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Topic/Purpose of Course
Using Music to Teach History in Middle School
The topic of my mini-course is Using Music to Teach History in Middle School. This course will provide prospective middle school history teachers with strategies of using various musical elements or methods to teach the subject of history. The purposes of this course include:
1) Providing sample classes for history teachers in middle schools as illustrations of how to use music to teach history subject;
2) Giving examples and implications of building up the relationships among historical events and figures related to or appeared in the song;
3) Sharing teaching plans when the topic narrows down to a specific area or a historical period;
4) Encouraging teachers to explore and apply various elements of music to teach knowledge and contents of history subject to students;
5) Demonstrating possible ways of assessing and getting feedbacks of students to facilitate their understandings of history.
Music has been missing from our history. Generations of students and their teachers have viewed the past as if it had been silent. We have read documents, the words of the people who created that history, and we have looked at the pictures, but we have not heard the sounds through which they shaped the culture.(Deane L. Root, 2005) The intent of this mini-course is to explore new ways of teaching history and present the value and magic of music in history instruction to prospective history teachers.
The words and contents of history in the textbooks or other books are cold and rigid. A certain amount of students complain that history textbooks and materials are tedious and boring. It might be difficult for them to remember the periods, facts, and historical significance. Not to mention to sequence or connect the historical events and figures together to form a larger and broader view of history.
1) Learners will be able to apply the methods and create more stratgies of utilizing music to teach the subject of history.
2) Learners will be able to identify remarkable historical events and figures which appear in or related to the song and build relationships among these figues and events;
3) Learners will be able to find and apply music resources to teach when the topic is particularly engaged in one place or one period of time;
4) Learners will be able to explore more musical elements which can be regarded as teaching tools and materials.
5) Learners will be able to propose dicussion questions related to the music and design learning activities in class.
Type of Learners
The targeted learners are mainly novice or pre-employment history teachers of junior or senior middle school in America and China. History teachers from other countries who teach the history of United States or China, or other experienced history teachers in middle school who want to learn more ways of historical knowledge delivery can also be considered.
This mini-course can either work for face-to-face class or online class.
Address the Instructional Problem/Solution
1) How to teach the "cold" history knowledge in an acceptable way;
2) How to motivate students and help them cultivate good attitudes towards learning history;
3) How to guide students to explore historical meanings of the song and what the history really bring to us in today's society;
4) What other components of music can be applied in history instruction.
1) Learners will be able to acquire basic skills and strategies of utilizing lyrics to teach history.
2) Learners will be able to figure out related historical events and facts which appear in the lyrics of the song(s).
3) Learners will be able to identify the feelings and emotions expressed by the music.
4) Learners will be able to recognize the connections among the selected songs for one specific historical topic.
5) Learners will be able to explore more musical elements which can be used for history instruction.
1) Learners should generally hold positive attitude towards teaching history in this way.
2) Learners are suggested to have strong ability of searching resources through Internet.
Organize & Sequencing Content
Lesson 1: Using Lyrics to Teach History
Song might be used in this lesson: Eve of Destruction.
- The historical events and figures appeared in the lyrics of that song will be analyzed as a example of using lyrics to teach history.
- Other historical events and figures which have strong relationship with the events and figures in the lyrics will be found out and present to learners for better understanding the period of history.
- The historical meaning and attitude which are expressed by the song will be discussed.
- A list of discussion questions, which can help learners better understand the content and context of the song and be regarded as a tool of knowing the understandings of students, will be proposed after reading the lyrics and listening to the music.
Lesson 2: Teaching History of One Specific Place (Mainly for History Teacher in China)
Songs might be used in this lesson: Shanghai 1943 (Chinese), Evening Primrose (Chinese), Night Shanghai (Chinese), Shanghai Beach (Chinese).
- The purpose of this lesson is to provide an example of using songs whose contents include historical description and information regarding a city, a state or an area, such as Beijing, Shanghai, New York, California, to introduce the history of that specific place.
- Historical features which appear in or related to the songs will be demonstrated and discussed with learners.
- Relations among the songs are planned to be mentioned and inquiried.
- Some precious historical images will be presented in accord with the music to make the history more visualized.
Lesson 3: Teaching History of One Specific Event or Period
Songs might be used in this lesson: Seeing the Elephant, Acres of Clams (The Old Settler's Song), Oh, Califonia!
- The purpose of this lesson is to provide an example of using a list of songs which can demonstrate and reflect the remarkable historical events in some specific eras, such as The Great Depression, The Gold Rush, The Cold War and so on.
- Historical events which appear in or related to the songs will be demonstrated and discussed with learners.
- Related events and figures which are mentioned in the music will be presented.
Lesson 4: Other Elements of Music for History Instruction
Song might be used in this lesson: Man in the Mirror.
- learners will be told that many musical elements other than lyrics, such as genres, rhythms, and beats could also be utilized for teaching history and some other subjects
- This class will demonstrate how the MV of a classical popular song -- Man in the Mirror could serve as materials for history instruction
- Learners will be encouraged to explore more components of music and ways of using them to teach the subject of history.
References and Resources
American History Rap Song [Web]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8rzs4Ls9Gc
Carlson, J. R. (2010). Using Song-poems to Teach Critically. English Journal, 99(4), 65-71.
Hall, J. C. (2008). From ABBA to Zeppelin, Led: Using Music to Teach Introductory Microeconomics. Perspectives on Economic Education Research, 4(1), 23-26.
Hoffman, P. D. (2016). Using Rock Music to Teach History, OAH Magazine of History, 1(1), 10-11
Horn, R. V., & Horn, M. V. (2013). What Would Adam Smith Have on His IPod? Uses of Music in Teaching the History of Economic Thought, The Journal of Economic Education, 44(1), 64-73.
Horowitz, J. (2005). Dvorak and the Teaching of American History, OAH Magazine of History, 1(1), 17-20.
Hsiung, D. C. (2005). Freedom Songs And the Modern Civil Rights Movement, OAH Magazine of History, 1(1), 23-26.
Levy, D. L. & Byrd, D. C. (2011). Why Can't We Be Friends? Using Music to Teach Social Justice, 11(2), 64 - 75.
Root, D. L. (2005). Music as A Cultural Mirror, OAH Magazine of History, 7-8.
Schustik, B. (2005). Integrating Live Music in the Classroom: Reflections of a Troubadour on Teaching History, 1(1), 48-50.
Song Facts [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/category-songs_about_historical_events.php
Songs For Teaching: Using Music to Promote Learning [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.songsforteaching.com/index.html
Walczak, D., & Reuter, M. (1994). Using Popular Music to Teach Sociology: An Evaluation by Students, Teaching Sociology, 22(3), 266-269.
Werner, C. (2012). "Meeting Over Yonder": Using Music to Teach the Movement in the North, 26(1), 41-45.
Whitmer, M. (2005). Songs With Social Significance: An Introduction, OAH Magazine of History, 1(1), 9-16.
Zukas, A. (1996). Different Drummers: Using Music to Teach History, Perspectives on History, 32(6), 27-33.