Making Curriculum Pop



From rock to hip-hop this is the place for teachers who use fresh soundz to make their curriculum pop!

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Latest Activity: Aug 29, 2019

Popular Music and Education

Teaching with popular music is how my whole journey into teaching with popular culture began. I'm POSITIVE I learned more from Rolling Stone in high school than I did from any of my literature classes.

The first real Mindblue Production was this grant funded project where I worked with an intern to integrated the music, history and culture of Motown Records into the curriculum of a school outside of Detroit. Obviously, I'd love to plug the Blue Song Guides here (I'm allowed a few gratuitous plugs) but there are also tons of wonderful resources out there for us to share.

Please use this discussion forum to share cool projects, ideas and tunes that rock the classroom!

Thank you all for joining my favorite group!


Discussion Forum

RESEARCH: Music, Aging & Memory

Started by Ryan Goble Jun 29, 2019.

COLLECTION: Comparing Eras of Protest Music + David Byrne

Started by Ryan Goble Jun 10, 2019.

PROFILE: Head of Hip-Hop @ Harvard

Started by Ryan Goble Jun 8, 2019.

NEW MOVIE: What if there were no Beatles?

Started by Ryan Goble Mar 30, 2019.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Mike Gange on August 16, 2014 at 3:02pm

Suite Success: From A-Plus to A-Sharp

By Mike Gange


This year I did something in my classroom I have never done before. And it turned out so well, I am wondering why I never grabbed onto this idea in the 30 years I have been teaching.


I love music. The very first song I can remember is Sam Cooke’s “You send me,” a 1957-release. I was a year old when it was on the radio.


This year, my media studies class was scheduled for Period One, 8:30 a.m.  Second semester is particularly deadly with Grade-12-itis. The kids are cocky but lethargic, sometimes sullen and many thinking they are closer to graduating than they really are. These grade 12s would straggle in, half-awake, blinking in the light as if they had just crawled out of a cave. Part way through the term I decided to do something about this lethargy, which was spreading through the class like a sleeping sickness.


I went back to the personal inventory index cards they had completed on the first day of class. I picked their favorite music and musicians from the cards. Then I started to play the music they said they liked, finding a way to tie the song into the lesson of the day. I always write the agenda for the class on the chalkboard at the front of the room. This time, I wrote the Song of the Day first, then the agenda.


you can find the rest of the article here:

Comment by Ryan Goble on September 20, 2011 at 10:00pm
Hi Barb, this is a great tip - would you mind posting/embedding the video up above us in the discussion forum (e-mail me if you don't know how) - that way the resource won't get lost here on the wall and I can share it with everyone during the week in review!  Thanks so much for joining the discussion! Ry:)
Comment by BarbGanias on September 20, 2011 at 9:42pm

If you haven't seen this . . . so many "teachable moments" within this clip!


Comment by Ryan Goble on July 14, 2011 at 10:14am
Hi everyone - this is a great discussion - you might want to bounce it up into the discussion forum so A. I can broadcast it to everyone as a crowdsource question and B. so it is archived - wall comments tend to get buried.  Btw - The Verve beats Oasis every time in my book :)
Comment by Mike Gange on July 14, 2011 at 5:03am
This is quite an innovative strand. Congrats on the ingenuity. Your students will love this and I am sure your idea will evolve. You might use BILLBOARD mag as a historical resource in this lesson. Pick a date-- say Jan 15th -- and examine what were the top songs of 61, 71, 81, 91, 01 11 etc and you would find the evolution of the voices and POV. Sixties songs would be love songs. Seventies songs would have more opinion in the protest songs. Eighties song are more about life conditions. Nineties songs would be more self reflective or self promoting. Good luck with it!
Comment by Terisa King on July 14, 2011 at 12:05am

Wynter, First connect your project ,the British Invasion, to a specific writing or literacy skill. The British invasion happened back in the day, so you will need to connect the artists' voices of yesterday with the urbanized kid of today. Do this with hard copies of lyrics (this will take care of standards) then add the listening/speaking element. According to the Curator at the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock Texas, The Beatles were influenced heavily by the song styling and sound of Holly's band The Crickets. Beyonce's song with the chorus "You shoulda put a ring on it" has similar writing elements and styling.

I always intro Renaissance period history with Herman's Hermits, "I'm Henry the VIII I am" Too much fun! A great example of an I Am poem where students explore components of King Henry VIII as a Renaissance Man and then write a poem about themselves)

Connect music with history using autobiographies, journals and other primary sources in a group inqury session.

Comment by Wynter A Bledsoe on July 13, 2011 at 9:28pm

Reading your above intro, I understand your love of popular music, but I want to bring back old school sounds, but not the US old school sounds, the British old school sounds..not the obvious, Beatles, but the late 80s into 90s sounds of London, Manchester and Birmingham.  There's a history in those lyrics, from the Hacienda to Nottinghill Festival.  You grew up on Rolling Stone, I learned from Loaded Magazine. 


I'm just beginning my career in teaching, how do I bring the British Invasion (Oasis, Blur, Drum & Bass) to the classroom?

Comment by Ryan Goble on July 7, 2011 at 9:07pm
Hi Emily (and Terisa) - this is a great question. Unfortunately, big questions on the comment wall are not easy for folks to respond to and get buried over time.

Would you consider moving this question above in the discussion forum? When you post your ? above your "affinity group" peeps can give you feedback. Because forum ?s have URLs it will be in there for the next person with a similar ? AND I can broadcast the question to the whole Ning on crowdsource Tuesday.

Thanks to both of you for getting in the mix - as always - please share more cool ?'s and ideas!

Comment by Terisa King on July 6, 2011 at 12:57pm
Make it personal...narrative, I mean! Teaching narrative writing is difficult because students get bogged down with details and pronouns. Music, especially rap, is full of imaginative language. Find mentor lyrics, a line or two from a song, and incorporate them as prompts or examples ofgrammar skills. Select three different artists and have students connect archetypes, references and symbols along with themes in the writing. Ask selected students to read lyrics as prose, first. Approach the lyrics as literature, or a public speech, or a peer example long before you ever play the rap song. Choose an older rap song from the 90's, print in prose style and hide the title. Students experience a disconnect from predetermined musical patterns and you will have a greater opportunity to insert academic skills into the lesson. Then play the song, sort of like a cupcake for dessert.
Comment by emily wallen on July 6, 2011 at 8:44am
Hi everyone,
I am taking an English course regarding film and media in the secondary classroom. As I ponder ways to capture the attention of my students and connect with what they know, or their culture, rap music a concept I keep coming back to.

I am beginning to create a unit plan that incorporates rap music. However,  besides putting it alongside poetry, I am having a hard time finding a place for it. How else could rap music engage students in a Language arts classroom? Also, would it be appropriate to somehow tie in how gender roles are depicted through rap music/videos?

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