I have been doing songs of the week for the past 3 years. Previously, I had chosen random songs that struck my fancy. Maybe it was a catchy chorus or a tear-jerker video. They were a great source of input for my students but I felt like I wanted to take it up a notch this school year.
I decided I wanted a theme that connected all the songs. One of my biggest beliefs in modern education is that we have a greater teaching responsibility beyond the curriculum. Many students do not get the adult guidance that they deserve in order to become caring, respectful, responsible members of our global society (I need to start writing school mission statements:) But seriously, we are the de-facto role models for many of our students, and it is our
job privilege to give them more than just comprehensible input. World language teachers teach the world more than language!
So, I chose the theme of respect. (Here is that playlist again: Song of the Week- Respeto) Respect for others, respect for differences in culture and beliefs, and respect for oneself. I feel many of our students are missing some or all of these concepts in our “let’s stay glued to our screens and laugh at the plight of others society.”
CHOOSING THE SONGS
I do a song of the week in my Spanish classes as a means to provide compelling comprehensible input. Depending on the level, that input might come directly from the song, or if the lyrics are beyond them, scaffolded activities to allow the students to understand the words and/or the message the video presents.
What do I look for in a Song of the Week? Here is the basic idea:
I always choose videos that have: strong positive messages, good musicianship, and catchy lyrics.
I try to choose videos that have: a video/storyline that adds a second layer to song, represent a wide variety of Spanish-speaking countries and genres, and have engaging visuals. (I still need help finding great Banda, Tejano, and Norteña songs;)
I do not choose videos that have: lyrics/visuals that depict drugs and alcohol in a positive manner (I personally love the song Calma (by Pedro Capo) but can’t use it because of the phrase “abre la medalla”), women depicted as objects (I am still on the fence with Sofía (Álvaro Soler) and can’t use Échame la culpa (Luis Fonsi/Demi Lovato), swear words, overt sexual themes, or are discriminatory based on sexuality, race, gender, age, or beliefs.
This is a personal choice. You do you. Choose what you think works in your classroom. For me, if I would be embarrassed to show it to my own eleven-year old twins while explaining every word of the lyrics, I don’t use it.
ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH EACH SONG
I do something with the song everyday of the school week. Sometimes it is only 5 minutes, other times it takes the entire class period. If it is providing comprehensible, engaging language (or even great discussion in ENGLISH) I roll with it. Lesson plans are PLANS, not the Bible. If we spend an entire week immersed in music, language, culture, and positive ideals, everybody wins!
Since I do a new song every week, I don’t like to do the same activities with every song. Here are some of my go-to choices. I have not defined every activity, but many of them are very searchable on the iFLT/NTPRS/CITeaching and the CILIFTOFF Facebook pages:
5 key words/phrases– I teach with untargeted structures. (ie- I don’t have a set curriculum that I am trying to “cover” each year, week, or day). But in the case of songs, I guess I am semi-targeted. I do like to find 3-5 key words or phrases that I feel the students need to be introduced to, or need more input with, in order for them to be better acquired. Many of our discussions and activities focus on these.
Movie Talk/Clip Chat/Film Discussion/Get-on-your-students-last-nerve-as-you-make-a-3-minute-video-last-2-class-periods Conversation
Sentence match (can’t remember the real name for this activity, but it is where you cut up chunks of the songs and have students try and match the Spanish and English translations)
Readlang.com– I use this site to play the videos. It is a free service where you create a lyric video where the words are highlighted as they are being sung. It is a pretty easy set-up. First you upload the lyrics, link the YouTube video, and then you sync the video which takes 5-10 minutes. You choose the sync option, and as you play the video (before using it in class), you click on a few words as they are being sung. You don’t have to do each word, but I like to get the first word in each phrase or line and anything else that might have weird timing. You can always go back and add other “sync markers” to make the highlighted words perfect. Here is an example of one I did for “Besos en guerra” by Morat: Besos en guerra
Translate together– Going over the lyrics together in order to make sure they understand the meaning in the L1. BE CAREFUL! If the song is complicated, lengthy, or has lots of low frequency vocabulary, it becomes very old, very quick for the students. You don’t have to go over every word of every song. Sometimes just the chorus or an important verse is enough. I do like to do as much of the song as I can, but if I did that for every song, the kiddos would rebel!
Turn and discuss
Focus on the lyrics– Some songs we spend most of our time on what the message of the song is.
Focus on the storyline- Some songs we don’t really worry about the lyrics, but on a compelling message provided by the video (La estrategia by Cali y el Dandee is a good example)
Predictions- Show a still image or clip and have students guess what the song is about. Alternately, play a line or two of the audio and do the same.
TPR- I use TPR to focus on the 3-5 key phrases I have chosen to semi-target.
Biography of artist(s)- I almost always include a short bio of the artist(s) in a Powerpoint. I like to include a map showing their home country, the style of music they sing, other hit songs in case the students want to “study” them further, and key points of the artists life. Sometimes this takes 2 minutes, other times it can last a class period and we don’t even get to the song until the next day.
Sing-a-long– Sometimes we just sing along and enjoy the sound of the language!
WHAT ABOUT RESPECT?
Okay, so I must confess, this blog post is a work in progress. Since this idea of a theme is new to me, I am still figuring out how I want to make the overarching focus on respect (Hey, it is still July! I can’t be THAT prepared!) . My initial idea is to have discussions on how and why each of these songs represents one of those main “respects” I mentioned earlier (Self-respect, respect for culture, respect for beliefs, respect for others). I want the students to come up with these, I don’t want to spoon-feed them. I want to try and connect them to their real lives. I want them to see and be immersed in a culture where the idea of respect is valued and lived. As I brainstorm and solidify what I want to do with this overarching theme, I will add to this post.
Please leave comments on your ideas of how we can develop RESPECT through LANGUAGE and MUSIC. I would love to hear and share your ideas with everyone else!
¡Hasta el próximo abrazo!
Be nice, and don’t die! (maybe I’ll blog about this phrase in the future!)