Top 3 Ways I Use Music To Increase Engagement In My Classroom

Join Mrs. Spangler in the Middle for Engagement Ideas for the Classroom - this week:  Music!

Thank you for joining me for my new blog series on engagement!  First up, music!

I believe that music is an integral part of learning.  It not only soothes the soul but lights the lamp of curiosity as students ponder its messages.  It's no wonder then that I use music in my classroom for several purposes: 

For Inspiration

I'm always looking for new ways to inspire my students as we work through the routines of our days.  For instance, we always begin our days with journal writing.  I know the power of music to inspire, so I have decided to play a song during our journal time each day.  I call it "song of the week".  In the beginning, I choose the songs.  Later on, students get to choose as they move up the ranks on our Super Improver Wall.

Here are some of my favorites:

Best Day of my Life by American Authors

You Get What You Give by New Radicals (use the Glee version)

Don’t Stop Believin’by Journey

Stand by Me by Ben E. King

Firework by Katy Perry

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Go the Distance (Hercules) by Michael Bolton

Who says (you’re not perfect) by Selena Gomez

Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars

Good Life by One Republic (Radio Version)

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Jackie DeShannon

You can find most (if not all) of these songs by searching on YouTube.  Or if you have Amazon Prime, you can get them all there like I did!  :)

My students look forward to the song of the week and the idea of having the chance to choose that song.

As a Timer

 Plus, using music is not "just" inspirational, it's also a good timer!  I tell all the students that they must be done with their planners and writing in their journals at noise level 0 (no talking) by the time the song ends.

This gives them some "wiggle room" to get settled and have something positive with which to frame the class.

Sometimes, the song of the week is used to time other things - like students must be done cutting and gluing interactive notebook foldables by the time the song ends.

Other times, the song of the week's lyrics "mysteriously" appear in lessons that same week too.  While this isn't a timer, it's great timing!  ;)

And if you're brave, put out a song suggestion box.  Who knows what you might find!

As part of a lesson

Last, but not least, I try to find songs that I can play on my guitar or that my husband can play for me on his ukelele.  There's nothing like putting a concept to song - especially if the teacher is the singer!  I think students like seeing their teachers "be real".

In fact, I recently put our body paragraph organization to song using the "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" tune:

An - swer - r

An - swer - r

Explain - n

A - n- d
Th - is

An - swer - r

What musical tips can you share?  Join in the conversation in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!

Show and Tell: What's New?

Now that the first quarter is over (!), I am finally "in the groove" with my 6th graders and am excited to join Stephanie for this swell linky to share some new things in/about my classroom!

One new thing I have been trying is Whole Brain Teaching.  Now I am no expert and am not implementing it to the "T", but I am using the class attention signals and the hand signals for various concepts which have been working wonders all by themselves!
The class attention signals work by saying "Class" to which the students respond "Yes".  You can vary it by saying "Super Class" to which the students respond "Super Yes".  I may have to repeat some sort of "Class" 2 or 3 times and then I say "Hands and Eyes" to which the students fold their hands and look at me.  This has been amazing!!
Then, I began to look at other signals like the folded hands to indicate compare and the bumping fists together to indicate contrast.  As we really get the hang of it, signals could replace words which amps up the attention factor tremendously.
I learned A LOT, just by watching this video:

Another part of the Whole Brain Teaching is "The Super Improver Wall".  This is where kids can visually track progress and move up in the ranks as they progress through the year.  My students are really enjoying it and coming up with privileges for each rank.

My Super Improver Wall is one of the awesome new things I am trying this year to put the emphasis on progress, not perfection!

Each student has to earn 10 improvements before they can move up a level.  They all want to be living legends!  :)

In my county, we must use the Springboard textbook.  I like the book overall, but it doesn't leave much room for fun.  So I have to keep the fun short and connected.  One way I have decided to do this is with picture books on video!

I plan to use this spooky story as a lead in to talk about theme in our text.  :)

Last, but not least, I am going to be starting a new blog series about engagement.  Now that the "honeymoon" is over, it's time to reach into the 'ol bag of tricks to ensure my students are with me!  Each Monday, beginning October 24th, I'll be sharing some of my best "tricks".  :)  I hope you'll join me!

Engagement in the Classroom Blog Series begins October 24th!

Thanks for stopping by!

Top 3 pins for Middle School Mania

This month's pins are brought to you by what I call "Middle School Mania".  That's the time when the honeymoon is over and students start to tune you out.  So this is when I have to reach into my bag of tricks and pull out a rabbit or three...

First up is this powerful article/podcast from Angela Watson.  I can tell you that I listened to this on my way to work on a recent Monday morning feeling concerned about the very problem she addressed.  After I listened, I truly felt inspired and ready to go!  It really is a "must read/listen" for anyone facing the problem of students refusing to work.


Next up is a concept I bet you didn't think would work in middle school:  Whole Brain Teaching!

I have 2 "regular" 6th grade ELA classes, 1 ESOL (ELL) 6th grade class and 3 "advanced" 6th grade ELA classes.  I just started using the strategies, but so far, ALL of my classes are digging it!  The bonus:  they are truly engaged, having fun and REMEMBERING key ideas!


Last but not least, here a few gems for engagement that are pretty easy to implement - like "voting cards" that ensure all kids are participating.


I also have a Pinterest board where I collect pins like these that you might want to check out:

Thanks for stopping by!