Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Music Videos as Teaching Tools

Blame the gym for this one.

I got the idea for this lesson before I decided to become a teacher. I went to the gym nearly every day during my last two years as an undergrad. Our gym only showed MTVU, and the constantly-played video at the time was "Bulletproof" by La Roux.

In this video, the 1980s vomit geometry everywhere. I love it! How many geometric figures in this video can you identify? I'll be asking my students the same question (and sharing an excerpt from the book Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot)  before they use geometric figures to tell their own stories. 

Of course, I can't stop there. Here are some other ideas for using music videos in math and science classrooms:

- A teacher from another Albuquerque high school uses the fabulous music of Andrew Bird to teach the idea of transformations to his geometry students. I haven't decided if this one is a good fit for my class yet, as they're more visual and hands-on learners than auditory learners.

- The Fibonacci sequence isn't a part of the curriculum in any of my current classes, but someday I hope to use Tool's "Lateralus" in a math class. This video (created by a community college student) explains everything that is lyrically, rhythmically, and mathematically awesome about this song.

- A Rube Goldberg machine timed to music?! Thank you, OK Go!
EDIT: Rube Goldberg machines can be a great way to visualize the law of syllogism in logic/geometry. If the man starts the chain of dominoes falling, then the last domino will pull the lever. If the lever is pulled, then the model car will be released. And so on. The students can then visualize the conclusion: If the man starts the chain of dominoes falling, then the band will be hit with paint cannons! (Thanks for the idea go to Jacobs' Geometry: seeing, doing, understanding).

- Ratatat's "Neckbrace" is the latest addition to my collection. I saw this video for the first time this morning on "The Cool TV", a broadcast music station that I can only describe as "local access meets 90s MTV". I honestly think both the song and video are awful (saved only by the bird tessellations). My students will probably get a good laugh out of it.

If you know any good songs/videos to add to this list, please let me know!

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