Monday, May 25, 2015

The Sunscreen Song: Activity to do with Graduating Seniors

Well the school year is really winding down here. Our last day is this Friday. I can't believe another year is almost in the books. This year has had its ups and downs, its challenges and its triumphs. But overall, I really enjoyed the group of kids I taught and was excited to incorporate some new lessons into my curriculum.

I teach mostly seniors, who finished up a couple weeks ago, and this year I incorporate a new activity on their last day of regular classes. I might be showing my age a bit, but the "Sunscreen Song" by Baz Luhrmann was really popular when I was graduating from 8th grade (lol) and I remember it kind of being a mantra for my class.

If you aren't familiar with this spoken word song, it actually started out as a piece in the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich entitled "Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young."

Then, two years later, Luhrmann (the man who directed films such as Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby) set it to music and turned it into a popular spoken word song for graduating seniors (or 8th graders, as it may be).

Here is the music video for it, which I showed to my seniors:

None of my seniors had heard it before (they were all 2 when it came out, which should make you feel very old!) I also gave them a copy of the lyrics.

After listening to it and watching the video, I had them go through and mark their favorite pieces of advice. What I love about this song/article is that even though it is silly at times, it does have very good and even poignant advice in it. Here are my favorite lines:

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't
Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the 'Funky Chicken'
On your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much
Or berate yourself either
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's

Many of my students loved these lines too.

After we discussed what their favorite pieces of advice were, I had them get in pairs and write their own "Sunscreen Song." They had to come up with at least ten pieces of advice for their fellow graduating classmates. The advice could be serious or silly, sentimental or humorous. I gave them about 20 min. or so to think about it and write, and then they each shared their favorite pieces of advice. I thought beforehand that most would want to write silly advice, but the vast majority came up with very thoughtful, heartfelt and sage advice actually.

It was a very fun activity, and I thought a perfect one for their last day as a high school student. Middle school teachers could easily use this with 8th graders graduating as well, since nothing in the song is inappropriate. 

What activities have you used with graduating seniors or 8th graders?

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