Three Music Activities I Used Today

Today was the last day of classes before our institutional TOEFL and closing lunch. To keep the class light and fun, I decided to focus on music. I wanted to give students some listening practice, but mostly I wanted to have students have fun before our term ended. Many were leaving to return to their countries so I wanted to send them out with a bang.

Today, I came to class prepared with three really fun activities using Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”. All students worked as teams and had a great deal of fun. All the activities I used were very active (physically and cognitively) and involved listening, writing, and speaking skills.

Activity 1 – Last Person Standing

Prep:
Choose about five or six high-frequency (or low-frequency) words from the lyrics – ones that appear often. Make a note about whether their frequency is odd or even. For “Fight Song”, I chose:

  • fight (11 times)
  • might (2 times)
  • song (12 times)
  • strong (4 times)
  • can (6 times)
  • back (3 times)

Procedure:

  1. Let students listen and watch the music video first in order to get a feel for the song.
  2. Next, write the words you chose on the board. Students should choose ONE word each from the list. Members of the same group must have different words.
  3. Explain that their goal is to focus only on their word. When they hear their word, they must stand up. If they hear it again, they must sit down. Stand up. Sit down. That’s it. Simple, but very fun (and tiring!).
  4. Play the song and watch as the students enjoy this game.
  5. When the song finishes, make sure students do not move.
  6. Ask students for their word to determine if they were correct or incorrect.
    • Odd words – students should be standing.
    • Even words – students should be sitting.
  7. The group with the most correct students is the winner.

Activity 2 – Running Dictation

Prep:
You should have several copies of the lyrics printed, preferably with line numbers. You should post these up as far away from the students as possible in the classroom.

Procedure:

  1. Tell students they will be playing another game, and for this game, one student must be a writer.
  2. Wait for students to select a writer before continuing.
  3. Explain by model and gesture that one student will run to the lyrics sheet, memorize one line, come back to the group, and dictate the line to their partner while their partner writes it down.
  4. While this student is dictating, the next student should go to the lyrics.
  5. Repeat. Only one student should be at the lyrics at any given time.
    • To make the game more fun, I often direct students to the furthest lyrics sheet for their group.
  6. Explain that the song is the timer. When the song starts, they may begin. When the song ends, the game is over.
    • You will also be looking for the group with the most lines written, and the group with the most correct lines.
  7. Play the song and watch your students run around.
  8. When the song is finished, ask students to count how many lines they have. Whichever group has the most lines is a winner.
  9. Visit each group and quickly compare their lyrics to the original. Decide who had the most accurate lyrics. Declare this group the second winner.
  10. Give them the lyrics sheet and allow them to compare/correct as necessary.

Possible Extensions

  • You can have students evaluate their lyrics and decide the cause of any mistakes (e.g. listener or speaker problems).
  • You could have more focused student dictation practice by having students take turns dictating lines to each other in pairs.
  • You could have students read the lyrics and work together to try to understand the song’s meaning.
  • You could complete vocabulary and grammar work based on the lyrics.

Activity 3 – LyricsTraining.com

Prep:
This activity works best if you have mini-whiteboards or laminated sheets of paper with markers. Students will be writing missing words on the boards. If not, you could have students simply raise their hands, but the writing aspect makes it more fun.

Procedure:

  1. Access “Fight Song” on LyricsTraining.com.
    • If you don’t know about LyricsTraining.com, it’s a wonderful and free web-based language learning game. I’ve written about it once before here.
  2. Explain that students will need to look for the missing word during the game as the lyrics scroll. If they think they know the word, they should write it on their board and then show the teacher the word. The first group to show the correct word gets a point. Students should keep track of their points on their boards.
  3. Choose “Beginner” mode and begin the game.
  4. As students give correct answers, type them in to keep the game going.
    • Pay attention to the words and know them before the song gets to the blank. This way, you can focus on watching students rather than watching the game, making choosing the fastest group more easier and fairer.
  5. You should complete any really difficult words, especially those obscured by the music. However, for words that you think your students can get, use the replay button.
  6. At the end of the game, tally students’ points to determine the winner.

Students really enjoyed today’s activities and everyone left with big smiles, singing or humming “Fight Song”. It was a great class and students got a lot of great listening practice (and exercise). What a wonderful way to end the term!

Find Song Meanings with Rap Genius!

If you like English music, but don’t always understand the words, Rap Genius is for you! Many songs’ meanings are based on cultural references, slang, and unique sentence constructions. With Rap Genius, just search for your song, look at the lyrics, and click the line you don’t understand. You will see a simple, user-submitted meaning. It’s not just useful for English students. Native speakers often don’t understand the meanings behind certain lyrics too.

Check it out!

Student-made Music Videos

This Winter Camp, my classes made music videos!
We copied the style of a very popular rock song: “Rockstar” by Nickelback.
Students used their own cameras to record themselves and their friends all around school, and around town! The work was hard, but it was definitely fun.
Please enjoy our videos!

“Love Me” by Justin Bieber
Download Original (245 mb)

“Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne
Download Original (42 mb)

“You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift
Download Original (47 mb)

“Run Away” by Linkin Park
Download Original (40 mb)

“Let it Be” by The Beatles
Download Original (31 mb)

“Blowing Me Kisses” by Souljaboy
Download Original (10 mb)

“New Divide” by Linkin Park
Download Original (22 mb)