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Rockin' and Rollin' to Better Student Achievement
Are you a teacher looking for a sure fire way to get students excited about learning? Have you tried music?
To create good lessons using music you don’t need to be a great singer and you don’t even need to play an instrument. We all know that most students love to listen to popular music. Plus, most of our students have an ipod, a computer, or at the very least a radio. So that means most students are interested in music and as a teacher it’s very easy to access.
When I was teaching 6th grade one of my students’ favorite units was when we used popular music lyrics to study mood, tone and figurative language. Each day I would share several songs and their lyrics so students could follow along as we listened. We would discuss mood and tone as well as the different types of figurative language. Of course I would choose songs carefully so that they were appropriate and contained figurative language. I tried to choose songs that they might know already, but also a mix of songs they weren’t familiar with.
This was one of our favorite songs about Onomatopoeia by Todd Rundgren:
After we listened we would discuss as a class the figurative language that we found. We would also take time to discuss the mood and tone of the songs and their lyrics. If you had an interactive whiteboard you could highlight the lyrics on the board as a class, but if not this could be done with paper and pencil. Here is a link for a file you could use with song lyrics and space for students to write what they find. Grooveshark is just one website teachers can use to access these songs to play for the class. The best part... it’s free!
Another idea is YouTube (if it’s available at your school). There are many videos on YouTube that play the song and the lyrics as it plays. Some of them even highlight the examples of figurative language. Here’s an example:
After I shared songs and we discussed them in class I would typically challenge them to bring in a song that contained figurative language. Now, if you want this to work and you don’t want any phone calls from parents you have to lay down the law. I would tell my students that they could not bring in lyrics for songs about drugs, violence or sex (they would always snicker or gasp when I said “sex”) and they could not have inappropriate language. Not once, in three years, did a student bring in a song that was questionable or inappropriate.
Another option for using music is using songs that are specifically about a topic. “Rhythm, Rhyme Results” is an excellent resource for educational rap songs for just about any subject. “Flocabulary” is another site for educational rap songs on a variety of topics.You can also scour YouTube and the internet for songs other people have written. You can also have your students get creative and get them to write their own song on a topic. There are hundreds of ways for them to record their own song.
We know that most of our students enjoy listening to some type of music. Because of the internet and technology most everyone has access to songs and their lyrics. Use these facts to your advantage and plan an engaging and creative lesson that uses music.
(If you know of any good songs that use figurative language, list some in the comment section below. We can create a good list for people to use.)
Tags: 21st century, figurative language, interactive, Learning, Media, music, Rhythm Rhyme Results, technology integration, YouTube
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