Music is a universal language. Integrating music in your classroom or online lessons can be a great way to teach content and engage students. Students love to listen to music, so why not make it part of your lessons? This strategy is called, “Lyric Learning”, and I would like to show you some examples.
To start with, please take a few minutes to do the following:
- listen to, and read the lyrics from this famous Stevie Wonder song, Sir Duke.
- After listening to the song, think about your connection to the music. Do you “feel it all over”?
- Ask yourself what that phrase means to you? This might be an interesting discussion to have with your students!
Many of our 21st Century learners are permanently wired to their headphones. Some students claim they love listening to music because they like the beat, some love the lyrics, others might experience the mood a song creates or the memories it might evoke. Indeed, most of our students love music, and “tapping” into their interests is a strategy to engage and motivate them.
Incorporating music into a lesson can provide you with new, and powerful ways to teach concepts or skills. However, although rhythm and melody provide a simple way to connect with your students at a visceral level, it is equally important to have them think about the lyrics that convey the key message in many songs. Lyric Learning provides a structure for teachers to help students learn, more deeply, by asking them to read, analyze, and discuss the meaning of the lyrics before playing the song (or before the students present a song). Let’s look at two more examples of Lyric Learning strategies.
Lyric Learning Strategy One: Integrate Music into Content
Lyric Learning: A Teacher Presented Lesson
“Hero” by Mariah Carey (YouTube video with the lyrics)
There are heroes within all disciplines. Here are some examples:
- Math: René Descartes: (1596-1650) A creative mathematician who developed the techniques that made algebraic (or “analytic”) geometry possible.
- Science: Thomas Edison: (1847-1931) A famous and prolific inventor who created inventions such as the light bulb, the phonograph, the camera, and the telephone.
- History: Rosa Parks: (1913-2005) An American activist in the civil rights movement who the United States Congress hails as the “the first lady of civil rights.”
- Literature: Dr. Seuss: (1904-1991) An American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter, and filmmaker.
Lesson Example: Hero
- Challenge the students to analyze the lyrics of the song, noting the qualities of a hero.
- Have students brainstorm a list of heroes related to the subject you are teaching (i.e., living, nonliving, fictitious).
- Instruct students to identify at least three reasons that support why they selected their hero. What qualities or accomplishments made them heroic?
- Instruct students to select a hero (she-ro) from their identified list, conduct research to learn more about him/her, and then choose one of the following projects listed. Each project must include the following criteria:
- Evidence of Research: Facts about the hero and his or her accomplishments
- Hero Qualities: Select three qualities attributed to the hero along with pertaining song lyrics
- Summarization: Explain the impact the person you chose has (or had) on the discipline you are studying
- Share your project (See suggestions at the end of the lesson).
Lyric Learning Strategy Two:
Ask students to identify a song related to the content they are studying.
Lyric Learning: A Student Selected Song
This strategy requires students to identify a song related to the topic of study.
- Challenge your students to identify a song that relates metaphorically to a concept or topic they are studying. For example, I use the song Step by Step by Whitney Houston. When students learn Math (e.g., Order of Operations), Language Arts (e.g., the Writing Process), Science (e.g., Scientific Method), and Social Studies (e.g., “How a Bill Becomes a Law” or “What Steps Contributed to a Historical Event?”).
- Instruct students to analyze the lyrics of the song and identify three reasons for selecting the song.
- Cite the phrases that led to the selection.
- Share your project (See suggestions at the end of the lesson).
Share Projects: Consider some of the following applications for student use.
- Google Slides
- Flip Grid
- Voice Thread
In my experience working with K-12 students, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME when you integrate music into your classroom lessons. Students are motivated, engaged, and excited to participate in the learning experiences you create. Beyond teaching academic content, I have successfully used music to address classroom challenges/problem solving, introduce service-learning projects, and address students’ social and emotional needs. If you would like to connect to learn more about Lyric Learning, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources to Help You Integrate Creativity Into Your Classroom
Benefits of Using Music in the Classroom by Chris Brewer, MA.
Eight Ways to Use Music in the Language Arts Classroom. by Heather Worpert- Garon
Effective Integration of Music in the Elementary School Classroom by James DiDomenico
How to Use Songs in the English Language Classroom by Adam J. Simpson
Use of Technology and Music to Improve Learning by Ronald A. Burk
Kathy Frazier is the gifted education specialist at Orange City Schools in Ohio and an adjunct professor at Kent State University. She has a BS and a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and an Educational Specialist Degree in Elementary Education and K-12 Gifted Education. Kathy is a National Board Certified Teacher. She was awarded Ohio Gifted Teacher of the Year and International Future Problem Solving Coach of the Year. Kathy is a co-author of the Future Problem Solving Teacher Activity Units, Power Up Your Creative Mind, and Into the Future! A Kids Guide to Scenario Writing. She has been a national consultant for the Giraffe Heroes Service Learning Program and has made numerous presentations on Creativity, Problem Solving, Entrepreneurship, and Service Learning at world, national, and state gifted conferences. Kathy is the co-developer of Touching the Future Today LLC, a professional development company that provides workshops for teachers and students. Kathy has been involved in community theater productions, both acting and directing, for the past 15 years.
Touching the Future Today LLC