End Grain Block Wood Flooring DIY

16252110_10211260745419464_2016197405861658669_oWe have always wanted wood flooring in our living / family and bedrooms. One day, while watching This Old House, we saw an episode that showed a brief clip of them installing end grain block flooring. They called it Cobblewood flooring. We searched the internet and found a lot of information and history about End Grain Block flooring or End Grain Wood flooring, also called parquet flooring.  We saw everything from rustic installations to end grain parquetflooring designs in palaces and mansions. It has been used as street pavers, factory flooring to support  heavy machinery and reduce vibration. If you are going to do a project like this call us, we’ll tell you what we learned and maybe you will do better than we did.  It is well worth your time to watch all of the videos that you can on planning, preparing, installing, finishing and maintaining this type of flooring. In our opinion, it is a low material cost hardwood flooring. But the labor is intense. Continue reading

Can Music Help Make You a Genius?

Music classes are more important that you might think. For decades, parents have encouraged their children to play musical instruments in hopes that it will make them smarter. Is there any truth to that?

At Westwood Elementary School​ these Kodaly methods are used in all grade levels of music classes. Watch this 3 minute video. @westwoodsbisd @LarryShudra​ #westwoodelementaryschool @sbisdfinearts


Stay in Music Middle School

I encourage everyone to be in music. Parents, get your kids involved in music. There are lots of things that you can learn to do by yourself. But Music is the one thing that you have to do with others. You can’t be in an ensemble, band orchestra or vocal group by yourself. And it all starts in Middle School.  I just found these great videos that answer the questions that students and parents ask me about joining a music group in Middle School (Band, Orchestra or Choir).Click here to watch Stay in Music

I want all of my students to be in music in middle school. Music was a huge part of my high school life and I could not have done it if I did not start in middle school.

This video answers questions like:

Yes you can be in sports and music.

Yes you can be in music if you cannot afford an instrument. You might find that music is not as expensive as sports when you consider fees, uniforms, and sports equipment.

Yes you can make you schedule work with your academics.

I encourage you to enroll in music. Adults it’s never too late for you either. Contact me and I would be delighted to talk with you about music lessons, joining middle school music programs.

October Is the Most Difficult Month…For Teachers & Parents

October Is the Most Difficult Month…For Music Teachers, Parents and Academic Teachers Too

This is an article that we received from SOAR. It’s a good article that may help you right now. And SOAR has great materials. We use them to teach study skills.  Read on

Dear Kathy,

Are things getting a little “intense” in your classroom? Are your kids stressed out at home?

Last October, my daughter’s 1st grade teacher, Robert, sent an email update:

This week was something of a challenge. Tears and arguments cropped up on several occasions. By Thursday, I was fairly exhausted.

Then I suddenly remembered – it’s October! Holly and Jean (who taught at the school for 25+ years) always told us that October is the most difficult month. Children are testing boundaries both with their teachers and with each other – Jean always called it ‘shakedown’ month.

With that in mind, I entered Friday with a clear plan of action to make sure we finished the week on a really good note…

…Shakedown Month!

I never thought to name it. But, Holly and Jean are right… October is the most difficult month.

Reading Robert’s email, I felt a visceral reaction; I had experienced what he described. I could deeply relate to it. “Imagine if I was more aware of this ‘shakedown’ when I was in the classroom?” I thought. “I would have handled it better… for my students and myself.”

The Shakedown is not just a “first grade” thing. I taught ages 4-14 and always experienced The Shakedown. Both of my kids experience it. I remember feeling it as a student.

The stretch between the beginning of the school year and Thanksgiving is the looooooongest of the year. From there, the rest of the year is broken up with: holidays, winter breaks, spring breaks, and finally, the coveted summer vacation.

But, it’s difficult to return from summer and slide right into that long stretch to Thanksgiving. As Robert said, children (of all ages) are testing their boundaries. There’s more to it, too…

They are growing. They had a nice break over summer. And now, they’re being stretched. They are often in a new environment. Sometimes with new teachers and peers. They are facing new expectations. Learning new things.

In September (and perhaps some of August), they primarily observed all of this “newness.” In October, that “newness” starts to settle into their brain. Into their life.

Figuring out how all of this “new stuff” fits together is a lot of work! And they’ve been at it, non-stop, for several weeks. When school started, they went from 0-60! They’ve had no time to slow down.

It’s no wonder October is shakedown month!

How Do You Deal with The Shakedown?

There are several things you can do… each only takes a few minutes:

Recognize it. As Robert stated in his email, becoming aware of The Shakedown totally changed his perspective. He went from feeling fatigued to feeling energized. He created a plan of action and turned things around. Pretty cool!

Tell your students (or kids) about it. This past July, we attended our cousin’s gorgeous southern wedding in North Carolina. It was outdoors. Ceremony was at 3pm… with no shade. The temp was at least 100 (F), with 100% humidity. I don’t ever recall feeling so hot.

Two hours into the festivities, there was a moment when I suddenly realized, “Oh, wow… in a few hours, I will actually be able to shower at the hotel.” That sounds so obvious… now. But, in the (literal) heat of the moment, I had tunnel vision. All I could think about was the oppressive heat. As soon as I realized the heat wasn’t going to last forever, I literally felt better.

When you help your students (or children) recognize The Shakedown, they can reframe it. Like me at the wedding, they need help recognizing that it won’t last. And they can evaluate how they might handle it better.

Get your students in the Green Zone! This strategy is important throughout the year. But, it’s critical during The Shakedown.

Take a few minutes at the start of each class to help students settle in, relax, and feel comfortable. Perhaps you share a riddle, a funny joke, or a silly video (think “Sneezing Panda” or “Charlie Bit My Finger”). See our previous article about the Green Zone for more ideas. Anything you can do to help students lighten up a bit pays big dividends.

Move! Aerobic movement is the only natural way we can manufacture new brain chemicals. New brain chemicals reduce stress, give us more energy, and make us happier. Take a few minutes to do some jumping jacks in class. Take your class on a walk. Do something to generate a few new brain chemicals.

Take a meditation break. Students love having an opportunity to close their eyes for a few minutes. Play a guided meditation or talk them through some deep breathing exercises. A short break with eyes closed does for the brain what “restarting” does for a computer. A short reset can do wonders for settling effects of The Shakedown.

Emphasize the positive. October is the time when many students are deciding, “Should I keep trying? Or, is it time to give up?” This is the perfect time to introduce (or remind) students about their strengths!

I love teaching students about the Multiple Intelligences. Have your students take our Multiple Intelligences Quiz and discuss the results in class. What does this knowledge about themselves tell them about their abilities? About their future?

How can you, as their teacher, support and encourage their strengths? You have at least one student whose life will forever be changed by a conversation about the Multiple Intelligences. Yeah, I know you are buried in a mile of content standards. But this conversation is a major motivation boost; it will be worth the time you invest.

Hang in there. Finally, remember… this won’t last forever. Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! 🙂

To our students’ success,

Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Creator of SOAR

For Educators
For Parents

StudySkills.com. SOAR® Learning, Inc. 2640 Canoe Circle Pkwy #225 Lake Orion, Michigan 48360 United States 800-390-SOAR

6 Tips to Gain Students Attention in Class

This is from Kim Maloney you can visit her website http://www.music-teacher-resources.com

Visit her website and check out her resources and other information. There are some really good ideas there for teachers. Having the right tools and knowing how to use them makes the job easier, makes you more professional and yous students more successful.



Co-Directing the Spring Branch Boys Choir

I am so excited to have the opportunity to Co-Direct the Spring Branch ISD Boys Choir. My friend Faith Hebard has directed and managed this organization very well for a long time.  It was great to see her work with the boys today in the first general rehearsal. The boys are amazingly talented and I welcome the opportunity to help them develop their talents and make music together. There will be 3 performances this fall / Chirstmas. And 2-3 next Spring. The music work load this year for me with this group, my responsibilities at Westwood and my private studio are demanding. I am so excited to be doing all of this.

One of the things I am doing to prepare for this task is to re-read Inside the Elementary School Choir by Patty Bourne, and I picked up  Andy Beck’s Vocalize and lots of internet reading about choir rehearsal and vocal pedagogy.

If you have suggestions on good sources of information that would help me teach, coach, and direct these boys, and my students at Westwood I would welcome your input.

If you would like to audition for the Spring Branch Boys Choir, please contact me. I would be delighted to help you. – Larry

About the Spring Branch Boys Choir – The Spring Branch Boys Choir was formed in 1983. Over the years, the choir has enjoyed performances at locations in and around Houston including Memorial City Mall, the Houston Zoo, Bayou Bend Gardens, and the Alley Theater.  The SBBC has also toured throughout Texas and the continental US for featured performances and competitions in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and San Antonio as well as Disney World, Disney Land, Washington, D.C., and Boston, MA.  Besides great performing opportunities, the Spring Branch Boys Choir presents a chance to meet and make friends with boys from across the Spring Branch school district.  These are friendships that many of our boys keep for a lifetime.

Here are some of me favorite boys choirs, please tell me yours: