Saturday, February 24, 2018

Who I Am

When I lose my way,

And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don't wanna be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places
When I can't remember what grace is
Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You
I'm the one You love,
I'm the one You love
That will be enough
I'm the one You love

Remind Me Who I Am: Jason Gray

I pride myself on being a learner, but sometimes I am slow. Sometimes I need to be reminded of the same thing over and over. Thankfully, it seems the truly important lessons come with frequent reminders. Since the birth of my second daughter, I have struggled with identity. It was easier with only one child to still have a life or to at least to pretend like I did. I still had time to run and coach and play music. Now my life seems to be dictated by a preschooler and a toddler. They direct my schedule.

Every once in a while I sub as the drummer in two Praise Bands at my church. One Saturday we played 'Remind Me Who I Am' by Jason Gray and it really resonated with me. The lyrics hit home. It was the first light bulb moment about how to change my situation. I struggle with who I am. I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, friend, teacher, musician, reader and runner. All of these labels are limiting. All of these labels have a season, but none of them explain who I am at the core or who I am all the time. I haven't read a book in a while, am I still a reader? I haven't run for months, am I still a reader?

The one label that I often overlook is Christian. I am a child of God. That label is all encompassing and it is true today, tomorrow and forever. It is the one constant. It is never changing.

Life is busy. Sleep is at a premium, which means me schedule is often different than I would like it to be and many things are left undone. Church usually involves sitting outside the sanctuary with one of my kids and Bible Class is usually preschool Sunday School because my daughter does not want me to leave. Time alone is fleeting so spending time reading the Bible is nonexistent.  I have been thinking for weeks that I need to refocus my identity as a Christian and focus on this fact. Out of frustration, I tweeted about lack of identity. I was blessed with many responses and great advice. Once again, I was reminded to turn to the Gospel. After weeks of reminders and thinking, I think this last one was the final push I needed.

How do you stay focused? How do you ensure the important aspects of your life are completed even when your day can be chaotic? 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Winter Olympics 2018 in Music

I incorporated the 2010 Winter Olympics into my music room by including Folk Dances from different counties. Now that the 2018 Winter Olympics are upon us, I am using ideas from that lesson plan and adjusting it to meet the current needs of my schedule and students.

While researching about the history of the Olympics, I learned that many believe that the five rings represent each continent (with North and South America being combined). I decided to align my activities to the rings. Students in Kindergarten through third grade will learn two dances or activities for each continent/ring.

Students in fourth and fifth grades are learning the Bugler's Dream (Olympic Theme Song) on Recorder and sixth, seventh and eighth graders are learning it on Piano. I found the music for Bugler's Dream on Pinterest.

I used the following website to organize these lessons. I adjusted a few of the movements to make them easier for the younger grades. A few of the countries are still a work in progress and I am still looking for activities to add.

North and South America: Red

Australia: Green

Africa: Black

Europe: Blue
Asia: Yellow

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Winter Olympics 2018 in PE

I love the Olympics! I enjoy the history, the opportunity to watch different sports and all of the interesting story lines. I am excited to have the opportunity to incorporate the Olympics into my PE Lesson Plans. I see my students twice a week, so we are going to do Olympic themed activities for three weeks. I looked at the list of Olympic sports and picked seven that I thought I could translate to classroom activities. 

I teach K-4 Physical Education and have one section of each grade so I decided to make each grade it's own team. This way I can encourage teamwork within the class instead of splitting each grade into teams. I teach three days a week at this school. The second day I teach at this school is the second day of PE for some classes and the first for others. I assigned specific activities to specific days to help with classroom setup. Along with the activities, we will be learning a little about each sport and overall history of the Olympics.

Olympic History
-Started in 1896. Modern Olympics invented by Frenchman in 1913.
-Olympic rings are blue, red, black, green and yellow. Every country that participates has at least one of these colors in their flag. 
-The Rings symbolize the continents. They are interlocking because the Games bring athletes together from all continents. 
-(Some believe) Blue - Europe, Yellow - Asia, Black - Africa, Green - Australia and Red - America.

Day 1: Hockey
Medals will be determined by how many goals are scored. 
Fun Facts:
-Originated in Canada
-6 players on a side
-Women's hockey started in 1998.
-Russia has been dominant. 

Day 2:  Curling
Students will slide bean bags to earn points. We will set it up more like shuffle board without using poles to push the disks. I also found this idea online and I may adjust it to use some of the ideas with K-4.
Fun Facts: 
-Invented in the 16th century in Scotland and The Netherlands.
-Returned as a medal sport in 1998.

Day 3: Luge
Students will lay on their backs on two scooters. I plan to tape the handles together to help with stability. We will split the class into teams and run the even as a relay. I am going to average the times of each team to create their grade level final time. I plan to create a few obstacles for students to navigate.
Fun Facts:
-Started in Switzerland
-Hotel owners started creating Luge tracks next to their hotels for thrill seeking tourists. 
-One of the oldest winter sports.

Day 4:  Skeleton
Students will lay on their belly on two scooters. I plan to tape the handles together to help with stability. Similarly to the Luge, I will split the class into teams and we will have a relay. For this event I am going to have each team go down and back the long way in our gym. This event will be a straight course with no obstacles. 
Fun Facts: 
-Started at a Swiss resort.
-Became a mainstay event in 2002.

Day 5: Biathlon
Students will sit on their knees on one scooter and use their arms to 'ski' around the gym. I will have a course set up and at the end of course they will have to 'shoot' at targets by throwing objects at a target.
Fun Facts:
-Adapted from a Norwegian Military exercise 
-Skiing and shooting

Day 6: Figure Skating and Speed Skating
Students will stand on paper plates to skate around the gym.
Fun Facts: 
-In short track, athletes compete against each other not the clock.
-Start in Canada and the United States.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Music Classroom Wishlist

I have the opportunity to basically start a music program. During my mid year meeting with my principal I was asked to create a wish list for next school year. Although this task is exciting, I also find it to be a little overwhelming. There are so many options and choices. I am starting with a mostly blank slate, so it has been fun to dream and think about all of the possibilities. It is also a little scary because I am afraid I am going to pick the "wrong" things to purchase or focus on. 

At the beginning of this year, I had my school purchase The First Steps Curriculum and I have been very happy with that for grades Preschool through Second. Third grade is not as defined right now and Fourth through Eighth learn an instrument (bucket drums, recorder and piano).

What is on your wishlist?

My Music Program Wishlist

  1. Ukuleles or Mahalo Rainbow
  2. Drum Sticks with Bag
  3. Orff Instruments
    1. Bells
    2. Alto Xylophones
    3. Soprano Xylophones

Saturday, February 3, 2018

I Am Late to the Party: Canva

I know I am incredibly late to the party, but I finally discovered Canva. I have used it in the past to create my classroom newsletters or posters, but I did not know about using it for social media pictures. I will be honest, I went a little Canva crazy after I realized that it was the tool many used to create pictures for their blogs. It is an easy to use tool and there are so many possibilities. 

I used it to create the cover picture for my Piano Unit. I used this same picture for the corresponding blog post. Copyright has become a huge issue with the expansion of the internet. Knowing that I am legally allowed to use these images and fonts removes a stress from the writing process for me.
I also used it create my One Word poster for 2018. I love that the program is free. There are so many options for layouts, fonts and pictures. Downloading is easy and uploading to other programs is a breeze. I used my One Word poster as my background image on Facebook. 
I have been enjoying playing around with different themes and designs for my blog. For a few weeks I was using a background image that I had created on Canva. 

How do you use Canva? There are so many possibilities and it has quickly become one of my favorite web programs. 

It's an Opportunity

One of my principals shared this video in his weekly memo. It resonated with me and made me reflect. My grandmother would always say she had to have a talk with herself when her attitude was not good. Outlook and what we say to ourselves are vital to a healthy life. 

I complain a lot. My husband is usually the one to hear my complaints: not enough sleep, the girls up a lot, stress at school, running behind, so much to do and the list goes on and on. The past two years have been stressful. With one child, I felt like we were able to keep a lot of our same routines from our pre-children days. With two children, this was no longer possible. Things had to adjust and change. New responsibilities were added and a few things had to stop being part of my routine. 

My husband has often heard me complain about being at two schools. It is not ideal for many reasons and at times I have been overwhelmed by this school year. Being a part of two districts makes things more complicated. BUT, it is also a great opportunity. I have worked in many schools during my teaching career. Working at many schools has allowed me to learn and see how many districts operate, which have given me more ideas and allowed (often forced) me to try new and different things. I have learned so much from being part of all of these schools and teaching different subjects and grades. I think my teaching would be very different if I had not had all of these experiences. I don't think I would have grown as much as a teacher. Each job has helped me get better and to grow.

Watching this video made me change my attitude and focus. Yes, I have things to complain about, but I also have many opportunities. At the end of the day, I am going to be working at two schools for the forcible future and there will be nights when my girls do not sleep. I can either look at the negatives about these events or I can find positives and look at the opportunities. I have the opportunity to create music and has a positive influence on more students while working at two schools than I would if I was only at one school. I have the opportunity to spend extra time with my girls while they are young. I get extra cuddles and get to share more experiences with them. I can't always change the event, but I can change my outlook and attitude.

What do you get to do today? What opportunities are awaiting you?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bullet Journal 2018

Monthly Calendar
Over the course of the last two years, I kept hearing about this amazing thing called a Bullet Journal. Maybe it is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but I wanted to try out this new thing if it was something that could help make things easier. One thing that I struggle with is having too many calendars and having things written in too many spots. I work at two schools, had two kids and a husband. Trying to keep all of those schedules straight is not always easy. I love Google Calendar, but I also love having a paper document. 

Lesson Plan Template
I watched a few videos and learned the basics about the concept of Bullet Journals. I grabbed a spiral notebook I had laying around started with my Index. After a few months of use, the pages were tearing out and I stopped using it all together. In November I grabbed another notebook. This time a Mead Composition Notebook and created a new Index and Long Range View. It is easy for me to become overwhelmed with trying to make it 'perfect' so I am trying my best to keep it simple. I love that this one notebook has everything I need: lesson plans, schedules, school calendars, to do list, notes, reference material, budget and my workouts.

Daily Gratitude 
When I first set mine up, it was hard to know how much space I would need. I was afraid of leaving too many blank pages. I have learned a few tricks about setting up my journal and my next journal will be better. I prefer having all of my pages for a month together. Each month starts with a calendar and habit tracker/budget. The next four pages are for lesson plans. In the back of my current journal, I also have weekly pages with a weekly calendar, daily captures and daily gratitude. Next time, I will make sure all of these pages are together with one month.
Week at a Glance

I use basic pens: black and blue and a pencil. I tried using post it tabs but they kept getting caught on other things in my bag, so I glued them onto the correct page and cut off the part that was sticking out of the notebook. Having the tab on the paper still allows me to find each month or section easily.

I know there are ways to make my journal look beautiful and be completely fancy, but I don't want to get bogged down with trying to make it pretty. It can be overwhelming. I looked at a few page ideas for teachers. There are so many articles and videos about how to setup a journal and it can seem difficult. I carry this notebook in my purse at all times and it has helped me stay more organized and relieved a bit of stress because I know what is coming up and where information is located.

What are your favorite bullet journal page designs?