I want to say the first time I used music as an educational experience was in high school when we used the song "We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel. I really don't think that is accurate but it is definitely one that stands out to me. We listened to the song and then jigsawed the events listed in the song. Each of us, or with a partner were asked to examine the event and report back to the group.
Today I would upgrade that activity in a number of ways and will share a few here. What I remember about the activity was being responsible for my event. I don't remember any discussion about the idea of the Fire. I think the real power of the song is the idea of fire- we didn't really analyze what Billy Joel meant by fire, nor what started the fire. The other aspect about the original that could be adapted was the focus on cause and effect. I think looking at the song from the lens of cause and effect changes the way the I understand the context of the song.
If you look at the events as being connected like a giant web of cause and effect it changes the learning experience from individual reports of isolated events to a network of interconnected events that changed the path of history.
With that in mind I would update the activity by having students examine modern events. There are a couple of ways that I think this could be done.
1 How have you used or seen the song We Didn't Start the Fire used?
2 What event in the original song was most important to history? why?
3 What does Billy Joel mean by we didn't start the fire-- what does the fire refer to?
4 Which events should be added to the song- write new verses with events that have occurred after the song was written. Alternative- Events added prior to the song -
5 Take a look at the current events each month- which should make the cut for the song-- which events of the current time are most important?
6 How would other countires look at the events of the song?
7 How would other countries look at the events students might add like 9/11?
8 The song is about cause and effect-- the events of the cold war sparked other events-- What other events in history could students write a similar song about? What events would be connected with that event?