Using Jacob’s Ladder with song lyrics

As a music major, I try to incorporate various aspects of music into the class. One idea I had from a PD session at school was creating our own Jacob’s Ladder to song lyrics.

I started using the ladders this year with song lyrics as a way to help students with theme. Determining the theme of a story, poem, song, etc. is a concept that students struggle with when studying larger novels, short stories, and especially poetry.  I thought  with a shorter 3 or 4 minute song it might make it easier before moving on to harder text.

The biggest problem I had with this was that my taste in music is usually different than my 10 year old students. So far this year, I have only used songs that I selected, but I might open this up next year to having students choose some songs and develop ladders around them.

This idea first came to me last year when we did The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. The story is set in a middle school in Long Island during the 1967-68  school year. Topics such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War come up throughout the story and I was looking for ways to teach about these topics and show the emotional impact they had then and now. I was a big Billy Joel fan growing up (still am) and was in high school when his Storm Front album was released. The song Leningrad immediately came to mind and I played it for the class and we discussed the lyrics.  This year I decided to create a ladder based on the lyrics. The other song I played at the end of the novel was Goodnight, Saigon.  I was a little hesitant about this because of some of the lyrics (Playboy and hash pipe), but this really did not come up at all in our discussion. I made a ladder for this to go along with the novel and give us more focus in our discussion.

The Storm Front ladder is something I use as a way to introduce the music and lyrics of Billy Joel to the class.  I also use it as a way to discuss theme. I remember when I first heard this song I took it in the literal sense and thought it was strange that he would be writing about going out fishing.  It wasn’t until I heard an interview when he explained the metaphor behind it. The urge to shrug off stability and ride off into a storm despite the dangers. I realize my students might not get this concept, but at least it gets them thinking on a higher level.

Atomic Learning Training

In my last post about Atomic Learning I said I would continue the discussion later about some of the training modules I took and what I thought of them.

Coding in the Classroom

If coding is new to you, this is a training module you need to take. It gives some important information about how coding can help students and why it is important for them to learn. It also has a variety of sources and ideas for how to learn it yourself and how to incorporate it in your classroom.  There is also a follow up to this course called, Moving Forward: Coding Grades 3-8. This is on my To-Do list for training in the next few weeks.

Another point about coding in the classroom is to take them time and do the offline, paper activities that can be found on Code.org. These are great for getting students to think about algorithms and connecting it to what is done with coding online and how they use these aspects like algorithms and functions in their everyday lives. I made the mistake of jumping right in to the websites and now I am backtracking and doing the work offline.  Next year I know to start with these activities and really spend time with them.

Canvas LMS Training

There are a few of these on Atomic Learning. In the screen shot below, you can see what they offer.

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I completed the Canvas Instructor and Grading & Assessment Training. I am currently going through the Mastery Gradebook training. If you are new to Canvas and thinking about using it, then the Instructor training session is where you need to start.

I enjoy using Canvas, but I realize it can be a little overwhelming because there is a lot you can do with it. I started using it last year and learned the hard way to take it slow.  At first, I tried to do all the subjects I taught.  This was a bad idea and I backed off and took it one class at a time.  The first class I used it for was Language Arts. For me, it was easy to lay out the design for this class by using modules for novel studies, writing, EOG review, etc.  I would suggest doing the same and taking one class and really working on how you want to lay out the material and present it. I hope this helps.