Saturday, October 03, 2015

My Week in Instagram (Week #149)

Pay Day, a little bit of rain, athletic awesomeness, Snoopy leggings, and a new rubber duck. A good week. A good week, indeed.


It's beginning to look a tiny bit like Autumn...

On Sunday, I discovered that there are turtles in this pond. 

Food prep. That's one week of lunches.

Sunday's lunch was too pretty not to Instagram.


Full moon over California (taken through a dirty windshield
while stopped at a red light).

Oatmeal with almonds and cacao nibs. Yum.

Let the fun begin!! 

The One-Eyed Puppet Friend Club.

Going, going, gone.

New decision: On Monday, we swim.

No matter what it does to the hair.

New conductor for Sac Choral.


There but for the grace of TEA go I...

Gu? Check. Scrunchie? Check. Lacrosse ball? Check.
Must be a train-with-Matt day. : )

Matt wrapped a band around my leg super-tight to help some
muscle/nerve/weird pain I've been having. 

Finally!! Now, bring on season 2!!!


It's safe to say the Boomwhackers are a hit.

Pay Day!!!



Selfie of a woman who is happy to be wearing a jacket.

Yup. I'll be dancing an Irish Reel with my kidlets soon.

A third grader gave me a present, so I clipped it in my hair.

Another present--from Dad! I named her Dearie Swimmy, at
Mom's suggestion.


My weekly treat.

Band time!

Clarinets (I LOVE those girls!) and trumpets. Good kids.

My art class did some pointillism with Q-tips. There was some
GREAT art happening! 

After work, I went to Kohl's. I call this the Purple People Eater
running jacket. I did NOT buy it.

I did, however, buy these leggings, to run in. Because sometimes
you need some ridiculous in your life.

Friday night done RIGHT, by God.

I uploaded a pic of my own pointillism painting. 


Beat last week's time by four minutes!

Every time I go to this book store, there are more books.
Pretty soon, there will be no room for people. This is just behind
the counter!!

It's getting harder and harder to shop there. I love them, but
this needs to be fixed.

It was time for new running shoes. They didn't have my shoe
in the teal I've been wearing. Do you mind green?

Clay for my middle school kids.

Tonight, lesson planning. I'm taking my 5th graders to Mars
and Venus this week, via Gustav Holst. 

Friday, October 02, 2015


The week before I started my new job, I attended a three-day training called Capturing Kids' Hearts. The premise is simple:

"If you have a child's heart, you have his head."

I admit that at first I figured it would be three days of "Oh, God, do I really need this?!" But I was pleasantly surprised. The program, thoroughly adopted by my school district, is excellent. It calls for treating children like human beings.  A novel thought, eh?

Some of the pieces of the program that my school is very big on using are creating social contracts with students, so we all agree on how everyone--teacher, student, class visitors--behaves in the classroom. Another component is personally greeting each student at the door with a handshake.

But the best parts are the Good Things, and Affirmations.

We use this model in our staff meetings, so today, we started with Good Things--it can be as simple as "my daughter is coming to visit this weekend!" We clap for our colleague who shared, and we feel happy for them. It starts a meeting off on a friendly foot.

And we use affirmations every time someone presents in a meeting, because it's very true that everyone--young, old, in between--needs to be affirmed once in a while.

Today, our staff meeting centered around the elementary grades presenting their new Units of Inquiry (we are in International Baccalaureate candidate school, and the learning style of I.B. centers around the idea of inquiry and a world-view approach to learning) for the others. It's a great way to share what is going on in the school, to get ideas for improving each unit, and for affirming the hard work of all teachers.

Today, I asked my boss if I could share. It's not expected of me, because I am an electives teacher, but because what I do backs up the themes of the units of inquiry, I wanted to show my new colleagues that I am doing my best to support what they are teaching while still addressing the music standards.

It's funny--I can stand in front of a room full of middle school students and act like a clown with no problem whatsoever, but presenting a lesson I put time into to my colleagues was so nerve-wracking!

But I soldiered through. I showed everyone my 2nd Grade lesson for the week. They've been learning about maps in social studies--that's the central idea of their current unit--so I started by talking about maps a bit and asking them, "Did you know we can make maps for music?"

I played Kangaroo from Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals" while showing them a listening map that some clever soul made and posted on the internet for me to shamelessly steal. Then I told them we would be travelling to the West Indies, and showed a video of steel drum music. We learned the song "Tingalayo," and used the Boomwhackers to play the associated chords for the song.

Everyone seemed to love it, but the best part were the following affirmations I received after:

1. "I like your world music approach. It's very I.B."


2. "Our kids get so excited when you walk in the room." This was accompanied by a lot of head nods and "Oh yes" and "Uh-huh" all over the room.

It felt great to be acknowledged as someone who is contributing to the education of these students, even though I only see most of them once a week. I was blushing as I gathered my laptop up and returned to my seat.

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you've probably noticed that I'm hugely passionate about what I do. I am a teacher. I am an artist. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to mix these two callings into a career, and after the last six years, believe me, I don't take this new opportunity for granted.

So I've jumped into this with all of my energy and all of the love I have for the arts, because that is the only way I know how to do this. To see it pay off, not only in the appreciation I received today from my colleagues, but in my students' excitement for their weekly VAPA session, is a humbling and beautiful feeling.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


I've decided that someday, when I write my memoirs, I'm going to name the book Boomwhacked: The Story of a Music Teacher.

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered Boomwhackers for my teaching pleasure. They arrived last week, to much excitement and fanfare in the Bat Cave of the Cooper house (my parents were indifferent). I knew my kids would OMG LOVE these things.

See, Boomwhackers are meant to be whacked. They're almost indestructable (though they have to be "tuned" once in a while by being rolled back into a nice round shape). They are pitched...and they have solfege names on them. I've been teaching solfege of late. These Boomwhackers are pretty much perfect.

This week, I debuted them, with much secrecy and fanfare. I would enter each classroom with the canvas laundry bag I bought for hauling them around. It never fails. Someone always notices that bag, and immediately, young voices pop up. "What's in the bag?!"

"I don't know!" I reply with a smile. "We'll have to wait and see."

I like to draw out the suspense a little...okay, a lot. And when I finally show them what is in the bag...

"Do you think I brought my laundry to school?"


"You're right. That would be silly."

...they're so excited, they can hardly stand it. It's safe to say--and please, pardon the pun--that the Boomwhackers are a huge hit.

Bonus: they're not hideously loud, either. They make a kind of dull, thunk sound.

So after the long list of expectations has been gone through--don't hit your head, someone else's head, don't put your mouth on them because eww germs, and please, no sword fighting, either--the Boomwhackers are handed out, and the barely-controled chaos ensues. I've managed to get third graders playing "Oh, Susanna" with decent accuracy this week, and other grade levels playing slightly easier tunes.

And my quest to become The Funnest Teacher In This School is progressing very nicely, indeed.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Week in Instagram (Week #148)

These days, it seems all of my weeks are teaching stuff, and workout stuff (though I did go on a date last night).


Matt is proud of me. 

Cali and I weep for our once-great team. But we are Niner fans,
through good and bad. 

Excellent album. 

This is how I feel about our once-per-semester Sunday rehearsals
for Sac Choral.

Ha! T-Nation stands for Testosterone Nation. This site is the
reason I'm drinking vinegar. 


Nothing like starting the week off with a dude who thinks
he's funny, and also thinks that trying and trying again will
yield results with me.

My hair was cooperating on Monday.

My vice principal took pics of my little band and posted them.
The school is so excited to have a band at all! 

Peanutize Me! I totally did and I'm totally using this as my
profile pic on Facebook. 

Nothing like realizing AFTER you leave the store that they
left the anti-theft device on your new Under Armor shoes.


Why yes, yes I do.

Cat shoes, Kindergarten Carpet.

Pretty day.

Circles (for an art project I did with middle school).


School bus. I know the driver from a previous job, so we always
wave and smile and greet each other. 

Found this idea online and had my kids do it. They enjoyed it!
"A timid voice whispered, "='What a pity.' In a voice of thunder
she burst out laughing."

My circles, progressing.

More book page poetry.

One--ONE--second short of my personal best.

My friend Sandy sent me these. SO CUTE.


Found this online, already have it in a lesson plan.

Finally getting to use my new shoes. They are so awesome.



Painting with middle school, God help me.

Friday afternoon means lesson plans.

This is "Rain, Rain, Go Away" in solfege. So Squirrel, Mi Mouse,
La Lizard, Fa Fox, Re Rabbit, Do Duck. 

Friday Night...

...done right.





Tilly (and Sarah and Julia) had a great crowd of people to help
them move. 

My colleague, our Russian teacher, gave me these sweets. 

I tried a chiropractor out for my sciatica. I think this might be
what helps it for good.

Great sign in Historic Roseville. I was meeting a dude for a date
at an Irish pub up the street.