. Sharing the playlist with students and parents is easy.

Here is an image of  my playlist. Uploaded Doc that will be followed by a video of the music the students will listen to. There is a list of videos and docs on the left side. The circled tools are for editing, sharing and more (copy, delete, or change privacy).

Danse_Macabre_Listening_Guide_-_MentorMob-13

Create an Edu account. It’s easy!
  1. Go to mentormob.com and click on the EDU site (left bottom).
  2. Sign up using your email, Google, Facebook, or Persona accounts.
To create a playlist:
  1. Click on the “Create” button on the top menu.
  2. Fill in the title, description, type, category, & tags.
  3. Decide whether your playlist will be public (can be viewed by all) or unlisted (only people you share the link will be able to view it). I like to share with teachers so I leave mine in public.
  4. Hit the “Save and add content” bar.
  5. Click on the + sign to add links, documents, or articles.
  6. Add step info/ challenge questions.
  7. You can click on the pencil to edit any step on the playlist and modify any way you want it.
  8. You can embed your playlist on your blog/class website and have centers-like activities set in your classroom

One negative:

If your class blog is a WordPress.com like my blog, you will not be able to use its iframe code to embed the playlist. Fortunately, I use Edublogs and Google Sites so it’s not a problem when using MentorMob for school. The embedded playlist would look like this:

msfame.edublogs.org__p_1540_preview_true

So for my music classes, I no longer use the YouTube playlist I created for my students. MentorMob is great with customer service on Twitter (@MentorMobEdu). I like browsing through playlists created by other teachers in other subjects, too.

Check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

@Doremigirl

An Interview with the New York Times Learning Network

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Christmas 2012

Happy December!

It has been way too long since my last post. I apologize for being MIA here. I have been mulling over ideas, but mostly very busy  learning and teaching. The 2012 – 2013 school year has been fabulously rolling along with lots of great progress from my students.

Around Thanksgiving, I was contacted by the New York Times Learning Network editor, @kschulten, for an interview. I am delighted and honored to have been featured in an article published on November 29, 2012 about a rap project I did with my students last year. If you’re so kind, go here and read it!  I was very happy that NYT Learning Network allowed two of my students’ work to be included! I am very proud to share their work there :-)

I am very thankful for many ways I am learning and sharing what I learn with my students.

Here’s to a great holiday season!

~Yoon

Student Project: Year in Review

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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

 

Questions, Conversations, and the Rachmaninoff’s 2nd

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21/366/2012 Snow Day

Happy 2012! I have been away from blogging since September. I’m finding a moment on this snowy morning to reflect (and remember how to use WP interface!). The past four months have been packed with performances, student projects, stories, challenges, and relationship-building conversations. Today’s post will focus on the conversations I have been having with my students. And for the record: it’s good to be back!

ONE of the best part of being a music teacher at a small private school is that I get to teach many grade levels. In the past, it got really crazy when I had two classes back to back – one being the oldest and the other, the youngest group of students. Thanks to the thoughtful schedulers, however, I have a schedule that works out beautifully this year. I also get to head a lunch table 3 times a cycle with the K-2 students (yes, we eat sit-down, hot lunches with the students!) and go out to 2 recesses after lunch.

There’s a group of Kindergarten students I want to share about. Whenever they see me,  they run to me with open arms and look up with the brightest eyes and smiles to ask me, “Mrs. Lim, are you on recess duty?” For some reason, they let me in since the beginning of the school year: they let me play a role in their daily recess make-believe stories. Their excitement,  their voices, their curiosity, their unfiltered thought process, and their love inspire me to live each day with a passion to discover and learn. They also remind me what important role I have as a teacher to all my students…

Interestingly, the following TWO conversations with my middle school students this week reiterated my last point.

Conversation 1: My students have been creating music on GarageBand for a project so during an afternoon study hall, a group of students came to work on their projects. One particular student had been working on his project pretty extensively so I told him I would love to listen to his music when he’s ready to share it for a feedback. I sat in the empty seat and wanted him him to finish editing; he started asking questions about editing music. Our conversation started as a Q and A for GarageBand, but ended up talking about his passion for music. After he told me he would like to do something in music, I was frank with my 13-year-old student (he has an amazing listening skills and can play just about any instrument). I told him I can see him creating, mixing, editing music in the future.

Then there was a short, but awkward silence. His widened eyes stared at me with a disbelief. He asked me, “Do you really think  I can…?” My answer: “Yes – I believe it!”

What I realized: my believing-in-what-my-student-can-become is just as important as what I’m teaching him now. We will definitely have more conversations, but for now, I’m going to think of ways I can support and get my students like him to think of possibilities.

Conversation 2: I was starting a class and while surveying the room while making my announcements, I noticed that one of my students was missing. A friend of the student quickly remembered that he was in a meeting and wanted me to know that he might be late. So we started the class. When students dispersed to worked on their projects, that student came to talk to me. He apologized for being late and wanted to run an idea by me. I was curious so I listened carefully.

Essentially, he pitched an idea to the student government to change a school dance into a night of student-run concert night. Tickets will be sold like a a real concert and the student line-up have to be really good. But there was more. The concert would be a benefit concert – it is to raise money for the music department so that we can have more instruments/equipment.

He asked, “What do you think? Do you think it’d be helpful? Would you approve this idea?”

:-) I had not seen this coming. Here was a student who was thinking about how to help me and my colleagues to create music better with our students. I was thinking, Whoa, what kind of kid is this? Did we make an impact on his music learning so much that he wants to give back? I am totally humbled and excited: we have future music education supporters!

There are THREE ways I can summarize what I’ve been learning:

  • Students matter more. Building strong relationships in and out of classrooms helps me to understand students better and will make me a better music teacher.
  • {For any teacher or parent} what we do everyday for the student (children) and for our profession (family), make an impact in our schools and communities (relationship). Be strong & be excellent!
  • The past 4 months (the active learning and reflecting months) have been like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony (third movement). The ebb and flow of life bring us sweet, harrowing, and unforgettable melodies like this one. So here’s my life in music. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do, especially at 3:54.  ~ Yoon

(Hear the entire third movement! Here’s the part 1 to the excerpt you just heard

http://youtu.be/v60qgwtOQCI)

A Beautiful Message from the Students

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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.