Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I listen to it all the time and will happily recommend songs and bands I like to anyone who is interested. I'm always looking for interesting ways to incorporate music into my lessons and broaden the musical horizons of my students.
The past couple weeks, I have been giving my middle school students verbal exams. This is a good way to test their listening and speaking skills while also making it more difficult to cheat! I prepared questions and conversation started adequate for each grade level (though discrepancies within classes were more difficult to manage). Some of my 5th graders know more English than some of my 8th graders. I asked questions with increasing difficulty and allowed for basic answers versus more embellished ones. Overall, both I and my students were pretty happy with the process. I tried to make the testing atmosphere as relaxed and conversation-like as possible, since I know how frightening and frustrating speaking tests can be.
I first considered conducting the tests outside the door of the classroom to prevent students from overhearing the questions, but that would have been asking for chaos to reign within the classroom. Then I considered having students leave the classroom after they had completed the test, but again, that did not give me adequate supervision. Finally, I decided on playing some music for the rest of the class while having the individual tests at the front of the room.
I gave the entire class a small-group activity to due for the period and called students up one by one. Some were extremely nervous and would answer my first question, "How old are you?" with "Fine." I would patiently repeat the question, making sure to articulate the words very clearly and slowly, until (hopefully) they understood. After the first question, most students seemed much more comfortable.
Besides testing their listening and speaking abilities, I also wanted to share some music that I enjoy. Most of my students have very different music tastes than I do. I'm glad they enjoy pop and rock and metal. I also want to take some time to expose them to types of music they may otherwise never be exposed to. During my 8th grade classes, I played the new album from the band fun., called Some Nights. I thought the music might have elements that are similar to things they already enjoy but also have elements and sounds they have never heard before. And I was successful!
At the end of class, when students usually come up to the teacher's desk to pester me about their grade, my student, Beni, brought me a USB drive and asked if I could put the album on it for him. Just one student, but it really made my day.
I have a little over three months left here in Romania, and I'm going to try to have as many of these little moments as I can.