Supply and demand with a twang
How to Use Music in the Classroom
If you have never used music in the classroom, there may be some trepidation about implementing it for the first time. This section provides a guide and helpful tips to give you confidence to make your economics course 'Gone Country'.
In general, there are two practices for using music in the classroom: pre-lecture and during lecture.
Play a song three to four minutes before the start of every lecture based on the material being covered that day. For example, if you are covering substitute and complementary goods in the section of determinants of demand, you may choose to play She Only Smokes When She Drinks. By playing a song before the start of class, it sets the stage for the topics to be covered each day. In addition, it encourages punctuality, immediately gains the attention of the students and mentally prepares them for lecture, and also gives them something to look forward to each class period.
Songs can be incorporated throughout the lecture when relevant topics are covered. Professors can choose to play the song prior to the coverage of the topic or after the topic has already been covered to reinforce the concept. For example, after you cover the Great Depression, Keynesian Macroeconomics, and the Spending multiplier, this is a great opportunity to play Song of the South. Using music during class reinforces the concepts, illustrates that economics is all around us, and draws students' attention back to lecture.
Every professor has a different teaching method so you may find one practice of playing music suits you better, or you may discover a combination or variation of the above practices work best for you. Do whatever you are comfortable with!
Incorporating Music into Classroom Discussion and Short Assignments
Many of the songs on the website have sample questions and assignments that can be used in your classroom. Listed below are the three types you will encounter throughout the website.
Think, Pair, Share
This method can be used in classrooms of varying size but is probably most helpful in large lecture halls. In these settings, students may feel that answering a question is too intimidating, and therefore it will be difficult to get any sort of student response. With Think, Pair, Share, students can group up in pairs and discuss the questions posed by the professor. The professor can then randomly call on one of the groups to give their response. This is a quick and easy way to get students actively involved in the classroom discussion.
Numerous platforms and technologies exist to make classroom polling relatively easy to implement in your classes. Check with your college/university to see which, if any, technologies have been adopted. Examples include clickers, Top Hat, and Poll Everywhere, but the market is not limited to these three alone so find what works best for you. Throughout the website, you will find certain songs which contain example multiple choice questions which could be used for classroom polling.
Quiz or homework questions can also be assigned for outside of the classroom. These questions are more involved and in many cases require the students to collect some data, make calculations, and analyze the results in a more thorough manner. This is a great way to reinforce the concepts of the songs by using real world economic data, and also allows your students to work on their writing skills.
Incorporating Music into Group Projects
EconGoneCountry can also be used as a segue into more in-depth group projects involving economics and music. A prominent project among economic educators involves groups of students choosing a popular or well known song and then re-writing the lyrics to focus on economic concepts. The students sing the new lyrics over the original music and create their own music video. These projects, referred to as Rockonomix and Econ Beats, are implemented at colleges and universities across the United States who compete against one another for the top prize. For more information on Rockonomix and Econ Beats, including sample instruction sheet, grading rubric, and peer evaluation form, visit rockonomix.com and econbeats.com