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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Sunday, October 04, 2009

This is Music

Categories: Other

I am struggling today. The reason is lack of sleep, as I sat up till after 1am participating in a 'chain' of music on Spotify, courtesy of an idea by John Daly, a primary teacher from Glasgow. I have to say that I am a sucker for this type of thing, and I'm trying hard to pull myself away from it just now to note a few thoughts. While we were sticking tracks on the chain, I had mentioned to John about a classroom use for this. The more I thought about it, the more uses came into my head. I am writing a few here, but please feel free to share more via a comment here or through twitter. The great thing about spotify is that, as far as my reading tells me, it's entirely legal, as it is backed by major labels and streams music like radio with adverts rather than relying on downloads.
1) Create a playlist of songs for use in the teaching of subject topics. I started a playlist of Geography songs with colleagues, where we used spotify and a google form to collect tracks and details of how they were used in class. Examples were 'Mosquito song' by Queens of the Stone Age, which I have been using when teaching about the Geography of disease and malaria, and one of the most oft used songs in the teaching of Volcanoes, Billy Jonas's 'Old St Helens'. The ways in which the songs could be used could vary from using the lyrics to setting a scene for the topic.
2) Alan Parkinson added to this idea tonight through twitter by suggesting that the playlist could be used where students are asked to choose three most appropriate songs to accompany a video. The video could be one that the teacher is using, one created for the lesson with no backing or videos created by the students themselves. Asking the students to justify the choice would further strengthen their understanding of the topic-which songs have lyrical relevance, for example.
3) Alan also suggested starting a 'Country' chain of tracks. I've been thinking about this and like the idea of using that to help aid students memory of a sequence. For example, when we teach Brazil in s1, we talk about the origins of carnival and migration to Brazil from elsewhere. It would be nice to let students collaborate on a playlist which took them round the countries, or for the teacher to play music from each of the countries and see if students could puzzle out where people had come from.
4) Mood music- I always start the same topic with last.fm playing samba or Bossa Nova music and have found the students respond well to this when they are mind mapping their previous knowledge. Spotify could be used in the same way, except I would have more control over the content and form
5) Reward music- There is an English teacher who I worked with who quite often played music lowly in her class while the children were completing an activity. I know some people might think that music could be distracting, but I remember listening to music for as long as I have been studying as background, and I see students every day working in free periods while listening to their ipods. The teacher who played her music had one of the most settled and attentive classes I've visited. I think a nice way to reward the class for their efforts would be to allow them to collaborate on the background tunes for the last period of English in the week, for instance.
6) Musical timing, genre, mood, instrumentation- I can only begin to imagine the possibilities spotify would have for a music teacher. Imagine a class trying to collaborate on music which had 4/4 time, for instance? That instant streaming of relevant music would save time, money and access problems for music departments.
7) For Drama- although I've already said that spotify could be used for mood music in my lessons, there is probably no better example of a subject which would benefit from spotify than drama. Students could act out their own scenes to, for instance, a piece of charged classical music. Their own performances could be linked to the time of the piece of music.
8) PE- I often see PE classes using music for dance etc. Spotify would allow them to hand pick their tunes, while again slashing their budget for CDs/tapes etc
There are probably many more uses for this, although I am not sure how many schools would see this pass a filter. This is my list to try to justify why it's a useful tool in the classroom. Please feel free to add your own thoughts, even if it's just to disagree :)


At 9:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would need to be the paid-for version, unless you want an advert for something mirthful in the middle of your lesson! (A collateral plus side to that is that somebody would get to use the account with their iPhone!)

Some cracking ideas there, especially using 'mood' music at the start of topics and in drama/gym lessons.

At 9:09 pm, Blogger Kenny O'Donnell said...

Don't think the adverts would be a worry if you were using most of these ideas-many just need a single song. Also, for the reward music, maybe some ads would come up playing that, but I can't really recall any questionable ads? But fair point. Thanks for the kick start with the Chain. Great idea!


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