7 Ways to Use Spotify in Your Classroom (Educational Resource)
I’m going through such a Spotify phase at the moment. I’ve always loved Spotify, but now that I’m a Primary School teacher I LOVE Spotify. I find this application gives me so many opportunities to integrate music quickly and easily into the classroom. This in turn, opens up so many possibilities for engaging students and achieving learning outcomes. Because as you have no doubt noticed, students LOVE music also!
Below is a list outlining 7 different ways I have used Spotify in the classroom. Hopefully they give you some inspiration. I would also love to hear how you use music in the classroom, through the comments section! You can also download this educational resource for free via my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I’ve drawn upon some of the songs from my “Primary School Pop” Playlist to help me share these ideas with you, see how many you can pick 😉
#1 Beautiful Day
I love to have music on while my students enter the classroom and get set up for the start of the day. To me, it makes my classroom seem more inviting, and can help set the tone for the entire day ahead. For example, during the first week of school this term I played up-beat, pop music to get my students excited about being back at school. Since then, I have played quieter, meditative-style music as they are now expected to enter the classroom and begin practicing their High Frequency words before the bell goes. Having soft, instrumental music sets the the tone that they are to focus on their school work, rather than run around talking to friends.
#2 I Like to Move It
Having music on hand makes time-filler games – or morning fitness – a piece of cake. If I’m ever caught out with 5 minutes to spare (and I can’t face another round of Heads Down, Thumbs Up!) I’ll play some of my students’ favourite music and we’ll play a game of musical statues instead. This game obviously incorporates music directly into the game itself; there have been times where I’ve also just kept the fun music on in the background while we play other games.
#3 A Sky Full of Stars
After lunch, we do 15 minutes silent reading. On really hot days though, I give my students the choice to do silent reading or meditation (I briefly ran through with them the concept and practice of meditation in the first week of school). I then play some meditative music, and those who choose to meditate (I’m always amazed by how many who do!) lie on their backs on the floor, close their eyes and cool off from a hot and energetic lunchtime. The feedback from students regarding this has been overwhelmingly positive – students actually enjoy the time to sit quietly, relax and just “pause” for a moment.
#4 (It’s Easy As) ABC
Peer discussions are a big part of my teaching. I like to give students a chance to discuss ideas, concepts and answers with one or two others before volunteering to answer as part of a class discussion. I’ve found it to be the most effective way to stimulate meaningful whole class conversations, as they have the opportunity to float their ideas in a less “scary” way with just one or two friends. To help them feel less self-conscious while talking with their peers, I will often play music. I will start the music when I want them to be talking in a small group, and pause the music to come together as a class to chat. The students recognise the music being on as a time for them to focus and discuss, and the extra background noise stops them feeling as insecure about talking aloud where others may be able to overhear them.
One of the things I like to promote to students is creativity and innovation. I often will give students a short, creativity-boosting task (like drawing a creative picture from just a squiggle). To frame the amount of time they have to complete the task, and to get the creative juices flowing, I will play a song. I find this immediately relaxes students, and gets them thinking outside of the box! It also helps keep them on track time-wise, as they know they only have until the end of the song to complete the activity.
#6 Eye of the Tiger
The last 10 minutes of school is always hectic. Kids running around everywhere, school work and furniture all over the place, you frantically trying to ensure everyone has all the notes and homework they need to take home and all the while, the seconds are ticking away until the bell goes! After struggling for a couple weeks with my Primary class, I decided to capitalise on their competitive streak to solve this issue. At the end of every day, I play one song from my playlist. They have the length of that song to do all of our end-of-day clean-up routine and be sitting on the mat, ready for the bell to go. If every single student is on the mat by the time the bell goes, then they all receive one Dojo point. I was confident this strategy would work, but oh boy did it work!! I have never seen my students more quicker than when this song is on! And the suspense in the last 20 seconds as they all frantically make their way to the mat never gets old. Let’s just say though, the entire class is up many a Dojo point since we started this routine!
Last, but by no means least! Teaching is hard work. It’s rewarding of course, but it can also be tiring, stressful and hectic. I use Spotify whenever I am alone in the classroom – whether that’s setting up for the day, frantically preparing the next lesson during DOTT or packing up at the end of the day. I have my own personal playlist (almost exclusively made up of Leonard Cohen!) that calms me down, no matter what the day has thrown at me. It’s important that we also take time to look after ourselves, not just our students! And music can play a vital role in helping us recharge and re-focus.
Making it work
In order to integrate music effectively into the classroom, there are couple considerations. Firstly, you need to download and login to your Spotify account on your teacher computer (obviously any music playing software, such as iTune would work. Or even a CD!) Ideally, this computer will be permanently set up to the classroom speakers. This prevents the awkward moments at the start of a lesson when you’re trying to connect your device to speakers. Then, you want to have a playlist of go-to songs ready. It only takes a few minutes to create a playlist on Spotify, but oh is it worth it! When you’re on the spot, pushed for time or just want your lessons to run smoothly, it is a life-saver having all the songs you want to use right there, ready for you. I have a Primary School-friendly playlist (“Primary School Pop”) that I continually add to which, I’ve made public. So, if you’d like to simply follow my playlist instead of creating your own, feel free! If you have access to a computer remote control (and your computer/device is remote-friendly) it is worth investing in. This allows you to hit play and pause on tracks from the other side of the classroom! Great when you’re using music to facilitate learning activities. Finally, it is worth considering a paid Spotify account. The paid account removes advertisements and allows you to download playlists to your computer – this means even if the internet was down, you still have access to your songs! This has been a life-saver for me on more than one occasion.
How do you use music in the classroom? I would love to hear your strategies, as well as any songs that are “hits” with your students!
Primary School Pop Playlist
If you have a Spotify account, consider following my Primary School Pop playlist for instant access to a range of fun, up-beat and child-friendly pop songs.