School – Week 3

We are cruisin’ here!

Show & Tell: So, after I finished the AGT intervention with classes, I had the students write at least 3 songs that they would like to share with the class on their X pages that they made. I prompted them to keep it appropriate, but the reason I had them write them down was so I could go listen to them on my own and make judgment calls about whether or not they were, in fact, appropriate. At first, I was just making a playlist of the songs, bringing that in to class, and listening to them with the students, but I found a lot of the kids would just talk over the songs and not be focused. Sure, this brought up a chance to talk about being respectful, but it didn’t always work. So, I revised my plan for future classes. As I listened to each of the songs, I came up with a “challenge” for each one. Some examples are: count how many times the singer says a certain word, ask about a reference the song makes, list all the words that rhyme with something, explain what the song is about, etc. That way, when I played the songs in class, the students had something to focus on during the song, which minimized the talking. I also upped the ante by giving each challenge a certain point value. Whoever got the most points at the end of the class got to choose what we did next class (from a list that I created).

Here’s the list:
1) Have a chill day where we sit and talk while listening to music (Inspired by one of my 8th graders who, when confronted about talking to peers during the songs, said that’s how he usually listens to music – while hanging out and talking with friends. This was actually pretty enlightening, and it made total sense. I only offered this option to my oldest classes. I’m doing it next Monday with a class, so we’ll see how it goes.)
2) The Minute-to-win-it game I described in my post about week 2.
3) Jeopardy
4) Bingo
5) Guess The Song
6) Freeze Dance

I’ll talk about how each of these went in my Week 4 post. (:

Sound Songs: Found this gem on Pinterest and used it with my younger classes. I introduced it by asking them what sounds they could make with their bodies. I wrote down what they said on the whiteboard so they students had a reference point. After completing this with one class, I brought in a model that I had made for the second class to give them an idea of what their end result would be, because me explaining it in words didn’t quite do it for the first class. Make sure you make it clear that you’re going to make a key for the sounds and then write them in the boxes in different patterns. I gave them some time to draw their sound songs, and then at the end of class I let whoever wanted to perform the song for everyone. It was a great opportunity to work on goals such as self-expression, focus and attention to a task, allow for creativity, as well as respect others when they are performing.

Hip-Hop & Self-Expression: This intervention I used with my 8th graders. I created a worksheet that goes through several topics. I start with a condensed history of rap/hip-hop, and then I talk about the changes it has gone through, from being about illuminating issues of injustice, poverty, and being a way to express themselves about the hardships they face, to being about getting money, women, and fame as the influence of the music industry increased. I usually ask what the students think about rap music today and allow for them to be in a position to teach me, because I am definitely open about the fact that I do not know much rap music. I then show a few song clips to demonstrate these points. The songs I use are Not Afraid by Eminem (clean – sometimes even the clean versions are questionable, so I would consider doing this live or not using it if I didn’t think the class could handle it), The Show Goes On by Lupe Fiasco, and Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore. I also include a section on the bottom for them to write their own rap verse. I give them some things to consider (flow, lyric content, etc.) and some space to free write to get the juices flowing. I’ve never had a group actually complete this part, but I usually leave the worksheets if they want to work on it at another time. If you would like a copy of my worksheet, feel free to email us at!

For groups that are really passionate about rap and like to discuss, this is a great option. My students were very chatty that day, but not about this topic. Class ended in a large discussion about giving/getting respect.

Personal Playlists: For this intervention, I start class with a discussion about different places they hear music. Some examples include restaurants, car (radio), tv commercials, stores, video games, the gym, etc. I’ve had some classes come up with some pretty extensive lists. Then I give them a worksheet with 4 boxes on it. I tell them to pick 4 of the places we listed (or anything else they can come up with), and that they are going to make a playlist for that place/activity. A lot of times I’ll use an example like this, “Say you wanted to make the IDEAL playlist for elevator music, what would be on it?” Then, after answering any questions and clearing up confusions, I tell them I’m going to play short snippets of songs. While I’m playing the song, they should decide which playlist (of the 4 they chose) they would put it on, and then write it in that box. So I spend class going through short clips of songs of a WIDE variety of genres: classic rock, pop, hip-hop, classical (yes, classical), country, EDM, etc. Then towards the end of class I ask them if they want to share what playlists they made and what songs they included. I then ask them to go a little deeper and share what qualities in the songs prompted them to put them on certain playlists (I definitely would word that a little different when asking students, but that’s basically what I get at with that question). It turned out to be a great activity to discuss how people perceive things differently (“Oh, I put that song here and you put it there”) and really have them put some thought into their process. It overall was a hit with the classes!
Credit: So I’m pretty sure the seedlings for this idea came from this “graffiti board” concept and an interaction I overheard at Chipotle, interestingly enough. I just took the idea of using elements of music, and adapted it and made a graffiti board of different “playlists” in the classroom. The story behind Chipotle is that I was casually in line waiting to make my burrito, when the person in front of me commented on the music playing, and the guy working said, “I don’t make the playlists. If I did, it’d be a lot funkier.” So I was like, “What would my ideal Chipotle playlist sound like…?” and the idea developed from there!

– Arianna (:


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