Friday, October 19, 2012

Cloze exercises w/ Songs

I'm feeling a little frustrated with the results I'm getting when my students take their song quizzes on Fridays.  The grades are lower than I expect and I haven't quite figured out what the problem is.  

Here is my routine for songs:
1. Monday: I introduce a new song in Spanish.  Students listen to it without seeing any lyrics and list words they hear in the song.
2. Tuesday: We listen to the song again but this time with the lyrics, some of them missing for students to fill in. Go over and explain any new phrases/words.
3. Wednesday: Listen to the song, pausing the video at times to ask the students comprehension questions.
4. Thursday: Listen to the song.
5. Friday: Quiz - for some of the points I replace words with a line and students listen to the song and fill in the blanks; for some points I put some words in bold print and students write what it means.

I suspect that I'm not getting super results from this because I'm not taking the time to preteach the unknown grammar and vocabulary.  If that is the case, then I need to weigh whether testing students on the song is worth the time that I will need to spend to preteach the necessary vocabulary.  I feel like my classroom instruction time is very limited as it is.   
 
Would it be better to listen to the song once or twice, maybe with a cloze activity, and then NOT test the students on the song?  The students enjoy listening to the songs, and I like that I can introduce another aspect of the culture to the students through music. 

Maybe I should simply let them enjoy the music and the cultural experience and save the testing for other areas.   Time to check with my PLN to hear their experiences with music and assessments and their suggestions.

5 comments:

  1. I try to pick songs that somehow relate culturally or grammatically to what we're discussing. I do cloze activities and we always discuss what the songs mean (at least the important parts), but I haven't tested students on them ever. I think just use songs as another method of input and then test them on those things once they've gotten enough repetitions. If the word or phrase is important enough you'll be using it in other stories, so maybe test them on it there.
    Hope all is well. :)

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  2. I tried doing song quizzes a few years ago and was pretty successful with the format (taken from Victoria Gellert, who teaches Japanese here in Anchorage). The class would vote on three lines from the song that they wanted to learn, and they were responsible for memorizing the translation of those lines during the week and knowing them for the song quiz on Friday. I tried to encourage them to choose phrases that would be useful in their lives, and I would give them modifications to the line each day so that they could see how to manipulate it to say other things (ex: if the line was "mi dulce princesa", how would you say, "my sweet friend"? "chocolate is sweet"? etc.). I stopped doing it because, although students were learning the terms short-term, there wasn't a ton of long-term retention, which probably could have been remedied had I kept bringing around the terms, but I didn't. Maybe I'll bring it back one of these years...

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  3. I use songs a lot. Try to teach some culture. Often there are a few they memorize. This year they have two totally memorized and i love it. They understand it and are using the language And downloading the songs....so, i look at this as learning. I don't test on the songs...just learn to learn and have fun with it. Maybe that is too lite for some, but my kids beg to sing every day.

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  4. Check out senorwooly.com. I have taught hundreds of kids that can't get enough of these songs. The teacher tips explains the grammatical focus of each song and activities are available for each one including puzzles, close activities games and stories.

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  5. Thanks for the responses and suggestions.
    I need to add songs back into my lesson plans. When I do, I think I will make them for exposure to the language and culture instead of using them for any type of formal assessment.

    I used Senor Wooldrige's songs last year but didn't renew my subscription (yet), so this year I was limited to the ones from our CD or the new song that he made available to everyone.

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