Assessing songs/songs as assessment
From yahoo tprs groups 10/19/12
Laurie Clarcq



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Just some thoughts...

Songs are a wonderful way to incorporate real language and capture the
minds/hearts of our students. It's actually a complicated idea for us. How
many? How often? What kind? Which type of activities are best? Should we
assess? How do we assess?

Here is the first thing that we need to ask: what is the purpose of using this
particular song?

Once you have determined the purpose, the rest follows more naturally.

I don't know what your reasons are...I'll share mine and maybe that will help a
few people. Warning...they are all selfish.

1. I learned to use language in context from songs...AFTER many years of study I
was not able to speak with comfort. When I started listening to songs, I found
phrase after phrase of useful language that stuck in my head that I could say
out loud with comfort and ease. I'd like my students to experience that.

2. I love music. Love it. It sticks in my head all day, makes me want to move
and lights up all of my emotions. I often see that with my students as well.
As a teacher, I want to tap into that.

3. Songs are emotional. Language and emotion are inseparable. Teenagers and
emotion are inseparable. Seems like a natural connection to me.

4. Songs are literature. They are stories and poetry. I love the rhythm, the
rhyme, the alliteration, the metaphors, the imagery, the cleverness and
creativity in the lyrics. I want my students to experience some of that joy.

5. Songs create memories. I want that.

6. There is an enormous amount of repeated, high-frequency language in songs.
LOVE THAT.

If you look at my reasons for using music, there are very few things that I can
actually assess. So I don't. I utilize. If there is something in a song that
is important, I use it in stories, conversations, activities, etc. And if I
need to assess it BECAUSE OF ITS USE IN CLASS, then I do so. WHEN I AM PRETTY
SURE THAT EVERYONE HAS A GOOD HANDLE ON IT.

Here's why...

Even though I try to use assessment differently in my class than other teachers
may, there are a couple of messages that students have received about assessment
that often override my use:

1. If the teacher assessed it, we're done with it.
2. Assessment is stressful.

I don't want either of those messages associated with songs, so I don't give
song quizzes or tests. I don't even do cloze activities. I want to know if
students can THINK IN SPANISH USING LINES FROM SONGS and use them in natural
interactions.

Here are two examples of how we use lyrics in our department:

Eres Tu (sorry that I am accent-less)

Second year students write and illustrate poems utilizing and manipulating lines
from the song like this:

Como un/a_ soy yo, soy yo, (like an eagle I am, I am)
Como un/a
Como un/a
soy yo, soy yo
Asi, asi soy yo.

Como un/a , y (like a star,
bright and far away)
Soy yo.
Como un/a
_, _y _
Soy yo.
Como un/a
_, _ y ___
Asi, Asi soy yo.

(students are provided with lists of nouns and adjectives THAT HAVE BEEN
FREQUENTLY USED IN CLASS OVER THE PRIOR YEAR in order to smooth the process.
Final versions (without names) are "published" and read in class...with student
permission)

After watching the movie "The Way" in Sp. 3, Students were given 10 familiar
lines from songs. We asked them to take the role of a character in the movie
and write a letter about the journey from that perspective. They were required
to include 7 of the lines in the 25 sentence letter.

Because we do a number of these kinds of activities with each song that we do,
this was quite possible and very successful.

with love,
Laurie