Are you bored with the same potato dishes? Do you want something easy yet different? This delicious, super quick potato recipe is a favorite every time I take it to parties or when I have house guest! Summer is a great time for cookout and this potato recipe goes great with all meat dishes. 
I have started developing easy recipes that can be made for under $5. This potato recipe is a great candidate! I love making it for dinner. I make a bunch, then during the week simply add a piece of chicken or fish on tops to complete the meal. It is also excellent choice to prepare on a Sunday enjoy to dinner and pack leftovers for lunch during the week! The recipe is just about right for getting 5 individually sized lunches. It made 5 of the containers below when I added some greens and about 4 (very big) containers by itself:

Of course you can simply use 1/2 of the ingredients and prepare this for just one meal. But it is so delicious, you would want to have leftovers...

Ingredients:
7-8 medium sized potatoes
1 large onion
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon coriander
salt to taste
2 tablespoons oil of your choice
parsley (optional)

Total Coking Time: 20-25min.
Serves: 4 as a main meal, 6 as a side


Directions:

Chop the onion. Cut potatoes on cubes. Peel potatoes if needed. Place 2 tablespoons oil of your choice. Cook onions until golden brown for about 5 minutes.
Add all spices and salt to taste.You are looking for a nice yellow color. 
Add the potatoes. Add water just so that it reaches the top layer of potatoes. The amount of water will depend on your pan. I used 1/2 cup. Make sure you don't overdo the water. Turn heat on low, cover the pan and let simmer for additional 15-20min. until the potatoes are soft. Turn off heat and let the flavors sit for another 10min. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.
Take a moment to share the recipe, then Enjoy!


I love lentil salads. They are easy to make, very inexpensive, healthy and so filling at the same time. What is not to love? This easy, healthy green lentil salad is a favorite of mine to make in just a matter of few minutes when I need something quick with no fuss. It can be a great healthy but inexpensive addition to your weekly meal planning. If you have guests and you are looking for something to complete the menu or running to a potluck and looking for something quick and inexpensive to bring last minute-there you have it. 
I have been developing recipes that only take up to $5 dollars to make. Each recipe would make enough for about 5 well sized lunches during the week. This is the first recipe of the series. The idea is that it is possible to spend only $5-$10 per person a week on lunch. This is one of the recipes. Sometimes it takes some thinking to plan healthy meals and trim your budget at the same time. So simplifying a lentil salad to just three ingredients came to the rescue. I love making this lentil recipe for the whole week, then either pack it for lunch, throw piece of fish or chicken on top for diner, or simply have in the fridge for the times when I feel hungry and want to have something healthy around instead of reaching for the cookies. 



And the price for this dish? You cannot beat it! All of this makes a ton of food and leftovers for 5 big individually sized lunch containers (as shown above).

Note: I shopped at Sprouts where both items are on sale at the moment. 




Ingredients:
1 lb green lentils
1 large lemon (or two smaller ones)
2 green onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/12 tablespoon vinegar
salt to taste

Serves: 5-6 as a main meal, 10 as a side
Directions:
Cook the lentils. The ratio is one cup lentils to two cups water. Simply put both in a pan on high heat till the water boils. Reduce the heat and let simmer. It is ready when the water gets absorbed. It will take about 15-20min.
While cooking the lentils, chop the green onions. Mix both together. Squeeze the juice of the lemon. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt to taste.

Note: it is better to use a lighter vinegar such as white vinegar. Balsamic is a bit heavy for this dish. Since the lemon and green onions already add sour taste, you can also omit the vinegar altogether. Taste as you add the ingredients. See how you like it best.


What recipes do you use for the summer heat?



Welcome to the 61st Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors! This week, we are excited to be including a Google+ Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms.  

Hostesses:

Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books

BeachBoundBooks

Pragmatic Mom

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough

Spark and Pook

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop
 

Kid Lit Blog Hop & Linky Party Rules *Please Read*

1. LINKY PARTY: Add the link to your Google+ profile page in the Google+ Linky Party list below. Be sure to visit at least the two links directly before yours as well as your hosts' Google+ pages. Be sure to follow some folks with similar interests and share posts that catch your eye. If you do not have a Google+ profile, you are welcome to link up a different social media profile (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.). 2. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Link up any Kid Lit related post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.
* Don't link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*
* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *
* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*
* Feel free to link more than one post.*
3. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS from the Kid Lit Blog Hop directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you're linking up. If you'd prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Happy Hopping!

 

GOOGLE+ LINKY PARTY

(***Please do not link a blog post here - see below for the Kid Lit Blog Hop***)


KID LIT BLOG HOP

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Lowering our food bill can open up room for many exciting things. In the process we might learn how to be more disciplined about caring for our families, eat healthier and afford more in other areas of life.

The summer just started. You are probably thinking of different ways to enjoy that time with your family. Imagine saving $400-$500 in the next few months on food and groceries. Here is your next years' vacation!

In the process of developing this post I wanted to "play a game" with my finances. I needed to check if my ideas worked. I wanted to see if I can save $200 within a month for a plane ticket to a much anticipated vacation without tapping into my savings. And it worked! Here is how you do it too!

Do you make these mistakes while shopping for your family?

You have all the ingredients ready for a healthy dinner. You come back home so tired that you end up ordering pizza or fast food.

You run to the store last minute to buy some garlic. You end up spending $30 and come back with a full bag of groceries.

You buy groceries that don't get used up. At the end of the month you throw things away.

You go to the store without a shopping list. You come back with a huge bill and lots of items purchased spontaneously.

We are all guilty of these at one point or another. If you have done one of these four things, keep reading!



First, look at your bank statements carefully. Where do most money go? Do you have habits that you need to change before we start? Your ways of spending and taking care of your family will be different from others'. Examining your habits and realizing where you need to cut is the first step to making a change.

Plan your meals every week and cook from scratch as much as possible.
The difference between planned meals and random eating is the difference between making your dollar go far and wasting money. Most people who spend too much on food are random in their spending habits. The ones who can handle a tight budget are careful about planning and cooking. The next tips will help with that.

Pack up your lunch to work! Spend one hour on Sunday to make something that will last (rice, couscous, pasta dish, etc) then pack 5 individually sized portions for the week. You may find that you are actually eating better this way and you will save up a ton. Making this shift has helped me make a huge difference in lowering my monthly food bill. I have started a series of posts with lunch recipes that are easy and delicious-each makes just about 5 individual portions for $5. I will be adding a new recipe each week. Check it out for ideas.

Pick one day of the week to do most of your shopping and cooking.
Think about all the ingredients you will need and try to purchase them in one time while having a list with you. This will prevent additional purchases and compulsive shopping. Some people like to shop for one or two weeks, others like to do the bulk of their shopping for the whole month. Experiment to determine what is best for your schedule. Once you determine that, do not go to the store without a shopping list. Most money we waste is on impulsive purchases, not on what we actually need.
Then pick a day of the week to do more of your cooking so you have ready meals during the week when you are more likely to be tired. Even if you don't like cooking, spend  a few hours once a week to prepare for most lunches and meals that can be enjoyed later. More specific details on that later in the post.

Do not go to the store when hungry. Period.

Have a theme of the week. Most ethnic cuisines use common ingredients. You would buy the same spices and vegetables if you cook a few themed dishes. For example, summer is a great time to have Mexican inspired taco meals. During the winter, when you need something to warm you up you can try some Thai soups and curries. Experiment with different recipes and pick a couple that you can prepare well and make a staple at home. Have fun with it.

Focus on one or two ingredients to guide your meal planning. Similar to the idea above. Scan the weekly adds and plan your main ingredients around the sales. Focus on one protein and/or starch. For example chicken and rice. If I see that chicken is on sale two for the price of one, I will buy it and pick up some greens and potatoes to complete the meals. Now, during the summer lots of vegetables go on sale. I would buy those, then pick up some rice for stir fried rice and side salad. Thinking this way makes for a very easy meal planning. You will not get bored with this meal planning because it is only for a week- you can change it the following week.   Focusing on a main ingredient and using weekly sales not only saves money but makes shopping and cooking much easier.

Cook with seasonal vegetables.
Eating within the season is better for you and it is much cheaper. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also priced better. Scan the weekly adds, after choosing your main ingredient, choose appropriate vegetables and fruit on sale to complement these meals. For example, you can buy melons for less during the summer and cook a lot with pumpkin in the Fall. If I know that bell peppers and eggplants go on sale around the end of the summer, I would plan a few recipes that involve these ingredients. Here is a post on what to buy in June to help with that.

Buy things in bulk (read though not always). This will create convenience and you will save a ton of money. Things like rice, beans, oats can be bought from stores like Costco for a fraction of the price you would pay purchasing them in a smaller packadge. Stoke up on items you enjoy cooking with, then have those available at all times. For example I LOVE cooking with quinoa. I have plenty of simple and easy recipes for the summer. I am now waiting for it to go on sale in one of the stores I shop at and will stoke up as soon as I see that happen. All I would need to do after is buy fresh produce to complete the meals.
However, be careful!!! It is easy to start purchasing things just for the sake of them being on sale. Don't purchase extra just to stoke up on items that may not get used up-buy items that are staples in your kitchen. Also, visit your local stores and be mindful of their difference in price. Some items may make sense to purchase in bulk, but others may actually be discounted at a regular store. Do your research, especially with the items you use most.

Buy less quantities of items that get spoiled. 
While stoking up on items that do not spoil, be careful with the quantities for all others. This is mostly true if you don't have a big family. Sometimes we tend to purchase more than we can use up.  I used to go to the store for some fruit. Because it is healthy, you know...I would return with enough fresh produce to feed the whole block for a month. Naturally things would starts spoiling before I can eat it all. Think about your needs and that of your family. Spend accordingly.

Invest in a bread machine. If you have kids at school and prepare for lunches daily, there is probably a lot of bread you go through. Although it is not as expensive, it does add up. Making your own bread at home can lead to huge savings. Plus you will always have fresh bread available. If you have the time, you can learn to make your own bread in which case you may start here. But you may also be too busy for that. Bread is actually very cost effective. It only takes flour, yeast and water. Bread machines run around $90.00. If you go to Costco and also purchase flour in bulk, you would have spend $100.00 for the whole year! Then, think about savings in the years to come!

Involve your children in cooking. Your children can be of great help when cooking or preparing for meals ahead of time. You are not only having them help, but you are also developing habbits they can use later in life. Soon your baby will be off to college. They will need to know how to stay within a student budget and not break the bank.

Be most careful in times of stress! You will want to spend more simply because of your hectic schedule or give to emotional eating. You need to be very careful to stay disciplined in these periods. It best to pick ONE tip and make sure you stick with it when overwhelmed. Also, when you have too much on your plate, keep things simple on the dinner table. A simple healthy recipe like this one handy that can be used up for lunch on the busy days is better than running to order pizza last minute.

Don't be alone on your journey to cutting your food bill. 
Talk to friends, respond to this post, chat with your husband about it. Make sure that other people keep you accountable. This is the very reason I wrote this post. I knew that if people are reading it I would have no choice but to practice what I preach.


Which one of these tips are you already doing? Over the next month, see if you can pick just two other tips to add. Share in the comments which ones have been helpful to you.

Now, let's look at specific families that have been successful at making it work on a set food budget. The extra tips found on different blogs will add to the above list and provide specific examples of people saving money while caring for their families.


Using what is already available
One of the main reasons we spend so much on food in the US is ...well...because we can. More or less we are spoiled in comparison to other countries. This is why it is good to have reminder from time to time. This blog post offers a great challenge in this respect. The challenge is to eat up what is in your pantry twice a year. Instead of going out and buying new food, use up what you already have. Remember at the beginning of the post when we talked about saving extra for that vacation. This is where you want to start. Check it out, it is good!


Saving on Cleaning Supplies
Household cleaners can add up quite a bit to your monthly bill. Lowering this cost can help your budget and savings significantly. See how this article offers help lowering your cleaning supplies cost.



Meal Planning And Use of Apps and Spreadsheets
The purpose of this post is to help you save money, not spend more. Yet, some people do better when they have resources to keep them on track. So here is a book you can check out with spreadsheets and lots of helpful tips on saving money. Here is also another app for for meal planning. This site also provides ideas for meal planning and a downloadable meal planning calendar.



Feeding Your Family for $20 a Week
Want to squeeze family meal plans for $20 a week? Even though a bit extreme, the host at Frugal Farm Life Blog is successful at that. She posts exact menus, grocery lists and tips on how she does it. If your family budget is tight and you have to make it work, here is where you start!



Feed Your Family For $35 a Week
I love this post! It has great tips that all families can incorporate to different degrees. See how this family eats for $35 a week in the Portland area. Great ideas you need to check.



Spend Only $60 a Week in The Most Expensive City
This New Yorker spends about $60 a week for two people and prepares all his meals. He cooks once a week to prepare seven balanced meals for lunch and dinner amounting to about $3.00 per meal. All meals and recipes are then put on Instagram. Other wonderful recipes on the blog as well.


How much do you spend on food per month and where do you live? 




Thank you ALL for being here, reading and interacting with the blog!

Thank you to violinist.com for collaborating! If you visit from that site, please drop by again! Don't be a stranger!

Teachers:
Most of you should be slowing down and finishing the school year. I hope you enjoy your summer and get the rest you deserve! During the months of June and July I will have lighter articles on the site. Around the second half of July I will start posting articles about beginning of the school year prep-organizing classroom, beginning lesson plans, assessment in classroom, developing beginning posture in students. Later I will post about bow hold and adding on the articles about developing left hand posture. Stay tuned for that.


I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear what you would like to read about. This would give me a direction.


Guest Bloggers Wanted
If you are an aspiring blogger or a teacher who would like to share your ideas please contact me. I will be very busy in the months of September-November and would love to add some guest posts. Topics should include music parenting or teaching as well as stories about being a parent or teacher. Why not combining the roles?

Parents:
We will continue our Kid Lit Blog Hop during the first Wednesday of every month where you can get plenty of wonderful ideas about books for your children. We will also have parenting tips coming during the summer. I have quite a few recipes coming your way in the month of June. As always, I would love to hear you feedback on what YOU want to read on the blog!


If you are like me, you need a quick recipe that you can prepare and have ready for lunch or for a side dish. This year has been so busy, planning for meals and cooking has been a challenge. So when I have a bit more time during the weekend,  I am trying to quickly put things together get a few meals ready to last for the week. This has been working well espesially making quick and easy lunch dishes and taking them to work. It has been convenient, better for my health, and better for my budget.
This couscous recipe is very easy to make. It only takes four ingredients. It is done in 15 min. It makes a great lunch, side dish, or potluck addition during the summer. Make a bunch, then use on top of greens for a more filling salad entree, eat by itself, or serve as a side. It is filling, healthy and a great recipe for your weekly meal planning .
 I love love love making this for lunch to take to work. The recipe makes about 4 lunch size containers. More if you add greens with it. I spend 15 min to make it on a Sunday, then I have tasty lunch for the the whole week spending only about  $5.00 for lunch the whole week! Not bad at all! Note: Items purchased at Trader Joe's, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prices will vary for different states. Herbs go on sale during the summer as they are in season, price for chives will be different during the winter.
About the ingredients- couscous is a tiny wheat pasta used a lot in the Middle East. I like using Israeli couscous (sometimes called also pearl couscous). It is a bit bigger and I like the texture and taste better. You can however use any kind. You can buy it at any store. I buy mine from either Trader Joe's or Sprouts where the price is lower. You would most likely see it in the stores like this:

 You can also experiment with one of the main ingredient-the chives. The dish could also work well with chopped fresh basil, spring green onions, fresh cilantro. Get creative according to your taste and what you have available.




Ingredients:
Fresh chives (may substitute-see above)
1 can corn (8oz)
1 medium lemon
8 oz Israeli couscous (about 1 cup)      
2 tablespoons of Olive oil (or oil of your choice)


Total Cooking Time: 15min
Makes:  2 (large) entree servings or 4 to 5 side servings



Directions:
Cook the cous cous according to package directions. The ratio is 1cup cous cous to 1 and1/4 cups water. Similar to rice, it is done when the water is absorbed. Heat up the pan, put two tablespoons of olive (or other) oil. Put the couscous in. Let it fry at the bottom of the pan for about 5min. Add the water. Bring to boil then let simmer. It cooks very quickly, it will be done in about 15 min or less. 
While waiting for the cous cous to cook, chop the chives in fine pieces.
Simply combine all ingredients together. Squeeze the lemon on top (depending on the size, I use half if I have a large lemon or a two if the lemons are tiny). Salt to taste. You may add an additional tablespoon of olive oil on top to bring the flavors together. Stir well. Enjoy!

Before you go, please pin or share the recipe on your social media!
GET RHYTHM!

What is Rhythm? Rhythm is a beat or a pulse. Think heart beat. Think repetition of a sound. Rhythm is everywhere in the thrum of the washing machine, drops of rain, hands clapping. Rhythm is made up of sounds and silences. When put together to form a repeatable pattern, you have rhythm. †Rhythm is a central feature of language and speech. In language, rhythm is created when we place emphasis or stress on certain words. Feel the underlying beat of the first lines of this famous rhyme:rhythm
As I was going to St. Ives I met a man with seven wives. The accent of the words creates a steady beat, or rhythm.
†Why do We Need Rhythm? Rhythm is fundamental to the human experience.

parents read
Look at the books on your child's shelf. Chances are you have many rhyming books. Rhyming books are catchy, fun to read, and keep your child's attention. You might not be aware, though, of other incredible benefits swimming below the surface of these innocent little ditty's on a colorful page.

  †What is Rhyme? We all know rhyme when we see it. It's where the patterns of words contain similar sounds. Sam/Ham/Am for instance. (And if you have a child, you can
rhyming wordsname that book in 10 seconds or less.)

  †Why Do We Need Rhyme?
  • It is easier to learn something when it rhymes. We remember rhymes. Rhyme is an effective mnemonic device and can "tag" information, not only making it easy to learn, but also easy to later recall. And rhyming is fun. It's playful.
  • Rhyme helps with reading. There is a correlation between phonological awareness and reading ability. Rhythm helps the child recognize patterns, a fundamental reading skill. It also helps with spelling as there is the ability to infer that two like-sounding words are often spelled similarly. Good rhymers make good readers.
  • Rhyme is calming. Rhyming lines are predictable. There is a soothing quality to rhyme.
  • Rhyme helps brain development. Young children's brains need a blend of repetition and the occurrence of surprise. Rhyme has both.
  • Rhythm, like rhyme, enhances learning. It helps improve our attention skills. Rhythm helps memory (Brower, 1993; Payne & Holzman, 1986; Patel, et al., 1998). Rhythm is predictable, structured, and organized--and our brain likes it!
  • Rhythm is essential for the socialization of infants. It is integral to the coordination of motor activity and locomotion (Iverson & Thelen, 1999).
  • We are hard-wired from birth for rhythm.† In 2009, researchers from Hungary and the Netherlands reported that, by measuring their brain waves when listening to rhythms, day-old infants are able to detect differences between them.
  • Rhythm is a de-stresser.†The rhythmical activity of drumming reversed multiple components of the human stress response believed responsible in the development of common diseases (Bittman, Medical Science Monitor, 2005).
  • Rhythm is a basic element in the construction of more complex human behaviors, such as music and language (Iverson & Thelen, 1999; Patel, et al., 1998).
  • Rhythm is an element of music. "Music making offers extensive exercise for brain cells and their synapses (connections). It would be difficult to find another activity that engages so many of the brain's systems."(Weinberger, N., 1998)
  • Our motor systems naturally entrain, or match, to a rhythmic beat. When a musical input enters our central nervous system, some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or "try". It's how we dance to music, tap our foot to a rhythm, and walk in time to a beat. Many young children "rock" to the beat or show it physically in some way before the age of one.
Bring Rhythm Alive Through the Books on Your Shelf Now that you know the massive benefits that rhyme and rhythm provide, youíll want to run to your bookshelf and find the books that can easily promote this. Chicka Chicka Boom BoomThe Chicka Chicka books are great for bringing out the benefits of rhythm. In Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, children learn the alphabet and in Chicka Chicka 1 2 3, they learn numbers (and, of course, a LOT more as you just learned!) The opening page gives a good example of rhyme and rhythm: A told B, And B told C, I'll meet you at the top Of the coconut tree. Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of a rhyming book like this:
  • Read the book often and with engagement. Young children love repetition. Engage them with the large cutout shapes and colors on the page. If they are old enough, encourage them to say some of the words, especially at the end of lines where words rhyme. Remember, memorable!
  • Tap the rhythm as you read. On your leg, on their back, on the book. Or clap the rhythm. It might be helpful for you to see the beat visually. Songs and rhymes can be divided into "measures". Measures help group beats into patterns. †Each measure has a specific number of beats ó most commonly, four beats. Just think "1, 2, 3, 4," and then begin again with "1" in each subsequent measure.
rhythm bar line  
  • Bring out an "instrument." This could be an instrument you've made or purchased. It could be a found object at home. A pan and a wooden spoon make a great drum. Beat out the underlying pulse†pot pan instrumentor heart beat of each phrase as you read. (Or by now, you may know the whole book by heart!) Encourage your child to play with you and no worries if they are not 'on' the beat. Plenty of time for that as they grow.
  • Most of all, HAVE FUN with rhythm!


Share With Us What books do you have at home that lend
themselves to rhythmical activity? Please share your rhythmic
stories and ideas here with others.



AnnieMTCrop-1Annie Keeling, MFA, founder of the Parenting Groove blog, is an educator, writer, music teacher, and parent. She teaches elementary children's group music education classes as well as parent/child early education Music Together classes. The families involved have been a springboard for material involving parenting, music, and education (especially ideas around building respectful behavior of all family members.) Raised by a family therapist who created the 3R's Learning Center for Behavior Education, Annie incorporates many of his teachings in her writing. She has a BS in Dance Therapy and Dance Education from UW-Madison, a Masters in Dance from UCLA, and a Masters in Creative Writing from Goddard College.

http://parentinggroove.com/ 
https://twitter.com/ParentingGroove 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parenting-Groove/504582882921767


New school year, new music classes, brand new policies for music educators....many confusions! I have been getting many emails asking about essential questions and applications to a music classroom. I think that a blog post can be a good way to start a discussion and reach other teachers in the online world. Let's take a look at the essential question; what it is and how it could be easier to think about it.

You may go directly to TEN SAMPLE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS FOR MUSIC

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For more detailed information on what essential questions are please continue reading below:



What is essential question and what does it look like in a music classroom?
The essential question should be very broad and general. Think about something that wraps up the whole unit.

The essential question needs to be chosen for a LONGER period of time, preferably one unit. Think about having to prepare an essential question for every lesson, every class, and every single rehearsal, then prepare for the music rehearsal itself. This will get very overwhelming very soon. Instead you want to choose a very broad statement that would incorporate the ideas of that unit. 

It is better to pick a broad essential question that can apply to ALL of your classes. This way you "kill many birds with one stone". 

The essential question is the essence of the ideas in one unit. You may have smaller units of one week or even a couple of days. In this case you would change the essential question at the end of the week or the smaller unit. My advice is to think broader and make longer units throughout the year. 

Unit study and having essential question for it could be confusing to music teachers. We simply work a bit differently. Think of unit study is equivalent of...concert preparation. So as the other core teachers talk about backward planning and unit study, the easiest way to transfer this knowledge is to think about your next concert of a festival. Think about the steps you need to take in order to get the students ready for the performance. Think about how you would get them prepared from seeing a blank music page to being ready to perform it. And voila! Here is your unit study! 

After picking a broader essential question, you may want to have a more specific goals/guiding questions for a specific class or week. These are also often called enduring understandings. This is where you would put the specific techniques the students will be doing (vibrato, shifting, etc), if they are learning a new piece, if they are learning about composers, etc. 
 What the essential question is not:
Something that you need to change daily.
Something that you need to stress about (well not after reading this post).
Something that is different from what you already do in your classroom. Think about a statement that generalizes what you are already doing in your classroom. You don't need to "reinvent the wheel". 

Sample Essential Questions:
How does music define a community?
How does music relate to history and art?
How does posture affect musicians' abilities? 
How does knowledge about composers help a musical performance?


Take a look at how I structured my unit with essential question and guiding questions this month:


My Essential Question and Lesson Planning for this Month

Orchestra, Unit 1, 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade

Essential Question: What Defines a Great Musician?

Guiding Questions (Enduring Understandings):
How does discipline and behavior define a musician and his performance?
What essential techniques are needed to achieve mastery?
How do we practice and prepare for a concert?
How does concert etiquette affect the performance?

Culminating Activity for Unit 1: Halloween Concert


In my meeting with my administrator: 

I would explain the steps I will take to get my kids ready for our final performance of the unit-the Halloween concert. I would include the same steps into my lesson plans of the unit. The lesson plan format may vary and many districts have templates they require their teachers to use. But you

At the beginning of the year we focus on discipline, rules and behavior.
We start learning the pieces and the techniques needed for these pieces.
Closer to the concert we would begin talking about concert etiquette, extra practice, stage appearance, etc.

Notice how broad this plan is. I could easily "plug it" into many different units and classes. At the same time I am going through all the essential parts of having a music class or a music rehearsal.

Easy, clear, and principal tested and approved!


If you enjoyed what you are reading
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