My 8th Grade American History students have spent the past few weeks getting to know Andrew Jackson - his little personality quirks, his marginal social skills, his flirtations with psychosis, as well as his military triumphs and his invention of modern American politics - and his hypothetical taste in music seemed like an interesting way of framing a discussion of his personality.
I shared the playlist from my iPod that I listen to when I run with my students. I explained why I have certain songs on this particular list and why, even though there are songs I like better, they don't work well to keep me running. "Eaten By the Monster of Love" is FANTASTIC for running, but I probably wouldn't play it as background music at a dinner party.
I tell them about songs I have bought as gifts on iTunes for friends and colleagues and why I've bought those particular songs for those particular people. I play a few clips from the songs to demonstrate.
I had the students break into pairs. I gave them seven or eight minutes to talk to each other about things that they like. The only limitation (aside from school-appropriateness) was that they weren't allowed to discuss music. At the end of that time, I had them tell the class what songs they would pick for their partners and explain why. I played clips of the songs from iTunes.
A couple of the boys were knuckleheads about this and suggested the least appropriate songs possible, but overall, they made interesting choices.
I had intrigued my guys by telling them to bring their cell phones to class. Now, I gave them the shortest, easiest homework assignment ever:
Call my voicemail number and tell me three things:
- Your name
- A song that Andrew Jackson should have on his iPod
My voicemail is actually a GoogleVoice account that lets me download messages as MP3 files. I chose the best of the suggestions, recorded clips of the songs the students suggested and put together a short movie.
As always, your comments are appreciated.