Beautiful beyond description!

Take five minutes to enjoy Duke Ellington’s superb composition, beautifully performed by two professionals; elegant Kathleen Battle, and talented Branford Marsalis.

Come Sunday! – Kathleen Battle and Branford Marsalis

I think it’s strange that just listening to performances like this releases the emotions I have inside that I just can’t express with my limited abilities.

Why is that?

The more I listen  to this performance, the more I can imagine myself right there… invisible…. singing along with confidence…. hitting the high notes… improvising and landing on just the right note to harmonize with the voice.  How about you?

It never gets old.

It soothes that part of me that longs to be heard. When I get to heaven, I want will be able to be able to sing like Kathleen Battle and play like Branford Marsalis!  

Before you move on…. close your eyes and listen to it one more time.



How to Reduce and Rotate Videos that are HUGE and Upside Down

There are two challenges that naturally occur when students send in video clips: the files are huge and almost always upside down.

Huge Videos take up space!!

The main problem with storing video clips for later use is dealing with the size of the files. Free cloud storage (like Dropbox) can quickly fill up unless large media files are reduced in size. A single video of my students playing a recorder piece can be around 80-125mb. This may not seem like much, but if videos are stored for use with Aurasma, as I’ve been discussing for the last few blog posts, size matters.

Videos are too long to email from iPad

Additionally, if the students use the iPad camera to film their recorder playing and try to send it via email, many times, the video will be too long to send. And if they try to send it, it takes too long. There is an easy solution for that.

Videos are upside down

If a student actually sends in a video that is right-side up, it will often flip upside down during the reduction process. I don’t know why that is. I’m sure there is a logical reason I’ll discover later, but I’ve found a way to fix it.  If you are going to use Aurasma, you need to know  how to flip videos because this is most noticeable when importing overlays into Aurasma.

Format Factory 3.0.1

How to Reduce

Reduce with Format Factory

There are many ways to reduce the size of files. Format Factory is free and highly rated. Format Factory is a  multi-functional converter software that’s able to convert all types of video, audio and image files. Complete, powerful and free, it’s a must-have conversion tool. Download it here.  I simply drag the video I want to reduce on top of the Format Factory icon on my desktop. Once FF opens, I choose the settings I want and it makes a copy of the file to the original folder. Experiment with how much the videos can be reduced without becoming blurry. Format Factory is such a helpful tool for converting not just videos, but audio and images as well.

Free video flip

How to Rotate

Flip and Rotate Videos

There is a wonderful free software called, “Free Video Flip and Rotate.“ Free Video Flip and Rotate is a very simple tool with which you can easily rotate or flip all your videos. Simply select the video you want to work with, choose the preset you want to apply and click on Start. Free Video Flip and Rotate enables you to fix videos that haven’t been properly recorded, rotating or flipping the image in a very simple way. Files are quickly fixed and a copy is saved to the original folder as an .avi file. If an .avi file is not what you need, then use Format Factory to convert it.


Here is a simple video showing how to  flip and rotate videos used in Aurasma.


How to Send

Send videos without using email

Share your Photo, Video, Contacts, Apps or Any files with a sweet little app called,“Send-Anywhere.”  Install this free app on your iPad and/or smart phone and instead of having to split up long videos to email, simply send it with a 6-digit number to a desktop computer or any other device.  Here is how it works:

Simple, Unlimited, Instant File Transfer!
No Sign Up or Log In – All you need is a 6-digit key to pair devices.

Across your mobile devices (Android or iPhone, iPad, iPod) and PC (web
You can quickly and easily share any folders or files (include photos, videos, and Apps).

√ Simple UI
√ No need to log-in or sign up to use
√ File sharing across Android, iPhone, PC (Browser)
√ No file format, size, number limited to share

【 How it works 】
★ Sending file
1. Select a file(Document, Photo, Video, App etc.) and click a “Send”
2. Get a 6 digit OTK(One Time Key) and let your friend know.
3. Stand by.

I’ve been using SendAnywhere for several weeks and it is simple and always works… a rare combination!

Easy Solutions:

To reduce large videos, use Format Factory.

To flip or rotate videos, use “Free Video Flip and Rotate.”

To send files easily without the limitations of email, use “Send-AnywherePro.”

Aurasma AppThese three software finds work beautifully together when creating videos for an Aurasma Wall of Fame.

This is the end of my Aurasma soapbox… on to other cool tech-y tools.




Cherie Web signature 11



The Recorder Repair Shop is Open

One of the unforeseen benefits of having my recorder students send in videos via email, is the ability to see incorrect fingering or other struggles that might otherwise go unnoticed in a large classroom. When I realized that I needed to send back a video with directions to fix the problem, the Recorder Repair Shop was created.

At first, I made a few of the helpful videos, but as soon as I noticed a student playing a piece really well, I challenged him/her to create a Recorder Repair video to help other students with the tricky parts of that piece. It’s always better if the students do the teaching. These students were not always my most advanced students, but they demonstrated mastery of a particular piece and it was nice to reward them with a way to teach other students.

Recorder Repair Board

Recorder Repair Bulletin Board / Additional videos are added daily

Recorder Repair Shop Image

Each image, if scanned by Aurasma, will trigger the teaching video.


Here is the text of an email that I sent out to each selected student:

I have a challenge for you….
Would you be willing to make a teaching video for the Hammond Music Students? You can make as many as you’d like, but I want you to pick one thing that you do well and explain the secrets to it. Here are some ideas:
  • ​​​How to Master high C (fingering changes from B to C)
  • How to Master low E without squeaking
  • How to Master high D
  • How to Master the first 4 notes of “Oh, When the Saints”
  • How to read music (Telling the difference between G and B)
  • The secret to playing with good tone
  • How to Master high C and high D and still hold on to the Recorder
  • How to Master low D  - the fingering and soft blowing
  • How to practice until you get it.
  • How to blow the spit out ( ugh!)
  • How to remember to play with Left hand on top and Right on bottom
  • How to play an F# – maybe go from G to F#  (fingering for F# is 1-2-3 on top and 2-3 on bottom)
  • Demonstrate how to play the 3rd line of Ode to Joy
  • Demonstrate the difference between the 1st line and 2nd line of Ode to Joy
  • Demonstrate how to play Ama lama
  • How to Master “Old MacDonald”
  • How to Master playing low F – regular. (fingering for F-regular is 1-2-3 on top and 1-3 on bottom)
  • Mastering the tricky spots in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”
  • Mastering the tricky spots in “Supercalifragi – thingy)


The video only needs to be a minute or so long but your fingers need to be seen in the video. I’m going to attach it to Aurasma and when anyone has a problem with a recorder skill, they will go to your picture and learn how to fix the problem.
You might start by saying something like this:
  • ​​If you want to play B to C on the recorder, this is how you do it. (Show the fingering)
  • Here’s a helpful hint (tell how you learned to remember the fingering)
  • I had trouble at first until I learned to (blah, blah, blah)
The idea it for you to be the teacher for 1 minute and explain how to play the recorder from a kid’s point of view! For each teaching video you send me, I will award you with a GOLD bead! Think of everything you have taught yourself … now it’s time to teach someone else! Remember, teach them 1 thing and keep it simple. 
SMILE, movie star!!!​
It wasn’t too many hours before the videos came rolling in! For the first time, I was able to attach student-created videos to future emails as needed. This made all the difference in the world because it wasn’t me doing the teaching, it was the students. There were even times when the Repair kids created a video demonstrating a fingering and they got it all wrong. I quickly created a fix-er-upper and sent it back and they were able to fix the repair video. In a large class of recorder players, so many of these boys and girls would go unnoticed no matter how hard I try to notice each one.

The Recorder Repair Shop works on many levels

It gives a spotlight to the students who are playing correctly – no matter the level. It builds them up and gives them confidence. It gives a voice to my shy students. The children surprise me with the way they problem-solve things like remembering left hand over right, or fingering from high C to high D. It creates a resource for students to find answers to problems they are having. At the moment, I have these on a bulletin board and students can scan the images with the Aurasma app to watch the Recorder Repair video. I also have them linked on my site under the “I need help” section.  In the future, I will introduce new fingering or other topics by showing the Recorder Repair videos during class. I notice that the kids get completely quiet when one of their own is speaking! Imagine that!
The images above can be scanned with the Aurasma app if you join my channel: “Hammond School.”  Or, if you would like to see a few, look at this one or this one or this one.

Do you want a copy?

If you would like a copy of my SMARTNotebook file that contains all of the frames for these images, just email me. All you will need to do is insert the picture of your students and perhaps change the title. They are perfect trigger images for Aurasma. Why re-invent the wheel? I’ll happily share it with you!
I know that other subjects use student-created tutorials, but in my music room, I’ve never tried it like this before. I’m hooked!
What about you? Have you had your students create tutorials to share with others? How did they access them? What were they teaching?
Sharing is caring!
Have a great Monday!!
Cherie Web signature 11
Recorder Repair Shop Long simple image


Aurasma iconAurasma in my classroom perfectly demonstrates what my students are mastering at their own pace, but it’s more than that: it’s a game changer.

Aurasma is a great way to bring to life student performances as well as student-created tutorials. I created Auras at the beginning of the year to introduce my students to famous, gifted musicians and performers; you can read about that project here.  Five months later, I have found a way to use Aurasma to simultaneously challenge my advanced students, help my struggling students, and creatively showcase their progress. I want to tell you how I am presently using  Aurasma in my classroom and how it has changed my teaching.

Flipped: Students work from home

From home, my 4th grade recorder students have been emailing me videos of recorder pieces they are trying to pass off in the Recorder Karate unit of study. The ability to interact with my students is possible because of the technology available in their home and because of that I created for my students. This flipping of the music class has opened a door to an entirely new level of learning.

Individual Attention given to each student

When I receive the emails, I listen and respond back that they have either passed the belt or I attach a “Recorder Repair” video to help fix a problem they are having with the piece. This running dialogue between teacher and student has completely changed the learning process AND the dynamics in my classroom. I want to shout it from the mountain top with my loudest voice, “What is happening in my music classroom is SO Flipping Amazing!” My students are totally engaged and for the first time, I have (at the time of this blog post) 27 out of 80 students already on Black belt.  I needed a creative way to connect the videos with the children and a way to match their hard work with a bit of fame: Aurasma!

REcorder Karate Wall of Fame March 2014

Aurasma: A Game Changer

The  images on the Wall of Fame “Trigger” the playing of  a recorder video. What is so game-changing about using Aurasma in such a display as this, is how the iPad or smart phone can pass over each picture and almost instantly one can hear and see the student playing. This “slick” feature happens because the video or “Overlay” is stored in the cloud (my Dropbox) and it just plays. Unlike a QR code link, there is no load time with Aurasma. The recorder video magically appears in the air.  oooh -ahhh!

Take a peek

Every one of these Aurasma auras display the learning that is going on at home. How amazing it is to watch the children working in their own environment. Some children are in their school clothes and film right when they get home, while others are in their pj’s working late into the evening.  Some film from the bathrooms – complete with fogged up iPads, while others film from inside the car (I hope they weren’t sent to the sound proof car to practice!). Some film on the back porch, and others film in the kitchen with siblings all around.  How cool is that? While it is exciting to see the ease with which the gifted students excel, the most deep-in-my-heart touching thing to see is the tenacity of  those who really struggle with reading notes and making fingers move. Through each video, I can peek in and see their determination and pride when the belt is earned. What a privilege! As an end of the year gift, I’m going to create an Aurasma aura that starts with the student’s first belt level and fades into their highest level performance. That will be a nice treasure to share with family and friends, don’t you think?!


The Aurasma Wall of Fame has been such a motivating part of this unit of study. When my students walk into the music room, they can’t wait to make sure that I’ve linked their latest and greatest performances. Yes, they receive belts and beads for each required piece, but the motivation is also intrinsic and refreshing.

Try it yourself

If you want to experience Aurasma, scan the QR code to download and/or join my channel: Hammond School. Once you “follow” my channel, you can scan any image and instantly view the Aura.  Try it on these images:

QR for Aurasma Channel

Aurasma kids with dog

Simple Aurasma Tutorial

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is an art to creating really good trigger images. Here is a free download of the Mustache Maker file  if you are interested in creating a similar board using SMART Notebook software.  To support the mustache/recorder karate theme, I’ve created a simple tutorial for creating Aurasma auras. If you want further details, look here or  here.

 “Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.” - Anatole France

Flipping the music class, having an encouraging dialogue with each of my students via email, and creatively displaying their hard work with Aurasma, has turned a simple recorder unit into a student-led musical odyssey. How about you? Have you found a creative way to use Aurasma in your classroom yet?

Tell us about it!

Cherie Web signature 11




Terraced Dynamics with Boomwhackers and Musette in D

3rd grade Elementary Music students explored terraced dynamics while playing the “Musette in D” with  boomwhackers. ”Musette in D” has been transposed to “C” for Boomwhackers to play.  In this SMARTboard lesson, an accompaniment file is attached to the beginning page of the Musette. A simple lesson on terraced farming and terraced dynamics is illustrated for further study. To answer the “why” of terraced dynamics, pictures of the raven’s feather/quill, the plectrum, jack, and harpsichord are included. Sound files for comparing the harpsichord to the modern piano and it’s hammer action are also attached. This all-inclusive SMART Notebook lesson is perfect for 2nd – 4th graders during a study of musical dynamics or the Baroque period. Hint: Using the magic pen on the SMARTBoard really brings the attention to the small details. Use it often in this lesson!

Download this SMART Notebook file

Musette in D SMART Blog image

This SMART Notebook file with everything needed to present the evolution of musical dynamics, can be downloaded for free from the SMART Exchange or here.

Terraced Dynamics, Musette in D, and Boomwhackers

Here is video of a practice right before the students played boomwhackers and the “Musette in D” for our school. Because my students will be standing close together for the performance, they are using small rhythm sticks to play the boomwhackers instead of hitting the floor. The students are still working on the contrast between Forte and piano… but they are getting there!

Musette in D,  Boomwhackers, and Terraced Dynamics

It you have as much fun with this arrangement as I have had… I’d love to hear about it.


Cherie Web signature 11



Using SMARTNotebook Software to Create Aurasma Trigger Images

If you are new to Aurasma, creating a great trigger image can be challenging. If you have access to a SMARTBoard, using SMARTNotebook software makes it easier to create an excellent image that can be easily scanned by the Aurasma app. On the Recorder Karate Wall of Fame the images of the children were created from photos and enhanced using SMARTNotebook software. If you are interested in using pictures of your students to create a similar display, I want to give [click to continue…]


Flipping the class with emails and videos requires organization and file management. Here is how I do it…

Flippiing the Recorder Class iconFlipped: Learning at Home

As I mentioned in my last post, my recorder students are accessing their recorder assignments via site that I created. Since almost all have access to either an iPad or smart phone or both, my students have completely flipped the learning and are working from home to master each belt in recorder karate.It wasn’t planned; it just happened because of all the technology available at home.  The availability of  technology enables flipping the class with emails and videos.

The Video Tells All

Through their parent’s email address, the students are sending me videos of their learned pieces. I listen to the playing on the video and respond via email. If the student’s playing  demonstrates mastery of the musical concept, I email them back saying they have passed the piece or belt and  that their video has been accepted into the Recorder Hall of Fame. Here is an example of one that made the cut,  but only after three tries.  It is so important to insist that the children show their fingers in the video so that incorrect fingering can be addressed. In the beginning, I made the mistake of passing off pieces that sounded correct only to find out during the next class time that the student was using incorrect fingering all along. For example: fingering from F# to E to D. If the video is the proof of mastery, make sure it shows everything. In the case of Recorder Karate, an audio recording will not do. Giving specific instructions and demonstrating good and bad video taping preps the students and  saves time and disappointment when flipping the class with emails and videos.

Writing Emails that Motivate

As I’m writing this post, four more emails from my students have popped up! Responding to them is kind of  like writing thank you notes for wedding gifts…. I have to stay up on it every night or I’ll get way behind! In my former life, I traveled and adjudicated piano competitions. It’s easy to come up with nice things to say about a performance, but it is challenging to encourage and correct a performance at the same time.  ”Now that you have learned all the notes in this piece, let’s focus on the finer details like: phrasing, dynamics, and correct rhythms!” haha!  Here are a few examples of emails I have sent to the children in response to their videos, and emails I’ve received from parents regarding this whole new adventure of Recorder Karate videos. I share these only to give you examples of the dialogue going  on between teacher and student. Flipping the class is hard work for the teacher, but the children own the learning.  Our most important role is one of affirmation and, well, just plain loving on the children through our words.  Our responses can have an incredible impact on our students long after this unit of study is over.

Inbox icon

Keeping the Emails Organized

As soon as I have responded to each email, I move the email to a special folder in my email Inbox.  Moving the emails helps me keep track of those that still need a response. I also have a back up in case I need to download the video again. Still, I have to go back through my email often because it is easy to overlook one when they all start coming in at once each night. It doesn’t take me long to listen and respond while I’m working on my computer, and though some might think it is too much extra work, I find it to be the most exciting way to touch my students’ lives individually.

Dropbox folder icon


Keeping the  Videos Organized

When I receive the video, I listen to it, and if it is good enough, I upload it to my Dropbox folder called, “Recorder Karate Videos 2014.” I only download and upload from my desktop, not my iPad. The reason is because I can download, SAVE AS,  and put the video directly in the Dropbox folder without having to have two copies of the video: one on my desktop and one in my Dropbox. I rename the videos with the student’s name and piece. It isn’t hard to just MOVE the video from my desktop’s download folder to my Dropbox, but it is an extra step that isn’t necessary if “Save as” is always used. Hint: Always use “Save As” so you can tell it where to go!

Sometime in the next few days the student will drop by my music room to pick up an earned recorder karate belt and a bead to add to their recorder strap (shoe lace). They also move their name up the recorder wall.

If I stay organized, current, and thoughtful, flipping the class with emails and videos allows assessment and encouragement to work beautifully together.

Have you flipped your recorder class? Do you have any hints for Flipping the Class With Emails and Videos?

Aurasma how-to is coming…….

Cherie Web signature 11



What fun we had with ”Thunder & Lightning” Polka Drawing.

We learned that composers sometimes wrote music to make us feel a certain way or imagine something in our minds. Without knowing the title beforehand, the children drew what they heard and experienced ”Thunder & Lightning” polka drawing.

“Thunder & Lightning” Polka Drawing

Start with a story

Thunder & Lightning Drawing kidA good story always sets the stage for memorable learning. Telling the children about my fear of storms as a child opened the door for brainstorming all of the different sounds that might be heard during a thunderstorm.  For each sound that we could imagine, the children came up with an instrument the composer might could use to represent that sound. When the anticipation was sufficiently built up, and the clouds in the room were heavy and dark, “Thunder & Lightning” polka drawing began.  Sweet release! In the video above, it’s easy to see the children completely engrossed in drawing as they hear every boom, every raindrop, every crash of lightning.

End with a smile

After the drawing is complete, we watched an orchestra play Strauss’s Lightning Polka. First, I showed them little Jonathan (4 yrs) conducting the orchestra.

As they listened their ears were tuned and their minds were focused on discovering which instruments play their part in the storm. I’ve also shown this video with a closer look at the instruments. “Thunder & Lightning” Polka Drawing is such as simple lesson yet it is always the most memorable for the children… and me. Nothing compares with the smiles on my students’ faces as they respond to wonderful music. Do you agree?

I love my job!!

Cherie Web signature 11



Flipped Recorder Class

This is the second year of teaching my elementary recorder class with technology and the resulting progress of my students could not be more profound. This year, we have completely flipped the recorder unit of study.  For a look back at the baby steps we took with technology in my class last year, read this post.  I honestly think I could write ten posts on the amazing way technology is changing my music class, but I will focus on the recorder class first. I want to tell you how I accidentally flipped the elementary recorder class.

Do you have an iPad or smart phone at home?

When I asked this question last year, just a handful of students raised their hands. When asked the same question this year, all but two out of 78 students raised their hands. What a difference a year makes! After a year and a half of 1:1 iPads, our students completely understand how to use their iPads to make a video and attach it to an email. They are comfortable looking up our recorderkids.wikispaces site. They know how to move between the linked pages, work with the sound files, and save images to their iPads. Some children have figured out how to read the music and play along with the accompaniment on one iPad while making a video with their parent’s smart phone. Various levels of independence in making the videos can be seen in the thinglink below. The access to technology makes flipping the elementary recorder class possible.

Who controls the learning?

Because of all the technology the children have at their disposal at home, this year, the children are controlling the learning. I never understood the potential until these last three weeks with my 4th graders. Although I’ve heard Alan November explain it, read about teachers in upper grade levels doing it, I never ever thought flipping a class would be remotely possible in an elementary music class that only meets forty minutes just once every six days. Sha-zam!! It wasn’t intentional, but it works!!! The students are using the wiki to learn their recorder pieces and emailing me their performances to pass their belts. By the way, they are using their parent’s email address. When I receive their email, I download and listen to the piece, then I email them back with all kinds of praise and affirmation, and when needed, a suggestion to fix something played incorrectly. I’ve even sent back a demo video just for a student who is having trouble. The boys and girls are learning at their own pace; the instruction is completely individualized. Do you want to know how?

“If you build it, he will come!”

This quote inspired me. It’s from Ray Liotta’s character, Shoeless Joe Jackson, in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams.” When I built the wiki at, I wanted a place where my students could go to learn and play along with their recorder pieces. I know that’s not the real purpose of a wiki, but it works for me and it was super easy to set up.  On the first day of the recorder unit, I sent home the link and told the children to get started – making a big to-do over the secret recorder site just for kids. This year, I added videos of me and/or students teaching them how to finger and play the new notes that must be mastered in each belt level. The wiki provides the materials and instruction my students need to learn at their own pace. It’s a work in progress though. I have to keep updating the teaching videos because a large group of the children are moving quicker than I can demonstrate in class. The ultimate reward for a student who sends in an A++ video is to have it linked on the wiki page as an example. A child demonstrating playing is always more effective than anything I do. Between you and me, the only problem with the videos sent in by the children is sometimes they don’t position the camera correctly and it cuts off their fingers, or their head, or it’s slanted, or facing a vase or the ceiling, etc. haha! The wiki works for most of the children, but I also have hard copies available for those who want to work the old-fashioned way. What I would like for them to do via the wiki is to play the slow version, the fast version, watch the demo if needed, and record themselves playing along with the piece. It doesn’t always work like that (yet). It’s easy to identify those who practice playing along and those who don’t, but I realize some students have more access to technology at home than others.

What is a flipped class like?

Housekeeping: At the beginning of our 40 minute class time, the students take care of housekeeping: they move their names up to the correct belt level (bulletin board) and get their earned belts and beads. They don’t put on beads during class because that would take up too much time. I’ve given them a pipe cleaner on which to put their beads to store in their recorder bags until they get home. Review: For the next 15-20 minutes, we play through the pieces they have learned at home. I start with easier belt pieces and move on up.  For example, after they have learned it at home, we play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in different styles. Using the MK-8 resources, we have so many wonderful accompaniments to enjoy.  I explain how being part of the “Orchestra” is so fun when you know your part. We also work on musicianship: playing with long, beautiful phrases, contrasting dynamics, or spunky rhythms…making sure they are playing with LH on top, etc.

Flipping the Recorder imageWork: For the rest of the time,  I have the children use the wiki site to work on their next pieces because all the children are now on different levels. The children group themselves by belt levels for the remainder of the class time. I’m free to check on different groups and spot those who need encouragement. When they exit, they have to tell me the piece they are working on.

Test: If any student needs help with a piece, select students instantly volunteer. (In the emails, I tell the children who have played a piece perfectly that they can be a tutor / tester for that piece. They are to remind me during class.) This helps those children who are not able to record at home for various reasons.  If any student wants to pass of a piece, they have to make a recording – no “live” playing. I’ve found it’s a better use of our class time: they work on their own until their video is perfect and I’m not tied up trying to listen to 18 students before class ends. Students either email me their recordings during class time or the afternoon after class, my inbox is flooded with attached videos from excited and competitive children.

The Difference: The amazing difference that a flipped classroom makes is how well they play when they return. They play with confidence. They have great questions to ask. If a child says, “I don’t get it!” he/she is instantly helped by children around him/her. I’m not teaching the class anymore. The kids are doing the teaching. I’ll say, “Who needs to pass the green belt today?” Who can show us how to play the low ‘e’? Five students instantly pop up! One tells the class how to blow softly, another gives a hint on how to play with flat fingers to cover the low holes. Instead of using the recorder to learn music once every six days, my students are now actively learning music every day. Am I reaching every student? Realistically, there are those children who are lazy and still difficult to reach, but fewer in number, they are no longer controlling the class. They have been silenced by the excitement of the others.

Time: The class time does have a fast pace to it. I have children on all different levels wanting to play their pieces together. 40 minutes seems like 10 and no one wants to leave. Because I am emailing back and forth (through their parents), there is a greater connect to the children and their families. It is making a huge difference! Is it time-consuming? Yes. Initially, setting up the wiki took the longest. Once a system is in place to download/upload the videos to Dropbox, the emailing is actually fun because of the interaction with the kids. I receive an average of 8-10 videos every day or two days and it takes about 3-5 minutes per response.

Look at the videos

I uploaded the videos to my Dropbox and created a thinglink to share with you so you could see my precious little ones creating their videos at home. Talking about it is one thing, watching them in action makes the point. You can see the variety of ability. In their pj’s or around the dinner table, their pride in performing is priceless. I just have to share what is working so well.

How about you? Have you found a way to flip the elementary music class?

If you have ideas, let’s share and learn from each other. Next post, I want to show you the cool way we are using Aurasma with recorders.


Update: Feb. 16 / Here is the beginning letter that I sent home to my students and parents. Cherie Web signature 11


The Black Belt: Eluded in 4th grade / Mastered in 12th grade

This is my 12th year at the same school – twelve years of teaching Recorder Karate to fourth graders. Every senior has to give a brief speech, and this is the first year I’ve ever had a senior talk about how the elusive black belt haunted him since fourth grade. Here is the text of a speech by Alex, a senior this year.

I have a confession to make.
This has been something that has burdened me for mine years and I feel that I need to get this off my chest. I never [click to continue…]


STEM: Engineering Activities

Magical learning happened at our school when we made a special day for STEM Engineering Activities at our elementary school.We are on a six-day rotating schedule with built-in half days for PD. On those early dismissal days, we take the time to do something BIG and out of the ordinary. This particular day was led by our fabulous Science teacher who is anything but ordinary.

Students were grouped and then given 50 straws and a roll of masking tape. The challenge was to create a free-standing structure that could support a baseball. The winner would be the team with the tallest free-standing, baseball-supporting structure. After about 45 minutes, everyone gathered back together and tested each team’s structure.

2013-10-31 10.51.14Engineering with Straws, Tape and Imagination

was an incredibly eye-opening project for several reasons. First, the children had opportunity to work together on a goal. STEM is new at our private school and our learning is not usually project based. Working together is something we need to give our students opportunity to do more often. Some teams worked beautifully together, but others floundered at times. Secondly, it was amazing to see which students stepped up to engineer the structure – they were not always the students who are considered the “smartest” but they could see the end result and worked to make a strong foundation. They had a plan in their minds and took charge. They surprised us. Thirdly, it was delightful to see the eyes of the children light up as we (the teachers) walked around asking them questions about their structure. As they tested them out with the baseball, it was neat to see the children figuring out what they needed to do to strengthen the structure.

Here is a video that sums up our STEM engineering activities day.

STEM: Engineering Activities… we’re hooked and ready for more!!
Cherie Web signature 11