Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So Many Link-Ups, So Little Time Left in 2014!

As you can probably tell from the title of my post, it's hard to pick from all of the linky parties that have been posted in the past few days, so, in the spirit of tying up the last loose ends of 2014, I have decided to link-up with my two favorites!

Personal: I have been truly slacking in my exercise routine this Fall, and I intend to get back into it- Kazaxe and the gym at least twice a week!

Professional: I would like to present about Twitter at next year's NAfME conference. After attending this past October, I really feel like I have something to share with other music educators.

Classroom: I have ambitious plans to use the 1:1 iPads in 2nd-5th grade for some exciting new projects, but I have to learn enough about the apps myself first!

Blog/TPT: I have one product up on TPT, but hopefully I'll have time to put a few more things up by this time next year!

Just for me: I need to learn that I can't do everything at one time. I am very busy- which I truly love- but as I take several leaps forward in my career, I also need to know how to balance my time. We shall see if I can stick to this one. ;)

Linky #2: Love this new find from Ideas by Jivey- Top 5 Blog Posts of the Year- thanks to Teaching to Inspire in 5th for posting it, so that I myself can link-up!

So, without further ado, here are my top 5 of this year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I can't wait to see what's next for All Star Music VA in 2015!
~Ms. Patrician

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I haven't posted twice in a day for awhile, but I wanted to get back on track with Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop!

Anddd here's mine!

Have to...
  • Finish lesson planning for January- I'm about halfway there, and I have plans from previous years in place, just have to make sure everything fits in the calendar the right way!
  • Before I get back to school on the 5th, I need to have the rules and theme set for the second monthly #HFBTweets Contest at my school!
  • We got the $5,000 Michael and Son check, so now I need to research how I will spend it. Here are some things I'm thinking:
    • New instruments and classroom tools
    • Filters for stage lights
    • Wireless microphones for our auditorium
    • New music technology- either for iPads or something new and fun to try/effective with the students!
Hope to...
  • See Reese Witherspoon in the movie Wild. I heard the book was great, and I loved the preview, so I have to get out to see that sometime before break is over!
  • Start a new book such as Amy Poehler's "Yes Please," which I got for Christmas, or one of the Teach Like a Pirate books, which I need to find before the #bfctlap Twitter chat starts on January 6th!
Happy to...see Into the Woods with my mom today! She has been sick since Christmas Day, so I'm excited to be able to go out with her to enjoy a movie that we've both been looking forward to this holiday season!!

Have a wonderful week!
~Ms. Patrician

Liebster Award

Happy to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Rachel at Music with Mrs. Tanenblatt! Thanks for the nomination, Rach! :)

The Liebster Award was created to highlight blogs with growing audiences.

The rules for receiving this award are:

  1. In your post link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and a 'shout out'.
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer. (The questions I have answered please)
  3. Nominate 11 people (Blogs with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post. 
  4. Let your nominees know and provide them with a link back to your post (so they can see the rules)
  5. No nominating the person who nominated you, however send them a thank you :)

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I started blogging at the end of my first full year of teaching at Hoffman Boston, here in Arlington, VA. I had been reading a bunch of teaching blogs and loved learning from other teachers all over the place, so I decided to start sharing as well!
2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Reflective. I use my blog to share my teaching successes and to reflect back upon them. It has been one of the most useful tools to me, since it allows me to find the good in every week of teaching. I love blogging, and I love being part of such a rich community of educators in the blogisphere!
3. Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey you wished you knew before?
Not really- I'm still in my 2nd year of really blogging, so still connecting with others and hoping to learn more as I go!

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
Lately, when I'm not hanging out with my friends, it's participating in Twitter chats. Yeah, I know Twitter has been around for awhile, but I have recently started using it as a professional development tool- similar to my blogging, but more interactive. Follow me @mspatricianhfb! Comment if you'd like to learn more about educational Twitter chats- there are even specific music ed ones!!

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog/TpT?
On a normal week, I post at least twice, so that will be 2-3 hours. However, I participated in #NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) in November, so I was spending 7-10 hours a week on my blog. It was a great feat to get through that- though it is not always the easiest thing to come up with 7 blog topics each week!

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy reading music teaching blogs (weird, I know), but mostly those blogs that approach a concept that everyone is teaching in a different, new, or fun way! For instance, I loved reading all of the different Nutcracker ideas this past month, and I ended up teaching using the Nutcracker music for the first time this year! It was a blast!
7. Where does your blog inspiration come from?
My students, my coworkers, and my classroom. I love my job so much, and I blog to share what is happening!

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
I am going to cheat and cite two of my blog posts- both about Kindergarten music: Teaching Opposites to Kindergarten and How to Survive an Hour-Long Kindergarten Music Class. My biggest challenge at the beginning of my teaching was working with Kindergarten and really keeping them focused the whole time. Now that I have a handle on it, I am happy to be able to share my successes with others.
9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now?
Nope! I basically post when I am excited about something- I don't have much of a filter, so if you start following, you'll see that I'm pretty open in my posts! :)

10. What's your favorite aspect of blogging?
Linking up and sharing with other bloggers! Once I discovered Linky Parties, I got way more into blogging! I loved finding new blogs, and I loved having new ideas to share with everyone. Thanks to everyone who hosts the link-ups- they are so fun!
11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself?
I really liked your post about the stretchy band! I just won a bunch of money to use in my classroom, so I am considering getting one for myself!!

Here are my nominees! (Not sure I can find 11 people who haven't been nominated, but I will share some of my favorite blog discoveries and hope that they are excited to be nominated- even if it's the 2nd or 3rd time! Not all of them are music teachers!)
  1. Melissa at Mrs. Stouffer's Music Room
  2. Bonnie at MelodySoup
  3. Beth at Morrow in the Middle
  4. Kristen, Juliet, and Cassie at Teaching Trio
  5. Mrs. Dennis at Music With Mrs. Dennis
  6. Clare at We <3 Music at HSES!
  7. Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings
  8. Aileen at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room
  9. Ellen at The Crafty Music Teacher
  10. Tanya at Tanya's Kodaly Aspiring Blog
  11. Allison at Mallets and Music

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and that you're revving up for an exciting new year!
~Ms. Patrician

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nutcracker Movies

My plan for Monday and Tuesday of this week was to do some more Nutcracker activities, but after coming down with yet another sickness on Sunday, I decided to follow up last week's Nutcracker lessons with a showing of either the ballet or the animated version.

I thought I'd share my YouTube finds because they are of very good quality and the kids LOVED them both! It was a great follow up to the lessons last week- the kids really understood the story and loved hearing the songs that they used in their activities.

Here is a version of the ballet filmed in 2012 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia- I used this for Kindergarten-3rd grades:

Here is a version of the (slightly altered story) Nutcracker Prince- a cartoon film from 1990, I used this for PreK and Montessori:

In addition, with my 1st graders (who can't sit for a whole hour watching a movie), I added the snowflake ballerina activity found here. It was a little hard for their little hands, but the results were really cute!

Hope everyone who was still in school had a great last couple days- I just have a school-wide Sing Along later- then heading home for a much-needed, restful winter break!!
~Ms. Patrician

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's On Your Desk?

Hi everyone!

    I am FINALLY getting around to linking up with one of my best friends Rachel from college for her "What's On Your Desk?" Linky Party over at Music with Mrs. Tanenblatt!

I am almost frightened to post this picture since my desk is always a mess, but here goes:

Let's see...what's on my desk:

1) My laptop- my most important classroom and professional development tool- I would be lost without it!!

2) Thank you and Christmas cards from coworkers and students, as well as a reed diffuser from a particularly generous student. I don't usually get gifts from students, so it was a nice surprise this morning! :)

3) A picture of Brad and I in an adorable frame made by Catherine, one of my not-so-little-anymore cousins.

4) Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, and Lysol wipes...because who could possibly have enough of those in an elementary school!

5) My planbook, planning calendars, several to-do lists, and my desk calendar for all school activities- also super important tools to help me through the week!

6) #HFBTweets contest tally sheet (on the right side in purple pen)- luckily you can't see who is winning- otherwise I would be giving it away before my announcement tomorrow! ;)

We are still in school today and tomorrow- I hope that all of you are enjoying the beginning of your restful winter breaks- ready to start mine on Tuesday afternoon!!!
~Ms. Patrician

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Oh my, time flew by this past week! I have been SO busy with performances, field trips, and generally getting ready for the holiday and winter break! To debrief, let me share some of the great things that have happened in my life this week...

1) Hoffman Boston's Winter Festival- #HFBWinterFest On Wednesday we had our Winter Festival at school and it was packed!  This is an annual event that we hold to raise money for our After School Enrichment Programs, which we provide to the kids free of charge! The past couple years, there have been performances, but I didn't do a great job organizing myself beforehand, so I wasn't super involved. This year, however, I was READY! My brand new auditioned All Star Chorus and my fabulous Faculty Choir were both ready to perform, and the 2nd Graders put on a play- The Enormous Turnip!

All of the performers did an excellent job- it was a great way to kick off the concerts for this year! #apswinterconcerts 

Our Project Y.E.S. Club students (Youth Experiencing Success) volunteered at the cookie decorating table as one of their community service events for the year!

Another great thing about this event is that a bunch of past students come back to visit! Being the excited teacher that I am, I, of course, had to take selfies with all of them- here are a few!

2) Michael and Son Visit! The owner of Michael and Son- Bassim, the "son"- came to visit on Thursday to thank the kids for their hard work and drop off our $5,000 check!! He was so great with the kids and is even treating them to a pizza party in addition to the 5K! The students were very excited, especially because Fox 5 news was there- I even got interviewed on camera! (P.S. I was super excited, too!)

3) All Star Chorus Pentagon City Mall Performance! After their debut concert at the Winter Festival, All Star Chorus was super pumped to go on a field trip to a nearby mall to perform for mall patrons in the food court! The whole experience was a crazy mess, but the culmination of the performance (and, as an extra perk, eating in the food court) was worth every second of craziness and stress! Thanks to the Michael and Son money, I was able to get t-shirts for the kids to wear on the field trip! How cute do they look!?

As an added bonus, a very smart parent of one of my choir members suggested that we live stream the performance, so that everyone at school could watch as well!  It was SO COOL to go to Twitter after the performance and see #HFBTweets blowing up with pictures of kids watching all over the building!!

After all that, I still have two days left before Winter Break, and man am I ready!

That's all for now- have a very happy Saturday!
~Ms. Patrician

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Scoop 12-14-14

Hi everyone!

     I am back from a whirlwind trip to NJ for my family Christmas party, which included 17 adults, 9 kids, food, presents, lots of games and competition, and a (somewhat scary/messy) rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas- complete with a glockenspiel accompaniment and instruments for almost every part. My favorite part was my cousin Gillian playing the cymbals for "5 Golden Rings."


Now it's time for me to think about my work week and link up with Teaching Trio again for The Sunday Scoop!

So here it is:

Have to:

1) I am in charge of making sure that our Specials newsletter is compiled, approved, and sent out in this week's Friday Folders. In the midst of everything else- I really need to make this a priority!!

2) My new, auditioned All Star Chorus and my awesome Faculty Choir have their first performances this week at Hoffman Boston's Winter Festival! I am so excited for All Star Chorus to debut- they will also get to perform on Friday at the mall- field trip!!

3) I make Christmas cookies each year for people at school- my principal, custodians, secretaries, etc. I am a little behind this year because it's been a crazy season, but I plan to do this either tonight or tomorrow night!

Hope to:

1) See number 2 above

2) My 4th/5th graders need to practice their speaking parts for our January 13th concert, so I need to write that before Friday morning- also the day of my big All Star Chorus field trip- ahh!

Happy to:


Hope you all have a great week!
~Ms. Patrician

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday 12-11-14

Well, today is a good day for me to once again join Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her Positive Thinking Thursday linky party!

Today I had an early dentist appointment (already a not-so-fun wait to start off my day), which I had to rush through to get back to school in time for an extra Faculty Choir rehearsal, as well as my regular Thursday All Star Chorus rehearsal. Of course, I missed 1 1/2 of those rehearsals because...I locked my keys in my car- along with my lunch and most everything I'd need for school today! Luckily I was able to make it for the 2nd half of All Star Chorus rehearsal (out of breath and feeling crazed) to practice their music for our two debut performances next week!

So, my positive thinking for the day is I MADE IT AND MY STUDENTS ARE ALMOST READY FOR THEIR FIRST CONCERTS IN THIS CHORUS! So excited to show them off next week!! :)

And here's one more tidbit just in case you've been reading my blog a lot lately- my 5th grade students won the $5,000 for that video we've all been voting for!! Can't wait to use it for some exciting things for the music program here at Hoffman Boston!

~Ms. Patrician

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Scoop 12-7-14

I'm linking up with Teaching Trio for their Sunday Scoop once again!

Here is my Sunday Scoop! Please click the link above to link up with this fabulous trio to share your plans for the week!

Have to:

~ I just prepared several trigger images for my 2nd grade students who are studying Peter and the Wolf. The images are of instruments on my classroom instrument posters, and students will be able to use their iPads to scan images and see videos of each instrument being played. Most videos link to a cover of a pop song using that specific instrument- so fun!

~ My NJ family Christmas party is next weekend, and I still need to take a trip to Target to get some stuff for my little cousins before Saturday- ahh!

~ I would like to have January planned out before the end of this week, so that I can work on using the kids 1:1 iPads more effectively and practice over the break!

Hope to:

~ As you know, my 5th grade students are competing to win the Michael and Son Jingle Sing-Off Contest. There have been some confusing comments from the company regarding voting during this last weekend of the competition, so I am very worried about the announcement tomorrow. However, as of right now we are 850 votes ahead, and I am so proud of our community for coming together to vote for our incredible 5th grade students and their hard work on this video, which, other than splicing and uploading the video, the students put together all by themselves. Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow and cross your fingers that my kids get the recognition that they deserve!

~ I am in charge of my staff's monthly Twitter contests- the first of which kicked off last Monday and will run until Monday, December 22nd! I am so excited to say that every team except one has tweeted at least once this week and joined our conversation: #HFBTweets. Check us out if you have a few minutes!

Happy to:

My once a month volunteer job is with a Read Aloud program based at the Carpenter's Shelter in Alexandria, VA that is organized by a local nonprofit, The Reading Connection. I am excited to experience my second read aloud with my group! Happy to be giving back, while also reading and working with kids- both of which I love doing!

Hope you have a wonderful week!
~Ms. Patrician

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday 12-4-14

Linking up once again with Jennifer Laffin at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her Positive Thinking Thursday:

Today's post is a simple quote- and one we should often refer back to in our teaching- I hope it gets you through your Thursday!

If you're on Twitter, you should also be sure to join the #12JoysofTeaching conversation- I've been loving the posts by educators all over the world about their teaching inspirations and joys! Here is the list of tasks for each day- don't forget the hashtag!

Have a positive and joyful day- every day!
~Ms. Patrician

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Just Can't Stay Away! The Evolution of Incredibox!

It seems that after a month of blogging every day, I just can't stay away! Funny how that happens...

Today I'd like to post about one of my favorite music websites, Incredibox!

Incredibox is an easy website to use to discuss beat, melody, and, especially, layering in composition. As you can see above, there are now four versions of Incredibox, each with their own little nuance.

The first version is pretty simple- the layers to choose from are labeled "instruments," "percussions," "effects," "chorus," and "voices." In order to layer each category in, you drag a symbol onto one of the bodies above. In this version, the guy is dressed exactly the same- the only difference is that he appears at different heights.

When you have played around a little, you may experience a bonus track- which are weird, but fun for the kids to watch, so go ahead and let them!

Now on to version 2- here we have added color and...the guy appears naked. I usually just brush this off and move on with my lesson, because it's the sounds, not the appearance, that is important. The kids don't push it, so it's not really an issue.

In version 2, the labels are different: "beats," "effects," "melodies," and "voices." I like these labels better, especially the use of the word "melody," as it reinforces a major concept taught in my (and probably your) classroom. As you can see below, each layer dragged into the frame changes the way he is dressed! This sparks student creativity with one easy click and drag! Students have experimented with all different layers and sometimes just "beats" or "melodies," depending on what they feel will sound good.

The little circles loading in the upper right hand corner are the bonus tracks. As you come up with different combinations of sounds, specific combos will unlock the bonus tracks. As I said, they are weird and silly, and I will warn you that some of them have champagne bottles popping, but, if you don't make a big deal of it, with them you can create a sort of Rondo form- yet another teaching tool!

Here is version 3- guy is still naked, labels are all the same, but now instead of crazy shapes representing layers, we have actual accessories to dress our man up with. You can see hats, scarves, headphones, sunglasses, etc.

Don't lie- he looks WAY cooler in version 3!

Same deal with the bonus tracks in the upper right hand corner, just in case you were wondering- you have to find the right combo to unlock them!

Now in version 4 there aren't many differences, other than a few changes in accessories and colors, so I'll bring your attention to some of the other aspects of Incredibox.

Notice the "Record" button above the upper left hand corner- next to it you read "Record your mix, share it, get tons of "likes" and join the top 50! Students are able to share their layered composition with others. I usually don't have my students do this, as this is an intro activity to a larger project, however it is a possibility.

The "power" button on the top of the right hand corner will clear all your sounds, the button with the arrows will "shuffle" through all the sounds to create a layered sound without you needing to do anything, and the "settings" button will explain certain aspects of the website, such as specific clicks of the mouse to control the sounds below.

I hope you have a ton of fun with Incredibox if you have not used it already! Let me know what you think!

~Ms. Patrician @mspatricianhfb