Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Using Music to Teach Content
Gets Rave Reviews from Students

If you are “of a certain age,” you have vivid memories of learning grammar, history, and math from the popular Schoolhouse Rocks animated cartoon series. You might remember, for example, visiting Conjunction Junction…

…or you might til this day recall the bouncy tunes and catchy lyrics that taught you how a bill becomes a law, how interest accumulates on savings, or the 3x tables.


Today, more than ever, wise teachers recognize the power that music possesses to teach new and difficult concepts. Take a few teachers I’ve read about recently.

You’ve probably all heard about Alex Kajitani. He is California’s Teacher of the Year for 2009 and a National Teacher of the Year finalist, but he is probably best known as the Rappin’ Mathematician. His two CDs are big hits with algebra teachers -- and their students. Last winter, Kajitani and his music were the subject of a CBS News report [watch the video].

At Christie Elementary School in Frisco, Texas, science teacher Debra Cave was amazed at how quickly her fourth-graders seemed to forget information taught in class. One day on the drive home from work, Cave got thinking about how music might help kids retain information. “It’s hard to get excited about chlorophyll, but by singing and dancing, emotion gets attached and information gets stored long-term,” Cave told the Dallas News [read the article]. What started as a photosynthesis tune dreamed up on a commute home has led Cave to create a CD and DVD full of teaching tunes. Check out her Web site, Jammin’ Classroom.

Brooke Knight’s class at Moore Magnet School in Clarksville, Tennessee, is alive with the sound of music too. Memorizing multiplication tables is a cinch for Knight's third graders as they sing the jingles she created, many of which have accompanying hand gestures. “I’ve made songs for tons of things from rounding [numbers] to subjects and predicates to place value,” Knight told TheLeafChronicle.com [read the article].


Perhaps you know more examples of music being used to teach content in the classroom. Click the pencil below to share additional resources or music videos you’ve found that promote classroom learning.


Songs for Teaching: Using Music to Promote Learning
Research on How Music Promotes Learning
Music and the Brain
Music Moves Brain to Pay Attention, Study Finds

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