Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tips & Tricks: A Lesson in Relevance

My students have to write a personal narrative during the first unit. Instead of diving head first into writing, I thought we'd take a day to explore who the kids are before asking them to write who they are. How? With music.

I gave my students homework last night to bring in a song that describes who they are as a person. Today, we used those songs during our lesson.

I began by introducing two songs that I had selected to share with them. They don't describe me, but I wanted them to focus on the character traits of the "main character" in each song. We started with Simon and Garfunkel's "I Am a Rock" and discussed who the character was using examples from the song. We then repeated the exercise with Christina Aguilera's "Reflections". We even compared and contrasted the two characters. Sure, we could have done it with poems or short stories, but the kids really liked getting to listen to music.

And then we brought out their songs. After each song, we discussed the main character in the song. The kids reflected on which song played was their favorite and why. They also had to explain how the songs would help with our personal narratives. To end the class, the students wrote their own short song or poem to describe who they are. The lesson was a runaway success. Seriously. Today was great.

Here are some of the songs that my students feel describe them. Some of them are funny. Some are sad. Some are just honest.

This was also, obviously, a great way to get to know my kids.

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