Saturday, January 3, 2015

Using Weird Al Songs in the Classroom


Believe it or not, the first concert I ever attended was in my early twenties when I went to a Weird Al Yankovic concert at the Corn Palace in South Dakota with my parents. Weird Al has been one of my favorite musical artists ever since I can remember.  Once I became an educator I began to listen to his music differently, recognizing how many of his songs can be used in the classroom. Here is a list of songs teachers can use in middle school or high school English, social studies, and science.

English:
  • Bob” is a song written entirely in palindromes (a word or phrase that reads the same way forwards and backwards) and is a fun way to expose students to that concept.
  • Word Crimes” is a much better version of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. In Weird Al’s version, he goes over all sorts of grammar rules. I recommend using his music video in class, maybe as an introduction to what students will learn during the year.

Social Studies:
  • Canadian Idiot” isn't quite as insulting to Canadians as it sounds . It is a parodied version of “American Idiot” by Green Day, and it compares and contrasts the US with Canada.
  • Headline News” is a parody of the Crash Test Dummies' "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm." Weird Al's song contains three news stories from the early nineties (Michael Fay and his Singapore caning, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan’s troubles, and Lorena Bobbitt using a knife on her husband). While the news stories are older and not entirely appropriate, using this song could be a way to get students interested in writing song lyrics summarizing current news stories.

Science:
  • Germs” is a fun attention getter to use at the beginning of a unit about bacteria.
  • I Think I’m a Clone Now,” which parodies Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” is a catchy tune that can be used in a genetics unit.  After listening to the song and learning about cloning, students can discuss the ethics of human cloning.
  • Living with a Hernia” is Weird Al’s spin on “Living in America” by James Brown. The song can be used in a unit on the human body. It gives listeners a general idea of what hernias are and lists many different varieties of hernias.
  • Pancreas” is a way to introduce this organ and give surprisingly detailed information about what the organ does for the human body.
  • Sir Isaac Newton Vs. Bill Nye” is part of the series Epic Rap Battles of History. It has great physics information. Know your students before you show this video. It does contain one curse word near the end of the video, but teachers can stop the video before this part gets shown without limiting the science content the video contains.
Are there any fun songs you use in your classroom? Do you have ideas for how you can use these Weird Al songs in your classroom?


2 comments:

  1. Science:

    "Why does the sun shine?" - They Might Be Giants

    "I'm Your Moon" - Johnathan Coulton (A love song written to Pluto by its moon shortly after it was declared not to be a planet.)

    History:

    "The Mesopotamians" - They Might Be Giants

    "Wakko's 50 State Capitols" - The Animaniacs

    "Nations of the World" - The Animaniacs (Not entirely accurate still, but fun.)

    "The Presidents" - Animaniacs (Only goes to Clinton, but is still wonderful!!!)

    "Instanbul" - Animaniacs (Not super informative, but you'll never forget that "Instanbul was once Constantinople!")

    "Historically Accurate Disney Princess Song" - Rachel Bloom WARNING! DISTURBING IMAGERY. BRINGS UP MATURE TOPICS SUCH AS INCESTUOUS MARRIAGES, PLAGUE, AND ANTISEMITISM.

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    1. Awesome! Thank you so much for adding fun/educational songs to the list!

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