Reply To: new to K-5 any teaching advice
Congrats! This is a great foot in the door for you. The most frustrating thing about little kids for me is their energy. No more than 10 minutes per activity with Prek – grade 1/2. I smiled when I saw that the previous poster recommended Wee Sing books! I was goign to say the same thing. They’re available for very cheap and/or likely at a library. They have excellent little kid songs and sometimes accompanying games. Have the kids echo you phrase by phrase then put it together. they love songs with motions. I teach songs in steps: teach the words in rhythm (chant the words to the rhythm of the song) twice, teach words with the melody (I sing with a small child’s keyboard to stay on pitch), then all together (no echoing / together).
A good investment is National Education Network’s CJ song cards. You have to color them yourself, but the fact that there are pictures AND text on each one is a huge plus for early readers. (aka Admins like these!!) http://www.cjtime.com/cj-fundamentals
My first couple years teaching I developed piano skills. After teaching / practicing a song, I have them get up and stretch. Then they face the upright piano and march in place as I play the melody in my RH and blocked chords or boom/chic pattern in my LH. if they behave doing this I let them march in a circle. To make it fun I stop mid phrase / they have to stop. If you are not comfortable with piano, find children’s CDs and have them dance or march in place to songs with an appropriate accompaniment / speed. Then we sit and do a fingerplay (little poems which have hand motions to go with them; see John Feierabend’s stuff, or just google to find some). An easy way to think of breaking up the time is 10 minutes each for three activities, though I don’t usually have them dancing for more than five minutes. Depends on their ancyness, interest, etc. Each class is different.
Grade 3 can usually sit for 15 minutes or so engaged, then get up and move or play a game. They still love to dance and be silly, but they’re on the edge of being too old 😛 for kiddie stuff.
Grades 4 and 5 may tell you that they don’t like singing / “your music” but they usually do. Pre-hormonal children are starting to develop their own preferences and like to act older than they are. Sounds like you are used to this, as you have experience with middle school. I do similar to the previous poster: I teach a song, the background, have them sing with the piano /recording, then connect it to an advanced musical concept, such as analyzing. (That’s what I’m doing now.) I give them a print-out of the score to a given song and ask them to count the measures, number of rhyming words, and then interpret the singer / composer’s message. Charter Schools generally have high standards. Considering the Common Core etc everyone in my building is asked to do more higher-order activities. As always, one must balance the challenging stuff with the fun stuff so as to not loose the students’ interest.
One more helpful strategy for me is the “turn and talk”. Give them an idea to think about, then let them turn to a neighbor and share their ideas/answers.
I started a reward system this year for my classes, which is an incentive. (Inspired by Pinterest, my secret addiction!) Feel free to steal, change or not use it. I call it the Bravo Board. Each class if we get through all planned activities with minimal interruptions they earn a point which is a quarter note. A half point is an eighth note. They need 8 points to earn a game day (one day of games or dancing).
You might also get a copy of a Scope and Sequence, aka skills students should be able to do in each grade level.