Absolute Monarchy’s Ultimate Class Playlist: Pairing Music with History

When I began school this year, I decided to create a class playlist – finding music that encapsulated what we did for each day in class and posting it in the room for all to see. Not only will this give my students a “headline” of what we did that day, but it will both expose them to different music (I was upset they had not heard of The Pixies) and force me to reflect upon my lessons daily. This activity was inspired by the book Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison and developed through conversations about this book that I had with Dave Wallace (@DaveJWallace).

The discussion of the songs is not a focal part of the class, but a bonus for those who are interested (like a classroom “Easter Egg*”). Each day, I write out the song title and artist on a whiteboard and tweet it out with a video or links to the lyrics. I like the idea that a classroom (like the hit show Arrested Development) can be a layered experience.**

My ultimate goal is to bring interested students into this music activity and have already gotten a few suggestions from them (which they promised will be the clean versions of songs from now on). This way, I will be able to see if my lesson’s focus matches up from their perspective.

So without further adieu, here is the Absolute Monarchy’s Ultimate Class Playlist!

Topic: Forms of Government
Song: What is Love? Gov? by Haddaway

Topic: Positives and Negatives of Different Forms of Government
Song: I Hope that Something Better Comes Along by Rowlf and Kermit

Topic: The Sinking of the Spanish Armada
Song: The Impossible by Joe Nichols

Topic: The Decline of the Spanish Empire
Song: Hurt by Johnny Cash (or Nine Inch Nails)

Topic: Introduction to Louis XIV and Absolutism
Song: It’s Good to Be King by Tom Petty

Topic: The Rise of Louis XIV and the House of Bourbon
Song: The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals

Topic: Versailles
Song: We Built This City by Starship

Topic: The effects that the 30 Years War, French-Dutch Wars, and War of the Spanish Succession had on France.
Song: War (What is it Good For?) by Edwin Starr

Topic: Peter the Great and the Supremacy of Western Fashion
Song: Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top

Topic: Westernization and Peter the Great
Song: Walk Like an Egyptian a European by The Bangles

Topic: Charles I and the English Civil War
Song: Times They Are a-Changing by Bob Dylan

Topic: James II and the Glorious Revolution
Song: Beat It by Michael Jackson

Topic: Students Created a Graphic Organizer for Absolute Monarch’s Unit
Song: Pick Up the Pieces by Average White Band

If you have any questions on the songs mentioned, feel free to ask! 

* An Easter Egg is something that you will find in books, television shows, movies, and video games  (and many more places including Google)~ it is a bonus for fans. In the book Dead Even, Brad Meltzer includes a line in the story that shows the fate of the “bad guy” from earlier book The First Counsel.
** My next similar project will be a Fantasy Football-type “game” for interested students that I will be launching during my Enlightenment and Revolution Unit. I have been tinkering with the concept for a few weeks and think that I can pull it off starting Monday. I’ll post more on this later.

Semi Related Posts ~
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Assignment (and the Common Core)
I’m No Guitar Hero and I’m Okay with That (Now)
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: A Tale of the Modern Classroom

About Michael K. Milton

I teach students Social Studies at Burlington High School. When I became a teacher, I believed that students would frequently give me apples. This has not happened (not even a Red Delicious ~ a name which is a misnomer). However, my school has given me a MacBook Pro and an iPad in an effort to right this wrong (I assume). I'm very lucky to work in a 1:1 school.
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6 Responses to Absolute Monarchy’s Ultimate Class Playlist: Pairing Music with History

  1. Frank Vitale says:

    I love the idea of pairing music with history. And your song choices are quite varied and interesting. From Johnny Cash to ZZ Top. The Tom Petty choice and the Animals choice for the Louis XIV segments especially seem to fit quite well.

  2. Tim says:

    Are you having the kids analyze each song in how it correlates to each topic?

    • Nope! When time permits students have brought it up and we have discussed it.

      I’ve noticed that occasionally students eyes wander and I felt that this could be a different way to engage them. I also occasionally write “twitter” comments on a separate whiteboard that some students have found amusing.

  3. Pingback: The Perfect Match: Music and Primary Document Pairing | Michael K. Milton ~ @42ThinkDeep

  4. Pingback: Going Meta: Cataloguing My Past Two Years of Blogging | Michael K. Milton ~ @42ThinkDeep

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