This is a guest post by one of our teacher authors, Katrina Proctor.
Katrina is also the Content Manager at Midnight Music.
Among Us has officially taken the world by storm. If you’re a teacher in the late elementary-high school classroom right now, odds are good that you might already be familiar with lots of aspects of this extra-terrestrial game. In this article I’ll show you several of the most inventive ways music teachers are harnessing the Among Us game to hook and engage their students.
‘Among Us’: What It Is
Among Us is a popular online game that puts players into the roles of crewmembers aboard a spaceship. 1-3 crewmember players are the imposters whose goal it is to sabotage the ship and kill off other players without being caught. The objective is for other non-imposter players to correctly identify who the imposter(s) is by holding emergency meetings where the players vote on who they believe the imposter is. If the non-imposters don’t correctly identify the imposter quickly enough, the imposter(s) take the win.
‘Among Us’ In the Classroom
Among Us is played virtually online with other random players. Unfortunately for educators, there is no way to moderate the voice/text chat which means that, in the realm of in-school play, the original app isn’t recommended without parent supervision in the home setting.
However, the premise of Among Us as well as the idea of trying to identify an imposter using clues and meetings where players debate the imposters’ identity is something that teachers can bring into their classroom to engage their students in meaningful learning and play. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best Among Us lessons and videos created by music teachers.
In this example, Mr. Gordon, a music teacher from the USA, recreates the music of Among Us using acoustic instruments commonly found in band or orchestra classrooms. He uses trombone, claves, and concert bass drum, to form the beginning theme as well as other instruments like the clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone to create a chordal movement. The brilliance of Mr. Gordon’s video isn’t just his teaching style, which is very engaging already, but his heavy usage of Among Us references throughout the video including cut screens to a fictional “chat” like players use in the actual game and the challenge of trying to find which colored character (represented by his shirt color) is the “imposter”.
Though Mr. Gordon points out that there isn’t much music in the game itself, there is plenty of music on the title screen as well as the game loading screen. In his video, Mr. Gordon uses elements of the game by showing screen recordings of the actual gameplay, as well as centering his video on the different colored characters within the game. Each character, in his version, plays a different band instrument that, when combined, creates the harmony of the title and loading screen tracks. In addition to teaching the different notes of each instrument group, Mr. Gordon also teaches stylistic elements such as glissando, clave tempo, a hidden “ring around the rosie” theme, and “heartbeat” for dramatic effect.
Mr. Gordon has a wonderful youtube channel full of videos that music teachers can use in their classes. You can view his full channel HERE.
Ideas for teachers from Mr. Gordon’s video:
- Teach something new to students using something they’re already familiar with (such as the Among Us theme). Find out what your students like and teach them stylistic elements that they hadn’t noticed before.
- In a new lesson, tell students they need to figure out who the “imposter” is. Throughout your lesson, sprinkle in clues as to the imposter’s identity. You might find that students listen more closely when they are tasked with trying to reveal a hidden layer to your instruction.
(To use, click link above and then click, “Make a Copy”)
Justina Dorothy, a music teacher from the USA, created a free resource that she shared as a part of the Facebook Group, “Music Teachers Creating Online Learning.” In her resource, she utilized the Google Slide add-on Peardeck. Peardeck, which has a free or premium membership option, allows teachers to create interactive elements within their existing presentations to encourage more interactive feedback from students during lessons (this works well for both in-person and virtual learning).
In her lesson, Justina transformed the idea of an “imposter” to mean simply, “Which doesn’t fit?”. To do this, she created multiple slides within Google Slides that had music with differing time signatures on each line. Students are then tasked with identifying which measure does not contain the correct amount of beats as determined by the line’s time signature.
To amp up the “Among Us” references, Justina used imagery from the game in her slides, funny quotes from the characters on each slide, as well as just the familiar cue, “Find the imposter.” To teach a lesson using the Among Us references, one doesn’t always need to create something as in-depth as Mr. Gordon’s video; students (especially younger students) have already appreciated the simple references found in Justina’s example (as referenced by the nearly hundred happy comments from teachers on her original post).
Ideas for teachers from Justina’s example:
- How can you turn a new musical concept into a game of “find the imposter”?
- When creating your slides for your new concept, consider adding in subtle references or images that pay homage to the game itself.
- How can you engage students within your presentations using interactive elements using add-ons like Peardeck or Nearpod?
(To use, visit Christina’s Teachers Pay Teachers Store using the link above, and download this free resource into Google Drive.)
Christina Snyder, another music teacher from the USA, created a really incredible interactive game using Google Slides. She set up her game as an “escape room” where students travel across a virtual “spaceship” and solve clues to discover the identity of the “imposter.”
In Christina’s game, students really feel like they’re playing Among Us. There are lots of cut-scene slides with chat boxes like you’d see in the actual game and the theme really resembles the gameplay of Among Us. In the game, students dive into the meanings of pitch, tempo, duration, and dynamics to solve puzzles and receive clues. At the end of the game, students then cleverly enter in a digital code to discover the imposter. Christina’s Teachers Pay Teachers Store is jam-packed with other escape rooms and virtual games for music classes. You can check out her full store HERE.
If you like to learn how to make a Google Slides escape room of your own, Katie did a wonderful presentation last month on how to set up Google Slides which you can watch by clicking HERE. If you’re working on your very first escape room and want a more introductory approach, click HERE to view, “How to Set Up Your First Escape Room” from the Midnight Music blog.
Ideas for teachers from Christina’s example:
- What new concept can you turn into an escape room?
- What are different musical facts that students could use some additional practice on?
- How can you turn your regularly scheduled lessons into a series of puzzles that students can use to discover clues?
Even though I don’t recommend having students play the original ‘Among Us’ app-based game without parent permission/supervision, there are plenty of ways that inventive teachers are using thematic elements and similar gameplay to hook their students and increase engagement.
What was your favorite lesson example? Do you know of any other ‘Among Us’ lessons that didn’t make it on this list? Let us know with a comment below!
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About the Writer
Katrina Proctor is the Content Manager at Midnight Music and is also a music teacher from Colorado, USA. She has taught middle school music for nearly 10 years in northern Colorado where her passion is low-income students in Title 1 schools. Currently, Katrina teaches 5th-8th grade chorus, advanced-level chorus, class piano, and general music. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education & Master’s Degree in Music Education-Choral Conducting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. You can connect with Katrina on Facebook or via her website, She The Teacher.
Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?
Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.
I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.
I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.
If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.