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When I play a Flocabulary video, my students groan, but then sit back in their seats and start bobbing their heads to the beat. The mega-minds that started that website now really made a gold mine out of that company. Teaching with music? Genius! I knew when I began teaching seven years ago that my students responded better to videos and music than the sound of my voice. I always imagine the students start to hear me just like the adults in a Charlie Brown episode, going, "Womp-Womp-Womp Womp..." through their day if I talk too much.
I used to add in pieces of everyday music to my teaching when I began in order to make learning more relevant to my students. When I taught them about positive and negative integers and placement on the number line, I would sing, "to the left, to the left..." when we got to a negative number because the negative integers all went to the left. Why? Well, you know it's negative if Beyonce tells you to put everything you own in the box to the left. Interestingly enough, my students today still know that song well enough that I can still use that. I guess Beyonce stays relevant, right?
One parent told me they just did not see how their child had learning problems when they could memorize songs so quickly. How could this same child memorize a song and then turn around and fail a vocabulary test? Surely their child just didn't study enough, right? From my standpoint, I saw the student as hardworking with some problems knowing strategies for learning. Clearly, utilizing music for learning could help. How does music help a child that otherwise cannot memorize things?
Well, music happens to be organized mathematically. I remember taking a music class in college and having to learn to count the beats and figure out the notes. If a student can read music, they probably also have really good math skills. Aside from that, just singing songs related to the subject a child needs to learn aids in memorization because concepts get organized in a rhythmic way for the child. Suddenly, they can hear the words come together in rhymes and rhythms and it just flows.
On top of that, it all goes back to making content relevant for the student. If the student doesn't engage emotionally with what you teach, you just talked to the wall. One of the things my students love about my classroom is that I use words they understand and I bring in their music when I teach as long as the content of the music gets restricted. I use Flocabulary for their vocabulary instruction because they connect with the music and I even use it for their math instruction where I can fill in some gaps. I use challenge questions to ensure they paid attention to and understood the videos, teach the content, and it works. My next goal? To write a version of "Fancy" to teach any of the concepts we cover in class and drop that beat in class.