What is it?
Falling Stars by Kraft New Services, Inc. is a highly addictive app that allows the user to compose music and sound effects visually. Confused? Check this out:
Unlike anything you've seen before, right? I must tell you, when I first downloaded this app, I sat and played with it for over an hour without looking up. It. Is. Mesmerizing. Why? It bewitches the user by involving three of the five senses at once—vision, hearing, and touch. (I suppose if you just pop in a stick of Trident, as the app is actually intended to persuade you to do, then taste and smell would come into play as well!)
Descriptive Writing: Students compose their own music on the app, and then write descriptive pieces—using imagery—to either describe the music itself or serve as a process paper, detailing the steps and motivation behind their composition processes.
Creative Writing Prompt: We English teachers usually give written essay prompts, and occasionally we mix it up by using a visual prompt (such as a painting or thought provoking photograph). But what about using a sound prompt? As a bellringer/journal prompt, how about playing an original Falling Stars composition for the students and then asking them to write a creative narrative that fits the mood and tempo of the music? Perhaps the teacher could provide the first piece, and then students could take turns sharing their own musical compositions for the daily class focus thereafter.
Mood, Suspense, Tone: To assess the students' understanding of the mood of a certain work of literature, ask them to compose a piece of music on Falling Stars that fits the scene/chapter that the class has just read. When sharing their music, encourage the students to explain their thought process, referring to specific quotes from the text that influenced their musical choices.
Dramatic Interpretation, Poetry Recitation: For student read-alouds, dramatic interpretation of text, or poetry recitation, pair-up the students. As partners, the students plan ahead, one creating music that compliments the text that will be read by the other, and vice versa. During the presentation, one reads as the other plays the music he/she composed to accompany the partner's text. Then, they switch. Assessment should center on appropriateness of the mood created by the musical composition as well as the tempo. Both should reflect the mood, themes, and tone of the literature.
Bellringer: Ok, this is simple. When our students walk into class they are often frazzled, distracted, and stressed—in other words, in no state of mind to quickly sit down and start drafting the next great American novel (or even the next great American journal entry!). How about letting them settle in, put their earbuds in their ears, and play with Falling Stars for five or ten minutes? I'm telling you, aside from sparking creativity, there is also something almost meditative about this app. Let the kiddos have some time with it at the beginning of class, and afterward you just might find them calm, focused, and ready to think artistically about literature and writing.
Teacher Tip: At time of publication, there is no method of exporting tunes created on Falling Stars into other applications. However, one can easily save the compositions directly on the app, upload them to Twitter & Facebook, or email them.
Triple shot for teacher ease, student enjoyment, and applicability.