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  • Writer's pictureJim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 1/16/17 - Music can make you happy

Music can make you happy. It can change the mood of the people around you, too. Take a look at the article from Inc. magazine, below. Would it be worth using music during passing periods? While you are waiting for your SAM Daily Meeting to start?

Read the article and try a song!

Science Says Listening to These 5 Songs Will Make You Remarkably Happy

Music has long been tied to deep emotion in all living beings-including happiness.

For as long as sound has existed, music has always been tied to deep emotion in all living beings. It’s one of the stimuli that are most likely to evoke a memory or intense reaction, one of the strange phenomena that allow humans to access a different mental or emotional space than the one they were in before.

The reason for these sensations, as discovered in a study by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, is that the experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for tangible pleasures such as food, sex, or drugs. Certain instances of dopamine release were associated with “chills”-physical changes in heart rate, breathing, and temperature, due to listening to music.

For the listener, musical chills feel something like a sudden onset of emotion-a mental reaction followed by an actual physical reaction of the body to the sound. Sometimes, we are able to identify such chills by the feeling of shivers running down the backs of our spines; others, we think of them as goosebumps rising on our skin from being so moved.

In the study, a number of brain imaging techniques were employed in order to monitor the changes of dopamine when listening to certain music. It was even concluded that this was the first time such a substantial dopamine release was brought about by an abstract reward-in this case, music.

The research team discovered that 5 songs in particular across a number of genres created musical chills in the people who listened to them-and, ultimately, a positive emotional response. These 5 songs have been shown to trigger dopamine release and subsequently increase your happiness:

1. “Clair de Lune” - Debussy

2. “Adagio for Strings” - Barber

3. “Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor (“The Tempest”)” - Beethoven

4. “First Breath After Coma” — Explosions in the Sky

5. “Adagio for Strings” - Tiesto

NSIP Director Mark Shellinger always looks for a song to get the national conference off to a great start. This year he selected this one:

Listen and see if it makes you feel good.

PS: The 10th Annual National SAM Conference is rapidly approaching. Over 850 SAM team members from 22 states will meet in Fort Lauderdale to hear six keynote speakers, 32 breakout session presentation and great interaction and fun! One of the speakers, author Mike Schmoker, was featured in Principal Leadership. Take a look at The Marshall Memo summary of his article, below. What he suggests has relevance to SAM team members.

Mike Schmoker on Three Focus Areas

In this article in Principal Leadership, consultant/author Mike Schmoker says the key to schools succeeding with all students is prioritizing - isolating and focusing on “only the most vital, game-changing actions that ensure significant improvement in teaching and learning” and then sustaining a disciplined, laser-like focus for a significant amount of time. “Time and energy are precious, limited resources,” he says, “and if we squander them on too many initiatives or on the wrong ones, we will fail... Less is more.”

Where should the focus be? Schmoker believes three areas have the strongest track record of success, are easy to understand when presented in professional development, and lend themselves to being continuously refined as they are implemented by teacher teams:

• Consistent, schoolwide implementation of a coherent, content-rich curriculum - Teachers should have clear, specific direction on which skills and concepts to teach - the what and when - with discretion on the how to and some room each week for teachable moments and personal passions. Curriculum focus “may be the single largest factor that affects both student achievement and reading proficiency,” says Schmoker.

• Mastery by every teacher of the components of effective, explicit instruction - Of paramount importance is ongoing checking for student understanding (minute by minute, day by day, week by week) and adjusting instruction based on assessment insights. This is especially important for project- and problem-based learning.

• An intensive, curriculum-wide emphasis on fairly traditional literacy - “We have overcomplicated instruction in reading, speaking, and writing,” says Schmoker. “To succeed, students simply need vastly more time to purposefully read, discuss, and write about worthy, substantive literature and nonfiction across the curriculum (as often as possible, in the interpretive and argumentative mode).”

Only a small fraction of schools are implementing these practices, but those that are (like Brockton High School in Massachusetts) are making dramatic gains. The common factor in Brockton and other successful schools is a leadership team working with colleagues in a way that is highly focused and relentless and provides plenty of opportunity for review and practice. “To the greatest extent possible,” says Schmoker (who is critical of the way teacher-evaluation rubrics are being implemented in many districts), “this should occur in a climate that emphasizes helpfulness and growth, rather than evaluation.”

“The Power of Focus” by Mike Schmoker in Principal Leadership, January 2017 (Vol. 17, #3, p. 42-45), e-link for NASSP members; Schmoker can be reached at

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