Sunday, March 31, 2019

It's all about attention

There are four functions of behavior: 


At least that's what I can remember. 

Guess which one I think is most important in teaching.   Oh.  Guess you read the post title.

So, you're in a classroom, trying to teach, and you have a kid who is clowning around and interrupting your important speech on the Bb mixolydian scale.   So you go:

Hey kid! stop that!

and the kid says.

Stop What?

And you say TALKING!

and the kid says

I wasn't talking!


And the kid says

I wasn't talking!

And you say YES YOU WERE! in kind of an argumentative manner.

Where did we go wrong?   It's all about attention.  Let's re-examine:

Kids talking and interrupting your teaching.   Did you ask yourself how bad it was before you called him out in front of the class?   Was he distracting everyone? half the kids?  a few kids?  Just you?

Why is this question pertinent?   Well, where was the classes attention before you called him out?   Was it on him or you?   Let's say that out of 28 kids, one kid was paying attention to the miscreant, while the other 26 were listening to EL Teacher-O.

You call him out in front of everyone and now the little scamp has the attention of 27 people plus the teacher.

So, you just rewarded this kid by multiplying the amount of attention he is receiving by a factor of 28.   You also just made a point to the rest of your pupils that this lovely little tyke is 28 times as important as your lesson.   

Since this blog is for myself, I'll just end by saying that this is information worth studying.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Singing thoughts 1

singing-start with the upper register exercises-sirens to get kids ears hearing the music correctly and singing in tune.

When you start singing, choose a group of 5 or 6 kids to sing without the rest of the group so that you can tell if they are singing correctly or not

Don't sing in a whiny bad voice if you wouldn't be willing to do it in front of the whole class or whole school.

It's not what you're singing, it's how well you do it and how much fun you have with it.

If the kids sound good, maybe they will like singing more.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Orff Teaching thoughts, recorder questions, and tambourine loudness

Just a couple of things I learned today. First off, when I'm teaching students to use the rhythm building blocks from Orff Schulwerk, or just teaching a simple bordun, I really need to isolate at least one or two students and have them play for the group while the group sings the song. This seemed to work really well today with a fourth grade class I was teaching. I chose one student who was just making up his own thing on a bordun with C and G and I had him play the bordun Jag-uar, El-e-phant (Quarter, Quarter, 8th 8th Quarter) while the rest of the class sang "Green Sally Up" It was like magic. Stuff like this rarely works for me. It's always too loud or half the kids are playing the wrong notes or wrong rhythm, but having them demonstrate really seemed to make a difference.

Speaking of too loud, tambourines were not a good Idea. I need to stick to softer accompaniment instruments like woodblocks, triangles, and quiros or clicker sticks. Those tambourines drown out everything.

Also, earlier, when I was teaching recorder, I asked some students to tell me the fingerings for each line of music and they had no problem telling me the fingerings for the whole song. This is good questioning. I need to make more of a habit of this. OK,

That's all.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Schema song-cornerstone orff arrangement

If you're school is working on cornerstone literacy, you might want to try this song with your music classes. This is a song about using information you already learned to make connections to what you're reading today.

It's set to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin". Click image to make it bigger.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Podcast 2-Mrs. Fisher's 3rd Graders sing "Ghost of Tom"

These 2 songs were both performed by Mrs. Fisher's 3rd Grade Class at Georgetown Elementary. Very spooky and kinda gross song, ghost of tom is first sang in a two-part round, then in the second clip sang with a simple bordun accompaniment on various size xylophones and glockenspiel. This class is talented!

See more Audio at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Podcast-Mrs. Freeman's 2nd Grade-Skin and Bones

This is Mrs. Freeman's 2nd graders performing "There was an old lady all skin an bones". This is their second day singing it and first day adding the bordun on the xylophones.

See more Audio at

Monday, October 12, 2009

Proper Recorder Teaching

Today I was teaching a class. It was a group of, oh, let's say 5th graders (their grade level may or may not have been changed to protect their identities.) Well, anyway, I had not taught this class in a while, but of course, being the horrible teacher I am, I acted like they were on the same level as my other classes. I tried to be patient, but these kids wouldn't be quiet and as a result, could not play claire de lune on their recorders. Of course, my mistake, as I mentioned two sentences ago, was the fact that I was going way too fast with them. So here's proper recorder instruction people (I think):

(update: since I originally posted this blog, I taught another difficult class trying the method outlined below and got much better results.)
Claire de lune:

1. Write all of the notes on the board like dis:

GBAA G____

2. Have students say the names of the first four letters, while pressing the right keys/holes

3. Repeat step two until the students can finger the notes correctly.

4. Have students play the first four notes: GGGA-maybe get a couple of volunteers to play this by itself

5. Repeat steps 2-4 on each 4 beat section of the song

6. Combine all notes and have class play it together.

7. Give 1 or 2 minutes independent practice time.

8. Test individuals or small groups on the complete song and give out stickers.

---This is the way I'm a gonna try it next time....Maybe I've learned from my mistake this time???...We'll see.