March Music Madness or MMM is one of my students favorite activities and I might just love it as much or even more!!! It is the first thing requested at the very beginning of the school year “Madame, are we still doing Manie Musicale?” “well, of course we are!”
MMM is just so much fun and I love to use it to energize my classes during those last few weeks of school. Those little series of music contests create so much excitement and anticipation in my classes – what is the best song, who the new champion will be – that is all everyone talks about (even teachers from other classes have shared their students enthusiasm with me). I don’t really use it at the beginning of March like everyone else does because I put the list in place during spring break and after spring break we start! During that ‘research’ time, I listen to students recommendations first (they have until the day before spring break to give me a list of songs they recommend for MMM) then I look for songs that have positive messages with singers from diverse backgrounds – on the top charts in France with school appropriate lyrics and videos, phew that’s a lot of research!
1. SET UP:
After the list is put together, I hang the poster of the 16 songs and brackets on the wall. One student will be assigned to keep it up to date as a class job! Some of the singers are familiar to my students because we have studied some of their songs throughout the year – however, the songs on the music madness list have NOT been used throughout the year and are mostly recent releases. I use music madness with all classes, all levels have the same songs, same exact brackets. This becomes a great activity for the last 15 minutes of class during that time of the year!
Poster on the wall:
Here is the playlist on Spotify: MANIE MUSICALE 2018
Once we start in class with the first song of the first bracket; which is usually the winner from the previous year, (1) I discuss briefly the theme of the song in the TL, discuss some key expressions and go over the refrain. I show a picture of the singers and briefly talk about them, where they are from, their age, and some other fun details. (2) Students then listen to the song with the lyrics in front of them and will simply follow along. This is new from the previous years because I used to just play the video lyrics to start with but students seated in the back couldn’t really see the lyrics and preferred to have the lyrics in front of them for when we listen to the song – this year I just printed a class set to be used with all the classes. Here is a word document with all the lyrics: MM 2018 PAROLES. (It made a big difference: many were singing along and some of them after just 3 days of listening to the songs already had learned most of the lyrics!) Then they will rate the song: and give it 1 up to 5 stars (5 being excellent), they also share their rating with a partner. (3) Students listen to the song a second time and do the MM5 activity: five or less is the magic number here – for me anyways 😉 – activities vary from song to song or round to round. I wanted to keep this simple and for minimal accountability because my main reason of doing MM is to expose students to some culture. Examples of those activities are: *put 5 lines back in order, *5-word cloze activity, *5 expressions (in English on the board and students look for them in the lyrics which are in the TL), *5 positive expressions, *expressions that rhyme with …, *5 cognates, etc. depending on the songs and the class level. See the top half of students examples below.
Example 1 (MM18) – 5-translated expressions activity:
Example 2 (MM17) – missing words – cloze activity:
The next day we repeat the same process with song number 2 of the first bracket. (1) discussion about the theme of the song, refrain, and singer. (2) Listen to the song, follow the lyrics, and rate the songs. (3) One MM5 activity. (4) Finally, we listen to parts of both songs again and then vote – as seen on the bottom half of the examples above.
Throughout the year, I incorporate a song of the week (or every other week) see post HERE during which time we have loads of discussions on how to express our feelings about the song, whether we like it or not and why or why not. During MM, we basically listen to the songs from a bracket and then cast our votes on our favorite one. Every student in every class will vote. Students can compare both songs, discuss the rhythm, instruments, etc. They write 3 lines of who they are voting for and why. This template in the TL is on the board as reference they can chose to use the entire thing, part of it, or not: I vote for (song) _______ from (singer) _____________ because ____________ and also _____________. The other song _____________ compared to this song. (see student examples on the bottom half of the pictures above). We keep following the 4 steps mentioned above under “activities” until we are all done with the votes for round 1 (with all 16 songs in all 8 brackets). Two students per class in charge will tally up the votes and write how many students voted for each of the songs on the board. At the end of the day, I do the grand total: I add up to total of the votes per class for a final number and for the winner of that round. The next day we have a short discussion on how many students voted for this song compared to the other song, who the winner is, who keeps on going to the next round, and if they are happy with the outcome. I also like to read three or four votes out loud per class: what students wrote on their papers and why they voted for that song, this encourages them to write a bit more 😉 but I never share names. Next year, after reading them I will also post them next to the poster on the wall. One student in charge takes care of updating our MM poster after that discussion during first period. It is the very first thing students look at when walking in the classroom (and it is strategically placed close to the FVR library!)
After we listen to all songs from the first round and vote for the favorite one for all 8 first brackets, we move on to round 2 – at this point, for the semifinals, and finals, students just vote with our language lab or simply by raising hands on their favorite song right after sharing with a partner. My upper level students took the habit of trying to convince their partner to change votes, this was all in the TL and it was hilarious! Here I might start showing the music videos as well but we don’t do any other activity – it is more like a brain break: just listen, relax, and vote. For the finals, when we have our champion, we simply listen and sing along; the winner becomes the first song for next year’s music madness.
Here is the end result:
Also in a pdf file:
Students received a similar document to keep track of their own brackets in their own interactive notebooks after marking their favorite songs. The template set up was not created by me: a blank template was shared in the French Teachers in the US Facebook page by a generous teacher 🙂 I then added the songs.
Many teachers have been using the music madness idea for a while now. I started back in 2016 that’s when I first heard about it the French Teachers in the US Facebook page – if you search for music madness or manie musicale you will find lots of resources and different ideas on that page (I’m sure the same applies to the Spanish Facebook page). Martina Bex has an awesome post on music madness in her blog: the comprehensible classroom where she explains what MMM is and how other teachers, some of the experts, are using it in their own classes – this post gives you lots of new ideas: “March Music Madness advice from the experts“. You can also learn about it where it all started here: www.spanishplans.org!
Here are my song lists from 2016, 2017, and 2018:
You can clearly see the winner from the list becomes the first song we listen to the following year!
I will definitively keep using MMM the way I have done it; however, there are a few things I’d like to do better:
- I will play 4 songs a week for the first round instead of just 2 because it took the entire last quarter to finish up.
- I will keep creating a playlist on Spotify and share the QR code with my students but I will start creating one with the music videos on YouTube as well.
- Finding different styles of music – mine ended up being pretty much all pop and very similar! I am considering trying to find recent releases from French speaking countries instead and not just France. Mis Clases Locas does just that with Spanish speaking countries!
- After reading students votes I will start posting them next to the MMM poster.
- I will try a prediction bracket – when my students completed their brackets in their interactive notebooks, within the next day some naturally just wrote their prediction for the winner after listening to all the songs at home. It did help having the QR code posted on the wall and on their pdf document. A few shared their predictions with me and two of them were spot on!
- It has been a few years now that I have been thinking about trying Christmas commercial brackets in December (similar to this music madness), right before our winter break and doing movie talks with the videos sound like so much fun! I am not really sure of where I read about this first, but it sounds like a terrific idea.
- I’d love to collaborate with other teachers on creating the brackets for next year (for MMM19 and even for the Christmas commercials brackets!). It was a lot of work just to find the songs because of the criteria I set: *latest releases *school appropriate lyrics *school appropriate videos *singers from diverse backgrounds *same amount of male singers as female singers *appealing to high school students *positive lyrics *different GENRES of music (I admit that I totally ignored this last criteria but will do my best to keep it in mind for next year!)
This was so much fun and easy (after the research process!) to incorporate in all classes. I am so glad I finally found some time to write about this experience! Have you tried music madness in your own classes yet? I’d love to know how you incorporate MMM in your own classes!