Get Creative With Your Secondary Sources
As educators, we have a great variety of secondary sources on hand for us. Video clips, internet clips, excerpts from other texts, newspaper articles, even songs drawing on a historical experience can all be used as viable secondary sources. At times, it is these documents more than anything else, that help to ensure student understanding.
Using Coldplay to Teach Absolute Rule
Big fan of the band Coldplay? Some of us are. Did you know you could use their song Viva La Vita to teach absolute rule? The downloadable power point and student worksheet found at the end of the article can be used to aid students’ understanding of Absolute Rule in European Monarchs. The lyrics to Viva la Vida, a popular song by Coldplay reflect some of the major beliefs of absolutism and of monarchs in Europe at this time. In the lesson, students take a look at the lyrics as they were written, an interpretation of the meaning behind the lyrics, and see if we they gain a better understanding of absolutism.
This lesson provides teachers with a great opportunity to understand how well students can apply their knowledge. After working together in class on the song, they can ask students to do the following. Have them chose one stanza from the song or chose one of the 2 choruses. Chose one “absolute ruler" studied so far in class. Using their own words, have students pretend to be that ruler and re-write the 4 lines you have chosen in that ruler’s “voice". Take the ideas from the song and write them as if the ruler you chose was speaking those ideas to the people of his/her country. It only has to be 4-5 lines. Students must name the ruler at the beginning of the paper and tell what country he/she ruled and for what years.
Billy Joel Teaches About Communism
Teaching the fall of Communism in Europe? Are you students struggling with the way life was for people in the U.S.S.R under Communist rule? Do they have trouble understanding what it meant to live in a communist country? Use Billy Joel’s popular song Leningrad to help their understanding.
Billy Joel is an American songwriter from Long Island, NY. He was born in 1949, right at the beginning of the Cold War. He was in elementary school during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Right after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Billy Joel was invited to give a concert in Russia. He was one of the first Americans to visit Russia since World War II. He spent some time in Russia and got to know some of the people there. He met a man a little older than he was who had also lived through the Cold War. He came back to the United States and wrote this song about the man. The song compares Joel’s life in America with Victor’s life in Russia.
The downloadable lesson and power point once again calls upon students to analyze the lyrics and their meaning and apply the knowledge to their understanding of the topic. These lessons are fun, simple, and make for a lively classroom. In short, they are music to a teacher’s ears!
Viva la Vida & Absolute Rule Power Point
Viva la Vida Lyrics & Assignment Handout
Leningrad & Communism Power Point
Leningrad Lyrics & Questions Handout