Google ‘The gangs fight in the street, West Side Story’ and you’ll see 7 ‘gangsters’ dancing their way into battle. With their nice sweaters and gym shoes, they do twists off the curb and fling their arms while performing their own version of ‘spirit fingers’. West Side Story, the movie, was released in 1961. Now, if you really go and watch that clip, you’ll probably laugh and think, ‘what in the world were they thinking?’. But, did you know the movie is an adaptation of a musical, which was, in turn, based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Yes!  👀 Really, almost everyone has heard of West Side Story. So, looking at it now, why does the scene seem so corny? Further, how could the movie have been so popular?  

Think about it. It’s the music, the emotional connection to the music, and the storytelling. That’s universal. No matter how old or young, people love music.   

So how can we connect this to modern day conflict resolution in the classroom? We certainly don’t expect students to dance fight or do a sing off like what might happen in movies in order to resolve conflict. But we can certainly take a cue from old movies and their effects.  

Why not use humor and relatable lyrics to lighten up the mood? Why not incorporate them to establish a non-threatening and safe environment to begin the process of conflict resolution?    

Music changes moods. It can set the tone. Lyrics can express emotions and thoughts that are often too difficult to openly say.  

This collection showcases an incredible list of lyrics and songs that can help you ‘set the stage’ for your own West Side Story classroom conflict resolution. Actually, do you know what would be a sure ice breaker for any conflict? Play the song or movie clip!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Click to download the song lists from this blog.

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