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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

Find the best apps, games, and sites with Graphite

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The digital landscape that you and your kids have to navigate has exploded. Mobile technology, apps, instant access, digital content. The stuff is everywhere. And all of that stuff is changing how we do school.

But sometimes it feels like there is just too much. Sometimes it’s easier to just throw up our hands and try to ignore everything out there. How do we sort through all of it? We need unbiased and relevant information that can help us find the best of what we’re looking for.

And now there’s help. Enter Graphite, a free tool designed just for educators.

Graphite is a service Continue reading Find the best apps, games, and sites with Graphite

“Guilty Pleasures” of History Education

The great thing about being a history teacher is that history can be literally all around us, especially on the Internet.  There are all kinds of things that might be of use for teachers of history.  I provide for you three “guilty pleasures” that you may wind up exploring for fun on your own time.  Continue reading “Guilty Pleasures” of History Education