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

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