Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Music in the History Classroom

I can't sing at all.  I still listen to late eighties rap and hair metal (I'll always stop down and belt out "Paradise City").  So I clearly have no clue when it comes to music.

What I do know is that music is a nice change of pace in the history classroom.  Recently, I've played a couple of songs for my classes to "spice" up a lesson. 

The first was "The Battle of New Orleans" originally by Johnny Horton.  I play the version sang by Boxcar Willie.  The students listen to the song (with much joy at first--sarcasm) while the lyrics pop up on the screen.  We then took a closer look at the words and I have the students point out key words or phrases that they heard while listening to the song.  This, in turn, leads to further discussion of the importance of the battle, the rise of Andrew Jackson, the geography of the battle, etc....  Oh, and by the way, as we neared the end of the song my eighth graders were singing along!

The song that I played today was "James K. Polk" by They Might Be Giants.  I simply purchased it from iTunes and posted the lyrics up on my projector screen.  We had just finished talking about Polk's term in office and the Mexican War.  The students quickly made connections and were able to do some higher level thinking with lyrics such as "Napoleon of the Stump" and "Young Hickory."  Sure, it wasn't Justin Bieber or whoever the in musical "talent" is, but it was a nice change of pace from a normal discussion.

Some other suggestions come from my PLN on Twitter.  @ColoradoHowe suggested "War of 1812" by 3 Dead Trolls.  Check out his blog!  Also, I would suggest following @historytunes and take a look at their selection on their website.

I hope this helps shake things up a bit in your classroom.  Please consider joining my PLN on Twitter.  I'm at @HistoryandTech.

Take Care,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Diggin' Livebinders

I'm always on the lookout for ways to expand my communication with students and parents outside the classroom.  Over two years ago I started a classroom blog.  It has been a great success.  Parent and student communication is such a breeze.  The amount of parent emails for missed work, "what is Johnny doing today", or "when is the next test" have decreased dramatically.

The next step was to add a virtual notebook to the blog.  This would be a table of contents of our current unit with all assignments that the parents and students could print off in case the student was absent or lost the work.  It has been a bit of a pain, and didn't include the additional needed resources (ppts, websites, images, etc...).

Recently, I discovered Livebinders.  Problem Solved!!! 

Today I created my first "binder" for our current unit.  I was not only able to include the current assignment, but Livebinders allows you to include links to websites, download power points, images, text, and so on and so forth. 

Tomorrow I will use another great feature of Livebinders:  embedding to my blog. Now the students and parents will be able to access so much more.  I could also share my "binder" via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more that can be done.  I look forward to exploring the many more uses for this wonderful website. 

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