Guest author: Lelde Dālmane
This article has been written by a guest author. If you’re an educator or music industry professional who is interested in contributing an article to the Midnight Music blog, you can apply here.
Welcome to another blog post written by a guest author. The author of today’s article is Lelde Dālmane, Content Marketing Manager at Catchbox. Lelde has shared some tips below, but first I wanted to tell you about my own introduction to Catchbox.
I first saw a Catchbox in action at Amplify’s We Are Podcast 2017 conference I attended last year in Brisbane. The conference was a gathering of podcasters from around Australia and beyond and featured presentations and workshops by some of the industry’s biggest podcasting names.
From the very first session, it was clear that one of the biggest hits of the conference was the Catchbox – a throwable microphone (yes, throwable) that’s designed to encourage audience participation.
Image: Jason Malouin – The Portrait Store
The Catchbox is a wireless microphone that’s housed inside a soft cube shape and it’s incredibly light. It makes passing a microphone around a crowd really simple and easy because there are no cables to get in the way. Not only that, it has the effect of being an instant ice-breaker. It’s almost impossible to avoid smiling when a microphone is being tossed around a room. The conference attendees who laughingly refused to attempt to catch the flying microphone quickly identified friends nearby who could step in as proxy catchers and from the outset the room had a relaxed feeling.
Image: Jason Malouin – The Portrait Store
I could instantly see how effective this device would be with a group of students. It could promote participation from shy members of the class, get students moving, involve more people in group discussions and encourage vocal improvisation.
I asked Lelde Dālmane (the Content Marketer at Catchbox) to contribute a guest post about using the Catchbox in an education setting. She has sent through some great suggestions below and I’ve added my thoughts about applying her tips in a music-specific setting.
– Katie Wardrobe
A throwable mic??
From toddlers to teenagers, kids today are more tech savvy and reliant on technology than ever before. One can argue whether it has more positive or negative aspects, but the fact remains – technology is becoming a part of not just our everyday life but also day-to-day actions of our kids. Experts agree that used the right way, technology can enhance the learning experience. And not just for students, either – for educators too.
Catchbox is a perfect example of how technology can be used to activate students and put some fun into the classroom, even whilst using more traditional teaching methods. The soft colorful microphone can be easily thrown from one person to another without being damaged or causing injury.
Here’s a quick peek at the Catchbox in action at a couple of different schools:
The Catchbox is perfect for all ages, including the youngest learners. Ideal for group activities such as discussions, debates, and in-class games, Catchbox increases student engagement and knowledge retention by keeping their brains alert and active. It also helps develop critical and quick thinking by encouraging students to formulate answers just in case the microphone happens to land on them. Here are just some ways you can use it to your advantage:
1. Break the ice
A “break the ice” activity can be a big help when starting a great lesson. Even a simple gesture like greeting your students by name before class can boost engagement by as much as 27%. Think about your topic and break the ice! You can activate your students’ brains from the get-go with a question and throw the Catchbox anywhere in the room. As the microphone is tossed around, students will naturally focus their attention on the activity.
Katie’s comment: this could be a great opportunity to use a name song or name rap where the students need to say or sing their name in time to the beat when the microphone is tossed to them.
2. Start a debate
Want to know how your students feel about a controversial topic? Let them answer! Watch confidence grow as you share the results. Knowing that more of their peers responded the same way, students will feel bolstered and begin actively participating. Split your class and have them debate controversial issues. With a classroom response system, you can even administer student polls to garner lasting opinions. By creating a multi-channel dialogue, students will be empowered to voice their opinions, which allow them opportunities to think critically and problem-solve.
Katie’s comment: you could choose a specific music-related example for a debate with your students ie. “should music producers be able to remix songs without the creator’s permission?” or another topic that fits with your current unit of work.
3. Make it a game
Want to add competition and excitement to your classroom? Turn a lesson into a game – with Catchbox it’s very easy to do! Try out these games or make up your own!
Have your students in a circle, say a word and toss the Catchbox. Student says the first letter of the word and tosses the Catchbox to a classmate, who has to say the second letter and tosses the Catchbox to another. When the word is spelled, the teacher gives a new word. Students who make a mistake must sit down and the game starts again with the teacher. The last one standing should get a sticker!
Katie’s comment: this would work well with music terminology, composer names, instrument names or musical genres. You could use tempo words, orchestral instrument names, dynamics, technical audio terms, the names of composers you have studied and so on.
One in a Catchbox
Have all the students in a circle, name a category or theme, it can be something you’ve learned recently. Such as animals who live in the jungle, things that are red, things that can be found in the kitchen etc. Begin by tossing the Catchbox! The student will shout a word related to the theme and throw the Catchbox to the next student. Words can’t repeat. If a student can’t think of a word within 10 (or 15 or 20, it’s up to you) seconds, he or she sits down. Last one standing is the winner!
Katie’s comment: music-specific category examples for this game could include instruments of the orchestra, musical expression words (including tempo, dynamics and playing techniques), classical composers, artists from a specific musical genre (R&B, Motown, Blues, Jazz), musicals, or movie soundtracks by John Williams (he has composed more than 100!).
4. Ask, don’t tell
From a behavioral standpoint, you’re much likelier to get positive reactions from your students if you ask them what they’re going to do, rather than telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing. This is because you’re giving them the freedom to choose their own path. Turn your back to the classroom and throw Catchbox just like brides bouquet. The student who catches the mic is entitled to choose an activity.
Katie’s comment: this might be a good way to decide which song the class will sing next, or which musical game they will play.
5. Build the positives
Research shows that, for best results, positive interactions should outnumber negative ones by at least three to one. So, the best way to tackle less than stellar efforts is to build on the positive rather than focusing on the negative. At the end of a lesson or a day, gather your students in a circle, pass around the Catchbox and ask each one of them to name one thing they enjoyed the most. That should leave the day or lesson on a positive note. And at the end of the day – it’s all that matters – students who enjoyed their time!
Katie’s comment: you could also use this idea to ask students which thing they remembered from the lesson, or to recap important information.
How do you go about encouraging your students? Are there any ways you use to spark motivation in the classroom which you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments.
Connect with Catchbox
Youtube video: Catchbox – the world’s first throwable microphone
Follow Catchbox on Twitter: @catchbox
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