A year ago this week, while at the 2014 Middle Grades Institute, a colleague suggested using music to improve the learning environment. He remarked that between class transitions or during breaks in class, he was continually piping music out to his students to get them excited, comfortable, and engaged in the classroom learning.
After some faltering efforts, I took his advice and this year started using Spotify’s free version to create set lists of music to match the learning environment. Spotify has a wonderful selection of music from which to choose. Deep Focus selections provide a background for our writing sessions while more upbeat pop sets help us get our Minecraft sessions in motion.
Where at first I was concerned that the music would be a distraction, students have reacted very favorably. Indeed, by choosing the right “tone” for the set, I believe the learning environment can actually become more productive. In response, students have reacted very favorably to this change in the learning environment.
After becoming comfortable with this change in the learning culture, I took it a step further (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/further-versus-farther). I began asking students to create set lists. In doing so, they began personalizing the learning culture.
If you want to experiment with a free, easy to use, and adolescent-approved change to your learning environment, check out Spotify. You may be able to make your learning environment a more productive, attractive place for middle schoolers to grow and learn.