Category Archives: Music

Sociology Spotlight: Teaching Social Stratification with Music and Fantastic Lies

animal farmTeachers of social studies across the curriculum probably don’t realize that they cover the issue of Social Stratification (social class systems, poverty, Karl Marx, etc) in their classes. Teachers of sociology probably could spend a whole month on the topic! Social Stratification is one of my favorite units in my semester-long sociology course. Last year, I had my students read Animal Farm (it’s not required in English anymore) and compare the animal’s problems with the issues of social class and social mobility.

I may do that again – just because, in my personal opinion, I think students still need to read this classic! But I have two other favorite activities to go with this unit:

  • Music
  • Fantastic Lies

First, students watch a few videos and we discuss some important vocabulary with Social Stratification. Then I have the students listen to “Livin’ on a Prayer” (Bon Jovi) and “Fast Car” (Tracy Chapman). They pick out the issues that relate to social stratification after listening to the songs and reading the lyrics. Next I set them free to find their own examples of stratification in music. Obviously there are some ground rules – nothing racially or sexually offensive. You could also make sure that the songs are clean, but I really want the students to look at the music that they like and pick out these issues within the songs they are listening to everyday. And like almost everything else, you’ll have those students who just google “Songs about social stratification” — normally they pick “Allentown” by Billy Joel.

But I do have some kids who really become more aware of social class issues that people write about and how there are SO MANY songs with these issues to choose from! To complete this part of the unit, students view a Slide Mission with videos, notes, and responses embedded. I like this format because they can insert their YouTube videos right into Google Slides without me have to go search for them. A copy of what I used in my class can be found here.

After a class discussion about poverty in the U.S., we watch the ESPN 30 for 30 called mv5bmjqwmtcymdg2n15bml5banbnxkftztgwmtcxnjg0ode-_v1_uy1200_cr8906301200_al_Fantastic Lies“. This is the story of the Duke LaCrosse team rape scandal back in 2006. I show this because it covers individuals from across social classes and their expectations vs. reality. Students who are unfamiliar with the story are always shocked once we get about three-fourths of the way through it! Afterwards, they will write a reflection (usually around 300 words) and they make connections with the episode and the terms we discussed regarding Social Stratification. I purchased this episode of 30 for 30 (Season 3, episode 6) on Amazon Prime Video.

Sociology teachers out there: I’d love to hear what you do in your classes to teach social stratification! Comment below.

-Megan

The Room Where it Happens

This week’s blogger is Joe Zlatnik, 8th grade American History teacher in the Basehor-Linwood school district near Kansas City.

—————

hamilton-logoThe Broadway musical, Hamilton, is everywhere! In the past year, the musical has become a cultural phenomena that has taken the US by storm. As a lover of history, I was quick to jump on the Hamilton bandwagon. History tied in with incredible music and lyrics is a powerful medium for telling a story that many Americans are not familiar with.

I always understood Alexander Hamilton as the antithesis to Thomas Jefferson. He was the “bad guy” in the story who favored strong, British-style governmental institutions and industrialization while Jefferson favored smaller government and a more agrarian society. After listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and doing some research, I discovered that this popular version of history is not entirely accurate.

But while it is true that not all details in the musical are historically accurate, the overall story is one worth listening to and one worth introducing to your students. Continue reading The Room Where it Happens

“It’s Been A While…”

The title for this post is from the song of the same name from the band Staind.  A great rock ballad from a good rock band.  But I digress.  Now that I am back in the swing of things, I am ready to share some more great social studies information!  Today’s post is about the using of music in social studies education.

A good colleague of mine is Dr. Chris Goering from the University of Arkansas (and graduate of Kansas State University) has a wonderful website titled “Lit Tunes” where he talks about using music in language arts instruction.  As we know about the College and Career Readiness standards, we need to look at how we can incorporate language arts into our instruction.  I would greatly encourage you to look at Dr. Goering’s Soundtrack of Your Life assignment on the website.   Continue reading “It’s Been A While…”