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Use Music to Inspire and Connect with Students

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. While the students listen to the song, you play the PowerPoint of their pictures. Kids love seeing themselves in a presentation and it makes the message of the song hit home a little stronger.

With both of these ideas I would recommend trying to do it at least once a month. 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 and download an MP3 version of it. If you have any other songs to suggest, please do so as a reply to this post.

1. Only in America - Brooks and Dunn
Teach your students that just like America, your classroom is a place where everyone gets a chance and everyone gets to dance.

2. The Impossible - Joe Nichols
Your students have the ability to make the "impossible" come true.

3. The Hole - Randy Travis
It's twangy country, but it teaches a great lesson to which kids can relate. You can't dig out of a hole.

4. To Make You Feel My Love - Billy Joel
This song can be used as a way to open the door to telling your students you love them. There ain't nothing that [you] wouldn't do to make [them] feel [your] love.

5. Why Walk When You Can Fly - Mary Chapin Carpenter
Too often our students for settle for too little. They need to maximize their lives.

6. I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
Your wish for your students - tell them about your hopes for their lives and why you do what you do. It's all for them.

7. Life Uncommon - Jewel
Encourage your students to not chain themselves to "that which they wish to be from."

8. Go the Distance - Michael Bolton
It's a long journey, but you have to be willing to go the distance. Everyone needs a Mt. Olympus to work toward.

9. What if She's An Angel - Tommy Shane Steiner
Teach your students that they have a role in the world to help out others.

10. If Everyone Cared - Nickelback
Students need examples of the power that ordinary people have to impact the world.

11. The Climb - Miley Cyrus
Life is hard, but that's what shapes us and makes us strong. Life is all about the journey. Embrace it and work hard.

12. Live Like You Were Dying - Tim McGraw
Live every moment as if it were your last. Don't waste a minute being who you were created to be.

13. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
Your students' lives are blank slates. It's up to them to write the story of their lives. They have the power to make the right decisions.

So, does anyone have any songs to add to the list?  And for tons more ideas like these, visit GOBEYONDTHECONTENT.COM!

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Comment by Scott Habeeb on May 12, 2011 at 11:38am
Thanks, James - I added links to Amazon so people can get the songs.
Comment by Scott Habeeb on May 12, 2011 at 8:06am
James - great reply!  Would you consider copying and pasting that into a new Blog post?
Comment by Scott Habeeb on February 9, 2010 at 3:24pm
Thanks for sharing those songs. I'm not familiar with a few of them - I'll have to check them out. I love If Today Was Your Last Day.
Comment by Julie A. Reed on February 9, 2010 at 12:21am
I love this!! I use songs and videos all the time in my classroom. I have a few songs to add...
This Is Your Life and Dare You to Move by Switchfoot; Man in the Mirrow by Michael Jackson; One Step at a Time by Jordin Sparks; If Today Was Your Last Day by Nickelback and Seize the Day from Newsies the Disney Musical. I found all of these on YouTube and some with lyrics to enhance the meaning...I am sure I can come up with more but this is a good start! :-)

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