#InClassToday: Spotify in the Spaces Between

Welcome back to the 255! Today, we look forward to sharing our first In Class Today segment for the Fall 2020 semester. The transition to remote instruction throughout the world forced both instructors and students to re-imagine the classroom. Teachers especially deal will the challenging task of effectively engaging student with only virtual tools in their hands. Jerry Williams, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at MMC, has turned to music as a way of sparking creativity and engagement in virtual spaces.

Professor Williams currently teaches Literary Magazine Publishing, Special Topics in Creative Writing, and a Senior Seminar. Throughout his three hour long lecture classes, Williams sought to engage students through music on their breaks and as a background when writing. He created five Spotify playlists that he cycles through throughout the courses. Check out what he had to say about creating each playlist and how he uses them in class to engage students.

First of all, I often listen to music when I write creatively, but there can’t be any words to distract me. So that means classical and jazz. I have a pretty long writing music playlist on Spotify that I cycle through. I’m also a proponent of the in-class writing prompt for creative writing. Dead air in a Zoom class seems a little deader than usual, so I like to share my screen and put on selections from my writing music playlist while the students spend ten minutes responding to a prompt at the beginning of class. Also, since I teach double session classes once a week, we take a fifteen-minute break in the middle of class. Rather than listen to total silence, I share my screen and put on a break playlist that includes various alt rock songs.

– Jerry Williams

I look through the Spotify catalogue and choose songs based on the student work we will be discussing on that particular class day. I also like to include former Marymount Manhattan College creative writing students such as Tony Boll’s band The Flops and Jackie Cohen’s solo work. After some initial technical issues, I think I’ve figured out the best way to include these playlists, so I’ll probably keep it up throughout the semester.

– Jerry Williams

Below are links to Professor William’s Spotify Playlist, check them out to see what’s going on in class today.

  • Listen to Break #1 here
  • Listen to In-Class Writing #1 here
  • Listen to Break #2 here
  • Listen to In-Class Writing #2 here
  • Listen to Break #3 here

Thanks to Professor Williams for sharing with us his virtual classroom tips and tricks. We hope you enjoyed this segment of In Class Today and we look forward to keeping you in the loop about classroom happenings. A gentle reminder to be kind, layer up, and wear a mask.

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