Thursday, September 26, 2013

9/26/13 - Day 28

Day 28 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, September 26, 2013
9/26/13 6:30 AM

Chamber orchestra first thing in the morning after a refreshing bike ride to school.  If it was only a couple of miles closer, I would bike a lot more often.  We are playing a more advanced version of Pachabel's cannon.  Most of the kids can execute the sixteenth notes but, many struggle with the bowing and a few of them look totally lost. It's so cute to see all the beginners receiving their instruments.  The excitement as they open the cases is priceless.  The violins greatly outnumber the rest of the instruments, but I guess that is to be expected.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

9/25/13 - Day 27

Day 27 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
9/25/13 6:30 AM

I'll admit I was a bit nervous about my first observation today.  One particularly driven violist came in for a lesson before school. We drilled 3 sections from Irish Yuletide.  I gave her some tips for practicing and I think she left the lesson feeling a lot more confident.  I've come to the realization that some songs need to be run slower tempos for the struggling students. After the lesson, I delivered some instruments to the elementary schools, copied  music, wrote the bell ringer on the board, and prepared handouts. We tackled another eight measures in mango tango during concert rehearsal and closed with bohemian stomp. During the sinfonia rehearsal we worked strictly in my arrangement.  In the afternoon I taught one bass lesson and one violin lesson.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

9/24/13 - Day 26

Day 26 Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
9/24/13 6:30 AM

Morning rehearsal with the "string quartet" went well. It should really just be called a chamber orchestra. Mr. Radtke took the cellos out for a sectional while I worked with the upper strings.  We ran through the Vivaldi concerto for two trumpets, Appalachian spring, and made sure that everyone had the third position fingerings for pachabel cannon.  I always feel more confident with the 8th graders.  It may be because they are more confident players. D minor is still posing some difficulty for the 7th concert orchestra. We focused on eight measures and practiced taking the ds coda.

Monday, September 23, 2013

9/23/13 - Day 25

Day 25 - Gemini Jr. High
Monday, September 23, 2013
9/23/13 6:30 AM

Today started off with a bit of a surprise. I arrived to find the room locked and 3 students waiting outside the school. I went to the office to find a key.  After letting the kids in the building I went to the office a second time and luckily a secretary was able to let us in the room. There were two violinists and one violist, but they were there for a group cello lesson. It went very well. After my co-op teacher arrived, he informed me that he had meetings and I would get to run 7th and 8th grade orchestras, as well as the afternoon lessons with the beginners. I ran to Melzer elementary to drop off some essential elements books and then helped with the intermediate students at Mark Twain elementary. The middle school rehearsals went well and so did the afternoon lessons at Twain.

Friday, September 20, 2013

9/20/13 - Day 24

Day 24 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, September 20, 2013
9/20/13 7:30 AM

I'm ready for the weekend.  I love this work, but it is exhausting. I finally got some video footage from the eighth grade orchestra. It is always difficult to watch myself on the podium, but I couldn't wait to get home and watch the lesson. I taught three violin students at Stevenson elementary, and then ran 7th and 8th grade orchestra rehearsals. A little Friday squirreliness set in, but we still got a lot accomplished. I want to have free reign over class, but I understand that I'm a STUDENT teacher and I must follow some directions and instructions.

9/19/13 - Day 23

Day 23 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, September 19, 2013
9/19/13 - 6:30 AM

In the morning rehearsal we spot checked the four pieces that we have in the folder.  Then we ran them. After that, I travelled to the six elementary schools with Ron, the rep from Quinlan and Fablish. Ron is a good guy. I actually met him about a month ago because he works with my drummer. It was a lot of work hauling and unloading instruments. I think the job was a lot easier with two people. it would have been tough with just one. I didn't learn much about teaching today-just the logistics that go on behind the scenes. On the flip side, I did get to see the huge Quinlan and Fabish operation in Burr Ridge and network with some of the VPs and employees.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

9/18/13 - Day 22

Day 22 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
9/18/13, 7:30 AM

The first task of the day was kind of tedious. Sorting out which students from recruitment signed up for their instrument rental. I compared the instrument rental names to the master call list to see who had been called and if they were all set up for next week.  I had a bell ringer and lesson plan all set after the edTPA meeting last night. What a difference between today and yesterday. Yesterday, I didn't have a good plan for the concert orchestra on Mango Tango and we didn't get enough accomplished. Today I made real progress. Rhythms were written on the board before class. I separated the left hand and right hand skills as we rehearsed. I took considerably slower tempos. Then we taught a bass lesson and and a group viola lesson.

Monday, September 16, 2013

9/17/13 - Day 21

Day 21 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
9/17/13, 6:30 AM

I had a mini freak out this morning when I didn't see my ID Card in my bag. I arrived at 6:30 this morning and after totally emptying my bag I found it. I ran the morning rehearsal and we made it through 4 songs!  Two of the songs were songs were previosly played several times. One was sight read and the fourth had been read once before. After morning rehearsal, I shared the google docs (playing test rubric, tardy policy, participation policy, and playing test instructions) with Mr. Radtke. It took longer than anticipated because I'm not allowed to share with people outside of the vandercook email system.  The rest of the day consisted of me running 7th grade orchestra  as well and 8th grade orchestra rehearsals in their entirety. We travelled to Nelson middle school where I taught one cello student, three violinists, and one violist.

9/16/13 - Day 20

Day 20 - Gemini Jr. High
Monday, September 16, 2013
9/16/13, 7:30 AM

Upon my arrival today I continued preparing the handouts for the upcoming playing test (my idea).  I hope this gets the students to take ownership of their performance and participation in class.  I've noticed a handful of kids that just pretend to play until I look and them. Then, they scramble to find the notes. I can't tell how much of it is lack of skill, and how much is lack of effort.  Because of the different skill levels, I plan to grade the playing tests based on the amount of improvement displayed.
I'm becoming a little overwhelmed with the amount of tasks assigned by my co-operating teacher and VanderCook.  The prospect of finishing my degree, and the students keep me pushing on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/13/13 - Day 19

Day 19 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, September 13, 2013
9/13/13, 7:30 AM

HAPPY FRIDAY! A full week with elementary lessons, middle school rehearsals, recruitment, and a gig last night leaves me ready for the weekend.  That being said, I feel a sense of purpose and general excitement when I enter the school and hear little voices welcoming "Mr. Hellermann" to school.  I've been spending the 7th and 8th grade rehearsal periods assessing the students on their playing position and posture.  I helped devise the rubric and walk around the room with post-it notes giving the students scores and comments.  It helps to learn the last of the names that I can't recall.  It's important to have all of the students names down and of course the loud and confident students are easy to remember.   However, it's the quiet students to whom I want to reach out and call by name.

9/12/13 - Day 18

Day 18 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, September 12, 2013
9/12/13 7:30 AM

After leaving the school at 7:30 last night and arriving at 6:30 this morning, I'm a little spent.  I ran the rehearsal before school and we got a lot accomplished.  I find myself brainstorming and thinking about the students at all times of the day.  The full immersion has me coming up with new ideas for teaching when I'm in my car, eating lunch, or (less desirably) when I'm trying to go to bed.  I think a lot of the kids really like me and those that I don't "have" yet are in my sights.  I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to help with the second night of elementary recruitment.  It's tricky because I need to earn money, but student teaching is like a non-paying full-time job.

9/11/13 - Day 17

Day 17- Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
9/11/13, 7:30 AM

I came into school excited to run both 7th and 8th grade orchestra rehearsals.  I wish we could work on more than one song with each group.  We have an idea of what the songs are going to be for the first concert.  I suggested that we solidify our choices in order to be fully prepared for our performance, but I'm still somewhat nervous that we haven't even sight read two of the pieces for each orchestra that we plan on playing.  Rehearsals went well.  A new seating arrangement has put a halt to some of the chatting that was going on in the second violin section.

After traveling to the elementary schools to recruit, the interested kids came to Gemini tonight to sign up for band or orchestra.  We had about 20 kids from the middle school volunteer to help.  It was more help than we needed.  I helped keep them in line and tried to keep the lines for Quinlin and Fabish moving in the Gym.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

9/10/13 - Day 16

Day 16 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
9/10/13 6:30 AM

Students arrived a whole hour before school to make music. I love the excitement and enthusiasm.  What an awesome group of kids.  We handed out parts to my arrangements today. I'm super excited. The concert orchestra continued their work on Jupiter. The sinfonia continued their work on Irish Yuletide. I would like to begin a second piece for each group, but I see the value in solidifying one song first. In the afternoon we travelled to Apollo elementary and gave one violin lesson, one group viola lesson, and one group cello lesson.  I learn the most when I see how the cello players are set up.  I feel pretty confident in giving instructions to the upper strings. Now I'm trying to fill my tool belt with techniques to trouble shoot low string issues. I'm still surprised by how much time is consumed by phone calls, emails, instrument issues, and other logistics in order for music to be made.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/9/13 - Day 15

Day 15 - Gemini Jr. High
Monday, September 9, 2013
9/9/13 7:30 AM

We handed out some more music today.  I wrote the bell ringer: 5 points to remember about playing position.  I made copies of my blues arrangements and I'm getting excited about showing the parts to the students.  Leading the 7th grade rehearsal became a little difficult when a couple of students were chatting and being disruptive. Overall they've been very well behaved and I just try to keep them occupied with minimal time between tasks. The only time it becomes an issue is when I have to work with one section at a time.  It's crucial that I have something for the other sections to work on.

Monday, September 9, 2013

9/5/13 - Day 14

Day 14 - York Community High School
Thursday, September 5, 2013
9/5/13 6:45 AM

The district in which my middle school is located had the day off, so I decided to spend the time at the high school and check up on their progress.  I helped in preparing some parts of music that we handed out, listened to auditions, and conducted two chorales.  I'm glad I didn't take the day off.  It was good to see the high schoolers again.

9/3, 9/4, and 9/6 - Days 11, 12, 13

Days 11, 12, and 13 Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday  September 3, 4, and 6, 2013
9/3/13, 9/4/13, 9/6/13, 7:30 AM

These three days were spent demonstrating the orchestra instruments for all six of the elementary schools in the district.  Along with the band instructors, we demonstrated each instrument and played short excerpts as a trio. I played viola and bass.  Then the children were allowed to try one instrument from the band and one from the orchestra.  We gave them an informational sheet to encouraging them to come to the instrumental open house on wednesday and thursday of the following week.  It was great to see the excitement on their faces as the produced sounds from the instruments and realized they had a chance to make music.

8/30/13 - Day 10

Day 10- Gemini Jr. High
Friday, August 30, 2013
8/30/13 7:30 AM

The kids are very well behaved and I'm trying learn everyone's name.  It's really great to see the different personalities in these little people.  The violins are the hardest to get all of the names memorized, because there are so many of them.

8/29/13 - Day 9

Day 9 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday, August 29, 2013
8/29/13 7:30 AM

I've had the opportunity to run rehearsal in both the 7th and 8th grade orchestras.  I'm appreciating getting the feed back.  Sometimes I don't agree with the interjections that are made during my lesson, but it's a great learning experience to see someone else's approach.

8/28/13 - Day 8

Day 8 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
8/28/13 7:30 AM

My only frustration thus far is not having a long term plan.  We seem to be pulling pieces from the library and only a couple of them will go to the students.  I've been preparing to work with the students on one piece and then we end up using another.  I like having a hand in choosing the pieces and exploring the library.  I need to familiarize myself with as much beginning orchestra material as possible.

8/27/13 - Day 7

Day 7 - Gemini Jr. High
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
8/27/13 7:30 AM

Lots of paperwork and copies to be handled.  Forms, handouts, calenders, schedules.  I've spent the first  hour of just about everyday getting printouts and making copies.

8/26/13 - Day 6

Day 6 - Gemini Jr. High
Monday, August 26, 2013
8/26/13 7:30 AM

I was assigned with creating the bell ringer and the warm-ups for 7th and 8th grade orchestras.  I introduced the concept of S.T.A.R.S. (Sharps and flats, time, accidentals, rhythms, signs) for sight reading.  I used rhythms from their pieces in conjunction with scales for their warm-ups.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8/23/13 - Day 5

Day 5 - Gemini Jr. High
Friday, August 23' 2013
8/25/13 7:30 AM

With only two periods of orchestra in a day, there still seems to be a lot of work to do.  Unfortunately, we still haven't played any music.  The basics are important to reinforce and we've reviewed setting up playing position bow hold.  Preparations for the elementary recruitment, open house, instrumental open house, field trips, building release forms, scheduling concerts, roster finalizations, and much more.  I'm amazed at how many details have to be worked out in order for the year to go smoothly.

8/22/13 - Day 4

Day 4 - Gemini Jr. High
Thursday August 22, 2013
8/22/13 7:30 AM

Lots of logistics today.  Routine is crucial and a lot of time was spent getting the kids to get the process for the beginning of class was a focus point.  Instruments out, cases and books in proper places, bell ringer completed.  Time is of the essence and the students are encouraged to get to their seat.  Space is limited so the location of everything is crucial.  I'm very glad I was able to observe both teachers on their first day with the students.

8/21/13 - Day 3

Day 3 - Gemini Jr. High
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
8/21/13 7:30 AM

My favorite part of today was the team building exercise.  The students made a circle by connecting plastic straws to each other.  Each student was given a straw and after it was assembled they placed it on the ground. They weren't allowed to talk and had to finish the task before the song ended.  I loved the analogy.  The circle is a powerful symbol.  A week link or straw disconnected makes the circle incomplete.  The music ensemble is a team and a bond is formed by everyone involved in a team or ensemble.  I'm feeling overwhelmed by a whole new set of names to learn, but otherwise LOVING IT!

8/20/13 - Day 2

Day 2 - York Community High School
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
8/20/13 7:00 AM

Today we handled a lot more logistics, and still had a little time for playing.  It was exciting to jump into some music already.  I played cello with the cadet orchestra and violin with the other two orchestras.  I felt pretty good about being able to tune up students that needed help.  Replacing strings, tuning all of the basses,  and playing along felt like I was contributing.  I'm really excited to join the middle school tomorrow, but sad to leave the students that I've just met.

8/19/13 - Day 1

Day 1 - York Community High School
Monday, August 19, 2013
8/19/13 7:00AM

I debated for some time whether I should start my student teaching experience at my high school location or at the middle school.  I had to consider concert dates, starting dates, programed material, and the preferences of co-operating teachers.  Because the high school started two days earlier, the final decision was to start at the high school for the first two days then spend August 21st to October 18th at the middle school.  The first day at the high school was spent on logistics.  Sorting music, assigning lockers, checking and tuning instruments.  The facilities are spectacular and the instruments are generally very high quality.  I'm very excited to be in the class and meet the kids.