Teaching Samples

Setting Up for Success

Making the Most of It

For the first time in 10 years I am blessed with a classroom for my Monday classes.  The room is a multipurpose room and is used as a conference room and storage facility when I am not at that particular school.  There have been some challenges with making the space work, but it is well worth the trouble as my students feel like it’s a “real” music room when they enter to learn.  Pictured are visuals for the many voices we possess, learning targets (“I can” statements), and an organized supply station.

Use the Space You Have

Composer Corner and Movement Word Wall (magnetized to lockers)

What to Listen for in Music

Guided concept and vocabulary wall

Instrument Space

Extra furniture disguised and transformed into instrument and movement prop storage/display.

Sample Lesson Plans

Kindergarten: Forgotten Dreams

Learning how to respond to music in appropriate ways, this lesson focuses on creative movement.  After a few times through the music, students begin to internalize the phrasing and anticipate what comes next.

Focus: Choreography/Movement, Expression, Form, Listening, Performing, Vocabulary

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1st Grade: Apple Tree

Using a traditional folk song, 1st graders explore steady beat, audiation (singing in your head), and rhythm work.  Students are introduced to a rhythm game that is engaging and a great way to do individual assessment.

Focus:  Melody, Performing, Rhythm, Singing, Steady Beat

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2nd Grade: Cumberland Square & the Marvelous Musical Deli

Students explore macro and micro beats through quarter notes and half notes.  Cumberland Square, a lively fiddle tune, introduces students to AB form, and through The Marvelous Musical Deli, students are able to take the abstract concept of form and make it more their own.

Focus:  Choreography/Movement, Form, Listening, Performing, Rhythm, Steady Beat, Vocabulary

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3rd Grade: Name the Instrument Family

Using the Kagan Structure Numbered Heads Together, students listen to a musical selection, and write down their thoughts as to which instrument family the instrument they heard is a part of.  Students must then discuss with their team and come to an agreement on one answer.  Teams then share their ideas before repeating with a new musical selection.

Focus:  Listening, Tone Color/Timbre, Vocabulary

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4th Grade: The Entertainer

Connecting to Social Studies and the music of Scott Joplin, students explore rhythms through words connected to the composer and Ragtime music.  These rhythms provide a basis for a body percussion play-along to The Entertainer and are then transferred to tubano drums.

Focus:  History, Instruments, Listening, Performing, Rhythm, Vocabulary

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5th Grade: Mary Had a Little Jazz

Starting with the traditional nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little Lamb, students compare and contrast a traditional song to one set in a jazz/blues style.  Students experience I, IV, & V chords on boomwhackers and create new lyrics to their own nursery rhyme-inspired blues song.

Focus:  Form, Harmony, Instruments, Performing, Singing, Steady Beat, Vocabulary

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Assessment in the Music Classroom

Performance Rubrics

As music is a performance-based art, I find it helpful to have simple/clear rubrics to help me assess my students during class.

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A great way to include formative assessment in the classroom, Plickers is an easy to execute assessment tool that’s free and very flexible.  For more information, visit their website.

Self Assessment

Students receive feedback from me, positive comments and constructive criticism from their peers, but most importantly, they are given opportunities to reflect upon their own strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes the best assessment is one you do for yourself.


American Melting Pot: Children at Play

As an extension to our first collaborative dance unit with the Physical Education teachers, this “informance” was a great way to showcase the folk dancing we teach in the classroom.  Performed with 1st & 3rd grade, Spring 2012.

Responsible for: song/dance selection, preparing students, and running grade-level dress rehearsals; Roles: teacher, co-director.

The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster

Based on the book by David Conway, Little Miss Muffet sets out to find a new nursery rhyme, but ends up causing more trouble that it’s worth!  Performed with 2nd grade, Spring 2013.

Responsible for: book adaptation and script, song arrangement, preparing students, and running grade-level dress rehearsals; Roles: lead teacher, director.  (pictured as Mother Goose)

Sweet Betsy From Pike

Oh, don’t you remember sweet Betsy from Pike?  She crossed the wide prairies with her husband Ike.  Inspired by the song that likely references Pike, Mo this concert was written to showcase westward expansion and American folk songs.  Performed with 3rd grade, Spring 2013.

Responsible for: script, song selection, instrument arrangement, preparing students, and running grade-level dress rehearsals; Roles: lead teacher, director.

1904 World's Fair

Meet me in St. Louie, Louie, meet me at the fair!  Performed with 2nd grade, Spring 2014.

Responsible for: help with song selection, preparing students, and helping run grade-level dress rehearsals; Roles: teacher, co-director.

1950s Rock 'n Roll!

Well it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat go!  Performed with 1st grade, Fall 2014.

Responsible for: preparing students and helping run grade-level dress rehearsals; Roles: teacher, co-director.

Technology in the Classroom

The Marvelous Musical Deli

Created as the final project of one of my masters classes, the Marvelous Musical Deli is an online resource dedicated to teaching the concept of musical form. The website and video series are an endeavor to take the somewhat abstract concept of form and make it more concrete for younger students.  The website can be accessed in the classroom and at home and has both a student side and an educator side.  I have received feedback on the website from music teachers across the country and love knowing it’s impacting the learning of students outside my classroom.


Extensions in the Classroom

The inspiration for the Marvelous Musical Deli came from a game from a toy company called Melissa and Doug.  I transformed their Sandwich Stacking Game into manipulatives my students can use to see and physically interact with in the classroom.


Solving the Mallet Mystery

Created for another masters class, Solving the Mallet Mystery is a video that focuses on all the tips and tricks we as music teachers use to get our students to play Orff instruments with the right technique.  Multiple tech resources were used to create this video including the PowToon website, and Pinnacle Studio and Voice Record apps for the iPad.

Behind the Scenes

The making of Solving the Mallet Mystery.

Danse Macabre

A short preview of the middle of a timed PowerPoint (with music embedded).  The skeletons represent the main theme in the music – each time we hear the main theme, another skeleton pops up onto the screen and starts dancing.  In this clip, we hear the entrance to the final time through the main theme.  Used with 3rd grade.

Keeping Engagement High

Daisy-Head Mayzie

Vocal Exploration is a key tool in helping young students find their singing voice and match pitch.  In 1st grade we read the Dr. Seuss book, learn a song, and solo sing.  Those students who have trouble finding their singing voice or are singing too low are asked to “give their daisy a tug.”  The combined visual and kinesthetic help students to gradually shift their voices into a singable range.

Puppets, Puppets, Puppets!

Blessed with a little extra space in a colleague’s classroom, my puppet collection is always within reach.  Puppets are great to help combat inhibitions to sing in younger students, give focus to a lesson, and/or act as a prop in a song-game.  Typically used with K-2, but appropriate for older grades in certain instances.

Irish Jig

Folk dance is a great way to teach form through movement.  It is also a great class-building activity as each individual must do his/her part in order for the dance to succeed.  Taught in 1st grade.  Reviewed in 2nd and 3rd.

William Tell Overture

Intent on not letting an early release day go to waste, my colleague and I combined classes in the gym and did a culminating activity with our 3rd graders after several lessons on the form of the Finale to the William Tell Overture.  The classes took turns performing a parachute routine to the song as the non-participating classes became their audience.  All classes then filled out a reflection on their strengths and weaknesses in the performance.

Communicating with Parents

Recorder Order

Students at my schools typically start recorder in 3rd or 4th grade.  In the past, I have been responsible for coordinating the recorder purchase which has included communicating with both students and parents.

Concert Save the Date

Communication is key when planning a concert.  Concert Save the Date letters include information on the date, time, theme, and attire for the upcoming concert.

Connecting to the Community

National Anthem, Cardinal's Game

Singing the National Anthem at a Cardinal’s baseball game with other St. Louis area music teachers, Summer 2010 & 2011