Let me preface this post with the same disclaimer as every other post I will ever write, I AM NOT AN EXPERT! Now that we have expectations in check, let's get this show on the road. I want to honor the idea for this post to a colleague on Twitter who had the idea to start a playlist for school to engage students. I am completely stealing the idea, however I have poured over my Twitter feed and have not been able to find the post for the idea that sparked my version. For those that may be so inclined to continue reading my posts, I hope you take away the fact that I am like the ancient Romans, I am not very inventive, but more like a pirate in acquiring and using resources. I maybe unlike the Romans, want to give credit to those who inspired my variation on the lesson, or idea.
Okay, so my legal department can now sleep easy that I have acknowledge the real creative forces out there, let's begin.
Oh you are still reading -- awesome! You must really be curious about music. I have found music to be a powerful force in my own life. It is amazing how it can transform your mood, inspire and motivate you to complete the exercise, help you concentrate, or express your ideas to others. Gone are the days with the 8 tracks and vinyl records. Yes I am old enough to remember both, so respect your elders. I also lived through the giant boomboxes that everyone stocked up on D batteries to carry around and blast your music. We witnessed the transition from tapes to CD's and now digital music. As these transitions happened, the portability of music increased. With the advent of the mp3 player students are more readily connected to music, but may also be more disconnected to their surroundings. Welcome to the 21st century where a phone is a mobile workstation and a portable stereo with limitless access to music anywhere anytime. Those are the technological changes that have sparked social changes. Students plugging in their ear-buds and tuning out those around them. When independent work time is given they immediate ask if they can listen to music. They want it, nay they crave it. And I completely get it. Music is an amazing path to escape into your own little world.
Wow! He just told us music is important to students, he must be a genius. Well no, not really, and no I am not trying to insult your intelligence, but rather set the stage for using what the students crave to your advantage. When you watch a movie the music pulls you to ramp up the excitement, feel the emotion of the main characters. The producers spend a lot of time choosing the right music to get those results. They want you to remember the events more vividly. The same could be done in a classroom setting. We can set a mood of excitement with high energy music, or grab students' attention with a short clip like at a football or basketball game. You could use it as a transition or as a timer. I plan to use it in some of these forms, but also to connect to my content. I think students pick the music they listen to many times because of the beat, the sound, the tempo, without always realizing what the song is about. Think about connecting to your content. In just the last two days I have a few ideas for lesson plans with music.
To give you a quick example, you can use a song that discusses discrimination or intolerance such as Everyday People, by Sly and the Family Stone, or more modern, Born This Way, by Lady Gaga., or one I will use and have a lesson plan for, Fishbowl by Kenny Chesney where he discusses the impact on our lives of social media and technology. Here is the lesson.
Another lesson I plan on creating is to have students look at the music being played at different times in history. What were people listening to during WWII, Vietnam, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? What does this say about the impact of war on our society? Has it changed over time? Has war had an impact on the home-front? These are just a few things that have come to mind as I think about incorporating music into my classroom.
I have begun a music spreadsheet for the purpose of connecting to students. There are several tabs that have been created to separate the purpose of the songs. Please take a look, add your ideas, and take what you can use. Also add lesson ideas or class connections you can think of. This is a work in progress, but I know we can make our classrooms better through collaboration.
The inspiration for this post comes from several other educators who have shared their playlists, or ideas for music with me. I didn't invent the idea of using music as a hook or connection to students, I just decided this year to incorporate the ideas started by others, and implemented in my own manner. Please take a look at the google spreadsheet I created and share ideas or comments you have as well as steal anything people share to better enrich your lessons and your connections to your students.
Credits for this post - I included the link to their post in their name.
Michael K. Milton @think42
Josh Gauthier @mrgfactoftheday
DDEUBEL'S BLOG - 50 Ways to incorporate music into the classroom
Here is some research supporting music in the classroom:
John Hopkins University
There were others that I looked at in my quest, but unfortunately I did not do a good job chronicling all of the sites that I found useful to help me in my journey to use more music.