Using music to engage students and make learning enjoyable

This guest post was written by Sarah Taylor @NorthKestevenPE.

I wanted to engage my students in a fun but worthwhile activity so that they are more likely to remember the content. I thought about writing my own lyrics to a well-known song at that time, changing the lyrics to fit in with learning the skeletal system. The idea was so that whenever the students heard this particular song they would be able to associate it to the skeletal system. They didn’t have to pick up a text book, I didn’t have to keep reminding them to revise the skeletal system, they would retrieve the information from just listening to the radio or playing their ipods.
Whenever a song comes on the radio you don’t have to think about the words, they just come naturally, even if you have not heard the song in a long time because they have been stored in your long term memory. I wanted to create a resource that would take them through this process so they would associate and be able to retrieve the theoretical content every time they heard this particular song.
The process I went through in writing the lyrics to fit in with a song is quite simple. Print off the lyrics to a well-known song at the time that pupils will know and be familiar with, try to pick one that they will hear over and over again on TV, radio, film etc. Put the key words from the particular topic you are covering at the top of the page and have a copy of the song so you can see if the lyrics fit. Once you have your lyrics you then need to record it. I personally use the app ‘Quick Voice Pro’ and use the instrumental karaoke version of the song on a computer screen to record my version of the lyrics.
This is a great way to start off a topic and a lesson, you can have your recording playing as the students walk into the classroom, this instantly gets their attention and they are engaged as they will not only recognise the song will listen intently because the lyrics are different from the ones they know. I am not a good singer, so I asked the rest of the PE dept to join in the singing, so the pupils get to hear how bad we all sound together, which helps them become more comfortable when they come to recording their own songs.
Students love hearing the PE version, recording their own and hearing each other’s songs, they frequently come back after the lesson and say I heard that song the other day and all I could think about was bones or their own lyrics viagra traitement impuissance. BINGO!!!! They are recalling and retrieving information subconsciously.
I have differentiated tasks for students of all abilities, I make students listen to the song and fill in the blank spaces so that they can identify bones or their location or function, once filled in they have to sing it as a class choir and then have to record it in small groups. If you have time and higher ability students let them have a go at creating their own so they can personalise their own learning. They do this in exactly the same way, print off the lyrics to the song they want to use, have the key words and get creative! I have had some great songs over the past 3 years, you can also record them and then email the students so it can be used for their revision. Students love it and hopefully by doing this they embed the information into their long term memory and it deepens their knowledge and understanding.

Songs to date:

Counting stars – One Republic – Naming bones
Dominoes – Jessie J – Cant see my abs too many dominoes
Newest one – Disneys Frozen – Let it go – Name the bones. Link to lyrics

4 ideas for GCSE PE classes

This guest post was written by Rachel Campbell @PEenthusiast1.

Engaging a GCSE PE class of 18 testosterone fuelled competitive boys isn’t easy and continually forces me to think outside of the box and to try innovative and fresh ideas which challenges me on a weekly basis during the ‘planning hour’ on a Sunday night. It was my first lesson with this class in September that made me realise I needed to adapt my teaching. A simple height and weight measurement to calculate BMI led to a shouting match and fiery arguments about who was taller and who had the biggest muscles. These competitive boys needed something to motivate them so here are a few of my top tips to engage learners in the classroom:

1. Create a class football league table.

Each lesson students are awarded points for behaviour in lessons, attitude, homework and punctuality. Those who work hard are rewarded and stay in the premiership but students are soon relegated into the championship and football leagues below when they fail to meet expectations. I started to see a change straight away, students were running to the classroom at the end of break to avoid being late, homework was finally being completed and the unveiling of results created a positive end to each academic term.

2. Teach as many practical lessons as possible to promote learning and progress.

Put instructions in an envelope for each student under a cone on the field at the start of the lesson. Students arrived to the classroom based lesson and had to race their peers to the field, find their envelope, follow the instructions and run back. Sometimes the instructions asked them to perform a sport specific warm up, design an exam question, answer a question or even just read the learning objective. When the students arrived back they were excited to learn and ready to discuss the lesson topic.

3. Invest in a football alarm clock.

Encourage students to answer questions and perform tasks with a time limit. Students love to compete against each other and are motivated to work together.

4. Buy some department morph suits.

They have been used by my colleague Mr Roberts to teach muscles and bones. One of the students wears the costume whilst the other students labels. It brings the subject alive and students remember it.
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