Monday, March 30, 2015

Rockin' In Our School Shoes!

Good morning!

Here I am, on Spring Break, and I can't even sleep in! Anyone else have that issue? In any case, after a crazy week and a nice weekend off, I am back to blogging and this week I'm going to talk about my 3rd Annual All School Show- HFB's Rockin' In Our School Shoes!

(Notice the shoes are school colors and have our All Star on them!?)

When I came to Hoffman Boston almost 3 years ago, I decided that I wanted a show that included everyone in the school: from our 3-5 year old Montessori students to our 5th graders to our self-contained classes. This show was the 3rd annual installment of such a show, and it has grown into such an amazing part of our school's musical traditions. 

Thanks to Emily Wade, one of our art teachers, for this awesome backdrop!!

Here is the run down of songs for HFB's Rockin' In Our School Shoes:

Education Rocks!- 3rd Grade
Baa Baa Black Sheep- Montessori Group 1
Mary Had a Little Lamb- Montessori Group 2
Fuzzy Caterpillar- PreK Group 1
The Caterpillar is Growing- PreK Group 2
Information Age- 4th Grade
Rockin' In Our School Shoes- Kindergarten
THINK- 5th Grade
From the Inside Out- 1st Grade
Never Stop Learning- 2nd Grade

If you'd like to read how this show has developed over the years, here are posts about the two previous shows: 2012-2013 Hungry to Learn and 2013-2014 Science Rocks!

This March marks the start of my 4th year teaching, and I feel like I've got a lot of the little nuances of the profession figured out, especially now that I've been working at the same school for almost 3 years. (Just to clarify- I'm definitely NOT saying I do everything perfectly or even have everything planned in advance, I just feel much more prepared walking into school than I did in my 1st or 2nd year.) Because I'm feeling a bit more secure doing what I do, I actually had time to really organize the show and get many things done in advance, whereas the last two years I was doing a lot of stuff the week of! Here are the things I did BETTER this year!
  1. Sent out monthly Save the Dates starting in December!
  2. Included grade-level shirt colors on those Save the Dates
  3. Got a PTA Grant to buy some extra shirts for those students who could not (or forgot to) buy their shirts in the right color!
  4. Since 1st Grade's song was about character, the team and I decided to tie dye their shirts and we were able to make it work before the show- the kids loved it and they looked awesome on stage!

  5. Instead of having students narrate the show, which has always been a pain to find time to practice and has been hard to focus on with kids filing on and off stage, my exemplary project coordinator and great friend, Barb Papantoniou, mashed together a slideshow of pictures from music with videos of students saying "I'm wild about music because...", just like the collage display we had in the hallway for MIOSM! (See MIOSM displays here.) It was SO much better to use this as a transition filler and the audience seemed to be much more engaged!
  6. Even though students aren't allowed in the auditorium (they stay in rooms with their teachers), we had a bunch of parents in the gym and in another room watching a live broadcast of the show because of the sheer number of parents who came to see the show!

I'm sure there are many things that I can continue to do to make this show better each year, but I am so proud of my students for what they accomplished! Next year we have to either change the location or the format of the show because of the incredible amount of students and parents who show up that night! As my mom commented, "Who would have thought two years ago [at the first show] that you would need overflow rooms this year!"

On a kind of embarrassing note, the months leading up to this year's show were really rough and I caught myself thinking, more than once, "I can't do this again next year." Once the show came together during the last week though, I realized that I can't afford NOT to do this show! It is a huge part of our community and it truly is an amazing experience for everyone! The day after the show I was already thinking about next year's theme and how to make sure that all parents can get into the auditorium to see their students perform. So, even though I had a somewhat negative attitude toward the beginning of March, I have regained my positive and excited energy and am pumped to continue this tradition next year!

I'll leave you with some pictures of the students from the day/night of the show:

~Ms. Patrician

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1,000 Twitter Followers!!

Hi everyone!!

I had a very busy weekend- first some amazing connections, collaboration, and conversation at #edcampARL (Arlington) yesterday, then a great time with my boyfriend's family down in Broadway, VA. But in the midst of all this, and thanks to my #edcampARL connections, I have reached a huge Twitter milestone- 1,000 followers!!

Needless to say, I am super psyched about this milestone, and I want to thank those who helped me make it here! To do so, I will be giving away a hashtag cookie cutter to one lucky follower!!

To enter, please use the form below (you must follow me on Twitter to qualify). I look forward to picking the lucky winner!!!
~Ms. Patrician

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Music In Our Schools Month

I know I'm a little late with this post, since it is already more than halfway through March, but don't worry- I've been putting up displays in my hallway since the March 3rd and it's the best advocacy I've ever done for Music in Our Schools Month!!

The first thing I did was change my Twitter profile picture:

Last year I took a page out of Lindsay Jervis' book (or blog) and used her Wild About Music set to make a collage outside of my room. Each student and staff member responded to the prompt "I'm Wild About Music because..." and it made an awesome display in my hallway! Since that was so successful last year, I figured, why not get everyone involved and do it again! Here is the beginning of this year's "Wild About Music" display, I will be adding another big collage at the end of this week (Thanks to Lindsay for the inspiration two years running!):

I also took Tracy King's Music In Our Schools Month Staff Survey, circulated it via email, and compiled the answers/added pictures to create the display below: You're A Grand Old Staff! I decided to put the names up there and then I will probably use the same display next year and have kids guess after it has been more than one year- maybe making a trivia game out of it! The kids and staff have had so much fun reading about everyone's musical backgrounds and I've learned a TON about my colleagues!

In addition, I used all of the instrument knowledge from the staff surveys to create a display showing who played what instruments (an amazing parent volunteer helped me by hanging this- it looks way better than it would have if I had done it alone!):

And the last addition to my music advocacy hallway displays is a March Madness-inspired voting game: Music Madness!! We are starting with 16 popular songs and voting on those this week, the voting will continue to narrow down the choices until a few weeks after Spring Break when we will have our official school winner!! Here is the start of our bracket:

I have to admit that this was a last minute decision on my part. My classes have been voting over the past two days and teachers are voting via Google Form, and it has been SO much fun! The kids love listening to the little snippets (yes I know that not all of those songs are completely appropriate, but the kids know every single one of them- I am using segments that are school-appropriate) and voting for their favorites! I made a ThingLink interactive image for the staff to use to familiarize themselves with the songs they don't know- go ahead and check it out if you're stumped by some of these songs! ThingLink is my new favorite tool- I'm sure I'll be posting about it on here soon!

I am most excited about these displays for two reasons:

1) It has brought the school community together to advocate for music education (even if they don't know they're doing it directly).

2) My All School Show is next Thursday and I will have a TON of parents walking through the hallways who will get to learn about our staff and students and see all of the great music advocacy going on here at Hoffman Boston!

I hope to hear about some of your MIOSM displays and activities and I have truly enjoyed reading some of your blog posts about them!

Have a great Wednesday!
~Ms. Patrician

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Scoop 3-15-15

Last week was crazy, so I once again failed to post here. March is just a crazy month...hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things over spring break- after my All School Show (March 26th) and Music in Our Schools Month are both over!

Thanks to Teaching Trio, I have some motivation on this Sunday afternoon to post my Sunday Scoop!

Here goes...

Have to:

1) Put up a version of the Music Madness display below. My staff and students will be voting on this set of Sweet Sixteen Pop songs, then next week I'll tally and post the Elite Eight choices.

2/3) My 3rd Annual All School Show, HFB's Rockin In Our School Shoes, is fast approaching, and this week will bring combined grade-level rehearsals AND require me to really know the logistics for the show, including who will be watching the kids, what time they will need to be on the stage, and whether or not they have the correct shirt colors- a different color depending on the grade level. Wish me/the kids luck!!

Hope to...

1) Our county-wide Twitter chats have gotten off to an awesome start and I hope that our third one on Tuesday will be just as awesome! Check out #APSchats at 8 PM EST if you'd like to join in the discussion- I'm 90% sure that the discussion will be about Effective Professional Development this week.

2) I would really like to get at least one more blog post in later this week...crossing my fingers that I'll find the time!

Happy to...

My best friend Ketti is coming down from Boston to hang out with me and our other best friend Rachel for a joint birthday celebration like we have tried to do every year since college ended! She will be here from Tuesday-Thursday and I can't wait to see her!!!

Hope everyone has a great week!
~Ms. Patrician

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five for Friday 3/6/15

Hi again!

    I'm feeling more productive here on my 2nd snow day, so I figured that since I've been slacking, why not post twice today, since I want to participate in both linky parties?

So here's my 2nd: Five for Friday link-up with Doodle Bugs!

Here we go!

As most of you know, this past Monday was #ReadAcrossAmerica Day, or Dr. Seuss' Birthday! Our teachers were all ready to dress up for the occasion...then we had a Snow Day on Monday. We did have a make-up #ReadAcrossAmerica Day on Wednesday, though, and I dressed up as Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!

Due to delays and holidays and snow days, I have been seeing my Wednesday classes SO much more often than any others, so I decided to come up with a Dr. Seuss-inspired lesson for my 2nd grade class. I thought that they could create their own Seuss-y instruments! Since we are a STEM school, I had them use different materials- spoons, paper towel rolls, pipe cleaners, Easter eggs, etc.- to create a very different instrument and explain it to the class. Here are some examples of their finished products:

This Tuesday night we had our first Arlington county-wide #APSchats Twitter chat. It was SO successful- over 50 participants encompassing teachers, principals, ITCs, and even some people outside of our network! We discussed Digital Learning and got some great responses about successes, challenges, sharing, and next steps! We have decided to have the chats once a week and have secured a moderator for next week's chat already! I look forward to communicating regularly with teachers across the county and growing my PLN on a more local scale!

I am a mentor for my school's YES Club (Youth Experiencing Success) and we went on our first field trip on Wednesday- laser tagging! This is the second year that we have taken this trip and, since I never go on my own, I always forget how fun it is! The kids love it as well, and we had SUCH a blast! I wish I had taken more pictures, but here are a couple from the bus ride there:

We had a snow day on Monday and we didn't go in yesterday or today because of snow. Luckily for our snow day count, we had conferences these two days, so they don't add on and we have built in days left! However, I would have gotten to have a PD day with my APS music colleagues, which I always enjoy- we never get to see each other AND I missed out on being in my office to clean and get organized for the busy month ahead. Oh well- at least the snow outside was gorgeous yesterday!

I am excited to be on a panel next week with my Superintendent and our Communications director about social media in a school system! We will get to share our process and success, for me specifically with Twitter, with anyone who attends!

However, it falls on this year's Digital Learning Day, so I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to prep my sub (luckily a friend from high school has volunteered to come over before the day of and learn what I'd like to implement) to do some Digital Learning stuff with the students! Cross your fingers that I can get this done!

~Ms. Patrician

My Favorite Musicals- Favorite Things March

Good morning!

    Today I'm linking up with Teaching Trio for their Favorite Things Linky Party!

Click the link above to head over there and link up yourself! I decided to talk about one of my true passions- musical theatre. I don't feel that I share this enough with my students, and as I'm writing this, I'm thinking that may need to change, and SOON! In any case, here are my 3 favorite musicals- to narrow it down I've picked the 3 that I have most enjoyed seeing live, though I could add so many more favorites to this list- it was so hard to pick!

1) Wicked- seen it 5 times, some on Broadway, some here in DC. If you haven't heard the music, stop reading right now, search your Spotify, and get on it! This musical is based on a book written as a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, and focuses on the life of Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda from the beginning of their relationship at boarding school. It is a great story with incredible music by Stephen Schwartz. If you have not seen it, look for a tour nearby and GO!

On a side note, this is also the show where I really fell in love with the original actresses for Elphaba and Glinda- Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth.

You may recognize Idina's voice as Elphaba...

Let me give you a hint...

Yes, she sang Let It Go- she was the voice of Elsa from Frozen:

Okay, let's move to number 2) The Lion King- I have seen this show once on Broadway when I was a child and this past summer for a second time in DC. It is hands down one of the best productions of musical theatre I've ever seen. The music is written by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice. The costumes are incredible- and I mean incredible (see below). If you haven't gotten a chance to see it, again, I urge you to try your best to do so!

And last, but certainly not least, number 3) The Last Five Years- This show is one of those "you like it if you like it and you don't if you don't" shows- at least that's what I've found, not much of a middle ground. Written by Jason Robert Brown, the show chronicles the relationship of a couple from the end from Kathy's perspective and from the beginning from Jamie's. They cross paths once in the middle, but then continue their stories in opposite directions. It is a truly brilliant juxtaposition of feelings. The original cast featured Sherie Rene Scott (another of my favorite Broadway performers- first saw her in Aida) as Kathy and Norbert Leo Butz (who also originated the role of Fiyero in Wicked) as Jamie. JRB writes some amazing music and it is captivating (in my opinion. I've seen the show in many local theaters and recommend it to anyone if you can find a performance. 

If you can't find a live performance, however, a movie version of the show was just released with Anna Kendrick (best known for her performance in Pitch Perfect) and Jeremy Jordan (best known for his performance on the TV show Smash). I think they did a great job adapting a complex storyline for the big screen. It is available on Amazon Instant Video and totally worth the $5- it's actually worth more if you ask me.

I hope you listen to some of these shows and enjoy! Happy Friday!
~Ms. Patrician