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4 fun ways to use music in your classroom

MONDAY, JUNE 08, 2015 10:38 AM

Music is commonly used as a teaching tool by educators in every subject, from math to history. But why is that? One common reason is that many teachers find their students can relate to music in a way that they don't with the subject matter. Music is exciting and interesting and can turn any lesson into something easily relatable and engaging. Take a look at these four ideas for how you can use music in your classroom:

1. To help students understand a culture or time period
One of the most amazing aspects of music is that one song can perfectly encapsulate a time period or culture. History, social studies or English/language arts teachers can use songs to help students understand the abstract ideas they're teaching a bit better. What better way to understand the Jazz Age then to actually play 1920s jazz? Or to help students engage in learning about the Civil Rights Movement then to play protest songs from the time?

2. For classroom management
Students respond to music in many ways, so it's a great tool for classroom management. Play music as students are getting settled - when the song is over or you turn the music off, they'll know it's time to pay attention. You can also use music while students are doing activities or having small-group discussions. The music stopping is a cue for them to return to their seats.

3. To learn grammar and vocabulary
Songs that your students already know and enjoy are perfect for effectively teaching grammar concepts and new vocabulary. Print out the lyrics to a song and have students follow along and circle or underline grammar and figurative language concepts they're currently learning (like similes, metaphors or hyberbole). Listen to songs that don't use grammar correctly, and have the students correct them. You can even have students write their own lyrics to a tune - this will give them the chance to practice using figurative language and writing creatively.

4. As mnemonic devices
Music is ideal for helping students memorize a lot of information at once (like capital cities, countries, bones, etc.). Come up with a mnemonic device for the subject you're teaching using a catchy tune students already know. You can even record it and allow students to download a copy onto their smartphones where they can listen to it as often as they want. Or, get the students involved in creating a mnemonic for themselves. Play the tune for the entire class, and have them come up with individual devices they'll be able to remember.