Mixed up Mixtape: back to school

It’s that time of year again.  Summer is drawing to a close and it’s time to go back to school.  As a teacher, I get to relive those back to school feelings every year.  Be it excitement to see friends again, anxiety of upcoming tests, the pure agony of those early, early mornings or sadness at the end of another summer; these are some of the tracks that will be helping me ease myself back into school life.

The Cure – Last Day of Summer

Time to mourn the end of the summer holidays, wave goodbye to late mornings and lazy days.  It’s term time baby.  Set that 6am alarm and don’t press snooze.  OK, you can press snooze but only once.

Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays

Actually, this song is pretty much applicable throughout the year.  Monday mornings are the hardest.  I have to drag myself out of bed and I’m still not awake after a shower or coffee.  Usually by Monday lunchtime I’m starting to become human, until then it’s Zombie Teacher survival mode.

Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive

It’s not only the early mornings, the start of term sees the to-do list multiply with planning and printing and laminating and cutting and, and, and… sometimes I just have to remind myself in full Gloria Gaynor karaoke style that I CAN and WILL do it.

Jack Black – School of Rock

We can all dream of being that life changing teacher who manages to bring together the students to overcome life’s barriers.  Aaaand we can keep dreaming.  It’s nice though, and for the first few weeks, or maybe even months, the cloud of positivity remains around my head until it starts to drift away…

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

Because lets face it, what can we really achieve when we are all part of a system?  We’re just cogs in the machine…  OK so I’m definitely not that pessimistic at all but I had to squeeze this song in, obviously.

Usually I only choose five songs but I just had to get this last one in as a bonus track;

The Replacements – F*ck School

For those harder, more challenging days.  Thrash it out!  And sing along at full volume!  Best save this one for when you get home though….

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As usual I am inviting you to share your mixtape within this week’s theme.  Make sure you put a link back to this post so I can see it, and use the tag: mixed up mixtape.  And a special thanks to those who contributed last week!

Missed last week’s mixtape?  Listen to it here.

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Mixed Up Mixtape: 5 Songs About Homesickness

Today’s Mixed up Mixtape contribution comes from la France – merci! A very chilled mix of songs that make this blogger feel at home 🙂

Teacher Tuesday: ReBeats NEW online learning resource

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ReBeats is an online game that aims to improve English language learning through listening to music.  Using a simple fill in the gaps format, users watch a music video and select the correct word from two options to complete the lyrics of the song.

Scores are awarded for choosing correctly, speed and streaks of correct answers.  Users can then enter a leader board or send a challenge to a friend’s email address.

At the moment the website is still in its early stages of development and they are asking for feedback.  I decided to give the website a test run, looking at its potential as a fun resource to be used in the classroom with students.

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Screenshot from ReBeats.tv

The website is very simple with minimal instructions but it all becomes self explanatory very quickly.  You have the choice of using the mouse of the left/right buttons on the keyboard to choose the correct word.  The latter is a lot quicker.  I would like to try it out on an interactive whiteboard, with students taking it in turn to be in control of the ‘magic’ pen (watch this space).  Students left to watch can shout out suggestions or sing along, karaoke style.  I would be singing regardless.

One missing feature that I immediately picked up on is that you are unable to select the song.  They are currently randomly generated, meaning that you don’t know if Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball video might pop up next to your class of 9 year old girls, or if the vocabulary in the next song might be too easy/hard for the group.  A representative from ReBeats has assured me that this is all due to the site still being in development and hinted at song choice and making your own playlists as developments in the near future.  An even bigger improvement could be to rank songs from easy through to hard, based on the language used.

The word choices offered give a good range of easily confused words, homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings/spellings), context specific choices and basic grammar rules.  Sometimes either word could be correct, requiring students to use their listening skills.  There is only one word missing for every few lines of the song and if a song is particularly high tempo or the class are struggling to choose the correct word there is the option to pause the video and go through the sentence with the students.

At the end of each game, points, accuracy percentage and reaction times are displayed, with the option to add this to a leader board or challenge a friend via email.  My students love competition so the fact that there are points and rankings is very important when trying to keep them engaged.

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End of game points review.

Also, once a song is completed you have the option to review all of the lyrics with the correct answers revealed.  This could be a great time to discuss why certain words wouldn’t work in certain sentences and to review any incorrect answers made.

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You can review incorrect answers at the end of each game.

During the time that I played, I had songs from artists ranging from Kings of Leon, Queen and Avril Lavigne to Olly Murs, Adele and Lana Del Rey.  Most of the songs are current and ‘cool’ enough to keep my students happy.

Overall I think it’s a good resource to use in the classroom as a bit of fun at the end of the lesson.  Personally I don’t think this is a tool for serious language learning, although the team at ReBeats are promoting it as a potential resource for making real improvements in English language learning.  The site has a slick, app-like appearance and is  ad free.  As it’s currently in the beta stages of development, expect further feature and game play developments to appear in the not too distant future.  I will definitely be checking back to see what improvements are made as they receive feedback.

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All reviews on this blog are my personal and honest review.  ReBeats is a product from Tonguesten, an education technology start-up based in London and currently incubated by Wayra UK and UnLtd.  I did not receive any payment, monetary or otherwise, to write this review.  If you have a product you would like me to review please get in touch – info@cornishkylie.com .

Mixed up Mixtapes: road tripping

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New feature alert!  I’m trying my hand at another new feature – this one is a keeper, trust me.

MIXTAPE time!

We all know the value of music – it has the power to heal, to bring back memories, to transport us to that special happy place that we all need to go to sometimes… each week I will be sharing part of the soundtrack to my life, and I invite you to join me in creating a special mixtape that sums up the theme for each week and leaving a link in the comments below.

Each week I will visit a different theme connected in some way to my life living, working and exploring Thailand.

Here is topic numero uno;

ROAD TRIPPING

No road trip is complete without having a variety of carefully selected tunes to get you through the hours of monotonous driving.  I recently road tripped from Phuket to Hat Yai – a grand total of 450km, almost six hours of grey highway and not much else.  Here are some of the tunes that got me through the journey…

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Yeah, it’s a bit of an obvious choice what with having ‘car’ in the song title but this song is catchy, is fun to sing along to and perfectly captures the fun of running away in your car.  Side note: always thought she was a man until a few years ago, anyone else?

The Passenger – Iggy Pop

Turns out it’s hard to think of songs that don’t have some sort of car themed word in the title… but this song is again perfect to sing along to, even for those of us who don’t know the words but enjoy singing nonetheless – la la la la la la la la is quite easy to remember.

Stuck In The Middle With You – Stealers Wheel

Hurrah, a song that doesn’t have any car cliches!  Although if you are in a very full car then the person sat in the back middle seat could perhaps connect with this all too much.  This song actually reminds me of going for drives in my friend’s dad’s BMW when we were kids; we would always demand that this song be played at full volume – love it.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

A personal favourite, this time reminding me of driving around in my own dad’s car.  Not only perfect for singing along, this song also enables you to blast out the air guitar, air piano and of course, head banging (Wayne’s World style).  Safety notice: drivers, please refrain from full on head banging.

I’ve Been Everywhere – Johnny Cash

Any song by the Cash is perfection for a road trip playlist, so I just chose this one as it is on topic.  This would be absolutely perfect for someone road tripping across the USA, but those of us who aren’t there can pretend for a minute.  I’m currently going through a bit of a personal Johnny Cash revival so in fact on my recent road trip I listened to an hour straight of his music, but this wouldn’t be much of a mixtape if it only featured one man, even if he is music royalty.

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So there you have it, my very first mixtape laid out for your pleasure.  I will be sharing a mixtape every week from now on within a different theme and like I said, if you would like to share your own, please feel free to and leave a link in the comments below.  What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than making a mixtape like the good old days?