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Arts Integration

Arts Integration
Arts Integration

Creating a Life With Arts Integration Series: MUSIC, Part 2





My earliest memories are of my mom singing to me.  She had a powerful soprano voice.  And she sang to me as a small child, always.  When it came time for me to go to kindergarten, I learned the "Hokey Pokey" with everyone else, my numbers, my letter sounds, but Mrs. Dunckel required that I learn my address by heart.   My mom did what any singing-teacher mom would do, she put it to music.  I went to school and sang my address to Mrs. Dunckel...kindergarten failure avoided. Do you know, I can still sing it? 

Music is a powerful medium.  How many times have you heard a song from your past and been transported back in time?  It might even trigger emotions.  When I hear "Stairway to Heaven," I'm back at a high school dance with my arms clenched around Wayne, my first boyfriend, my head buried in his shoulder.  I feel nostalgic. I remember the excitement of getting ready for that dance. That's what music does...it transports us to different places and times in our lives...our memories are more vivid because music is connected to them. 

So as teachers, why wouldn't we use it to tattoo our students' minds?

Research has documented the limbic part of the brain is responsible for long-term memory.  This means that when information is imbued with music, there's a likelihood that the brain will encode it in long-term memory."  ---Eric Jensen

One of my favorite ways to use music in my classroom is to create piggyback songs.  Piggyback songs are songs that use a familiar tune with lyrics that you write yourself to teach a concept.  I've written piggyback songs about Core Democratic Values, to teach the steps to long division, and to unpack math vocabulary.  I've worked with teachers, grades K-12, and watched them write songs to help students remember geometry theorems, calculus content, the names of the months in a year, and on and on.  They've all report success. 

One of most favorite piggyback song efforts occurred while I was stuck in a major traffic jam on a 4-hour drive home from my parents' house.  My kids were having trouble with the huge amount of geometry vocabulary in our current math unit.  I was bored.  So, I "wrote" 8 geometry songs to cement the vocabulary.  By the time I got home, I had mentally outlined a script for a geometry musical! I wrote the play over the next three days, and the rest is history! There are three steps I've used to guide teachers in writing their own instructional piggyback songs.  Watch the video below to learn about them!




My best advice for writing your own piggyback songs includes:
  • Don't use the same melody for more than one song.  You want THAT particular tune to be attached to THAT particular concept.
  • Start out with easy ditties first, like "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
  • Don't forget to "unpack" the lyrics with your students. Use them as a lesson. Do a CLOSE READ with your song lyrics.
  • After you get more practiced, try writing them WITH your students.  They'll be even more motivated because they helped author it.
  • Put your I'm-tone-deaf-I-don't-even-sing-in-the-shower crud away.  Your kids do NOT care. Truly.
  • Revisit your songs often. They are a great way to review. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
  • Add movements to your songs and you'll double the learning whammy.  Bodily-kinesthetic approaches are just as powerful!
  • Laugh! Don't take yourself so seriously.
Working with non-musician teachers, I know how daunting it can be to incorporate music into your pedagogy.  So I've put together a little "I-don't-even-know-where-to-start" goodie for you.  If you click on the picture below, you'll find a freebie that outlines 20 ways to incorporate music in your classroom, a list of 30 instrumental songs that are perfect for classroom use (think "YouTube"), and a list of 41 melodies that work well for creating your own piggyback songs.  But will you do me a favor?  I LOVE hearing about how other teachers incorporate music in their classrooms.  If you've done this, please share  in the comments section. 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Music-Integration-in-Your-Classroom-2670968

If  you're interested in trying out some of my piggyback songs in your classroom, then check out the products below by clicking on the pictures.  There's another free resource here, too!


      https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Geometry-Video-Song-Book-2671027                                                                            https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Graphing-Song-2003826



https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Division-Blues-2022466


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Song-Range-Mean-Median-Mode-2658268



If you'd like to read the first post in this series, click the light bulb below.

http://minds-in-bloom.com/2016/07/creating-life-arts-integration.html



Consider following me here at Mossy Oak Musings.  This post is part of a series on arts integration in the classroom.  My next post is about poetry as complex text and how to use movement to explore the complexity!
                                           Until next time, teach on, my friend!


8 comments

  1. I love this! Music is definitely a great tool to help kids learn! I need to check out your songs!

    Jordan
    Team J's Second Grade Fun

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    1. Kindred spirits! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. This is awesome!!! I love using music in the classroom!

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    1. That's awesome! I bet your kiddos really love it!

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  3. Love how you are integrating music and curriculum...I have a few songs for behavior management that I guess I should start to video...Love your enthusiasm and your resources...Gre

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    1. Thank you , Kathy! I can't wait to hear your songs!!! Give me a heads up when you post them please!

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  4. What a great article! Love that you're adding the arts to content. It doesn't just to help kids remember, it also engages kids who might love music but feel a bit weaker in the content area. Good stuff!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I wholeheartedly agree with you. :-)

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