History You Can Dance To … Talk About Creative Teachers!

Have you always wanted history to come alive for your students? Try kicking off the French Revolution with a musical video parody of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” That is exactly what two teachers from Hawaii have been doing. Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona put history to music and then create a video to entice students and pique their curiosity about the historical events. Amy states in the Washington Post’s, Answer Sheet, “I think the first songs I created for my history classes were Civilization (to Gwen Stefani’s “Harajuku Girls”) and Henry VIII (to Abba’s “Money Money Money”).  Her favorites are Elizabeth I (“She’s Not There”), Canterbury Tales (“California Dreamin’”) and Napoleon (to Violent Femme’s “Gone Daddy Gone.

As to the effectiveness of the videos … Burvall has polled students over the past five years. Students feel the songs and videos help them remember the basic information, “…but more than that they sparked an interest in history to learn more independently.”  Amy cautions that the songs need discussion and analysis based on the historical event/character. Students “read” into the lyrics based on their study. Students have started helping with lyric writing which requires a deep understanding of the moment in history to create the parody.

Where can you find these videos? YouTube has about 50 videos posted under “History for Music Lovers.” Amy Burvall started creating the videos while recovering from cancer. Definitely a “glass half full” kind of gal!


One Comment;

  1. Robin Talkowski said:

    What a great idea! I used a video from Flocabulary to help my students remember the elements of a short story – plot, character, conflict, theme, setting – and not one student forgot them. It really shows the power of music to help memory. Thanks for this information. I am going to pass it on today.

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