I have always loved music and have found there is always a place for it in the classroom. I can still sing the 50 States song which I had to learn in third grade! I listen to everything including classical, rock-n-roll, rap, pop, grunge, alternative, and yes even country!
There are a few specific songs though that I have used in different Units of Inquiry that have really reached the students.
I mentioned before I worked with a UOI in grade 3 on Artists; an inquiry into how artists express and communicate their ideas and emotions. After studying Van Gogh’s paintings, I introduced the students to another artist who wrote a song about Van Gogh, Don McLean.
The students loved the song and were even prompted to write about their feelings towards the piece of music. Some students were inspired to write poems about Van Gogh as well! (Yet another form of art)
During another UOI on Energy Conservation I have used the song, Big Yellow Taxi, originally written and performed by Joni Mitchell. This song became known for it’s environmental concern and sentiment. I expose the students to two versions, the original by Mitchell and a cover by The Counting Crows. The students discuss the environmental messages and compare the two versions. I also find them singing it at break!
Two other songs that I have used were during a study of Mesopotamia. The Band, They Might Be Giants, wrote and performed a song, We’re The Mesopotamians, which gives the students insight into a few big names from that period. The other is a student produced song titled, The Mesopotamia Song. This song uses the music from Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the Love. This piece of music includes many examples that allows students to understand important contributions from the Mesopotamians.
Music is fun! Allow it to be a part of your classroom and let the students enjoy the experience. You many even find you have a few song writers/musicians among your students as well.
NOTE: I have also found using Purify before students watch youtube videos to be beneficial. This allows the viewer to watch the video without comments, suggestions, and “other things”.