Ok, nerdlings. Come on in, sit on down and get ready for nerducation.
1: What is the purpose of a conjunction?
2: How does a bill get passed?
3: What two elements make up the sun? What exactly is a sun?
4: Write down the 3 times tables for 1-10.
From using catchy tunes, rhyming lyrics, and simple graphics, Schoolhouse Rock is one of the go-to teaching tools for educators at all levels and in all subjects. This series of short music videos were shown Saturday mornings, while children were watching their cartoons so that the parents could sleep. Or mow the lawn. Or drink hot coffee. This series began in 1973, and was a staple until 1985. It was resurrected with new songs in 1993, retiring again in 1999. The team came back together in 2009 to add in environmental and political songs. They released each season based on a specific topic;”Multiplication Rock,” “Grammar Rock,” “Science Rock,” “America Rock,” “Money Rock,” and “Earth Rock.” They even had a travelling “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”
Music has been used as a teaching tool for centuries. Music is catching and easy to memorize because the beat, rhythm and rhyme are easier for the brain to process and connect. This concept is why we have so many teaching songs that stay with us decades later. “Conjunction Junction” is a peppy song that uses the imagery of trains on a track as a visual of how conjunctions combine sentences. “I’m Just a Bill” leads us through how a bill gets through congress. “Interplanet Janet” teaches us the solar system and the differences between the planets. Music is how we know that “C is for cookie,” the power of the rubber ducky and the names of all of the countries of the world.
For the longest time, music was embraced in the elementary schools, but frowned upon in the upper grades, making it harder to use them as a tool because they are marketed for a younger age. In the past few years, educators and musicians have come together to create songs for the upper grades. One of these tools is “Flowcabulary,” a collection of rap and R&B style songs that teach about computer safety, fractions, PEMDAS (oh, the horrible, horrible PEMDAS) and figurative language.
While Flowcabulary.com is a subscription site, it is something that schools can look at as a tool for the classroom. A search of the internet can turn up so many videos, some professional (like ASAPscience.com’s “Periodical Table”)
and some from other educators…
With a push for Common Core and Project-based Learning, taking these concepts into a classroom, using the integration of teamwork and media, these projects can re-energize a student’s love of learning.
All of which returns us back to “Schoolhouse Rock,” a tool for learning that has only grown in the past 40 years. It has inspired generations of young people and educators into thinking creatively.
And knowing’s half the battle…