Outsiders’ Monday – Using Music in the Classroom

I’m one of those noisy teachers. Yep. Call my classroom a vortex of organized chaos. Some teachers thrive in this kind of environment, while others demand silence. I’m also known as the iPod teacher. I am constantly playing music in my classroom as part of my introduction to the day’s lesson or during group activities (Songs are great if you get tired of using timers – “You have till the end of this song to finish your assignment.”).

Using music during a novel study can be both powerful and engaging. One of the most prevalent themes in the novel, The Outsiders, is the difference (assumed that is) between the Socs and the  Greasers. The narrator makes a point of even listing the different types of music each group listens to for fun. The Greasers listen to Elvis and the Socs listen to the Beatles. I am constantly playing a variety of Elvis, Beatles, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash during group work while we are reading the novel.

 I also do a lesson where the students have to break down the differences between the musicians and the songs, and use these differences to comment on the themes and conflicts of the novel. I assign each group one of the following musicians: Elvis, Beatles, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash. I provide each group with a short informational article about the musician/musicians. I play a song for each group and provide a hard copy of the lyrics. Each group then must discuss their assigned artist / artists according to the following guidelines.

a. Ensemble: What instruments are present?
b. Rhythmic Emphasis: What is the dominant beat? What instrument or instruments carry this beat?
c. Vocal Style: What words would you use to describe the vocal delivery?
d. Instrumental Solo: Is there an instrumental solo? If so, what instrument?

a. What are the song’s major themes? Does it tell a story?
b. Is there an explicit or underlying political or cultural message?

What are the important elements of the artist’s personal history and career that enhance your understanding of the music?

How did the surrounding political and cultural climates influence the artists and their work?

Which elements of the artist’s live performances and public actions or behavior provide us with a clearer understanding of the music itself?

(Source: http://rockhall.com/education/resources/lesson-plans/sti-lesson-48/)

If you have more active students, you may break down the above questions into a chart that each group may fill out. The class will then need to come back together and discuss how and why each song/group can be connected to the constructed identities of the Greasers and Socs.


3 thoughts on “Outsiders’ Monday – Using Music in the Classroom

Add yours

  1. I agree with you. Children need to be teach more than just academic skills. I held music classes for my boys and their friends. This was a great tips to introduce kiddos to music . . Thanks for the information .,,

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