Wireless Doorbell Attention Signal

So normally this time of year I like to do a room tour, but this year I’ve been keeping things simple – more on that in a later post. However, there is one addition to my classroom this year that I wanted to share with you.

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This year I purchased a wireless doorbell for my classroom. You COULD use it as an actual doorbell (does anyone else have those super timid kindergarteners that barely even tap at the door to be let in?), but here’s how I’ve seen it used most commonly, and how I will be using it in my classroom.

Usually when I want to get students’ attention, I do a count down and then raise my hand for silence. But this still involves me using my voice, sometimes loudly (if the class is at a loud volume). So this year, I am using this doorbell as my attention getter. I will keep the remote at my desk (and maybe eventually add a clip on the back, as I have seen other teachers do, so I can just wear it on my person). When I want students to get quiet, I will press the remote and the doorbell will play. Students are to get quiet and raise their hand when they hear the doorbell.

Things I Already Like:

Classes start today (tomorrow as I’m writing this), so I haven’t had the chance to use it with actual students yet, but I already have some features I am liking.

  • Save your voice – anything we can do as teachers, and especially as music teachers, to conserve our voice is a major plus. I think I will be surprised how much of a break this gives me from talking.
  • Lots of ringtone choices – the model that I chose has 36 tones to choose from, include some classical options (Fur Elise, Turkish March, etc). They even have some fun tone for holidays such as Jingle Bells and Auld Lang Syne, and all tones can be scrolled through easily by pushing a little button on the side of the doorbell
  • The set comes with two doorbells and a remote. I only need one so I now have a backup if something happens to the first. Or you could plug the doorbells into different parts of the room if you want the surround sound effect

My model allows you to only pick one ringtone, but I am sure there are fancier models out there that allow you to switch between ringtones. In that case, you could have different music for different signals (attention, clean up, transition).

I’m looking forward to testing out my new attention signal on students soon! Here’s to a new and exciting school year. May yours go smoothly and stress-free.

Music Room Tours of the Past

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Hey folks! It’s August and that means it’s time to get into our classrooms and make them fabulous! So I thought, what better time to check out some room tours. Here are some of my favorites over the years.

Room Tour 2014

I love how huge my classroom was back then, the exit slip board I had. And the It’s a Small World themed bulletin I had in the hallway.

Room Tour 2015

A lot like 2014 with some small tweaks.

Room Tour 2016

I added a couple posters this year that I really liked, such as my CHAMPS poster and the amazing rules poster one of my teammates created (our special area team decided to have the same common rules in all our rooms that year).

Room Tour 2017

This was my first year at a new school. So these two posts may be helpful if you are going into a new room this year.

Getting Your Bearings in a New Room – Part One

Getting Your Bearings in a New Room – Part Two

Room Tour 2018

I love the vocabulary posters I created for each grade level, my magnets I used to help implement some Kagan strategies, my recorder storage, and most of all, my door decoration.

Vacation to St. Augustine – the Oldest City in the USA

Summer vacation time is running quickly to a close. If you haven’t gone on any trips this summer, now might be a good time to try and squeeze in a quick tip before time runs out. Here’s a quick trip to St. Augustine that my husband and I did (although we went over Spring Break, not Summer Break).

About St. Augustine

St. Augustine is a great choice because it is easily accessible for many Floridians or even Georgians just by jumping in the car. It’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest city in the United States, which means it is rich in history. It has a little something for everyone, whether you prefer shopping, historic sites, nightlife or beach life.

Lodging

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We stayed at a cute little bed and breakfast called Casa de Suenos. This place was super charming and VERY close to the main historic district (without being so close as to be kept up by nighttime partiers). You get one parking spot included with your room, so we parked and then just walked to everything while we were there.

Besides being adorable and close to the action, my favorite thing about this bed and breakfast was the food! They provide a hot breakfast every morning, but also have a complimentary happy hour with not just alcohol but also snacks (one day it was veggies and dip and the other day there were pita chips and a warm cheesy dip of some type). AND they deliver complimentary dessert to your room – and if you are still out on the town when they stop by, they will pop it in your mini-fridge! Plus there are always snacks and sodas available throughout the day. And for those of your fancy drinkers out there, each room also comes with complimentary liquor – I think it’s sherry, but I can’t remember. I was pregnant at the time so …

A couple of things to note. First, I am pretty sure all the rooms have just one large bed (king or queen depending on the room). So if you are looking to bring some kiddos along, be prepared to book two rooms. Also, the first night that we were there, we noticed the MANY evening ghost tours in the area stopping near the B&B. No, the be more specific, they were all stopping at the B&B and pointing at it. So – we quickly came to find out that this place is supposed to be haunted. I cannot emphasize enough how NOT into haunted houses I am. I am a major chicken when it comes to ghosts. So I was a bit nervous the first night. But I am happy to say that we had no issues of a supernatural nature while there and I would go back again.

Dining

So first of all, remember all the food I mentioned at the bed and breakfast? That really helped keep our food expenses down, so we didn’t have to go out for breakfast or snacks much while we were there. Second, remember that I was pregnant at the time – first trimester to be exact. Having massive food aversions meant that often we picked our dining choices based on what food I could manage to even THINK about eating, rather because it was fine dining. But we were there to celebrate our anniversary, so we made sure to have one special meal planned. And there is one place you don’t want to miss in St. Augustine if you want to eat well – The Columbia Restaurant.

 

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The original Columbia Restaurant can be found in Ybor City, but this branch of the restaurant is quite delicious (I still have not made it to the original to compare). The Columbia serves amazing Spanish/Cuban food that simply cannot be beat. Either go early to avoid the rush or make sure to make a reservation.

Places to Visit

Castillo de San Marcos: One of the top places to visit in St. Augustine is the fort – Castillo de San Marcos. I highly recommend going there. It is a great place to learn about the early history of the state, and they even do canon firing reenactments on the ramparts. Admission is pretty cheap ($15 per person when we went and kids are free).

Lightner Museum: This museum is a blast from the past. It used to be a hotel back before the turn of the century. When I walk through it, I can almost imagine that I am an heiress from a time gone by, enjoying the privileges of the good life.

Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse: Obviously as a teacher, I had to stop at this spot. Admission is extremely cheap ($5) and then you can go on a self-guided tour. Now full disclosure – the experience is a bit tacky. The one room schoolhouse has a couple rather subpar animatronics that talk about what school life would have been like back then, but I personally found it pretty entertaining as a teacher. Check out the “unruly” kid that had to sit under the stairs! Definitely worth seeing once for $5.

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And here’s me posing with my new shirt and my tote back full of snacks, since I basically had to constantly nibble on tortilla chips and sip Sprite to avoid morning sickness.

Ghost Trolley Tour: Yeah, I know I said I hate ghost stuff. But I love history – and good story. And ghost tours are usually a good way to get both. We got to travel to lots of spooky locations including the Old Jail and hear some interesting stories about St. Augustine. I found the tour to be a little over-theatrical, with the guides acting out parts instead of just telling the stories, but overall, still an enjoyable tour. Next time we will probably check out a walking tour instead.

St. George Street: The main historic area is all along St. George Street. There are a wide variety of shops, museums and restaurants to check out. We spent a good amount of time looking in the shops and soaking up the general atmosphere of the area while we were there.

In addition to the places that we made it to this trip, there are many more notable locations.

  • San Sebastian Winery – get free wine samples if you go on one of their tours!
  • The Fountain of Youth – what better tourist stop could there be than the famous Fountain of Youth?
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum – full of curious oddities
  • Train Tours – get carted around to various landmarks in the area and learn interesting facts along the way
  • Medieval Torture Museum – check out some of twisted torture implements
  • Potter’s Wax Museum – also a Native American chief is buried under the floor boards, so of course the place is rumored to be haunted
  • And lots, lots more

Teacher’s Book Club: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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I love getting in some inspiring reads during the summer. I also love to try and bring my house back into order during the summer months – checking away at those todo list items that I kept saying “oh, I’ll have time to do that in the summer.” So this book really called to me. If you are an organizer like myself, then I highly recommend this book to you as well. Especially while we are in the middle of summer vacation, where you can really dig in and get some extreme organizing done that (if done right) should make life run much more smoothly going forward.

I had been hearing the buzz from lots of other people for a while on social media talking about the KonMari Method. What finally really introduced me to the philosophy behind this method though was a Netflix series – Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the episodes she covers some of the main parts of her method and helps home owners transform their space into a minimalist, tidy, functioning space.

What I Like Best About the KonMari Method

Appreciate Your Belongings

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Marie Kondo has the home owners go through the things in their house and decide what brings them joy. Only items that bring you joy should be kept, and those that you feel no attachment to should be thanked for the service they have given you (even it is was only to realize that you need to stop shopping the sale rack so often) and then donated and sent on they very way. I love this zen view that every thing that comes into our life serves us in some way, and to value that, but also know when to let it go to make room for new growth. Plus don’t you just love the idea of everything in you wardrobe, living room and whole HOUSE bringing you joy?

Store Thing So You Can See Them At A Glance

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Have you ever sat down to go though a bin of random stuff and found stuff you had forgotten you even owned, because it had been buried for years. Or ended up with like 5 (insert item of you choice) because you thought you had one, but couldn’t find it anywhere, so you bought another. Storing things where you can see them ALL in one glance allows you to quickly know where all your odds and ends are and spare you from digging into giant bins of junk searching for that one thing. Kondo achieves this by using boxes inside of boxes. Little boxes inside of big boxes (with no tops on the little boxes – using them more like a divider than a box).

Piling On The Guilt (Literally)

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One of Marie Kondo’s signature moves is the have the home owners take ALLLLLL of their clothes out and pile them all on the bed at the same time. Every dresser drawer. Every hanging shirt. All the stuff in bins above or below your closet. You might think – well I know lots of people are shopaholics but I barely own any clothes. But try this process and I think you may be surprised how many clothes even YOU own. Seeing it visually can really help you to realize how much excess you have and start to pare it down to what really brings you joy.

Multi-step System

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Marie Kondo has a certain order that she recommends tackling this organizing process: First clothes, then books, then papers, then Kimono (which means basically anything else left in your house), and then sentimental. You start with the stuff that is easiest to sort through and work your way up to the hardest.

Things That Didn’t Jive With Me

  • Kimono??? – so Kondo has this category called Kimono which incorporates WAAAAY too much in my opinion. Everything from kitchen utensils to the boxes in your garage and everything in between. I would divide this category up a bit more. Maybe go by room or something.
  • Piles can be overwhelming – if you aren’t fired up to organize and have a free day with nothing else scheduled, piling every clothing item you own up on your bed and then trying to sort through it all and put it away in an organized fashion before the end of the day can be overwhelming. I would probably suggest that if you don’t think you can handle it all at once, make mini goals. Maybe go through all your shoes, and then all your dresses, etc. That way you are still seeing how much you have in one category, but not biting off so much to do that you choke on it. Here is a

Overall Impression

Overall, I love the inspiration that this book (and the Netflix show) have given me to bring a little more order and zen into my life. While I don’t take everything in it as gospel, it has given me a new way to look at organizing and some new tools to help move the process along. Here’s to a tidy and zen new school year, both at home and at work.

New TPT Product Alert – Lesson Plans for an Entire Quarter!

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Hey folks! I’ve got some exciting news. I’ve been working hard this summer on building up some long-term lesson plans for my maternity leave. And now I’ve gone and bundled up my first one for you to use! This is a completely comprehensive set of lessons for 9 weeks of instruction, complete with songs and references to other supplemental materials (books, musical recordings). There are activities built in to the unit to assess students’ skills. It even has a printable resource section in the back! These plans would work great if:

  • you are going to have a long-term music sub
  • you are a new teacher looking to grab some lesson plans
  • any teacher who is looking to do a new unit, but doesn’t want to create it yourself

This first unit I finished is called Fall and Winter and is designed for Kindergarten. I will be doing my maternity leave in the fall, so this unit it designed to start in late October and carry through to Winter Break.

Check it out here: Fall and Winter Unit (Focus: Steady Beat and Voice Types)

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Lesson Planning Bootcamp

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Hello readers! Here we are at the beginning of July. This is the time of summer when my thoughts start turning towards the coming school year. My planning tends to jump into overdrive. If you find yourself in a similar state, then might I recommend trying this lesson planning bootcamp. There is something fo everyone – from those who are starting from scratch or revamping their curriculum, to those who are just looking to tweak the previous years plans.

Some of you may be looking for a more detailed dig into your lesson planning. You may want to start your bootcamp here: STEP 1 – Grade Level Skills

Perhaps you already know what skills you want to teach for each grade, but want to look more closely at what time of year you roll out each of these skills (including the steps needed to prepare for these skills, and ways to keep them in practice once earned). This is a good one for everyone to look at at least a little bit each year. You may want to check out this step in the bootcamp: STEP 2 – Year at a Glance

If you have all of that set, then here are some other parts of my bootcamp series that you may wish to look at:

STEP 3 – Assessments and Events

STEP 4 – First Week of School

STEP 5 – The Big Stuff

STEP 6 – The Filler

Go the these steps and you will be WELL on your way to having yourself a great school year with lessons that are placed intentionally to make learning go smoothly for you and your students. Enjoy your lesson planning – but don’t forget some time to enjoy the end of the summer as well!