Contemporary Music & Reading

“Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” I pulled one of my Book Club students aside after class. He had been dozing on and off the entire thirty minutes (yes, Book Club is only thirty minutes) and I wanted to see what was up. “Look,” I said, “I know you’re tired, but it hurts my feelings when you fall asleep during my class. What if you were telling me a story about your weekend and I closed my eyes and started snoring. How would you feel?”

He stared at me for a second and sighed. “Pretty bad.”


“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“Hey,” I said, “tell you what. You try to stay awake during Book Club and I’ll try to make it more interesting. What do you like? What are you into?”

I could see him itching for the door, but he put his finger to his lips and looked up at the ceiling. “I like music,” he said.

“Music. Okay.” I nodded and gestured towards the door, “I’ll see what I can do.”

Challenge accepted.


I know that Book Club can be tiring for kids, especially my students that struggle with reading. But I decided to take my sleepy student’s advice and add music into the curriculum.

I created an interactive set of scaffolded notes that integrated contemporary music clips and lyrics. The students were challenged to listen to the words of the clip, read the lyrics, and draw connections to themselves, to other songs, and to main ideas in their lives. This was so much fun! They loved comparing the words to the video and vice versa. They also had fun listening to the music and finding ways to relate the music to what was going on in the world. One very relevant example of this was a student who talked about “Mean” by Taylor Swift and how it related to bullying in the middle school as well as large-scale bullying, like terrorism. This individual made a very real connection between the lyrics of “Mean” and the terrorist attacks in Paris–the connections they drew were strong and they had fun. I’d say that the lesson was a success! (Thanks sleepy eighth grader!)




**Click to view/download the Contemporary Music & Reading Activity!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply