Monday, July 20, 2015

Music Monday with Sue McTigue

Hello from Sue McTigue at Teach Me With a Song! 

Music in the Elementary Classroom - Why, How and When?

Do you use music in your classroom?  If you're an elementary school teacher, the answer is probably a definite yes!  Even many middle and high school teachers use music in their classrooms in some way.
Why, How and When does music fit in to you and your student’s school day?  

During my career as a music teacher, I have had the pleasure of seeing the amazing way classroom teachers use music every day.  Though I am a music teacher, I learned a thing or two from these classroom teachers and borrowed many of their ideas.

Why do teachers and students use music in their classrooms?

…is a huge motivator!
…creates atmosphere and mood.
…helps to manage the energy of  a class.
…helps to create bonds between teachers and students  
…is a vocabulary builder.
…helps to teach the structure and rhythm of language.
…makes sometimes dull or boring concepts exciting!
…encourages risk taking and confidence.
…is fun - kids love to sing!

When do teachers and students use music in their classrooms?

Transitions between lessons and activities:
…at the beginning or ending a lesson such as using the same recorded music at the beginning of a lesson as a cue to students that it is starting.
…when cleaning up.
….when making a circle.
…at the beginning of the school day.
…when the class as a whole needs calming or energizing.
…when learning a new language
.…when learning concepts and skills as part of the learning experience: 
  • counting songs
  • color songs
  • geography songs
  • science songs
  • math songs
  • alphabet songs
  • animal songs
How do teachers use music in their classrooms?

Teachers and students use music by:
…using technology.
… creating digital stories.
…writing poetry.
… teaching concepts, skills and content.

Music and Content:
There are many songs that help teach many subjects including social studies, math and science.  I love science, especially geology! Don’t all kids love to hunt for cool rocks?  I have a song about that!

If you are needing music related to the rock cycle, minerals, gemstones and earth changes, look no further!  My music program based on national science standards is perfect for a basic geology unit.  This musical with 7 songs, script, orchestrated accompaniment and rehearsal tracks has already been performed in several Colorado schools and schools in other states.

I hope you enjoy this short preview of the opening song, "Rock Concert!"

If you'd like to know more about "Rock Concert!" visit the informational site at:

Music can transform a “so-so” learning environment to a “Wow! I love school!” engaging space. Think of the ways you use music now and add a couple more during the first week of school.  I think you’ll find that your classroom will come to life!

Contact me for song ideas and questions about getting started with using music in your classroom!  
Please Visit: 
my store: Sue McTigue at Teach Me With a Song
Sue's Facebook Page
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Multiple Response Strategies

Happy Thursday! It's Lori from Live, Laugh, Love Second, and I'm so excited to be writing my first blog post for Resources with Altitude! It's so great to be collaborating with so many fabulous Colorado teachers. You can check out my blog by clicking on my button below!

Before I dive off into the land of Multiple Response Strategies, let me tell you a little about how I came to be where I am today. I was born and raised in Texas. I married a soldier young, had a baby boy, and moved overseas, where I was a stay-at-home mommy. We had another baby boy and moved back to Texas. The following year my husband was killed in Iraq, which set off a chain of events that ultimately brought me to Colorado, where I finished my degree. I got my first teaching job, married my now-husband, and had a baby girl. This fall I will begin my 6th year of teaching second grade, which I love! Even though my life definitely took me in a direction I did not expect, I am so happy that I made the decision to move forward. I really can't imagine not being a teacher!

And speaking of being a teacher-I've had Multiple Response Strategies on my mind lately. We use these in order to get as many answers as we can as many times as we can from students. I thought it would be great to share all of my personal favorites and throw in some new ones I've recently discovered.

I made these clip cards when I was struggling with some *peeking eyes* in my class. It didn't matter how many times I told them I would be happier with an incorrect answer than a dishonest one, it still happened. This was my solution. Everyone got a card. There were 4 different colors and 4 different answer sequences.  They held the card in their laps, clipped, an answer, and then revealed on my call. They loved the clipping, I loved the honest answers.

Ahhh, Plickers. My most favorite app this school year. If you haven't tried it out, you must. I made this image extra big so you could see the screenshots. Basically, it works like this: It syncs a computer and your device (I used an iPhone). You generate your own questions into a bank, which will show on your computer screen, which I then projected for kids to see. Kids have cards with varying QR-type codes. Depending on which way they hold the card, it represents a certain answer, like A, B, C, or D. (Picture on right) You then scan the room with your device, and it registers each student's card. You can actually see their names pop up on the camera screen as it registers the specific card. Students name turn green on the device and are checked off on the computer screen when their answers have been registered, and you can see a bar graph showing the class's answers as a whole. (Picture on left) You can also change screens on your device and see which answers students picked. My kids LOVED these cards. Instant data, guaranteed engagement.

I got this idea from my assistant principal. My students sat in pods of 4, so every so often I would stick a little note under 1 chair at each pod that said "HOT SEAT". After a table discussion, I would ask for my friends in the "Hot Seat". Everyone would get excited (okay, some were terrified they were in the Hot Seat!) and quickly look under their chairs. (And yes, the first time we did it was CRAZY and CHAOTIC, but they got better.) Whoever was in the Hot Seat had to report out for their group. Pretty simple.

I had a large A, B, C, and D posted in different spots in the room. Usually after writing answers on their whiteboards, students would then have to move to the corner that showed their answer. The whiteboard piece kept them accountable for *their* answer, so there was no switching corners just because more people were at another. It was great for a quick reteaching or correcting a miscommunication.

Pretty self-explanatory. Each student at the table had a push light. They had to explain how they knew their push light was the correct answer or why it was not the correct answer. Then, they would push the light if they thought they were correct. Sometimes 2 lights were pushed and more in-depth discussion occurred, which was awesome!

Table talks enable all the students to share their answers with someone else. I would pair up colors for think, pair, share or have them work in a situation similar to the Hot Seat, having a specific color being responsible for the group's answer.

Of course the list could go on and on, but these are some of my old and new favorites! In fact, I want to share with you the updated clip cards I made for this year. Click on the picture below to download the template for free! Simply print on colored card stock, laminate for stability, grab some clothespins, and you're set!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

6 Education Theorists Every Teacher Should Know

Hi There!  It's Hannah, from The Classroom Key.

If you're not asleep during staff meetings, you've probably heard the phrase "research-based practices" thrown around a lot.  Do you silently ask yourself, "Sooo, which practices are research-based anyway?"  I don't know about you but it's been a little while since I originally learned about the people that did some of the major research in education.  Lucky for all of us, I have put together a cheat sheet.

Education Theorists

All of these guys did a lot more work than what is mentioned in this graphic.  I just tried to pull out what was most relevant to teachers.  The cool thing is, you probably recognize a lot of these practices as thing you're already doing.

Lev Vygotsky - How do you decide the level at which to instruct your students?  Vygotsky says to determine their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).  This means the skills that are just a little bit beyond their reach.  When you are working with a small reading group, don't pick books that kids can read perfectly.  Pick ones that are just a little bit challenging, that students will need some support to read.  Eventually a student's ZPD bumps up higher because they have mastered the skills you were supporting them with.  

Scaffolding is not a term that Vygotsky actually used but it's a concept that developed based on his work.  When you scaffold a student, you give them support to complete a task that they can't quite do on their own.  For example, at first, students need to be walked through every step of long division.  Gradually the scaffolding can be reduced.  Maybe they just need a couple of reminders at tricky spots.  Eventually the scaffolding can be removed because the student can complete the task on their own.  

Jean Piaget - Piaget was a constructivist which means he believed that kids learn by manipulating, modifying, and otherwise working with concepts.  They construct their own learning rather than just being told something.  Piaget worked with the idea that the things people know are organized into schemas.  When a child learns something new, they either assimilate it into an existing schema, change their schema, or develop a new schema.  Do you activate background knowledge before a lesson?  You're helping students tap into their existing schema!

B.F. Skinner - When I taught second grade and my class was on the wrong track, I would look for the one kid doing the right thing and say, "Wow, I love how Jesse is standing with his hands to his side and his voice turned off."  As I positively reinforced this behavior with praise, other students would jump on board, too.  This is the heart of behaviorism.  It's the idea that praise and rewards positively reinforce a behavior and encourage kids to continue with it.  Punishments discourage students from a behavior.  Beyond following rules, there are learning actions we can reinforce.  If you display quality student work, praise students for using strategies, let students publish on cool paper when they have their writing perfect, etc. you are using behaviorism to guide students toward the behaviors and actions of successful adults.  

Jerome Bruner - If you have decent curriculum to use, you've probably seen Bruner's idea of spiral curriculum at work.  Elementary students can't design roads and bridges but they can begin to learn about the physics of how the slope of a ramp effects the speed of a ball rolling down that ramp.  Each year they can revsit and build on their previous learning. 

Benjamin Bloom - You may have heard of Bloom's Taxonomy.  It's a hierarchy of intellectual behaviors.  The lowest level is remembering facts.  The highest level is using your knowledge to create something new.  With the new Common Core standards we've heard a lot about increasing rigor for our students.  One way to do this is to make sure we're involving our students in higher order thinking activities at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy, not just in memorizing facts. 

Howard Gardner - Gardner found that people have more than one way of processing information and that a typical IQ score doesn't completely measure intelligence.  He created the theory of Multiple Intelligences.  In the classroom we can engage multiple intelligences by singing educational songs, allowing students to work through concepts verbally, through art, through writing, with partners, and through movement.

I bet a lot of these theories already guide your teaching and now you know the researchers to connect them to.  Pin the image above for handy reference!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Technology Tips

This past week I attended InnEdCO.  It is Innovation, Education, Colorado and used to be known as TIE (Technology In Education) and it is for Colorado educators by Colorado educators. It was a wonderful conference. I have not attended for several years and I was so happy to go back. I want to teach you a little bit of what I learned. A three day conference could make for a VERY long blog post so I will just highlight a little bit of it!

Google Forms:

If you are like me, I see google forms everywhere used for everything, in the classroom out of the classroom etc. I was not sure how to dress them up before the conference and now I know what all they are capable of!

1. You need a google account.
2. From your google drive you will choose new and then scroll to more and forms is the first option there.
3. Next you can change the setting of who can view the form at the top. If you want it public on the web you will uncheck everything. 
4. Fill in your questions and add photos or youtube videos. If you want a personal video you need to upload it to youtube and then use that url. You can add graphs and tables too. You can select the option from advanced settings. 

5. Dress it up by adding a theme. You will go to the top and change the theme. 

6. Once you select customize you can add your own image on top, change the font and font color. 

7. There are several add ons that you can use to make your teaching life easier. My favorite is Flubaroo. This add one will grade the google form for you. From your drive you will choose the responses of the google form. This will be a spread sheet. You will choose an add on from the top. It will prompt you to use one as an answer sheet. You should do the form yourself and use that as an answer key. Then it will grade for you! One teacher at the conference said she forwards the scores to the parents by email. They use forms and Flubaroo for their spelling tests. 

I hope you feel like you can use forms better in your classroom! 

I also learned about Class Flow. This website will unite any device into one classroom. You can create different surveys with different types of questions. It is a live class and could be used for tests and classes. I thought it was really neat because it works with any device for any student. 

The last thing I wanted to share with you is the Level It Books App. This app allows you to scan books barcode and it gives you the reading level. That way students can choose books that are right on their level. 

I really look forward to using all of this technology in my classroom! I hope you are able to use some of these tips too!