The Google Suite for Education

GOOGLE= THE BEST

There, I said it.

The Google resources have made my teaching so much easier. I can go (basically) paperless (dependent on WiFi connection).

My school is a 1:1 iPad school, which comes with its own pros and cons, but the biggest pro is that we can go paperless.

The Google Docs package includes a web and app-based platform that allows for online collaboration and sharing. With programs similar to the Microsoft Office suite, here is how the Docs platform compares.

Word= Docs. This is a word processor that is similar to Microsoft Word. It is NOT as complex as the Word that I learned in high school, but for middle school purposes it works really well.

6th Grade Playlist Project- Example of Google Doc

Excel= Sheets. I love Google Sheets. It is a simplified version of Excel, which works well for t-shirt orders and budgeting. I am in charge of 3 budgets (choir, drama and pep club), and Sheets allows me to send a constantly-updating sheet to someone and they always have the most up to date information.

Classroom Supply Order- Example of Google Sheets

Powerpoint=Slides. Slides is similar to Powerpoint, again is simplified. I use Slides because I can easily upload my presentations to Google Classroom so my students can go back and see what we talked about in class while they are doing their homework.

Musical Instruments-Example of Google Slides

Google Forms does not have a Microsoft equivalent (that I know of.) I LOVE forms because I can write tests and give them via iPad. Each form that is turned in piles the information into an excel file, which makes it easy to see. You can also get add-ons that will GRADE THE TESTS FOR YOU! I haven’t played with the app, Flubaroo, but many teachers I know like it.

6th Grade Instrument Test- Example of Google Forms

YouTube. YouTube is vital to my classroom. I have students make recordings, I make recordings and I use videos from all over the world. I can make a playlist for my kids to see so everything is organized by topic. YouTube is owned by Google, which allows you to seamlessly share, send and show videos via Google Classroom and Gmail.

YouTube-Kelsey Scheuerman’s Channel

Gmail email is easy to use. I have a personal email account plus one that students can use to share files with me. I used Gmail when I was at K-State (because I didn’t like 365 and I hated the one before that more).

Google Classroom is a FANTASTIC idea. Similar to Edmodo (which I have grown to despise), Google Classroom allows me to post videos, assignments and comment on student work while also allowing the kids the participate in discussion. If you are looking for an easy web and app based platform to communicate with your students, try Classroom.

Everything that you do with the Google suite is stored in Google Drive, which is a FREE dropbox program. You can easily share and send documents and folders, which makes keeping connected easier and easier.

Did I mention all these things are FREE?! WHAT?!

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Flipping the Music Classroom

I have always wanted to try flipping my music classroom simply to see what all the fuss is about. We talked about it at K-State and many of my music colleagues felt that it would never work. I’m here to say that it CAN be done, you just need to get creative!

Unfortunately I had to be sick today. I have a cold that is kicking my butt. Luckily I had an in-service day yesterday that allowed me to make some videos to upload to Google Classroom so my students wouldn’t miss out on my lecture.

I design packets that students must fill out during the video. The nice thing about a video is that they can stop and start it as needed. The packet includes guided practice, notes that they fill out and keep for future tests and a quiz review at the end.

I used this for a lecture for my 7&8 Grade Choirs about rhythm and key signatures. We have been discussing the basic elements of music in class and this is where we have gotten so far.

I will debrief with the kids and see if they like this format. I have been doing a modified flipped classroom with some of my 6th grade units in music appreciation, which has worked well. I will post all of these items as examples. It is perfect? No, but it works when I take a lot of cold medicine and would rather sleep on the couch for the day 🙂

6th Grade Music Appreciation

Instructions: Watch 8 videos (total) from the South America Playlist and the Asia Playlist. Using the content of the videos, write a 3-4 sentence paragraph about each video, explaining what is happening in the video, which country this tradition is from and how it may relate to your life. Please use complete sentences, proper punctuation and do not use text speak! Submit via Google Doc

Asia Playlist

South America Playlist

7th Grade Rhythm Video and Packet

7th Grade Rhythm Packet (from various sources)

Rhythm Video Lecture:

8th Grade Key Signature Video

 

The problem with making videos is that it is super awkward. When you don’t wear make-up, you can tell!  When you have a vocal tick (I say “awesome” and “you guys” all the time) you notice!

Overall, it is nice to do video lectures, plus you don’t have to re-do them and you can keep them for years if you want!

 

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School Safety

In light of the lockdown of the K-State Campus last week, I have been thinking a lot about campus security. As teachers, we are responsible for the safety of our students, which, if you think about it, is TERRIFYING.

There are so many bad things that can happen:

-A kid can go into anaphylactic shock from a trigger like mold or peanut butter in your room

-Someone can have a rare seizure disorder which requires an immediate call for an ambulance.

-A kid can harm another kid intentionally.

-A kid can harm another kid accidentally.

-A kid can have a panic or anxiety attack about being around another student in your class.

-An intruder can come into the school, armed or unarmed.

-A robbery or other crime can happen outside the school.

My school is in the proximity of the Lansing Minimum Security Prison and the Leavenworth National Maximum Security Prison. PRISONS. FULL OF PEOPLE THAT DID BAD THINGS.

That, plus now we are being trained on things like bomb threats, biohazard and environmental danger; it is downright terrifying.

LMS is an ALICE school, which is a philosophy that gives the teacher options on keeping their kids safe, which includes Run (get out of the building), Hide (lock down in place, barricade and hide) or fight back (throw things and attack the attacker to disable him (or her!)). I appreciate that we have options. We have a large building and I have a large room with many extra rooms. I also have a door that goes outside, which allows me to have more options than most teachers.

Last year we had an intruder drill. It was the scariest thing I have ever had to do. I had not been trained on what to do (I had ALICE training at an Olathe Substitute training, but didn’t know MY district’s policy) and I had 25 kids in my room. I did the best I could: I grabbed my laptop, keys, cell phone, walkie-talkie and emergency binder and instructed the kids to move their backpacks away from the windows so it looked like we weren’t in the room. I locked all the doors (which now are required by the fire marshall to be locked at all times) and moved my folder cart on wheels in front of the door. I instructed the kids to go to our practice room area, huddle together and create a perimeter with chairs and music stands. I then pushed both pianos in front of each entrance to the room. Honestly, I thought we did a pretty great job for not knowing anything.

Eventually, my principal came around, started yelling for us because he couldn’t find us and we came out. The “intruder” was in the library, which was on the other side of the building, which meant we should have just gone outside. I was proud of what we accomplished and my principal basically said we could survive a war in that room, so I will pat myself on the back for that one.

For this year, I put together a small emergency kit that is in our safe location. It contains:

-a few water bottles, candy and granola bars in case we are there for a while.

-An extra copy of every piece of our emergency binder, medical alert information and rosters, just in case.

-an extra ethernet cable, to be used as a weapon

-bandages and antibacterial

-plus a hockey stick is propped behind the door, mostly to confuse the kids

 

As of this year, our alerts now contain a biohazard alert, which means there is a chemical spill (or something of the like) inside or outside the building. We have been instructed to tape plastic to the perimeter of each door, which I haven’t recieved instructions about how to go about that yet.

We also have normal fire and tornado drills, which work like clockwork.

The best thing you can do it watch every situation. Watch the kid who gets agitated easily. Watch the bullies and who they are bullying. Survey parking lots and after school activities for creepers and report what you see. It is better to report something and have it be nothing than to not report and have someone get hurt.

Unfortunately we live in a time where we have to be watching all the time. I live alone and am constantly checking my locks and if my blinds are drawn, not because I am afraid, but because I am pro-active. I live in a VERY safe part of Johnson County, but creepers are everywhere (right, Minecraft people?)

Stay Safe, Wildcats.

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Expectations and Procedures in the Middle School Music Classroom

We are in our fourth week of school, which I can honestly say is amazing. Being able to start the year out with my own expectations and procedures is a Godsend. My kids know exactly what I want and how I want it done, which allows me to have more freedom to try new things, which is a benefit for them.

Since school has started, I have made a few parent phone calls regarding behavior. Each one starts with, “Your child is not in trouble, I am letting you know the behaviors I am seeing that create a red flag and I would like to talk about them so you know what is going on.” Each parent I have initiated contact with using this phrase has been overwhelmingly supportive because they see that I want to help their child, not just pick on them or embarrass them in class. This philosophy has helped me SO MUCH as far as discipline because, luckily, the parents have squelched most of the issues from home.

As predicted, I have changed some of my procedures. Bell work has been thrown by the wayside, (I was afraid that would happen), but I am working to get my act together. I had a very good friend of mine come in and clinic my choirs yesterday and he called me out for not doing certain things (i.e. teaching solfege, the devil’s syllables! Just kidding.), which is helpful for me to hear from a music colleague what is going well and not going well. Music is one of those things that you hear repeatedly and eventually you hear what you want to hear, not what is actually happening. A fresh set of ears is always appreciated to pick up on things that maybe I don’t hear or have glossed over. Thanks to Alex Spence to working with my babies!

My wonderful friend, and fellow #MusicEdCat, Alex Spence, performing a gorgeous piece in Hebrew for my Show Choir!

My wonderful friend, and fellow #MusicEdCat, Alex Spence, performing a gorgeous piece in Hebrew for my Show Choir!

A few other random things that I have adapted for my classroom would be the IKEA table and magazine holders, seen at the front of my room. I purchased these items for under $20 and I am able to organize music for 6 choirs, right in front of my podium. I have a music librarian in each class (kids apply for classroom jobs, see below), which helps me keep the music organized and looking nice.

I have chosen my classroom jobs, which are positions given by application to hard-working students to reward them for wanting to go the extra mile. My jobs are:

-Music Librarian (sort and file music)

-Equipment Relocation Engineer (helps move chairs, pianos and other equipment, especially for concerts)

-Stage Managers (for concerts)

-Welcome Wagon (helps visitors, subs and new students find their way around the room)

-Absent Student Assistant (picks up work for absent students and takes it to the office)

Kids basically fight over who gets to help me, which is FANTASTIC. I also have a student aide that helps me with various tasks, which is appreciated when I have pep club and choir things to be copied and taken to other teachers. If I could hire a sky writer to say ” XXXX Student is AWESOME”, I would. He is seriously the best.

There’s always something new going on at school that I want to write posts about, but by the time I get home I always forget. I promise to write more!

Keep on keepin’ on, #EdCats!

🙂

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But I’m JUST A Teacher…

I believe that I was called to be a teacher.

Ever since I was a little kid, I was ‘teaching’ my little sister how to do things (she may have called it being bossy.) I loved helping others figure something out, organizing and creating something new. I absolutely love what I am doing; it doesn’t seem like I am working every day. I feel like I can walk into my classroom and create something amazing with my kids, or facilitate while they create something amazing. It’s like going to work to play.

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Imagine ME being bossy to that little angel 🙂

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I’m still bossy, she just doesn’t listen now.

Unfortunately, some don’t think that what I do is work.

“Any monkey can teach.”

“You are just a glorified babysitter.”

“I wish I could play all day with little kids!”

“You get all summer off!”

“You don’t even have to work until 5 o’clock!”

These are things I have heard about the teaching profession and it breaks my heart.

Yeah, there are crappy teachers that sit at their desks, make sure kids don’t kill each other and beat the kids out the door at the end of the day, but they are the extreme minority.

Those of us who care; who are great teachers go above and beyond. We work on the weekends, we go to conferences in the summer, we fall asleep on the couch grading papers while the cat chews the end of our red pen (just me? OK. 🙂

Sophie helps with grading and picking music.

Sophie helps with grading and picking music.

Teaching isn’t a job you can leave in your office; it follows you everywhere.

This is what I did today (Monday)

Got to school at 6:45 to make copies and scans. Realized scanner wouldn’t send email. Realized we were out of paper halfway through printing bell work. Unlocked my office and was met by the smell of leaving my uneaten lunch from Friday under my desk. Read emails, tidied up my desk, put things away, re-evaluated bell work since there weren’t going to be enough copies. Bell Rings. Talk to 5 kids about various things, including why kids weren’t selected for Show Choir. Talk to accompanist when she arrives about plan for the day. Kids come in without iPads; immediately send them to classrooms to get iPads. Bell Rings. Get class started on getting registered for Google Classroom. See who was absent during uniform fittings. Sign up to work concession stands for choir and pep club. Turn in late assignments. Punch incentive cards for pep club. Warm-up with stretches, vocalises, breathing and tongue twisters. Sing through Swahili piece. Work on Latin piece. Sectional for Spanish piece. Listen to Swahili piece. Interpret Swahili piece. Bell Rings. (this is 8:30)

Another class comes in. Repeat times 6.

New class began today (Show Choir). Go through handbook, expectations. Uniform fitting. Music reveal. Have student aide hand out pep club forms. Determine that the year is going to be awesome. Bell Rings, kids are dismissed.

After bell rings: Answer 10 questions about various things. 2 Kids come in to serve detention. Tidy room. Tune tubanos. Put away music. Put together to-do list for tomorrow. Awkwardly watch kids in detention. Answer emails. Call secretary. Place SAMS order for concession stand. Dismiss detention kids. Walk to office. Meet with parent and principal. Parents leave. Talk to principal about Man Caves and crazy people.

Walk out of building at 4:45 and point the car to Sonic for a limeade 🙂

Now add 30 miles of driving each way (including I-70 to I-435S to I-35 5:00 traffic) and here I am, tiredly eating Taco Bell and Advil watching Project Runway and writing this blog.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Yeah, I’m freaking tired all the time. Yeah I get sneezed on and eventually contract every illness in the school. Yeah, I deal with parents and kids acting weird and internet outages and unplanned fire alarms and junk, but wouldn’t it be boring if every day were the same?

I have the opportunity to teach 5 Choirs in the curriculum, 2 Music Appreciation Classes (7 total preps) plus I advise the 6th grade choir, the drama club, and the pep club. I am never bored. My secretary jokes that she would be concerned if there was ever a day that I wasn’t at the copier during my plan, (she might think I’m dead when I convert to totally paperless on Google Classroom!)

I may be a babysitter, but they will be well-educated, musician babies that have great discipline, technique and respect for adults. A monkey could do my job, but it would have to be a monkey that can play a duple pattern on a drum while speaking 3-2 clave in a percussion ensemble. I do get to play all day with little kids (that part is true because we are PLAYING music!) I get summers off to go to conferences (this year: World Music Drumming Certification at OSU, BIST training, JW Pepper Reading session, KCDA conference in Topeka) and my contract hours go until 3:30 so technically I can go home at that time if I want to freak out the next morning.

Maybe I am just a babysitting, cymbal-banging, music playing monkey, but at least I’m having a blast doing it.

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How many other people can say they absolutely love their jobs and the people they’re doing it with?

Engineers, businessmen and doctors, be jealous. Teachers make the world go round. (Literally, teachers taught every successful person!)

KEEP ON TEACHIN’!

!Viva La Educatíon!

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The First Week of School

Hello Fellow Teachers!

I am in my third week of school (we had a short first week) and I have a few things to write about.

First of all, I LOVE my classes. I feel like the luckiest teacher in the building because I have such a fantastic group of students throughout all my classes. I have 4 choirs, a study hall and 2 music appreciation classes and all of them work together, support each other and are willing to learn. True, there are a few kiddos who are testing boundaries right now, especially with talking and not turning in work, but overall I believe this is going to be an amazing year!

Second, I want to give a shout out to my BIST training. BIST (Behavior Intervention Support Team) is a fantastic classroom management resource. This program does not replace classroom management skills, but offers assistance and guidance for those students who are hard to reach because of their missing skills such as the thought of being ok even when other are not. Most behavior issues stem from a cause, which usually  is not you. It really helps to know that; it’s not you! If you have questions about BIST, please let me know and have your administrators look in to it; it has helped my school!

Thirdly (is that a word?), I have changed a few of my grand plans. Some worked well but some didn’t.

-I used color coded folders for classes. I purchased cheap paper folders to distribute handbooks and handouts on the first day. My room looked so organized and beautiful on the first day…and quickly died. The kids were allowed to leave them in the room (in color coded bins) but some took them, some left them and some lost them. As great of an idea it was, it did not work. Back to the drawing board….

-I am now the advisor for 6th Grade Choir (extracurricular), Show Choir, Pep Club, Drama Club, Singing Club and I will serve on the SITE council. This puts me in charge of two extra ensembles, maintaining and producing a drama club which culminates in a production in the spring, and managing the pep club with incentive cards and a complete concession (Sams and I are BFFs now). It is to be determined if I will buy a bed to put in my office to just live at school. I’m excited for the opportunity, it just feels like a lot!

-Bell Work. I had a grand scheme of having it every day…that works in classes where kids bring books and writing utensils. I am continuing to work on making bell work worthwhile.

Fourthly (I’m making up words now), I have a fantastic support team at LMS. My principals join in on drum circles, my art teacher helps with school beautification, the science teacher and I chaperoned a MS dance and had a blast. I am so lucky.

The science teacher and I chaperoning and working the concession stand. I had earplugs in, but I think hers were more effective!

The science teacher and I chaperoning and working the concession stand. I had earplugs in, but I think hers were more effective!

School rocks. Teaching music is the best. Middle school is fun. 🙂

For those of you going back to school, in the words of the Red Green Show, keep your stick on the ice.

In the words of Airplane, “Remember, we’re all counting on you.”

Have a fantastic week!

🙂

 

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Music Teacher Toolkit

Happy Saturday everyone!

I took a break while working in my classroom the other day to go through my music teacher toolkit. I have a lot of random instruments that I use in my room as attention getters, transition sounds and as a general introduction to instruments for my 6th grade music appreciation classes.

All of these gadgets are musical instruments but can also be used in the general education classroom as attention getters (or just things to make the younger kids giggle, especially the bike horn!)

I will post a video at a later time about other non-musical items I use in my room, like blank puzzles, beach balls and post-it notes.

Until then, enjoy the video and let me know if you have any questions!

-K

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My Classroom Tour

After many trips to school and many hours of hot gluing, organizing and throwing junk away, my classroom is to a place that I am proud to show it off. Is it completely finished? No. It will NEVER BE FINISHED because I am weird about changing things all the time. I get bored with my classroom set-up quickly so I encourage kids to move around (I also don’t use chairs most of the time.)

I have made a video about my room so check it out. If you don’t want to commit to listening to me for 10-20 minutes, I will include pictures below.

 

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My Remo Tubanos that I recieved from my amazing principal!

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The “Before” Picture…pretty bland and sad.

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My office “before” picture.

I spent a total of 3 full work days on my room cleaning, organizing and decorating. I still have packets to make, music to file and a few other things but it is a working space now!

The positive mirror area...a MUST for middle school girls.

The positive mirror area…a MUST for middle school girls.

Command Center

Command Center

My Piano..where the magic happens. :)

My Piano..where the magic happens. 🙂

An out-of-order TV created into a positive piece!

An out-of-order TV created into a positive piece!

Semi-finished room

Semi-finished room

If you have any questions about my room, please let me know! The video tells about where I got everything, with the exception of some Teachers Pay Teachers packets (Music Standards, Things to Look for In Music, Elements of Music and Music Instrument Families).

 

For now, that is all! Have a great first week of school!

Landing the Job: My First Semester at LMS

I accepted my current position at Lansing Middle School in December of 2014. I was SO lucky to find such a fantastic job, especially at semester! I had two weeks of Christmas break to prepare; finding all of the stuff I had hoarded in college, emailing everyone I knew about teaching choir and trying to throw together syllabi, procedures and assignments.

When I interviewed, I was filled in on how much I would be responsible (my interviewing committee was comprised of awesome people, my supportive principal, my life-saver assistant principal and my mentor/music partner in crime, the band director. They told me I had 2 classes of 6th grade music appreciation (I hate the term music appreciation…I prefer “music exploration!”), 2 7th grade choirs, 2 8th grade choirs and a show choir during a study hall. I also had the option of a before-school 6th grade choir, which I quickly started. I had a total of 40 6th graders and 110 singers (7&8 combined). I also started an after-school singing club, which allowed kids to come in and sing with very little structure: I played piano, they sang along.

Fast forward to now and I am much wiser. I made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of fun and am ready to go back for year 2. I had some experiences, that I will list, so people can see the whirlwind that teaching is.

1. Completely cleaning out a classroom, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. (Always the first thing to throw away: the Doritos left in your office from a Christmas party.)

2. Learning a whole new school system, new staff and new students while learning how to teach and finding my teaching personality. I’m lucky to have a wonderful staff and even better secretaries….lifesavers, for real.

3. Classroom management: When to be stern, when to be understanding. Equality vs. Fairness….it’s hard!

4. Parents. Parent Emails. Parents that aren’t very nice and parents that are SUPER AWESOME! They will make you feel like you’re the best teaching in the world or they will make you feel stupid or they will make you want to bawl you eyes out. You develop a thick skin, especially when email is so easy to hide behind for some.

5. Middle School Drama. Yes there are a lot of things that upset middle schoolers. Boys, girls, dances, lunches, teachers, classes, hobbies, sports, things to do, drugs, alcohol, bullying, failing classes, problems at home, puberty, changing schools, living near a military community…..every day it is something different.

6. Change. Some kids aren’t ok with change….I had a student who was so attached to the previous teacher that they wrote a petition to get me to leave so the old teacher would come back. Student relationships matter.

7. Time management. I live 40 minutes from where I work and this poses challenges. I can’t afford to miss an alarm or forget something at home. What I love about living far from school is that the drive from K-7 to I-435 to I-35 may pose some traffic issues at 5:00, but it allows me to mentally prepare for the day in the morning and unwind on the way home (after you swing by Sonic on the way home because after all, contract time ends during happy hour!)

You also need to manage your time at school. Copies need to be made, meetings need to be scheduled, kids need to be listened to or tested or auditioned. I’m lucky to have my plan, lunch and supervised study hall back to back to back in the middle of the day, PLUS super helpful students who like to do things for you.

*Side note: I had a 6th grade student in my Music Appreciation class VOLUNTEER to file, organize and catalogue my entire choral library. 600 pieces. He digitized everything and we are working on a scanner check-out system with recordings! He was THE BEST!*

8. Make time for you. It’s easy to stay at school until o’dark thirty but you will go crazy. If you spend too much time there, your cats will miss you, (at least mine did). You need to spend time away from school so you have something other than singing tests and the latest womens choir crushes to talk about on date night.

I love to bake, read by my apartment’s super awesome pool, go for walks with my boyfriend, attend craft fairs and play with my cats. These allow me to not think about school for 5% of my day.

9. Professional Development isn’t dumb. I love conferences and meetings. I love learning new things from new people. I’m a hardcore introvert so I really enjoy sitting in a room listening to a lecture. I have learned more from conferences than I ever did in college; practical things that I can use in my classroom every single day.

10. I don’t know everything. I won’t know everything. I have a million questions every day, which drives people crazy, I’m sure. I LOVE teaching and there is always something new for me to learn to pass on to my kids.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

 

So this is a small glimpse of what my blog for K-State will look like; a no-frills look at the wonderful world of teaching. I will post as many pictures (my kids LOVE taking selfies with me for some reason, I wish I could post them) and stories, because I love talking about my kids. They’re ornery and weird and funny and awesome, they’re my choir nerds 🙂

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This is my combined choir at our end of the year “Pops Concert”

Elementary Placement: Weeks 7-9

For my final weeks, I was running around like a crazy person finishing portfolio things, final meetings and 3rd grade program preparations. I had the pleasure to work with some awesome kids to put on a spectacular 3rd grade holiday program entitled “Christmastime Around the Town” which featured a rhyming scripts that allowed all students to speak in the presentation, orff ensemble, world drumming ensemble, a Jamaican drum ensemble and various songs from around the world.

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During my last week, I had to say goodbye to my students. It was wonderful to get to know them and experience new music with them. Here are a few pictures with a few classes I had a chance to snap a picture with.

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Kindergarten

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Kindergarten

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