Author: MaryAnn Moore
First up, have you registered for the UCTM Conference yet? It will be held Nov 6-7 at Lehi High School. This year our keynote speaker will be Steve Leinwand. I have heard him present a few times and he is fabulous! Yesterday I learned that he will be one of the presenters in the Saturday morning Ignite session as well. It is going to be a great conference. I hope you'll join us.
In other news, the school year has started. Welcome back! The other day I was getting to know another junior high math teacher. I asked him, "So Andy, what do you teach?" He responded, "Well, right now I teach social skills, and when it's okay to go to the bathroom, and how to sharpen your pencil. And on occasion I get to teach a little bit of math." So true! Anybody else feel like your curriculum is moving at a snail's pace right now because of all of the procedures and social skills you are teaching?
Since I've got teaching procedures on the brain, I thought I'd take a moment to share something new I'm trying that I absolutely love. When I attended TMC this summer, I learned from Matt Vaudrey about using Music Cues to manage procedural activities and transitions. I really liked the idea of music cues and tried it for a few days but I found I was struggling to be consistent with them. I get so overwhelmed when I am teaching - there's just so much to think about and concentrate on - that I would forget to hit play on a specific cue. Upon the suggestion of my friend and fellow math teacher, Lori Kalt, I decided to program my computer to automatically play some of the cues for me. This took a little time on the front end to set up, but it's been so worth it. In particular, I have found my cleanup music to be so helpful. My students used to start cleaning up 3, 5, 10 minutes before the bell. Now they work until they hear the music and they clean up as soon as they hear the music - one minute before the bell rings. No one watches the clock any more. It's a beautiful thing!
I created this video to help you schedule automated music cues on your computer. Anybody can do this!
Right now I have 4 music cues
1. Get supplies and do the warmup (if I can't hear the music, the noise level is too high)
2. Homework time (this is a reminder to me to stop the in-class activity and hand out homework so they have a little time to work on it in class)
3. Clean Up
4. Lunch helper (I have one student who needs to leave 3 min early each day to help in the cafeteria. I programmed a sound for this so neither of us need to watch the clock.)
On my computer, all of my music cues play in Windows Media Player. I tried to program my computer to play songs from my iTunes library, but I found that the computer would open the song, but not play it. I'm sure there's a way to make that work, but I just haven't been motivated enough to try to figure it out.
A word of warning about choosing songs - choose very wisely. If you teach in a middle school or high school, you will probably listen to each of them 5-7 times per day. I chose a very upbeat cleanup song at first, but by the end of the week I wanted to rip my hair out every time I heard it. After a week, I changed it to something much more relaxed. The good thing is that once you program a song to play, it's pretty easy to change it. In fact, I've already adjusted my Warm-Up music cue since I made that video (I found that 30 seconds was too long and I wanted the music to play as soon as the bell rang). I hope you find this helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. I'll try to help as much as I can.