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Lesson Ideas

Integrating music into curriculum allows creativity and connections. I teach middle school math, and with the mathematical standards increasing each year, time is a valuable resource. I also find it difficult to find appropriate and worthwhile lessons that integrate music in a logical and meaningful way. However, here are some examples of lessons that I will incorporate this next school year.

1) Miscellaneous musical interludes: I would like to download popular music (from all decades) that have recognizable and relevant verses and/or melodies. I will import them into my smartboard notebook software so that they are embedded into my notebook files. Then, whenever the time arises I can use them to enhance and entertain my students. For example, some songs I could use would be:
a. Another Day in Paradise
b. The Way It Is
c. Don’t Give Up
d. New Attitude
2) First and last week of school: As a community building and get to know you activity, have students create their own soundtrack…first, we will talk about what a soundtrack is; where have they heard that word before? Movies? Why do movies need soundtracks? Do they help tell the story? How are songs chosen? Then, go into discussions about choosing songs, and how songs make you feel. What’s the first thing you notice when listening to music? The lyrics, the mode, the melody, the instruments? If you had to pick one song to describe how you feel right now, what would it be? Why? Then, we will move on to creating their personal soundtrack. They will need to pick songs that go with their life, and to be able to explain why they picked each song. It can be how they feel when they listen to the song, or it can be because of the actual lyrics themselves. There would then be a sharing…I think small groups for most of the sharing would be good because then we may be able to listen to parts of different songs. The benefit of an all-group discussion would be beneficial if I was using this as a get-to-know-you activity. Time constraints may be the deciding factor for the sharing portion of the lesson. The reason I would do this the last week of school would be for the students to compare their soundtrack from the beginning of the school year. This could then lead in to discussions about the school year – what happened during the year to change part or all of your personal soundtrack? Do you feel different? What do you like about the two different soundtracks? Were there any similarities? What were they? Why were they there?
3) Chapter Review Project: I like to use a variety of projects throughout the year in order to encourage creativity and to increase interest and productivity. When the students are done with a chapter (meaning a a new topic), we always review before taking a test. Sometimes I like to do stations, group work, etc. One way I could incorporate music would be to have the students each be in charge of one part of the chapter. Then, they would develop either a song or a rap that includes specific important parts of their required section. The sharing portion would be a performance, which would also allow the rest of the class to study before the test. I could make this as involved as I wanted, with how many sections each group was in charge of, how many verses their songs needed, if lyrics needed to be typed, and how involved the presentation would be. I could also do this project in place of a test instead of for a review day. In this case I would make sure that the directions were detailed enough in order to be able to assess the students’ knowledge of the content.
4) I would also like to do an on-going American Idol unit. I would have it be the same length as the season of America Idol, and it would just be a 10-15 minute segment each Thursday through the season. We would be analyzing voting data for the show each week. How many people voted, who won, and then practice converting between decimals, fractions and percents. If students were engaged and liked the idea, I could always expand into different graphs and data analysis.
5) I would like to also incorporate songs that are already written about math – similar to School House Rock songs….there are many out there about all different mathematical concepts, I just need to find them and use them! Here are some sites to start me off:
a. http://www.school-house-rock.com/
b. http://www.songsforteaching.com/mathsongs.htm
c. http://www.mscc.cc.tn.us/webs/vyoung/songs/Main_Pages/Tables.htm
d. http://www.mathwire.com/music/music.html
e. http://www.rogertaylor.com/clientuploads/documents/references/Mathsongsing-a-long.pdf
f. http://mathsongs.com/
g. http://www.science-groove.org/MASSIVE/