So, what will the first week of classes of the new school year look like? I spend the week before school begins doing several things:
1. I set up the student bins.
Besides being a picture of “Moi” you can see that my classroom has what I call “chair desks”. there is no place for storage, so to create some I went to the dollar store, bought 30 dish pans and placed one under each chair. In each bin I put a whiteboard, a marker, an eraser, a laminated writing prompt grid, (more about that in another post), and a pencil. When the 4th graders are coming in I add a small notebook that they will keep in their music folders to use as a listening journal. I collected last years journals from the (then) 4th graders, and will return their same notebook to them for 5th grade.
2. I go through each class list and put student names on a seating chart. These are mostly alphabetical, excepting students who need to be seated in the front, or students who just shouldn’t be seated together. ( We all know what that’s about.)
Once the charts are complete I make at least 4 photocopies of each, one for each marking period. I will use these to record assessments, color coding whatever I am assessing. Pitch assessments will be written in green, rhythm in red etc. It will be an ongoing record of what each student has been doing in class. The easiest way to use it is to record only 2’s and 4’s. 3’s are assumed. There is also room on my chart for anecdotal records, since each chart is 11 x 17.
On the first day I have the students remain in line, waiting until I tell them where to sit. Unless there’s a reason to change, this will be their seat for the whole year. It saves a lot of time and aggravation to not have them fighting about where they’re going to sit. It’s also helpful to be able to leave a seating chart for a substitute.
I have always given my 2nd – 5th graders a 2 pocket music folder at the beginning of the year. On the inside cover I have them copy our short and sweet class rules from the board. I write the beginning of each rule, leaving a blank for them to fill in. We have a brief discussion on each one.
1. Use good …………….
“by this time I know that you all understand what this means, so raise your hands to give me some examples of using good manners.”
I usually get answers such as “Raise your hand to speak”, “don’t have conversations when someone else is talking”, “Use please, thank you and excuse me.”. I make a point of including keeping hands and feet to themselves and not touching things that belong to others. “The good manners rule”, also known as ” the respect rule” covers a lot, and many times all I’ll need to do is reference rule 1.
2. Pay ………………..
“I know when you’re paying attention and when you’re not. How do you think I can tell?”
They always know the answer: “You know we are paying attention if we’re looking at you.”
“Right. If you’re looking at me, I’m pretty sure you’re getting what we’re saying or doing. But if you’re looking at someone or something else, then I know you’re paying attention to them instead of me.”
3. Follow ……………..
“it’s simple. Do what I ask right away, and keep doing it until I ask for something different. For example, if I ask you to line up quietly, you line up right away and you stay quiet.”
Let me digress for a moment. We all know that getting kids to follow directions quickly and quietly isn’t as simple as telling them what to do. I’d like to direct you to another blogger’s page, where I found some great ideas on transitions during class. Take a look at Terrific Transitions by Cara C. on Miscellaneous Me:.
4. Do your ……..
“If you are doing the best that you can do, then you’re already using good manners, paying attention and following directions. I’m not going to ask you to write a symphony, sing an opera or dance a ballet. All I’m asking for is the best that you can do. Give me that, and you’ll be fine.”
Because they are writing these rules into their folders this will take a few minutes more than just discussing them.
Once class procedures have been discussed we begin our warm ups. For 2nd, 4th and 5th graders, there is no need to teach these exercises. 1st graders and 3rd graders are learning new warm ups, one or two per week, and this adds a few minutes to their lessons.
Next we will sing a song – in past years I’ve used “Good Bye Summer” from Music K-8 magazine. Even if they don’t know it the song is quick and easy to learn.
Hopefully there’d will be a few minutes left at the end of class for quiet listening. Our first composer of the year will be J.S. Bach, but more about that another time.
Thanks so much for reading!