In the past few years I have found myself addicted to listening to Pandora Internet Radio while working at the computer, driving in the car, or doing chores, like mowing the lawn. Why anyone would buy music, especially CD's, is beyond me. I understand you don't want ads, but a minimal $4.00 a month, hooked to your iTunes account, and there are no ads to worry about. This use of Pandora by myself got me thinking about how it can be used in the classroom.
1.) Background music can help keeps student from talking because music can keep people focused and attentive. Our Art teacher is always playing music in his classrooms. I am well aware that not every teacher would do this, but some might be interested in sharing the music that they like with their students. At least it would introduce them to music not created by former Disney actors!
2.) We don't need to lose the Arts in the school system. Music Appreciation is an important part of that. Students could use Pandora to make their own stations and improve their musical tastes by discovering the music that is suggested for them. Students will surprisingly discover music they like if they are just introduced to it. Students could then do a project where the discuss their findings.
3.) Music has been proven to help students improve their study habits and attention, as well as organizing information. I would often have a classical or instrumental music station playing while students are working on study guides or taking a test. I surveyed my students before hand to make sure this was okay. Remember, it is the TYPE of music that helps. Most music with lyrics would have an adverse effect.
4.) Use Pandora Internet Radio as a reward. Let students choose a genre of music to play during a classroom activity based on completion of a project or class average on a test scores. Music is becoming a daily aspect of kids lives because it is so much more accessible (and I understand radio has always existed, but that has ads and much more talking...not just music).
5.) Social Studies could have students use Pandora to research music from different time periods. Pandora allows users to easily search for music based on decades. Recently I wanted to relive the glory days of the 80's music, and a simple search found me a station. As teachers teach those decades in history, they could have a daily or weekly music check and play songs from that time period. Another option, that I used in my class before, was to using Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" to teach about History.
6.) Pandora Internet Radio provides bios about the artist as well. Musicians are influential people in society. Having students research backgrounds of artist would be a good way for students to understand why they sing the songs they sing.
7.) Another feature of Pandora is that several of the songs come with the ability to see the lyrics. English teachers could use this feature to teach about the meanings behind the music and the poetic substance of the music. They could also collaborate with History teachers to discuss how music played a role in society.
8.) Elementary teachers can use Pandora Internet Radio as well because several of the Kidz Bop and music for elementary ages students is available on Pandora as well.
9.) Business and Marketing Teachers would benefit from reading the Pandora Blog to learn how their business works and how they are able to play this music for free and/or for a small fee. It is a pretty fascinating business model.
10.) Government teachers might be interested in discussing the Internet Radio Fairness Act which was recently introduced into Congress. This would be a great opportunity for a real world and relevant lesson for students. Students could write to their Congressman or Congresswoman encouraging their support for or against this Bill.
One thing about music; Ask a student...or even think of yourself, the minute you hear a song on the radio you probably can start singing right a long; sometimes no matter how old it is. Music and memorization go hand in hand. Shouldn't we be doing the same with our students? Helping them learn in the best way possible, which sometimes includes listening to music. I have been in several classrooms over the past few years and the most attentive students to an activity or an assignment were listening to music. Some students cannot learn in silence.
Below is a video explaining Pandora on a Mobile Phone, and the process is fairly similar to the web version.
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