My students and I start writing on the first day of school. Our first quickwrite might be in response to a video or a poem or a short passage. For the past few years, I’ve shown To This Day by Shane Koyczan. I pass out notecards and ask students to listen to the message and then either write their thoughts to the whole of the video, or perhaps to a line in it.
I learn a lot about my students on the first day of school.
Then, three or four times a week, we write in response to other videos, poems, or passages throughout the year. Sometimes we return to these quick writing pieces, choose topics, and take the writing into full processed works. (Shana shares how she leads students into this mining his mini-lesson.) Sometimes we stop at just sharing our thinking with our table mates. Sometimes we use our thinking a springboards into texts we read together or in book clubs.
Writing responses is one of the best thinking strategies I know for engaging students in writer’s workshop. (Actually, I think asking students to write responses in any content area is good for thinking — I wish math and science teachers gave students more opportunities to write. I’m sure they wish I did more with math and science, but somehow I don’t think that’s really apples for apples. Is it?)
As this year winds down, I think of a million things to ask my students that might help me
reach more readers and writers the following year. This week I asked them to give me ideas on the songs they listen to — songs that might work well to get students thinking and responding in their notebooks.
They sent me lots. Some sent me lists.
(Disclaimer: I have not listening to all of these songs yet, but I did start watching the music videos. Some have lyrics that might work well, but videos that might not. Some are a little too much… others are just weird. Some would work if we think of thought-provoking questions to include with the lyrics/videos. Should’ve had kids come up with those, too.)
Here’s a list of songs my students suggest would make for good quickwrites:
“Alive” by Kehlani
“Bright” by Kehlani
“Halo” by Beyonce
“Be Alright” by Kehlani
“Lean On” by Major Lazer & DJ Snake
“Lights” by Vexents
“Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeren
“Imagine” by John Lennon
“Run Away” by Kanye West
“Brother” by Need to Breathe
“Love Yourself” by Justin Beiber
“7 Years” by Lukas Graham (I found this one before my students mentioned it. I actually saved the title to this song in my notebook after I heard it on the radio. It’s a great song for thinking about Our Stories.)
“Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw (Another song I already love and am tickled that a student suggested it. This is a message I know we all hope our students internalize. Studying the humanities makes the world –and the classroom — a better place.)
“50 Ways to Say Goodbye” by Train
“Apple Tree” by Erykah Badu
“Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant
“The Light That Never Fades” by Andra Day
“Rise Up” by Andra Day
“Cornerstone” by Hillsong
“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (Ohhh, Journey. I remember you well. Another student suggestion that made me smile.)
“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
“Heroes” by David Bowie
“What Would You Do” by Bastille
“Locked Inside” by Janelle Monae
“I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw
“Became” by Atmosphere
“Not the Only One” by Sam Smith
“The Moon – The Swell Season, It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars
“Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars
“See You Again” by Charlie Puth
“Only One” by Kanye West
“Heaven” by Troye Sivan
“Lose It” by Oh Wonder
“Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers
“Never Forget You” by Zara Larson
“First” by Laura Daigle
What about you — do you have some great songs you use to inspire your writers? Please share in the comments.