I find that it is REALLY a very difficult help students to understand tempo, but to be able to use the tempo vocabulary when describing music. My co-teacher and I tried something new this year. We developed a listening lesson that allowed students to compare various tempos side by side.
First we asked our students to divide a piece of paper into sections. Students ended up with a paper that contained more sections than they needed, but the extra space allowed for us to create a title for their work and we also had room to add additional words if we chose.
We first asked students to write the word "presto" in the box. We then asked the students to listen to an example of presto music and to draw "what they heard". Some students drew instruments, Some students drew various sorts of lines and other students wrote words that came to mind.
After we completed our first word, we added our second word and asked the students to write the word "moderato" in a square of their choice. Once again, we asked the students to listen to an excerpt of music that was "moderato" but this time we told them that their drawing should sound different.
After the students had collected several words and drawings of words the really powerful part of the lesson was when we asked them to share what they had drawn for each word.
Finally, mixed up the pieces and played different excerpts than what the students originally responded to and asked them to discern the tempo. They not only did a really nice job, but they have continued to use the words to describe music which is the real goal of the process. I found that students who drew lines in different weights tended to be able to verbalize the various tempos better. I think this happened because they were actually moving their crayon in tempo with the piece being played.
When we show these videos to the students we create links through safeshare. :)