Can You Close Read a Music Video?
If you can use close reading strategies with text, and with an image, then why not with a music video? First we just watch and listen, Then we watch a second time and focus on the language used in the lyrics, focusing on details and vocabulary words, while making notes on a graphic organizer. We watch a third time and the students focus on questions that they have about the content, adding to their notes. Finally, I have the students turn and talk with a neighbor about their notes on the song and identify the BIG idea. The multiple viewings of the music video really gets the song stuck in their heads which helps them remember the content. You can click on the image (Lessons That Rock) for a link to the note-taking page and lesson plan that I use for this popular activity.
There is a word association game that we play towards the end of a unit that I call "World Frenzy". Sometimes I use this game at the beginning of a unit to assess prior knowledge, but I like it better at the end for a review. I give the students two minutes to write down as many words as they can that relate to our unit of study. I used a visual timer from an app I have on my iPad. The problem with the visual timer was that students spent more time looking at the timer, worrying about the timer, and checking the time than they did writing.
Teenage Daughters + A Drought = A Brilliant Idea
I have to thank my shower hogging teenage daughter for the solution to this problem. At home we allow her two songs for time spent in the shower. This works well because she knows the song well enough to know when she had better start rinsing. Otherwise, the timer goes off and instead of getting out, she still has to rinse.
I thought about this and I decided this would be a great way to time the students when we play "World Frenzy". There would be no timer to check, and they would be able to tell when the song is winding down and their time is almost up. As an added bonus, there is built in scaffolding with this timer! Students who are struggling to come up with ideas for words to write down will get ideas from the song that they are listening to as a timer.
When the song is over, the students count up their words and the student with the most words shares his or her word list. They have to put their pencils away and use only a highlighter at this point. If another student has the same word written on their paper, they raise their hand and they both cross it off of the their lists with a highlighter. I like this because it makes it hard to cheat and the crossed off words are still readable. If no one else has the word written on their list, and this is where things get really interesting, the class all gives the word a thumbs up/thumbs down. Thumbs up means the word is related to the topic and thumbs down means they can't see how this word is connected to the topic. If the majority vote is thumbs down, then the student gets a chance to explain/convince the class that their word is connected to get their thumbs up.
For example, the topic was "civilization" and the word getting the thumbs down was bargain. The student then explained how bargain is another word for trade, and how specialized workers that lived in cities traded goods. All thumbs switch to up! I felt like I needed to send her a thank you note after the lesson.
After all of the debating, discussion, and connections are settled upon, the student with the most words at the end of this process is the king or queen of the world for the day, with a paper crown to prove it. Here is what makes me adore my class though, they decided that they were all winners because they had fun.