Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fun Ways to Use Music in the English Classroom

Here's the deal--I'm weird about music. When my husband and I moved in together, he thought it was SO strange that I had lived most of my life in silence. I NEVER had background music playing and rarely listened to it in the car either. I'm not sure if my home life growing up played a part in this or what, but I've just always preferred silence over noise. The only time I actually listen to music is when I'm running or dancing (which oddly enough for a non-music lover, I love to do). My husband however, along with the majority of normal people in the world, use music in lots of other aspects of their lives. As I'm starting to learn from my husband and other music in the classroom advocates such as Ron Clark, music has the ability to energize, mellow, lift moods, encourage reminiscing, and enforce habits. Therefore, one of my goals for this school year is to add music each day.

 Here are some ways I plan to meet my goal:

1. Musical Review Game- I have areas in my room numbered already (I use centers sometimes for test prep), so I'm going to utilize these by playing a musical review game for when students need to get up and moving. It's kind of like musical chairs without the chairs. As you play a song, students walk in a circle around the room. When I stop the song, I randomly select a number. The student closest to that number in the room has to answer the review question. If they miss it, they sit down. Keep this going until you have a winner standing (or end it sooner by letting a larger group win).

2. Pop Songs Rewritten as Shakespearian Sonnets- Have you seen these??? They crack me up. My students did this activity the last time we studied Shakespeare, and it was AWESOME.

3. Musical Daily Grammar Practice- I kind of started this last year, but I found ways to make it more organized and rigorous last year. As a bell-ringer each day, students will hear the song of the week. Once the song ends, their daily work should be finished. To add rigor, I'm adding an informational text each week that matches the song's theme. Not only do students have an opportunity to read more informational text, but they find mentor sentences in the text. See example days of the week below. You can find this in my store. I'm adding to this file week by week!

Check out the preview to see a full description of this lesson! Click Here

4. Music to Promote Concentration- I always allow and encourage students to put in their earbuds and listen to music as a way to tune distractions out while writing essays. It's a win, win really. Students are quiet and focused, and they enjoy this freedom. I also recently just heard about "Pop Goes Classical"  that can be found on Pandora and Spotify that will give some background information when students don't need words to distract them.

5. Music in Lesson Plans- There are a ton of ways to incorporate music into lesson plans, but here are a few websites that will give you some ideas: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, Hip Hop in the English Classroom and Mrs. Orman's Guide for using popular songs to teach literary devices and James Whitaker's Figurative Language Song Lyrics Analyzing and Interpreting Common Core .
Here's another idea to promote music and analytical thinking: What would ______________ have on his or her playlist?  You can add rigor by having them use evidence to prove their song selections.

Click here for the link to this: Literary Playlist  There's also a history version
Click here for the link to my husband's Historical Playlist lesson 

5. Lyric Writing to Remember Concepts- There's this fun little website called Incredibox. I haven't used it yet, but my plan is to let students make up raps to a beat about a concept they are learning. For example, they can make up a rhyme with caesuras, kennings, and epic hero traits while learning these concepts in Beowulf. I have a feeling they will have a ball with this one!

6. Music to calm down a class- I LOVE using the Harry Potter Soundtrack Station on Pandora to create a calming mood! It is so soothing and brings back fond memories. I also use this station for when we are doing our Literary Yoga.

7. Music to pep up a class- If a class is lethargic, Pandora's "Today's Hits" will normally play some good clean classroom music that will add some energy to the room. 

I will be adding to this list as the year goes along, so be sure to follow me for updates! 
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Harry Potter-ish Themed Classroom

As a high school teacher, I don't normally make a huge deal out of classroom decorations. I've only had two classroom "themes" the past 9 years that I've taught. This is my second and most likely last one. Not because I'm lazy, but because I love it so much. ;) ha! 

One of the many reasons the Harry Potter books will always have a place in my heart is because of the wonderful teaching role models Hogwarts provides. I'm hoping some of their enchantment will inspire me as I spend my days in this room teaching students for not the real world (that is a world that they already know way too much about), but for a better world--- a magical world. 

All of the items below were either gleaned from my basement or found at yard sales and thrift stores. I think I ended up spending around $25 for the new makeover. I hope you enjoy taking a look!

DIY scroll made from free rolls of paper from our local newspaper office, an old curtain rod, and these amazing track ceiling plant holders I found at Lowes (I couldn't find the link for Lowes, but they look exactly like the ones I linked and were in the ceiling tile section). 

I made my word wall and signs with free Harry Potter fonts. For more on how and why I use word walls with older students check out this post: How and Why to Use Word Walls with Older Students 

These posters were made and printed at Staples as engineering prints for 3.99. 

This year I've added Harry Potter literary device posters and Harry Potter growth mindset novel study to start out the year with the right frame of mind!

These are DIY dry erase boards made from old poster frames (just turn the poster to the white side). 
 Notice all of the owls--lots of owls!
I painted these myself at various art party nights :) 

Best thrift store find!! $10 for all this! Boom!

Pegboard bookshelf here: Harry Potter Home Office

And lastly my favorite-- my Edison bulb above my desk and computer! I just know this is going to spark all kinds of creativity for me :) I made this by buying a lamp kit and using those plant hanger hooks I talked about earlier in this post. 

I think I accomplished my goal of adding a touch of Harry Potter magic without going too over-the-top since this is a secondary classroom. Now I can finally get to work on planning since my room is so cute and clean!