[And now the continuation…]
Music in the classroom? Where do I begin….we could talk about so many aspects.
1) Playing music in the classroom for the general audience
2) Allowing Students to use media players while in class: technology standpoint
3) Allowing Students to use media players while in class: learning and interaction standpoint
4) Incorporating Music in class activities and assignment
So here I am, in the midst of a 8 am summer writing class, what to do? I decided to start off slowly; actually to be honest I really did not have a set plan of attack. My only aim was welcoming these tired souls, myself included, into the class on a positive note.
1) Playing music in the classroom for the general audience. At the start of every class I began by playing some neo-jazz for the first 5 minutes. This I thought allowed students to enter on a pleasant note, and to allow others a few more minutes to get to class. This actually seemed to go very well. Although I warned that it would be more or less ‘chick music’, it help get my initially tired eyed patrons to open up to each other and start a robust morning buzz as they drank their morning beverages of choice. Eventually, I had students requesting songs and artists as they waited for the class to begin. I thought perfect, they are finally engaged in being here, now I can direct my Jedi skills to making them love writing!
2) Allowing Students to use media players while in class: technology AND Learning and interacting standpoints. Ironically, the second and third aspects of using music in class happened organically. I went from playing music at the start of class, to lowering the volume and teaching through it. The sounds were so low you really only heard it in moments of silent, and even then it still sounded as if it have been playing from a distance. As I monitored group work and peer reviews I would see students humming and working, and on the occasion where I did not play any music at all, I had students ask for some background music. At the end of class where students would come up to ask specific questions, I would sometimes see one or two students stay behind and continue working on their activities or making changes to their paper. It definitely was not hindering learning by any means.
Again this evolved into students bringing in their their own music to class. It stuck me one day as I observed 4 different students working and “rocking out” in class. I had just finished a mini lecture and the class activity was in full swing. My sounds of Adele were wafting through the speakers and the first student I noticed was sitting in his usual front seat, diligently working on his paper. He stood out because the words I were hearing, were not the words he was lip syncing under his breathe. He had his iPod in, clearly visible, one ear in, listening to music and talking to the person he was peer reviewing, about their paper. I looked around and saw a handful of students who had taken their cue from me and brought in their own music. My reflection was shocking, I was typically opposed to students bringing in outside media to the classroom because I always saw them as distracting. Despite my high regard for media, I found it effective when I alone wielded it in the class. Now I was letting iPod and music listening into my classroom. I had a good laugh at myself on the inside.
4) Incorporating Music in class activities and assignment. More recently, I have found myself incorporating music into the lessons and discussions. When examining rhetorical appeals I use music genre and lyrics. In explaining Angle of Vision music again makes a good learning tool. I have implemented extra credit assignments using music and song writing, and I actively promote music as a legitimate part of literacy in a persons life experiences. I wonder why I did not incorporate music in my teachings from the get-go. How else do you engage a persons, other than with what they can relate to and enjoy?