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Song of the Month: Fatou Yo

Yes, I know.  19 days late.

But better late than never!

This is a song I’m using in my Rondo lessons with my students this year.  I got it from the album “World Playground: A Musical Adventure For Kids.”  The artist is Touré Kunda.  It’s in Mandingo, a language from the small African country of Senegal.  I posted the lyrics and an English translation below the video.

Fatou Yo

I hope you enjoy!  I’m working on a post about my first quarter teaching, so stay tuned for that!

Sincerely,

Torrence

I am alive!

Hey, check out this post on my new blog, Beg, Borrow and Steal!

Yes, it is true.  I have survived my first nine weeks teaching elementary school music.

Was it stressful?  Yes.

Did I cry almost every week because I was terrified each time I had to start a new lesson?  Yes.

Was I so exhausted I basically ate dinner and collapsed in bed every day after getting home from work?  Yes.

Did I absolutely love it?

Yes!

Teaching music truly is a fantastic job, and on top of that, I am incredibly blessed to be at a school where the staff are some of the most supportive and helpful people I have ever met.  I haven’t felt ostracized, belittled or condescended to because of my “BT1” (1st Year Beginning Teacher) status, and all of my questions are met with clear and friendly answers, no matter how small or silly.  I cannot express how grateful I am to the teachers and staff who I work with, especially since I started school two weeks late (because it is  a year-round school, they began classes back at the end of July, but the principal set my hire date for after Alex and I got back from our honeymoon because she is amazing!).

Here are some pictures of what I have been doing to my room so far!  As I said before, I started late, so as of now I have only had one teacher work day, which is not really much at all.  Things as they are, I haven’t been able to decorate or arrange my room quite how I want to yet, but slowly I’m adjusting it and making it my own.  Students have commented on my constant re-arranging of things.  “Do you move that board every week, Mrs. Tigges?”  They ask, referring to the board with the lesson plans of each grade posted on it.  “Yep!”  I reply cheerfully because… pretty much… I do hahaha.  I keep trying new things to see what I like best (which is what being a first year teacher is all about, right?).

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So, as of right now, I don’t have enough chairs for all my students. The gym teacher let me borrow these rubber floor dots though and I’ve found them quite useful! I assign each student a color and tell them as long as they sit on the right color they’re good, it doesn’t matter which one. Then, I’m free to rearrange them however I want for each class– like this one, who did some group activities.

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I assigned each color a different job. The red dots were in charge of the markerboard, and no one else was allowed to write on it. The purple dots presented what their group wrote down. Etc, etc.

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One of our group activities with the Orchestra– I divided students into pairs, and each pair had to write with a dry-erase marker on the “Orchestra Map” where they thought each family of the orchestra sat (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion). Then we looked on the Smartboard and used a corresponding app to discover if they were right or not. I have since laminated these “maps” so that I don’t have to use the slippery cover sheets anymore, thank goodness!

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My mantra for this year: “We are a Music Making Team!” I am the music making coach, and my students are my music making athletes. As a team, we have to work together towards a common goal, even if we don’t like each other. It’s a tough concept for some kids… but I feel very strongly that one of my jobs as a music teacher is to show how to work with someone to make something, regardless of whether they’re your friend. Below are my 5 rhythm sticks positions– more on that later!

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This is my take-a-break table. When students need to take a break, I send them there. It’s not always for behavior issues; sometimes I notice a student is distressed or seems overwhelmed by something and unable to participate. I want the take-a-break table to be more like a place to safely collect yourself. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to successfully accomplish this my first year though. Classroom discipline is so hard! I, like every first-year teacher before me, am struggling with it. I’ve recently rearranged things so that the table is not next to the book shelf. Still not sure if I like it or not. Speaking of books, though, anyone have any ideas for good elementary school music books?

I’m so excited to have my own classroom!  It’s really big too, which is fantastic for me.  I love having all the space, because I love to teach using movement, and my students have already been learning some dances.  In 2nd grade we did Alabama Gal (New England Dancing Masters), and in all grades except Kindergarten we’re learning a dance with the song Fatou Yo in order to learn about Rondo form.  Rondo is a form where the first theme, “Theme A,” comes back after every new theme.  For Fatou Yo, each theme has a different dance move we do.  Most students seem to have fun with it, and I think it helps when they can actually participate in the form of the music instead of just being told about it.

Speaking of Rondo…

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All grades except Kindergarten have been focusing on Rondo form for the past three weeks. This is the “Rules Rondo” (You can print it out on this website!), which has 4 themes. Theme E was one that I had each class create. Every theme had it’s own special instrument and rhythm to play on that instrument. The students really loved it because they love to play instruments! Playing the “floor” meant we patted the rhythm on the floor, which students thought was cool too (even though honestly I made that up at the last minute because I didn’t have enough of one type of instrument to give to everyone at the time.  Yay improvisation!).

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Here’s another Rondo I did with my classes at the end of this week because we just went on break so we had a half-day. It’s found in the 3rd grade Making Music textbook, and it’s a speech-piece in rondo form. I had students perform each form not only with speech but with boomwhackers coordinated to the color of the markers. Students love the boomwhackers!

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My boomwhacker setup for Bananas and Cream. I actually ended up switching the little red ones and the purple ones so that when students rotated they wouldn’t have to play Theme A twice in a row (Theme A was both types of red, Theme B was green, and Theme C was purple).

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Oh, and last but not least, the board that I keep moving around every week haha. It has music staffs on the other side, but unfortunately it’s pretty unstable so I’ve only been able to use one side of it (hence the “Do Not Touch” sign taped to the bottom). Hopefully this week during break one of the janitors might be able to help me fix this so I can roll it around safely during class!

If you have any suggestions for me about layout or lesson ideas, please let me know by commenting below!  I hope you like what I’ve shared and I can’t wait to post some more music-education related things in the future!  I’m working on a short post about classroom management that will probably go up later this week, and I also have to tell you about Eagles Center Stage, my first chorus!

I hope you have a fantastic week!

~Torrence Nightingale

BLOG SWAP! Feat. my sister Erin!

Hello and welcome to the first edition of BLOG SWAP!

I’m about to get married this Saturday (!!!!!) so I don’t have much time to post, BUT I had this idea forever ago and finally Erin and I have executed it so I didn’t want to have to wait a moment longer!

My younger sister enjoys writing and making beautiful (and sometimes quite intense…) illustrations.  I highly encourage you to check out her stuff at her blog, Darkness That Shines.

I wrote a post for her blog (this is a SWAP, after all!) and you can read it there.  Without further ado, here is my little sister’s little treat for you!

My sister thought maybe she’d post something on my blog to show the things that she likes to post, and I’d post something on her blog in exchange, so maybe a few followers would cross over.

Even if I only have like, 3 followers.

Eh.

So I drew this picture, it took me 3+ hours, and it’s of a character of mine named Smiley.

Smiley.

Smiley.

She’s not completely human, she’s more like some sort of demon or spirit, and her real name isn’t actually Smiley, it’s just a nickname. Her brother’s nickname is Frowny, who obviously wears a frowny mask, and he can’t speak, but he can make noises such as laughing and screaming and such.

They’re twins, go everywhere together, are inseparable, and if they could choose from saving the world or saving their sibling, they will choose to save the sibling, every time. They cannot live without each other.

They are only about 5′ tall, and always wear black. You cannot take their masks off, only they can take off each others or their own. They’re sort of urban legends, and no one is positive they’re real or not. They love to steal things, especially shiny things, and are extremely stubborn. They rarely kill, but if you bother them enough they will, and they definitely can; they can “summon” pinkish-red ribbons of any thickness, and they can make them float around and stuff like tentacles and strangle people and tie them up and such. Their ribbons don’t stay, though, they sort of have a time limit, so after a day the ribbons will be gone, so theres no trace they were ever there at all.

Smiley is usually the one that kills people, and she of course does all the talking. She somehow always knows what her brother wants to say, so she’ll always speak for him. She’s extremely sassy and has a fiery temper, so you don’t want to get on her bad side. Her mask distorts her real voice, so she doesn’t sound like a female or a male, and people tend to think of her as a guy. She likes it that way, though, because she feels like no one will take her seriously if they know she’s a girl.

I might write a story about them, and I might post it on here, but I’m not sure how it’s going to go plot wise and stuff.

Let me know if you like it! I drew it with my new drawing tablet which I’m still getting used to, so constructive critisism and advice is highly welcome and recommended!

~<3

If you would like to give Erin any feedback feel free to comment below!  Also feel free to comment on her blog and follow her as well!  She is just bursting with talent and always amazes me with her boundless creativity, and I’m glad I got to share one of her creations with you.

Love,

Torrence

PS:  Let’s do this again!  If you have a blog and would like to trade posts with me sometime, send me an e-mail at toreocookie@gmail.com!  Or comment below.  Later!  🙂

Video

Song of the Month: “Give Me To The Waves”

And for the month of July, I present to you General Ghost:

Enjoy!

~Torrence