Category Archives: Resources

Pinterest Inspiration #2: Curwen Hand Signs

My second Pinterest Inspiration comes from an awesome blog called Music with Mrs. Dennis – you will be seeing that name a lot in this Pinterest series because she has TONS of great resources, ideas, and printables!

Last year was my first in elementary music, and I introduced the kids to the Curwen hand signs. They loved them and even used them without being asked! In order to give them a visual, I bought these posters (and they weren’t that cheap!) and put them up on a cabinet that had some empty space. Because each hand sign is the size of a regular sheet of paper, they took up a lot of space – space I didn’t have in a central part of the room. This year, I wanted to have something that kids could all reference without having to turn completely around in their seats.

That’s where Music with Mrs. Dennis came in! She posted about her need for new hand signs and created some fabulous printables to go with them – lucky us! There are two versions: one with the names of the signs on them, and one without. I wound up printing both and will use them with different grades.

Hand signs2

I used my hot glue gun to attach some round magnets to the back, and they are displayed at the front of the room on my white board!

Hand signs1

If you would like these wonderful Curwen hand signs in your classroom, click through to the Music with Mrs. Dennis post and download her free printables!

What has been your favorite Pinterest discovery this school year? Share your finds in the comments below!


Pinterest Inspiration #1: Music Content Clouds

I’ve spent more time this school year planning for and setting up my classroom than any other, and Pinterest has been a HUGE inspiration. I plan to write a few short posts highlighting my favorite parts of the classroom and giving credit to those fantastic pins that sparked creativity and provided printables. If you’re interested in browsing my Music Ed related pin boards, check out my list here.

One of my favorite pins came from Rhythm and Glues, a wonderful blog written by a music teacher and an art teacher. They have great stories and tips, this little gem included! These content clouds originally came from the blog Just a Little More, but the ladies at Rhythm and Glues were the ones that created and offered the free printables that I used for my classroom.

Content Clouds

These clouds are currently hanging above my whiteboard in the classroom. They are each numbered and have a musical symbol with its name, a 4-beat melody, and a rhythm.

Content Cloud Close-up

To print these out in a bigger size, I inserted the pictures into Excel – when printing, I adjusted the settings to allow me to print across two pages instead of one. I printed, cut them out (that took a while!), taped them together, laminated, and then re-cut before hanging them up. In the future, I would like them to be slightly bigger so that they are visible in all areas of the room, but these will be great for this year. I plan to use them for scavenger hunts, symbol recognition, rhythm recognition and a variety of other ways.

If you would like to use these cute musical content clouds in your classroom, click through to the Rhythm and Glues post and download their free printables!

What has been your favorite Pinterest discovery this school year? Share your finds in the comments below!

School Year Planning with Pinterest!

The school year here in PA is rapidly approaching, and as organized as I claim myself to be, I am scrambling a bit to get everything done. Summer just seemed to go by so quickly, and August definitely took me by surprise!

One of the biggest resources that has helped me find lessons, organization and set up ideas, as well as new PLN members is….PINTEREST! If you are not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a way to collect interesting and useful sites and information in one place. I know I’ve definitely had an instance or two when I’ve wanted to go back and reference something, but just can’t seem to remember where I found it! Pinterest helps you to avoid those issues!

Julie2884's Pinterest Page

My Pinterest Page

I use Pinterest not only for school organization, but also for items that I love, recipes, and DIY projects that I plan to make. You can create as many boards as you would like and there isn’t a limit to the amount of pins you can have in each (as far as I know). The general rule of thumb on Pinterest is to give credit where credit is due: if you find a picture of a great classroom set up on a Google search, don’t pin from there. Trace the picture back to its source so that the original poster gets credit for the image. I would hate to think that someone else is taking credit for any of my pictures or posts, so I don’t pin anything that doesn’t have a source.

If you’re like me, you are always looking to find new and interesting resources and people in the music education field. For your pinning pleasure, I have included all of my Music Ed related boards below so that you may browse and repin if you would like. If you find me to be one of those new and interesting people, feel free to follow me (Julie2884)!

Music Ed Blogs to Follow Board

School Stuff Board

Classroom Organization Board

Holiday Music Activities Board

General Music Games Board

Music Board  (random Music-related pins)

Music Ed Musings Board (links from my blog)

Some boards have more pins than others, but they are all a work in progress. I plan to re-organize as I find more valuable resources, making more specific boards that are easier to search for.

There is also an Elementary Music Classroom Ideas Board that has some great pins on it – it is a collaborative board that allows multiple pinners. What’s great about a board like this is that someone else may find something that you haven’t. I have also found myself liking certain ideas that I probably wouldn’t have looked at otherwise! If you would like to contribute to this fabulous board, pop into the Facebook Music Teachers Group and let the creator, Joe Pisano, know!

Pinterest is now available on the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

I would love to see your Music Ed related boards, so feel free to share your user name or URLs  in the comments below!



App review: Teacher Pal

Great app for keeping track of multiple classes, behavior issues, seating arrangements (saves paper), and grades. Thanks, Catie!

Day in the Life of a Backwards Musical Mind

Now that I’ve had a little experience teaching I’m in the process of changing and improving the way I do things to make it easier for me and give me more time with my students. One of the biggest things I have spent almost 6 months looking into is the perfect tools to replace my word and excel documents for attendance, grades, and behavior. Every quarter I have to place grades into sheets for teachers. To get those grades I spend at least 20-30 minutes combined a day to add the grades in. My classes are back to back most days with about 20 seconds in between for transition times. I don’t have a ton of time to spend inputting grades. So what I began searching for was an Ipad app that could do everything I wanted. An Ipad app would allow me to be mobile, start class on time…

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What Happens After College?

Graduation - definitely something to sing about!I was recently asked to have an informal chat with a group of pre-service music educators about what happens once school is over – how to find a job, the interview process, and surviving the first year of teaching. It was quite an honor!

I began to worry that having only four years of teaching under my belt, none of which were the same position as the year before, put me at a disadvantage. What could I really have to offer these soon-to-be educators?  Here are just some of the things that we chatted about and some of the resources I was able to share with them:

 Finding A Job

  • In Pennsylvania, the first place that pre-service teachers want to look is PA REAP – most school districts post position, even if only for 24 hours, on this site. Creating a profile can be a bit tedious, but it is worth it in the end.
  • If you plan to teach in a state other than the one that is certifying you, start looking into “certificate reciprocity” – what you need to do to ensure that you can teach in another state. Each state’s requirements can be found HERE


  • Take as many as possible. No one really loves to go on interviews, but it is great practice!
  • Don’t let interviews get you down! If you leave with a not-so-great feeling, that job probably wasn’t the best fit for you or the district.
  • Bring organized documents and examples. I used an interview portfolio that contained my resume, certifications, letters of recommendation, sample lesson plans, concert programs that I had been a part of and anything else that I felt was relevant to who I was as a musician and teacher. A stack of disorganized papers that you have to dig through does not send a great message!
  • Be honest and be yourself! Don’t pretend to know something that you really don’t – it always shows. One of my favorite lines that I used when I was asked a question that I wasn’t sure of: “What I lack in experience, I make up for in ability to learn quickly and desire to better myself as a teacher.”

Surviving the First Year

  • Stay organized! I did not have a classroom or a desk my first and third years of teaching – I taught out of my bag and was always on the move! Even in the toughest of situations, organization is key – for your own sanity and for your reputation. If we expect the students to come prepared, we need to set a good example.
  • Professional Development: attend as many conferences and workshops that you and your pockets can handle! Not only do you gather wonderful resources for your lessons and classrooms, but you make new contacts that may prove invaluable in the future. Great organizations in the Philadelphia Area are:
      • PAOSA (Philadelphia Area Orff Schulwerk Association)
      • NAfME (National Association for Music Education)
  • Develop a PLN (Professional Learning Network)! This was the point that I stressed the most when speaking to the students. I cannot begin to describe the positive impact that joining and really using Twitter has had on my professional development. I never knew the amount of people out there that are willing to help and share with you, without even knowing you on a personal level. The connections I have made are incredible – we have shared lessons, encouraged one another, solved problems and even talked socially.
      • Use hashtags such as #musedchat, #edchat, #mused, and #mpln to find helpful advice and weekly chats that have to do with topics that interest you and are relevant to your position
      • Many of the points found in this post came from reaching out to my PLN using the above hashtags to ask what THEY would tell a pre-service teacher (thanks to @mecsings@jguarr@justine_robin, and @kfreesen for their contributions).

There are so many things to think about as you are getting certified and trying to find a job – these are just a few of them. If you had the chance, what would YOU share with pre-service educators? Please offer your advice and tips in the comments below!

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