Thursday, August 9, 2012

2012 Charles M. Hewitt Master Teacher Competition

I am honored, today, to be one of four finalists in the Charles M. Hewitt Master Teacher Competition sponsored by the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.  By the time this post is available, I will have completed my presentation to the membership at the ALSB annual conference held this year in Kansas City, MO.  The other finalists are Lucien Dhooge of Georgia Tech, Stephanie Greene of Boston College, and Michael Koval of Salisbury University.

The purpose of this post is not self-promotion, but to serve as a forum to share the resources that were compiled for my presentation. The presentation materials included over 130 video web links of examples of the pedagogical use of music in college classrooms.  However, in paper/photocopy form, the links are difficult to use.  Therefore, I have posted my proposal paper including the addendum containing the links in this post. The result will be "live" links that may be used to see examples of the use of music as a teaching resource in college classrooms. I invite you to peruse the presentation proposal and look at the live links as you consider introducing innovative classroom techniques.

Jump to the proposal and addended links by clicking on "Read More" below.

2012 Charles M. Hewitt Master Teacher Competition


“A Song Makes you Feel a Thought”

Submitted by Mark DeAngelis
University of Connecticut

I. Proposal Description:

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” -  E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, American Lyricist. 

Is there a more profound way to interact with the subject matter of a Legal Environment or Business Law course than to “feel” the concepts?  This proposal suggests the use of songs as a pedagogical method in the Legal Environment and Business Law classrooms.

Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking book, Frames of Mind, revolutionized the way that we consider “intelligence.” He posited that intelligence is not one-dimensional and that, in fact, there are many different types of intelligences.  He began with a list of seven:  Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. Education theorists, embracing Gardner’s foundations, expanded the concept of student-centered learning to suggest that the most effective teaching methods include those which allow students to learn using their natural intellectual abilities. A class of 60 students will, by definition, include students who learn in various and diverse ways. Therefore, consideration of best practice principles dictates the use of teaching methods designed to implicate as many of the diverse types of intelligences as possible.

With enhanced “student engagement” as a recognized goal to enhance student learning, it makes sense to employ pedagogical methods that incorporate activities and interests in which students are naturally engaged. Two articles in the most recent volume of the Journal of Legal Studies Education recognize as much; one suggesting the use of storytelling and the other suggesting teaching torts through sports. Use of humor in the classroom is another common suggestion to enhance engagement. Students are undoubtedly naturally engaged by popular songs.  Incorporating songs into the classroom curriculum to enhance engagement makes perfect sense. (The Fall 2011 volume of The Law Teacher features the article, “Music and The Law School Classroom” by Lindsey Webb.)

Songs have been employed in the college classroom in a myriad of ways (see Appendix, Part B). This proposal suggests the use of song so as to foster student creativity and encourage students to learn from each other. The three components of this proposal include the introduction of songs in the curriculum through Modeling, Opportunity and Curriculum Enhancement as explained in the Proposed Classroom Teaching section below. 

A. Learning Objectives:

This proposal suggests the use of songs to stimulate legal learning through the following objectives:

1. Stimulate Interest:  Students can be bored by lectures.  Even the most engaging storyteller is at risk of losing student interest over a 15 week semester. Songs presented by the instructor or by fellow students shatters the monotony of the spoken voice.

2. Access Creative Processes:  Students have tremendous capacities for creativity. Opening opportunities for expression allow them to express their unique understandings of law in a way that is embraced by other students.

3. Implicate Long Term Memory: Rhyme and melody have strong links to long term memory retention. Students who write songs about the law and who listen to songs about the law, have long memories for the legal principles considered.

These three objectives may be applied across the curriculum to enhance understanding of the nature of law, the operation of legal systems, the application and operation of legal principles and the functions of the legal profession among other topics.

B. Proposed Classroom Teaching Session

The Appendix (Part B) includes links to well over a hundred video examples of the pedagogical use of song in the college classroom.  The most interesting and effective use of song, and the most common example, is the use of song as pedagogical tool to deliver the curricular material of the course. This proposed teaching session expands the use of song in the classroom through employment of the following method:

- Modeling: The instructor should write some simple lyrics to popular melodies and use them in class beginning with the first class session. There should be at least one song used in each of the first few classes to set an example for students to emulate.  Songs may be in the form of a thoughtful reflection on the functioning of the legal system (Our Lives Would Suck Without Laws, ); or a lesson on a legal principle (This Form is Your Form (UCC 2-207),; Statute of Frauds Song, ); or a specific case study (The Ballad of Susette Kelo,;
The Bonnie Ships Peerless, ).
- Opportunity:  Students are then given incentive (points toward a grade) to write their own “law songs” (or poems) in a similar fashion.  The assignment rubric establishes fairly rigorous parameters. The song must have a rhyming scheme.  This is an important part of the assignment.  The rhyming requirement causes student to examine myriad and divers ways of expressing a legal principle in order to find words that rhyme in the expression of the idea. (For example, it takes some thoughtful consideration to fashion phrases that rhyme with res ipsa loquitor.) Songs must be of a length that requires students to fully flesh out a legal concept without repetition (minimum of 28 lines).  Songs are submitted for review and grading. The instructor will work with students to edit and refine songs. 

-Curriculum Enhancement: Students are then offered the opportunity to have their songs (lyrics) posted to the course web site. Students may perform their songs in class for additional credit.  Sometimes, when feasible, the instructor will perform the student’s song in class. The best songs are recorded, matched with a PPT video presentation and posted on youtube to become part of the curriculum for future semesters. (i.e., You Owed a Duty to Me, ; Ethics and Law in Our Lives, ). Ultimately students speak to one another about the law in the shared language of their own popular culture. Students learn from other students.

Through this method, students are both guided through the intellectual behaviors as described in the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy and act as guides themselves.

C. Methods of Evaluation

Student law song assignments are evaluated on the basis of the accuracy of the content expressed in the lyrics.  Songs that contain inaccuracies or unclear messages are edited or re-written until they express an idea that may be presented to the class as a lesson. Songs that work best are those that tell a coherent story with accurate information.

The effectiveness of the songs as a curricular method has been determined from frequent references by students in course evaluation forms.

II. Master Teacher Presentation:

Examples of Modeling:
Thoughtful Reflection on the Legal System: Our Lives Would Suck Without Laws
Lesson on a Legal Principle:   Statute of Frauds: Statute of Frauds Song
UCC 2-207: This Form is Your Form
Case Specific: The Ballad of Susette Kelo

Example of Opportunity:
Video of Student Class Presentation: Found

Example of Curriculum Enhancement:
You Owed a Duty to Me
Ethics and Law in Our Lives

Note on Applicability:  Not every instructor may feel confident in composing song lyrics or comfortable singing in front of a class. This proposed pedagogical model may be introduced in such a class where the modeling is accomplished through use of various online video resources referenced in the Appendix (Parts A and B).

III. Qualifications:

Editor of the Legal Studies Classroom Blog,, a nationally recognized resource of innovative curricular material for use in the undergraduate legal studies classroom.  The LSCB has received an average of 3,100 page views per month for academic year 2011-2012. The LSCB audience includes readers from the United States, Canada, Australia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Ukraine, Thailand, India, Chile, Jamaica, and Brazil among other nations.

Founder and Content Generator for the Profblaw YouTube Channel: featuring songs for use in legal education. The profblaw channel has 126 subscribers.  The videos housed there have been viewed over 58,000 times in 17 months (average of over 3,400 video views per month) and have been featured on the ContractsProf Blog ( i.e. )

University of Connecticut School of Business Undergraduate Teaching Award Recipient (2006); Co-Recipient (2011) representing the only two occasions on which the applicant was eligible for the award.

University of Connecticut Student Board of Governors, Nominated for Educator of the Year (2009)

IV. Appendix

A. Online Video Resources for Classroom Songs About The law:
The Law of Rock, Vol. I:

See also the LAW category under Part B, below.

B. Examples of the Use of Song in the College or Law School Classroom and Environment:

“Polished and Effective Writing For Lawyers” Class, Vanderbilt U Law:
The teacher behind the plan: Vanderbilt Adjunct Professor of Law Willy Stern, a local journalist has students write their essays which are put to country music melodies. He explains his theory:
 Five pedagogical reasons behind the class:
      (1) A smart test of good writing--legal or otherwise--is to hear it aloud;
      (2) the best writing rolls easily off the tongue;
      (3) memorable phrases often define quality writing;
      (4) there is no room for lazy writing or extra words in a country song, or any form of top-flight writing; and
      (5) boring writing is commonplace and often ineffective.”

Rutgers- Camden Law School Prof. Steven Friedell:
Infusing Music into Legal Research Instruction:
University of Adelaide (AU), Property Law:
Using Hip Hop in the Classroom (Castleton U, Ottawa):
Con Law Song (Washington College of Law?):
Gross Income Song U of Oregon law School:
Ole Miss Law Prof. Michael Hoffheimer:
U of Baltimore Law Prof. Stephen Shapiro:
Prof. Arthur Miller’s NYU Civil Proc. Class:
Prof. Christie at Florida State Law:
Negligence and Business Torts:
Prof. Bradley Smith Capital U law School:
I Will Survive – Carlil v Carbolic Smoke Ball:
Prof. Einer Elhauge at Harvard law :
U of Florida Law Prof. Davis:
BU Law Singing Professors:
Dr. Warwick Murray at Victoria Univ. New Zealand:
Quinnipiac Law graduation rendition of “Wild Rover” parody:
Fordham Law Prof. Erichson:
Canterbury U Prof. Todd: 

Life Sciences:
Texas A&M Biology Prof. Manson:
College of Charleston BioChem class:
Brown University “principles of Immunology” :

Chemistry Prof. John Sloan:
BYU Chemistry Prof. Adam Wooley:
SDSU Public Administration class:
Prof. Bob Burk’s class at Carelton U: ; and too many to link with students singing the periodic table
Organic Chem Extra Credit Assignment:

Natural Resources, Ecology, Geology, Earth Sciences
Prof. Johnson Physical Geology 101 review:

Univ. of Houston Sociology Prof. Joe Kotaba:
Tacoma Community College:
Sociology song assignment:

History :
UC Irvine Prof. Robert Moeller: 


Johns Hopkins Business Process and Quality Management class:
Dr. Dickstein Business Management OSU:

U of Fla. Economics Class:

Service Learning:
Quotes in Songs – Ask the students to find a song where the singer uses lyrics that describe what he/she feels about the service-learning project.:


Prof. Scott Weinstein U Penn:

General and Other:
Prof. Collins at U of Michigan Commencement:
Cal State Fullerton Math Ed:
Dr. Paul Shaefer Grove City College:
Communications Prof. Bai at CSULA:

C. Supporting Sources:

“Pairing of linguistic and musical intelligence develops critical reading and writing skills. Use of modern music stimulates the student to think beyond just the textbook and stimulate (sic) musical intelligence as well as linguistic intelligence to create a connection between the two.”
From Summary and Discussion section of published dissertation: DiEdwardo, Maryann Pasda, Music Transforms the College English Classroom, p. 38 (Authorhouse, 2007).

Armstrong, Thomas (1994) Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, Alexandria, VA:  Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Armstrong, Thomas (1994) The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing, Alexandria, VA: Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Clynes, Manfred (1982) Music, Mind and Brain; The Neuropsychology of Music, New York: Plenum Press;
Croke, J. Greenbag, (1884) Lyrics of the Law: A Recital of Songs And Verses Pertinent to the Law and the Legal Profession, Selected From Various Sources, San Francisco: Sumner Whitney and Company. A reprint of this book is available from Kessinger Publishing rare Book Reprints (; Google Books sample: .
Levitin, Daniel (2006) This is Your Brain on Music, New York: Dutton.
Gardner, Howard (1983; 1993) Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York: Basic Books.
Gardner, Howard (2006) Multiple Intelligences; New Horizons, New York: Basic Books.;
Jensen, Eric (1998), Teaching With the Brain in Mind, Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Manderson, Desmond, (2000) Songs Without Music: Aesthetic Dimensions of Law and Justice (Philosophy, Social Theory and the Rule of Law) U of Cal Press; Google Books sample:,M1
Millbower, Lenn (2000) Training With a Beat; The Teaching Power of Music, Sterling, VA: Stylus
Sacks, Oliver (2008) Musicophilia; Tales of Music and the Brain, New York: Vintage
Snyder, Bob (2000) Music and Memory, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Smith, Mark K. (2002, 2008) “Howard Gardner and multiple intelligences”, the encyclopedia of informal education, accessed 4/20/12.
The National Association For Music Education (2000) Music Makes the Difference; Music, Brain Development, and Learning. Reston, VA: MENC.
Berk, R. A., “Music and Music Technology in College Teaching: Classical to Hip Hop Across
the Curriculum”, International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 4(1), 45–67. (2008),  accessed 4/21/12

Brewer, Chris Boyd, “Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom” from Music and Learning (1995), accessed 4/209/12.
Adam Epstein, Teaching Torts With Sports, 28 J Legal Studies Educ. 117 (2011).
Karl Johnson and Ann Scales, An Absolutely, Positively True Story: Seven Reasons Why We Sing, 16 New Mexico L. Rev. 434 (1986).
Long, Alex B. (2006) “[Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics in Legal Writing”, Berkley Electronic Press, accessed 4/20/12.
Manderson, Desmond, “Desert Island Disks: Ten Reveries on Inter-Disciplinary Pedagogy in Law” in Public Space: The Journal of Law and Social Justice, V.2 (2008)  accessed 4/20/12.
“Music Moves Brian to Pay Attention, Stanford Study Finds.” Stanford School of Medicien Release (August 1, 2007):  accessed 4/20/12.
Prescott, Jennifer O., “Music in The Classroom”, accessed 4/20/12
Rains, Robert, “Boring”, The Law Teacher, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1993): accessed 4/20/12 and related youtube video:
Stansell, Joy Weatherford (2005), “The Use of Music for Learning Languages: A Review of the Literature”,  accessed 4/20/2012
Donna M. Steslow and Carolyn Gardner, More Than One Way to Tell a Story: Integrating Storytelling into Your Law Course , 28 J Legal Studies Educ. 249 (2011)
Swanson, Carl D. “This is Your Brain on Song.” (THE PRIVATE STUDIO) (Essay). Journal of Singing 64.4 (March-April 2008): 491(5). accessed 4/20/12
Tao, Amy, “Do You Have a Musical Brain?” Bay Ledger News Zone. Aug 30, 2006.. accessed 4/20/12
Webb, Lindsey, “Music and the Law School Classroom”, The Law Teacher, Fall 2011. accessed 4/20/12
Wilmes, Barbara, Lauren Harrington, Patty Kohlers-Evans, and David Sumpter. “Coming to Our Senses; Incorporating Brain Research Findings Into Classroom Instruction”. Education 128.4 (Summer 2008): 659(8). accessed 4/20/12.
Websites and Articles

“A law professor takes the edge off first-year jitters with the ultimate mnemonic device”: accessed 4/20/12.

“Singing Law Professor Rocks the Classroom”: accessed 4/20/12.

“Law Lessons That Hit the Rights Note”: accessed 4/20/12.

“Employment Law Work Songs to use in Class”: accessed 4/20/12.

accessed 4/20/12.

The American Bar Association has advocated for the use of songs in high school law classes through its Learning Gateways publication,  accessed 4/21/12.

“Music in the Classroom”:   accessed 4/21/12.

“Law Songs in the Classroom”:  accessed 4/21/12.

“Creating an Active Learning Environment to Teach Evidence and Civil Procedure”, Molly Townes O’Brien, ANU College of Law, The Australian National University:'brien.pdf  accessed 4/21/12.

“Professor Video: Visual, Audio and Interactive Media are Transforming the College Classroom”, Harvard Magazine (Nov/Dec 2009):  accessed 4/21/12.

“Professor Finds Place For Teens’ Music in English Class”, Univ. of Arkansas Colleague (Dec. 2009):  accessed 4/21/12.

“Pop Culture in the Classroom”, The Daily Princetonian, (Dec. 2009):  accessed 4/21/12.

Walter Smith, Assoc. Prof. of Physics, Haverford College:

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