For those of you who don’t know me:
My name is Cara and I teach PK-6th Grade Music on an Air Force Base in Texas. This week concluded my eighth year of teaching and third at my current school. Please consider signing up to follow the blog for more updates and ideas for your music program. My Teachers Pay Teachers Store is up and running and there are lots of goodies there. My FB page is also a great place to get info on upcoming sales, freebies, and new items in the store.
For this hop, the topic is planning and, if you’re anything like me, you spend most of the summer planning for the upcoming year. If you limit your planning time, congrats! I wish I could let go enough and relax. I spoke to a coworker on Wednesday who said he is very protective of his free time/family time.
This thing is, though, I ABSOLUTELY love what I do. I LOVE figuring out the BEST way/time/order/method to teach something musical. Now, not everyday is super exciting and I definitely have my less-than-perky moments but I consider myself lucky to have a career where I can express myself creatively and give others the opportunity to do so. Disclaimer: it’s the last day of school as I’m writing this and I don’t have students today. If you had asked me last week, I probably would have had a grumpy answer. Ha!
Okay! On with the information!
(another) DISCLAIMER: I am be no means an expert at planning or music education for that matter. Although I consider myself a quality teacher, I still have a lot to learn and am always striving to be better.
With that said:
Texas has adopted new TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for music. They don’t technically go into effect until the fall of 2015 but why postpone the inevitable. I’m actually really excited about some of the additions to the standards.
The FIRST thing I did was align those standards in a format I could understand. The TEA site has them in paragraph form but I wanted to digest that information into a timeline so I could see how skills grow from year to year.
This is the product of that. Beware: there may be typos. I didn’t originally intend for this to be seen. It’s just how my brain works.
I know that is tiny text. Hopefully, if you click on it, it will open a window with JUST that and hopefully enlarged so you can see it better. If I’m extra productive, I will turn into a download for y’all.
As you can see, I split up the sections and then each standard got it’s own box on the spreadsheet (I love Excel!) so I could see how the standards correlate to each other through the elementary grade levels.
From there, I took the skills that each grade should learn/know and created a more specific scope and sequence. I split up skills based on bigger concepts such as pitch, rhythm, improvisation, etc.
Note: there ARE skills that are not completely aligned to the TEKS. I know! How dare I? But, I truly believe that the TEKS should be the launching point NOT the pinnacle so some skills that should be learned in one grade may be earlier (if that’s what I prefer according to my understanding and experience). Again, I am by no means an expert and this changes every year (regardless of the change in TEKS). Also, there really are no Pre-K standards in music other than “students will participate in classroom activities” so I am in the process of creating those standards myself.
Sometimes, I don’t get to everything. This year, I saw my students twice a week for thirty minutes in groups of 30-45. I had to deal with teachers wanting to pull students for testing, remediation, and punishment. Even though the law is my side (yay Texas!), it was still a constant battle for time. I did the math and I get 4% of the instructional week. I am very protective of my 4%. Even so, we did not get to everything. Pre-K and Kinder did and 1st was very close but 2nd+ has been a struggle to keep up with. I could blame it on a lot of things: my predecessor, the constant mobility of the student population, pull-outs…..but it all comes back to time. Yes, we didn’t get to everything this year but we used our time wisely and worked hard. That’s something to be proud of.
Now, to take the skills I want to teach packaged into concept bundles and put them in a cohesive order.
My first year at LISD, I was asked to divide the year by four and type in the concepts I would teach during that time for each grade level. It seriously was an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with four boxes. That didn’t work for me. Like I mentioned earlier, the paragraph form does nothing for my brain. So, I created a Year-At-A-Glance that fits my brain better.
I have a page like this for every grade level and it stretches from August until May. Each column represents a week. As you can see, each row is explained on how I use it. I always over-plan because it is better to have too much to do than too little and be scrambling.
Here is what it looks like filled in:
Here is a different grade and time:
I know that’s a lot of data on one page but, if ANYONE walks and wants to know what we’re doing and why, I have that documentation. I have the planning pieces I need plus the rhetoric of education. I’ve been using the form as my sole means of lesson planning this year and it’s really been nice. My district does not require specialists to put their lesson plans in a specific form/location that the general education teachers do.
Cara, How do you keep track of who has learned what?
I have several sections of each grade level. Since I’ve been doing double classes this year, I only have two sections of grades 2-6 but Pre-K-1st is multiples.
Here is an example sheet of how I keep track. I have four Pre-K classes that I see each week.
I don’t put all the details but I list the activities we do and mark it under the teacher’s name if we got to it. Then I can see who got to what and if anything needs to be caught up on the next week. Like I mentioned earlier, I over-plan so I know not everything is going to get done. I can also look for patterns like Montanio’s class hasn’t gotten through the entire lesson in several weeks. Is that a timing issue (late or early) or a behavior issue? Does it need to be addressed? Is it effecting the overall student learning? I can also see what items didn’t work like the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Dance. I didn’t try it for Heineman’s class but did for Montanio’s. It didn’t work so I just skipped it the rest of the week. I know, for next year, to take that out completely or replace it with something else. Some of you might be able to remember little stuff like that but I can’t. I have too much going through my brain at any given time to remember that a link didn’t work from day to day. Ha!
IF you do need to see an individual lesson plan instead of the whole year madness, I sometimes use this plan. Specifically, I used it for my evaluation because my administrator probably wouldn’t have been able to figure out the year-long chart and I wouldn’t want to print it. It’s a beast.
As you can see, I’ve taken the rows of the Year-At-a-Glance and made the columns more detailed to only reflect the learning of each week. This is very administrator friendly (for those of us who are observed by admins who’ve never taught music) because they can see the WHY to everything we are doing. Is it tedious? Absolutely! But, I’m not only a music teacher and I’m the advocate for music education in my district (it’s a no-paying, no respect position). My administrators are wonderful and supportive but they have a whole campus to manage. Anything I can do to educate other teachers and administrators about the value of what we’re doing in the music classroom is worth it.
Although, I have been called TOO-PASSIONATE because it’s only music……it is what it is……
Okay, how we doing? Are you exhausted yet? Are you still with me? Good!
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Thanks for reading!