A recent post I read, entitled Remember When, got me thinking about mix tapes and and listening to the radio as a kid. My sister and I used to write down the lyrics to songs – rewinding again and again and again until we figured them out (and we still probably didn’t have them right.) I remember making mix tapes for my best friends, my family, and to play by the pool. Little has changed…I am still making mixes for my kids, my boyfriend (I know, sappy), and to play in the kitchen while I’m making dinner. Same idea, but now we call them playlists. And it’s easier than ever; hit a few buttons on iTunes or YouTube (and then Zamzar it) and you’ve got the ultimate playlist. I just finished a “Carnival 2012” playlist for my boyfriend’s middle school carnival. This playlist is a hit with my two kids at home and will definitely be part of our 11 hour ride to Myrtle Beach.
A great way to connect with kids (especially teenagers) is to incorporate current music into your teaching. Some teachers play music as students enter the classroom or as they do seat work. At our school this spring, we were all set to “Rock the OAAs” and played great 80’s music every Friday a.m. over the P.A. system.
One way that I incorporated music into my classroom was by making a novel playlist for our 2nd novel of the year, Stargirl. The idea came to me the first year I did this book with my Resource Room. A very popular song at the time was “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again” by Usher and it fit perfectly with Chapter 31. So perfectly, that I downloaded it and played it for my class. I asked them why it was a good song choice. Seeing their reaction (one quiet, backward boy actually got up and started dancing), I knew I was onto something. I quickly worked on a playlist that weekend and burned 11 CDs.
On the day before Christmas Break, I reenacted a scene in the novel where Stargirl leaves loose change around town for children to find; I left 11 pennies in random places around my room. I “charged” everyone one penny for their Christmas “gift.” And we spent the rest of that period listening to the playlist and discussing how each song fit in the novel. It was a hit.
The second year I taught the novel, I decided to take the playlist to a new level. First, I updated it to make it “current” and I set up my lesson plans to include the playing of tracks after the appropriate chapters. I created extended response prompts that required the students to reflect on the song, explain how it related to events of the chapter, and evaluate if the song was a good choice.
Below is my Stargirl playlist, which I still listen to regularly. It still brings back some great memories of some great moments in class.
Do you have a summer playlist? Are you taking a long road trip this summer (with 4 kids)?
Here is the “Carnival 2012” playlist, which I am now renaming “Myrtle Beach or Bust 2012”, if you need some inspiration.
The last few days of school and the natives are restless. Today in my Resource Language Arts class we did a fun culminating activity.
To begin, we looked at a worksheet about evaluating a piece of writing. We discussed what it means to evaluate, completed the worksheet, and then the students became the evaluators.
Students lined up along the back of the room with small dry erase boards. Their job was to rate/evaluate each piece of literature that we read this year. I started at the beginning of the year and went sequentially. Students would write a number 1-10 (1 being the lowest) and then arrange themselves in a number line from lowest to highest.
As we went through our stories, I showed them the title pages or covers of each selection. This helped spark their memory. (Note to self: Next year, put these on the SMART Board rather than awkwardly flip through the text book.)
To keep the activity educational, I did the following things at random:
I asked individual students to provide a reason for their rating. What made you rate this selection so low? What made this a perfect 10 for you?
I quizzed them over the plot, characters, and some of the literary terms we used when we read that piece of literature. What was the setting of The Tell-Tale Heart? Which character was the protagonist in The Outsiders? What was Leo’s internal conflict in Stargirl?
I helped students find and explain the patterns of their ratings. Some things we noticed: The boys preferred science fiction and horror stories. Those who hate to read out loud rated the plays lower than the other types of literature. Overall, students rated our novels (The Outsiders, Stargirl, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) higher than our short stories out of our literature book.
Allowing the students to stand and move was a great way to direct their energy at this crazy time of year. I know some people use a number line already posted in their room, but the use of dry erase boards made everyone accountable and honestly, what student doesn’t love dry erase boards?
This activity was beneficial to me as well, as it served as a kind of formative assessment. What did they learn? What do they remember? What did they enjoy? What did they dislike? This will help me in my planning and instruction next year.
Do you do any end of the year surveys or review games?
How would you change this activity to fit your class?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your year?