The Freshman Transition Network

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PART SIX - Using Music to Inspire and Motivate Students in the Classroom

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There are several blog posts on this site related to using music in the classroom to inspire and motivate kids.  Each has included a list of specific songs that can be used. Here are links to the previous 5 posts:

Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5

This post is a follow up to those earlier posts. The first part of this post before the list of songs is copied verbatim from the original post.


Kids respond to music. Use it to teach them lessons about life and to express your hopes for them. Use it to let them know you love them. Don't just wait for teachable moments to come along. Instead use music to create teachable moments.

Here are 2 ideas for how you can use these songs:

1. Use the song as a Do Now/Bell Ringer activity in your classroom. Make a PowerPoint with the words to the song. Then play the song and have the students read the words while they listen. After they listen to the song have them write a short reflection about how the song might apply to their lives, or about why they think you chose the song, or about what they can learn from the song. Give them a moment to share what they wrote. Then take a moment to share with them your feelings and thoughts.

2. The 2nd idea is very similar to the first. The only difference is that you first take digital pictures of your students and put them into a PowerPoint or digital movie. While the students listen to the song, you play the PowerPoint/movie of their pictures. Kids love seeing themselves in a presentation and it makes the message of the song hit home a little stronger.

Consider using music this way once a month - maybe even more often. The kids will begin to look forward to the times when you bring music into the classroom. Even more, they will appreciate the fact that you take the time to open up and share with them about more than just content.

With each of the songs listed below, I have included a short idea about how you can use it to teach your students. By clicking on the song title you can go to Amazon.com and download an MP3 version of it. If you have any other songs to suggest, please do so as a reply to this post.

1I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders
This is a great message of support and friendship to share with your students.  They're probably not familiar with the song, but they'll appreciate a teacher who shares the message.
2Forever Young - Bob Dylan
This classic Dylan song reads like a blessing of hope to share with students.  It's a great song to share at the end of the year.
3. Forever Young - Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart stole this title from Bob Dylan but came up with a cool original song.  Similar to the Dylan hit, this is a great song of hope for students as they move forward into their lives.  It ties in great with the "Mt. Olympus" theme.
4. Brave - Sarah Bareilles
"Honestly, I want to see you be brave!" Share this song as a way to encourage students to not give in to the difficulties around them but to instead stand up for what's right.
5. Count on Me - Bruno Mars
A fun song of friendship about being there for someone no matter what happens in life.  This is a great excuse to tell your students that they can count on you.
6. Compass - Lady Antebellum
A song of encouragement, Compass is about being there for someone else and helping them find their way through life.  This could go well with the Opus clip about The Stuck Compass.
7. Bruises - Train
Use this song to help your students understand that while life will be hard and there will be bruises, overcoming obstacles makes for a great life story.
8. Don't Blink - Kenny Chesney
Life is short.  Don't waste it.  Use this song to help your students understand that time goes fast and we need to make the most of it.
So, does anyone have any songs to add to the list?

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