Mrs. King at Home About Mrs. King Contact Mrs. King Mrs. King's Music Class HOME Image Map

Retro Groovy Classroom Tour

I am looking forward to have the grooviest year ever!  This year I decided to embrace the cool, retro vibe that is appearing in fashion, home furnishings and more.  I hope you'll enjoy this peek of my classroom.

Retro groovy music room decorations. Music classroom decor w a retro theme featuring mushrooms, VW vans, smiley faces and more iconic 60s & 70s decor
My desk is in the front corner of my room.  It holds every pen or pencil known to man and the mixer box for my classroom speakers.  I play music through my computer but it is set up to quickly play from my phone if I need to.

This wall contains my light up treble staff and the board where I'll post my student objectives for the week.  I am in the smallest room I've taught in and storage is limited for instruments.  On this board I have the descriptors for our grading scale. We use standards based grading and I ask students to check where they are with our learning goals for the day and show me by raising fingers to go with the scale below.  

The chicken's name is HENnifer Lopez.  She is sometimes used as a reward.

This light up treble staff display is one of my favorite things.  You can learn how to make your own HERE.  The butterflies are sitting on magnetic shelves.  As the school year goes on, I plan to display books that we are reading or that connect with a subject we are learning about.

I painted this rocking chair a few years ago and my students love it. Actually teachers and staff members love it too.  When they come in to talk they often ending up rocking and talking!  The light up mushrooms don't heat up and I love the way they look.  

Retro groovy music room decorations. Music classroom decor w a retro theme featuring mushrooms, VW vans, smiley faces and more iconic 60s & 70s decor
This corner is used mostly for storage.  On the shelves in front and behind the chairs is where I store my Orff instruments.  I really only use the chairs second semester but we don't have a place to store them until then.  
The Boomwhackers are stored in plastic bag storage containers from IKEA.  I have Boomwhackers in each container.

I use my cabinet doors for extra display area.  When we are studying instrument families or working in stations, I utilize this area as a reference for students.  You can take a closer look at these instrument family posters HERE.

Retro groovy music room decorations. Music classroom decor w a retro theme featuring mushrooms, VW vans, smiley faces and more iconic 60s & 70s decor
My media cart holds a classroom set of iPads.  On top there are groovy containers for Kleenex, hand sanitizer and spray and a stack of blank paper.  The cart is near my classroom door so that students can put their iPads up on their way out the door.  The cute mushrooms are from Schoolgirl Style.  

Retro groovy music room decorations. Music classroom decor w a retro theme featuring mushrooms, VW vans, smiley faces and more iconic 60s & 70s decor
This is the back of the room that displays some bulletin boards that I will leave up all year.  On the shelves my library is sorted by categories.  You can read about this organizational system and download some files to get you started by reading more about it in Organizing Books in Your Music Library.  
The pillows are used during workstation time.  Students love grabbing  one and sitting on it or laying on it during reading time

You can take a closer look at more of the files I used in my retro groovy classroom here.  I hope you have the best school year ever!

post signature

Musical Things to Do While Waiting in Line

For one reason or another, I often find myself waiting with students in a line.  It can be challenging to keep them quiet because let's face it...standing in line is boring!  Here are a few musical things to do while waiting in line.

Steady Beat Follow Me
This quiet game is easy and engaging.  Lead students to keep the steady beat with you, but challenge them to stop on exactly the same beat you do.  To be successful, students have to watch closely and remain quiet.  I tap my head, chin, arms, stomach, knees and nose.  I clap with two fingers or snap.  I nod or shrug my shoulders to the beat and whatever else I can think of that makes no sound or very little sound.

As students are following me, I freeze occasionally.  If they are watching closely, they can freeze on the same beat that I do.  Vary the tempo to keep it interesting.

Snap on This Beat
As students are waiting in line I'll ask them to listen to me count a steady beat and snap only on the even numbers. 
|: 12345678 :|

When they have established that rhythm, I'll switch it up.  I'll have them snap on the odd numbers, on 1, 4, 5 and 8 or any combination.  Occasionally when I walk a class back to their room we will do this.  It makes me feel like I'm on West Side Story.

Silent Singing
This is great activity to use when you are working on memorizing songs.  As students are waiting in line, I'll silently conduct one of the songs we are working on.  Every line or two I will stop and either ask them what word comes next or have them change from silent singing to whisper singing.

After I have modeled this a few times, I choose student leaders to conduct silent singing.  They love the challenge and pick up on it easily.

What's in My Pocket
This is a silly game, but the kids love it!  Before we line up, I'll slip something into my pocket.  My kids know that my desk drawers are treasure chests of weird and wonderful things so I could be putting almost anything in my pocket.

Students may ask yes/no questions one at a time by raising their hand and being called on.  I try to keep the items musical or related to music.  Some great items to slip in your pocket:  a small metrenome, tuning whistle, a reed, whistle, egg shaker, triangle striker, castanets, a small slide whistle, a recorder belt, guitar pick, or mini maracas.

Okay, this isn't the most musical activity but since I rarely find time to practice spelling during class I use this line game to do just that.  Usually when you play Sparkle, you stand in a circle but it works in a line too.  I say an instrument name, musical term or name of a composer.  The first student in line gives the first letter, the second student the second and so on.  If someone gets it wrong, we start over with the next person.  The goal is to spell enough words correctly that we make it through the entire line.  Traditionally, Sparkle is an elimination game but I keep everyone in and participating.

I also use this Sparkle technique to work on memorizing songs in line.  The first student says or sings the first word of the song, the second student says or sings the second word and so on.  The challenge is to get all the way through one song without having to restart.

Do you have games or activities that you use while students are waiting in line to keep them learning and engaged?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

post signature

Staying Organized in the Music Room: Three of My Favorite Things

With a busy teaching schedule, after school commitments and family life, staying organized is a must.  In my classroom I am often preparing for a concert with one grade (sometimes two different concerts!) as well as teaching my curriculum.  With hundreds of students a week, it can be overwhelming keeping everything organized.  Here are few of my favorite things for keeping my sanity in the music classroom.

1.  Playlists for Everything

This may seem like an obvious one, but keeping a playlist for each class or grade level can be super handy.  I also make playlists for concert songs, seasons and holidays, movement activities, scarf activities and more.  These playlists are organized in playlist folders.  I use iTunes for the most part, but also organize music on other streaming platforms too.

In iTunes go to File, New and select Playlist or Playlist Folder to get started.  You can create the folder and then drag any existing playlists to it and drop them in.  Here's a quick look at mine.   Notice the playlists and folders on the left.

2.  Category Boxes

I have several magazine boxes that sit on the shelf behind my desk.  I call them my category boxes.  They hold books, CDs, manipulative, folders, IEPs, classroom forms (office referrals, etc...), tidbits of inspiration, resources and more.  All of these things don't fit on a shelf or in a folder neatly as they are different shapes and sizes.  The category boxes collect all of these items and group them by topic.  

Some of my categories are ukulele resources, choir, classroom forms, song books, and seasonal and holidays.  Two of my most used boxes are the ones marked "File Me" (where I stash things that I need to file out of sight) and "Great Ideas" which is a place to put some great ideas of activities I want to try or centers and manipulative I want to make.

3.  Seating Charts that Serve Double Duty

Teaching every student in the school makes seating charts a necessity for me.  I also use them to record assessments, to note learners that need accommodations, to note behaviors until I can record them more formally, and of course to take attendance!  Read more about my seating chart in my blog post, Music Assessments with Seating Charts.

Note:  This looks real, but the names and data are fiction.

I hope you'll try one of my favorite ways to stay organized in the music room this year.  Let me know some of your favorite ones here or on Facebook.

post signature

March Music Madness

March Music Madness Tracy King

March Music Madness is an event that my school looks forward to during Music in Our Schools Month.  This bracket style tournament has one objective:  crown one song as the champion of music based on student votes.   There are several ways that you can host this event in your music classroom.  Keep reading to learn more.

There are three basic steps to take in planning and carrying out March Music Madness:
    1.  Song Selection
    2.  Experiencing the Music
    3.  Voting

Song Selection

There are several ways to go about selecting songs for March Music Madness.  
  • You Choose - Select 16 songs that you think your students might like.  Consider choosing a variety of different genres and include pieces that are popular now and from several different decades (or centuries!).
  • Staff Chooses - Invite staff members to recommend songs for the music bracket.  Send out an email asking for suggestions or maybe share a Google spreadsheet for them to record their recommendations.  When I do this, I add an extra incentive by rewarding the staff member that recommended the winning song with a gift card.  
  • Students Choose - Have students share their favorite songs.  Be sure to check both the lyrics and any accompanying video for appropriateness if you choose to show videos.

I prefer to invite staff members to submit recommendations.  Their recommendations are already checked for lyrics and content, so that saves me time.  It also creates opportunities for great conversations in students' regular classrooms about the styles, genres and artists related to the songs.  Staff members love checking the bulletin board that I put up with the bracket each week to see how their song is doing.

I am a very theme oriented person and think that adding themes like "Music of the Movies", "Color Wars" (songs with colors in the title), "Heroes and Villains" or "Old and New" (originals and cover versions) can make this even more fun.  A friend of mine did a Disney Showdown theme and students and staff loved it!

March Music Madness in your music classroom

Experiencing the Music

How will your students explore the March Music Madness bracket?  Here are a few options to consider:
  • Lesson Plans - Add the bracket to your lesson plans.  The first week will probably take most of your class period to get through each song.  During the first week I usually only play about a minute to a minute and a half of each song.  The second week maybe 20-30 seconds more.  The last two weeks there is time to play all of the songs as the majority of songs have been eliminated by then.  
  • Morning Announcements - Some teachers share their music bracket on the morning announcements.  Two songs per morning are played and then students vote on the songs with their homeroom teachers and the homeroom teachers enter their tallies on a shared spreadsheet.  The winners are announced the next day and this continues until there is only one winner.  If this works best for you, you will probably want to choose a smaller amount of songs so that you can get through the bracket in a month.
  • Google Slides or PowerPoint - Another option is to create a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation with the songs either linked to a playlist on a streaming service or to a music video.  Homeroom teachers present the songs, tally votes for their class and then send the count to you.  After the first round, send out a new slideshow with the winners and then repeat until there is only one winner.   If you teach older students, you could share the slideshow in Google Classroom or another digital classroom setting.
March Music Madness in your music classroom

I usually present the songs to students using a video that I find on Youtube or Vimeo.  I add them to Google slides (because we can skip the commercials on YouTube that way) and present them in class and tally the votes myself.  Last year I had to miss a day in March, so I sent the slide show to the classes I would have seen that day and the homeroom teachers tallied votes that day.  The teachers that were involved loved this!


    I've previously mentioned voting as something that I do or ask homeroom teachers do.  In the past I have had students close their eyes and raise their hands to vote in my classroom.  I ask them to close their eyes so that they don't all follow the popular kid or try to see what a friend is voting for and vote that way.  This has worked for most classes but there are always kids that refuse to cooperate and then blurt out.  This year I am going to experiment with a couple of different ways to vote.
    I'll use pencil and paper with some classes.  They will circle their answers and turn their papers in on their way out of class.  This will require me to create a new page each week and tally all the papers myself.  That doesn't sound fun for nearly 500 students, but I'm testing it with a few classes that have demonstrated issues with self control and blurting. 
    In other classes, I will use Plickers.  Plickers are cards with codes on them.  Students hold them up to vote.  The teacher then scans the cards by taking a picture of the whole class holding up their signs in the Plickers app.  It isn't complicated to use and I think my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders can handle it.  You can learn more about Plickers here.  The best part about this method is that it is fast and FREE!
    You may consider collecting votes digitally using a poll or form in Google Classroom, Padlet, ClassQuestion or other online services.

Displaying the Bracket

I create a bulletin board that showcases the March Music Madness bracket and update it each week as winners are chosen.  It hangs outside the music room which is across from the cafeteria.  Each class passes it at least once a day.  

To set the board up, I type up the song titles (including artist or composer and the staff member that recommended it) and place them on the left.  Then I add the next columns of boxes for the winning songs that will move forward.  In the picture above I used a black marker to draw the bracket lines.  In the picture below I used colored masking tape.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the goal of this activity?
One of the goals of this activity is to explore the elements of different genres.  Students can fall in love with new artists, new instruments and new styles of music with this activity.  Another goal is to facilitate higher level conversations between students in which they compare and contrast songs, critique using music terminology and make choices about the kinds of music they want to consume or perform.
2.  What if I miss a day of school and can't leave this for my substitute to do? 
You could try sending the slideshow or links to the homeroom teachers of the classes you missed or just don't include their votes for that round.
3.  I can't use YouTube at school.  What else can I do?  
Use music you already own or link your bracket to a streaming service.
4.  What if my bracket is uneven?
It happens.  Select a song or two and just bump them up to the next round.  This is like getting a "buy" in a sports tournament.  You can select a song that you think will win or a couple of songs and have their first duel be in the second or third rounds.

Need some help getting started?  Check out my March Music Madness Starter Kit.  You'll find more than 50 song suggestions that you can link to your preferred listening media, editable brackets and bulletin board elements.
March Music Madness Starter Kit

Have a great Music in Our Schools Month and may all of your March madness be filled with music!

post signature