יום שישי, 12 בינואר 2018

Using the Musical.ly App to Enhance Students' Speaking Skills

Enhance pronunciation, listening, musical skills, team work, motivation and more using the musical.ly application in the EFL classroom.

Some of the video examples on this post will not work on mobile phones, but they will work on your desktop computers.

About a year ago, I met Miri Levy Shushan, from Hadekel school in Tel Aviv. She took part in a team called "Get English" that shared ideas about enhancing speaking skills in the EFL classroom. She proposed her ideas and lesson plans about how to integrate the Musical.ly application in the classroom. I immediately tried it in my classroom as well.

What is Musical.ly exactly?
From the app’s website:
Musical.ly is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short (15 second) music videos. Every day, millions of people use musical.ly as an outlet to express themselves through singing, dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing. The app celebrates creativity with videos recorded in 15 seconds or less and shared across the musical.ly community.Here is a good tutorial I found explaining how to use it. 

Musical.ly can be used with songs or with a simple speech recording without any music. Students create short video clips using those excerpts. Here students can practice speaking and presenting using fun filtered images and videos of themselves.

I created sample videos to show you what I sometimes do in class:

1. This is a regular music video that involves learning the words by heart and lip syncing to it.

2. This is a Present Simple exercise, I call it Describing a friend and it comes after the students write and practice a speech about a friend:

 3. There are some funny speaking videos that you can lip-sync to. 
When I did the PLC lead teachers seminar, I met Sharon Cohen, from Yeshurun school in Netanya, a super talented colleague who has amazing ideas. We decided to have a little fun with those options on Musical.ly:

Here is an example another of one, used by three difference "musers":

The text:
"Oh you totally didn't have to bring me a Christmas present! 
Oh, it's an orange. Thanks. I will just, go squeeze some juice, I guess."

Letting go
Sending students out to do a speaking musical.ly on their phones for 20-30 minutes, and sending them to you at the end of the lesson, will save you time listening to each and every student during class, but it will also enable them to work more freely, with friends, with less pressure to perform, and do as many "takes" as they want, until they get it perfectly and are ready to share with their classmates and teacher. This repeated exercise will sharpen their pronunciation of the words but also will make them feel responsible for their own learning. I use this to substantiate trust between the students and I, I tell them that if I get a good video at the end of the lesson, then I know that I can trust them and will know that I can trust them next time as well, knowing that they are on task even if they are on their own (or in a group) without teacher's supervision.

Using songs in the classroom
When choosing a song to teach, the teacher should probably: Think about the theme.
When I have a project about The Beatles, I can teach one of their songs. When I teach the Present Progressive, I can teach a song that has many verbs in the Present Progressive such as "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega. 
In addition, think about the level of the students.
Don't bring "Rap God" (a super-fast rap song) by Eminem if your students are in the 3
rd grade. Not to mention, appropriate content.

Basic lesson steps for teaching a song:
1.   Listen to the song together in the classroom. This is a good introduction.
2.   Look at the title. (Just like we do an unseen). Have students ask questions about the title and talk about the main topic.
3.   Listen to the song this time with the lyrics. (You can look up the song on youtube and add the word: "lyrics" to your search).
4.   Stop and highlight any special idioms, new vocabulary or tense
5.   Lower classes: I like to sing a line and have the students repeat after me. I start slowly and make sure to slowly pronounce the words. If students are shy, I encourage those who sing by giving "points" and always making sure to positively praise them and show them that I see that they are making an effort.
6.   Sing again with the lyrics.
7. Find the karaoke version of the song on youtube, and challenge the students by having them be the only singers. (This is done best using a microphone!)
8.   Optional: Create a musical.ly video with the students using effects, filters and gestures.
More song enrichment activities:
a.  Change some of the lyrics of the song and perform. You can do a The Voice or Eurovision activity. (click the links to read about how to do these activities).
This is an example activity that exaplins how to change the words of the song "There's a hole in my bucket" and this is an example that shows how to change the words of the song "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles.
b.  Older students can write another verse to the song and sing it too.
c.   Drawing or creating an animation, a presentation, a comic or a book about the song and the story in it. You can use google drawings/Power Point/ story jumper or PowToon.

Even though we have this generic way of teaching a song, depending on your students and the way you feel as a teacher, in experimenting with teaching, you can always vary the method.
Here are some ideas:
Divide the class into groups, tell every group to choose a different song (or provide them with a song of your choice that meets your pedagogical needs). Bring computers (or use tablets/smartphones) and give 20 minutes for learning the song together as a group. This will encourage them to listen to the lyrics again and again and try to pronounce the words correctly.
In the same way, you can ask students to find a musical.ly track and complete a musical.ly video using that song.

Why use Musical.ly?
1.     Letting students know they can do a musical.ly video during the lesson, will encourage them to: Practice the "singing" or "speaking" over and over again, to make the video perfect. This will be a great reading (lyrics) practice, listening (to the song) practice, pronunciation practice (repeating it over and over to make the video perfect) and this is also a great practice of the students presentation skills.

What is it about lip-syncing?
Lip-syncing to a song is a great way to:
a.  Learn how to simply and really sing it aloud.
b. Debate and discuss the words/pronunciation and meaning in groups/pairs. Students learn best from each other.
b.  Pronunciation practice: Make sure your lips are moving in the right way and fit accurately with the sounds and words that you hear.
c.   There are many "speaking" "musical.ly's". You can provide students with speaking chunks to practice in pairs. This is a funny and highly motivating way to practice monologues and dialogues as well as learning more about slang and every day language. Using the funny excerpts on musical.ly will enable students to see that the videos they watch at home, in the movies or on the internet, can become a part of learning and that school is relevant to their lives.
2.     Increase motivation- How many times did we sing together a song from the course book? The interactive version? A song from You Tube? Well, this time we will be able to sing and lip-sync using students' one of their favorite apps, using their smartphones or the teacher's phone. For some students, using this app, may be the only time they will sing or even speak during a lesson.
3.     Young learners love to see themselves with filters/effects etc…

Some advice when using musical.ly with young learners:
1.     Use teacher's phone/ipad/tablet.

2.     Do a musical.ly video yourself, as a teacher, in front of the students and transfer immediately to your computer to screen this on the

smartboard. The example will illustrate the process better and will show

 them how easy this is and how much fun it is.

This is a musical.ly video (well, just photos from it) that I did in front of 3rd grade students, just to show them how it's done:

3.     Use an easy song that you have previously taught and kids feel very comfortable with. You don't want to do many "takes" filming, we want the process to be quick and fun and not draining, because we are in a "frontal" mode and the students are very young.

Other fun ideas we didn't think about:

1.   Rewards – If you are using a particular reward system, for classroom management, like a star chart, a sticker notebook or a digital platform like Classdojo or class123. You can give a "do a Musical.ly" reward. To download scratch cards and add this prize to them, read my last post here.
2.   Teamwork - Students can create duets or group singing with musical.ly. This is a good opportunity to work collaboratively but also a way to practice some peer learning in heterogeneous groups.

Would love to hear from you, how did it go? How did you use it? What is it that you saw happening for the first time?

Feel free to send me a friend request on facebook.

Hili Zavaro

יום רביעי, 10 בינואר 2018

HIT Treasure an App to Create a Treasure Hunt Game

The Tresure HIT site, is a site that helps you create a Treasure Hunt game around your town. There is no need to plant your clues around the city or any QR codes, just insert a street address, and the GPS will help the students to "check in". 

I recently played this game with my native speakers. It was a lot of fun running around the neighborhood and seeing them discussing the clues and trying to guess where the next stop is.
To read more about the App go to Efrat Ma'atoof site on here. 

Students get the next clue

Step 1

Create an account on the site.

Step 2

Create a new game.

Step 3

Create a new clue: first you need to insert the address (for example: King George 11, Tel Aviv), and click "save". Then you need to insert a clue that leads to that address. 
You can upload a video or a picture or write a hint. 

Examples of clues: Pablo Picasso said that: “Every child is an artist". ...but you may be too close to the trash cans if you go the beginning of the home of the civil rights lawyer.

לואי מרשל 1, סטודיו 

Tomatoes, vegetables and carrots all like to live here. People like to buy us and put us in their salads.

הירקן השכונתי

This is the carriage that will get us to the city of:
Maart shnaro, it has twenty four horses to carry us there.

תחנת האוטובוס קו 24 שבמוביל לרמת השרון.

Step 4 (optional)
You can upload a task/a question to be done.

Step 5

"Publish" the game up to 48 hours before you want to play it. You will get a game code. 

Step 6

Tell your students to log in to the HIT Treasure App (or give a small group your phone) and insert the game code. 


Make sure you get parents permission to leave the school. 
Make sure you leave with a small group and have your eyes on everyone (partani groups or small native speakers group).

Have fun!

You can send me a friend request on facebook!!

Hili Zavaro

Using Augmented Reality to Immerse students in Learning

The application: HP reveal (previously called :Aurasma) is an app that allows teachers to create an augmented reality game.

clue: Snowman
Here the clue was: East and West. (grade 5)

Minions are playing when students scan a "Mulan" book.
"A chinese girl who becomes a hero"

What is augmented reality?
מציאות רבודה

"Pokemon Go" is an augmented reality game. People scan an object or walk in a specific place, and in that specific place, looking through the phone, an image or a video is revealed. It looks as if the image is actually there. It is there: virtually.
Using the app: HP reveal (Aurasma), teachers can create different "treasures" around the school or even around the classroom.

How to?

Step 1: Embed videos or images around the room.  
This is a video that will tell you how to do it: https://youtu.be/63-ZF87RtoQ
But from my experience, I recommend preparing and playing it straight from your phone or tablet. But you can do it "public" so any account can scan it.

Step 2: Write clues that go along with the images that you scanned. Here you will need to weave your pedagogical goals into your hints. (vocabulary, grammar, perhaps literature, word games etc)

Step 3: Hand in the smartphone/tablet to students and give them the clues. You can create a linear series with a prize at the end or just treasures that are scattered around the room. In any case, kids love to see that they have found the little treasure, every time.
"That is where we trash the paper"

"People celebrate this holiday, it is not a Jewish holiday"
(The boy scans a Christmas tree art work)
"We use it to learn the meaning of words"
(scanning the Even Shushan dictionary)

"When there is fire, we open this door"
A day later, I decided to conduct an activity that involves
 students videos. The students prepared "at the restaurant" 
videos a few days before and sent it to me by WhatsApp. I 
decided that they will watch each others' videos on AR, if they
 find out the clues.  It was more meaningful to do it as the 

image seen was a video of their friends. 

A student is watching a video of his classmates
"ordering food in a restaurant". 

The possibilities are endless, have fun with it!

Visit the Aurasma site to learn more!

Find me on facebook and send a friend request. 

Hili Zavaro