Monday, June 25, 2012

10 Ways I Tried To Enhance My Classroom This Year With Tech: #1 Lip Dubs

#1 Elementary Lip Dubs
Although this list is not in any particular order, I do think that number one should hold a bit more merit than the others. Therefore, the number one way I tried to enhance my classroom this year by using technology is also my favorite new way I tried to use technology this year. And since it's my favorite it's also a bit of a cheat since I recently posted about it. But I wanted to reiterate the benefits and some of the lessons learned in an elementary school lip dub.

What's A Lip Dub?
A lib dub is a music video that incorporates multiple people lip synching to a piece of music in (practically) one take. It's been performed by several high schools, universities, and has even been used as a city-wide project.

Not many elementary schools seem to have caught on yet. There are some, but not all the ones available feature lip synching. But I think this is a perfect project for elementary schools for the following reasons.

1) It Creates Community
In fact, the more people that are involved the cooler these videos end up being. The project lends itself to multiple classes and age groups. There aren't a lot of projects that both first graders and fifth graders find equally exciting and can be equally invested in.

(More After The Jump)
2) It Promotes Creativity
In preparing for our lip dub, it was important for the teachers to plan some things; the song, the locations, and the transitions mainly. But the rest of the video- how to interpret the lyrics and actions- is up to each of the groups to practice and explore, with a gradual release of responsibility as the grades get higher.

3) It Focuses On Cooperation
There might be only one or two main lip dubbers, but it's important for everyone to realize that the lip dub can't be what it is without everyone's participation. In fact, it's what is happening in the background that makes a good lip dub great.

What Are Some Technical Issues?
1) To Walk Backwards, Or To Not Walk Backwards?

The easiest way for a director to make a lip dub is to have the children walk backwards. It's not easy for the children though, and they will constantly be uncomfortable and occasionally be bumping into things real and imaginary. That low-level anxiety shows up in the final product.

The next level of complexity would be to have the kids move forward. This requires the director to put in a little more personal rehearsal time to practice traversing the different sets and obstacles.

The final level of complexity seems to be having children walk backwards, but play the music backwards and have the kids say the song backwards. That way when the film is reversed in editing, it looks pretty amazing. Especially if kids are jumping from a high place or throwing stuff.

2) Playing The Music

For my first attempt at this, we used an iPhone playing the music to help the children hear the music they're supposed to be dancing and lip synching to. It was grossly inadequate. The sound is way too soft for outside movement, especially for our school, which runs giant generators to give us electricity most of the time. 
The first half of our "Dynamite" lip dub was in the auditorium, where we had a giant sound system to tap into. That was much more effective. The trick is to find something in between. Something portable enough to not only move around, but reset easily for multiple takes, but loud enough for everyone to hear. Bluetooth speakers connected to an iPhone might do that trick.

3) One Take Versus Multiple Takes
At it's core, the lip dub is supposed to be a single take, without stopping or starting the camera or music during the take. In my experience that's extremely difficult unless you have children who are comfortable with many takes, and an administration that is happy to take a large chunk of time out of the school day for all elementary classes (where most of the time will be spent just standing around). Because this is such a nice community exercise, the preferable time where everyone will be happy with doing this project is at the beginning and at the end of the school year. But giving up more than an hour or so of time is hard on everyone. So some compromises have to be made, and one of these compromises is splitting up the lip dub into more than one part.

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