Thanksgiving Concert: A Fun Project for Instrumentalists

turkey cartoon

Full disclosure: I have no idea where I originally saw this idea. If it came from you, let me know so I can give you credit!

I started doing the Thanksgiving Concert project a few years ago with my band and orchestra students as an optional assignment. Essentially, the students are tasked with performing a “concert” for family and/or friends at some point over the Thanksgiving break. They are given a blank “program” to list the pieces they play and a place for the audience members to sign their names. Both the students and families have had so much fun with this! The kids are very creative finding their audiences too – everything from a large group at Thanksgiving dinner, to grandma over the phone and the family pets. This is not a required assignment, instead I tell the students they will get a surprise upon returning to school with a completed program – usually a candy cane or something similar. This year there will be a second option, instead of filling out the paper program they can choose to record their performance on Flipgrid and take a selfie with the audience! I’m interested to see if any students try this option, as many of them love using Flipgrid.

My theory is, whatever I can do to get kids playing their instruments at home and involving their families is a good thing. The parents enjoy hear their kids play, and the students love sharing their music. It’s a win-win!

Here is a link to the blank program if you would like to try this with your students, just make a copy of the Google Doc and edit as needed. I’ll also include a link to what the Flipgrid topic would look like. Be sure to let me know how it goes!

Thanksgiving Concert – Program

Thanksgiving Concert – Flipgrid Topic

#IMMOOC Wrap-Up

Going into the #IMMOOC experience I had no idea what to expect. I had read The Innovator’s Mindset over the summer and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was definitely on the list to re-read at some point, which made participating in the #IMMOOC a logical step. I had also recently set-up this blog, so “forced” blogging with suggested topics was appealing.

I’m not sure I can put into words the full impact of the last few weeks. It’s more of a feeling – a feeling of openness and desire. I feel much more open to new ideas, trying new things, and not being afraid of the (unknown) results. Along with that I have the incredible desire to do more. There is no reason to settle for doing things the way I’ve always done them – or the way I’ve always been told to do them! It’s ok to think outside the box, as long as student learning is at the forefront of every decision.

engage vs empower

The idea of empowerment also made a big impact on me. As a music teacher I have always felt that students should be actively engaged in music while in my classroom. Only very recently did I realize the importance of student empowerment and just how powerful that can be for a learner. To take it one step further, as a teacher I also need empowerment.  The good news is, if I don’t always feel that way within the walls of my school building, I have a strong PLN that will be there to step in.

Thanks for following me through this part of my journey, and thank you for helping me become an empowered teacher who will strive to inspire empowered learners!

Thank you, #IMMOOC Bloggers!

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The past six weeks participating in the #IMMOOC have been powerful in many ways, the blogging experience being one of them. Not only have I enjoyed and grown through the process of blogging myself, but reading the blogs of other teachers has also made a big impact. Three bloggers in particular have stood out:

My first shoutout goes to Kelly Ann Pace, from Pacing Through Life: An Educator’s Journey. Kelly wrote a very inspiring post about how her view of relationships in the classroom has changed over the years. She talks about the importance of letting your guard down and allowing the students know the “real you.” And sometimes that means taking a trip to taco bell!

Another blogger I have enjoyed following is Annick Rauch. Annick has had several great blog posts, but the one that resonated with me the most recently was titled, “Not Easy But Worth It.” She talks about how we have to remember what people see is just the tip of the iceberg – they don’t always realize all of the incredibly hard work we put into making things happen. What we do is not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. You can follow Annick on Twitter, @AnnickRauch.

Finally, a big shout out to Kathryn Finch, a fellow music teacher and #IMMOOC participant. Not only have Kathryn’s posts been great to read, but she has also been so supportive of my blog which is incredibly appreciated! Kathryn is doing amazing things with her music students, and she talks about how it all starts with Small Shifts, and remembering the importance of Empowering Students. I know you will enjoy reading her blog as much as I have! Be sure to also follow Kathryn on Twitter, @Singingfinch1.