Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tunes on Tuesday- A Class Favorite!

I want to share an idea with you that my students and I loved this past year!

Nick over at Sweet Rhyme Pure Reason came up with a great idea to incorporate music in the classroom and connect popular songs to academic skills. He calls it Tunes Tuesday.

When I first read about this last summer, I loved it and I knew I wanted to incorporate it in my classroom. I ended up calling it 'Tunes on Tuesday' (I didn't add the 'on' for any reason, it just came out that way when I introduced it to the kids- and it stuck!) and it became an absolute favorite in our classroom.

Each Tuesday I would choose a song for my students and I to listen to and analyze. I started out using songs as a way to practice specific skills, but over the course of the year I started using them more as a general text for us to practice a variety of reading and word study skills with. Poetry is a tested genre in third grade so it worked beautifully!

We would first read the lyrics without listening to the music and look for the same poetic devices we would look for in any other poem.  I gave each student their own copy of the lyrics so they could track their thinking as we went. We would discuss the meaning of the lyrics, point out specific vocabulary words, discuss powerful lines or stanzas, and look for a theme. I usually had some questions or specific things I wanted the students to notice in the text, but those mainly served as conversation starters. It always interested me to see what meaning the students derived from reading the lyrics without the music, especially when it was a popular song they knew the words to but hadn't given much thought to the actual message or meaning. We would then listen to the song and discuss how the music influenced the mood of the piece. I would not allow anyone to sing along with the song while we listened the first time. I wanted the students to really focus on the pace and tone of the music and pay close attention to the words. After some additional discussion and/or clarification, we would listen to the song a second time and I would allow the kids to sing along quietly if they knew the words. The whole process took no more than fifteen minutes.

Below is a list of some of the songs I used. We didn't do a song every week and I didn't save all of them (boo), but I'm sharing the ones that I have. Just click on the title to download the lyrics. They are PDFs and will have my questions on them, but you can at least get an idea of how I used them with my students.

"You'll Be in My Heart" - Phil Collins (Disney's The Jungle Book)
"Wide Awake" - Katy Perry
"When I Was Your Man" - Bruno Mars
"Stand" - Rascal Flatts
"Skin" - Rascal Flatts
"Let it Go" - Disney's Frozen
"Lean On Me" - Glee cast
"I've Got a Dream"- Disney's Tangled
"I'll Make a Man Out of You"- Disney's Mulan
"Concrete Angel"- Martina McBride
"Colors of the Wind" - Disney's Pocahontas

Toward the end of the year I realized what an absolute gold mine Disney songs are! They have great vocabulary and valuable themes and a vast majority of the kids knew them.

Depending on availability and time we would also watch the music video for the song. Doing so allowed my students to further grasp the meaning of a song and provided additional evidence to support the overall message.

My students loved Tunes on Tuesday and it was a wonderful way for me to sneak in some additional practice of our reading skills in a unique and engaging way. I also loved the flexibility of it. I could focus more on vocabulary or word study skills or go deeper and discuss skills like tone and theme. And of course, I LOVE to sing and so did most of my students, so it was always fun to sing along with them that second time around! It is definitely something I am going to tweak and improve and continue to use in the future.

Several other bloggers have shared their ideas for this strategy on Nick's Tunes Tuesday Linky Page so be sure to check that out!!

Hope you are enjoying your summer!!


  1. Wow! Thanks for the shout-out! If you're like me you can probably barely listen to the radio without listening to the lyrics and trying to see if it's appropriate for school and if there might be a few good examples of a grammar skill in there!

    I'll be adding a link to this post to my Tunes Tuesday page on my blog! Thanks so much for sharing your lyric sheets with everyone! I love your blog, btw!

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason
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  2. Kelly,
    This is a great post--thanks for writing about your experience. I'm definitely trying this out this coming year!


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