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Wednesday, 15 April 2020

'ENVIRONMENT MATTERS'



World Environment Day and Earth Day are celebrated each year, on April 22nd and June 5th, respectively. 

I am sure everyone would agree that these days really should be recognized every Day!

Earth is an incredibly beautiful planet but, as is becoming more and more apparent, it is not without its issues - we only have to look at global warming, pollution, problems around recycling, etc.

Slowly but surely, we are now not only listening to the wisdom of the experts around these issues but we are also taking positive steps towards a safer, healthier Mother Earth.

As the famous quote reminds us:



Teachers and civic-minded parents are diligently
educating children
 to become more environmentally aware so that they can benefit from what we've learnt, and help redress the environmental balance.

It is important for children to understand that we do not own this planet, that we are privileged stewards who get to share it for a time, and that it is our duty to leave it in a healthier state for future generations:


 

When teaching students about environmental protection it helps to take a multi-disciplinary approach. We need to help them to acquire knowledge, yes, but we also need to help them to think critically, develop respect for the environment, and make informed decisions based on these and take responsibility.

To do this, it is imperative for children to experience the natural world around them, because, as environmental activist, Dr David Suzuki states:

'Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can't expect them to help protect and care for it.'

Wise words, and, from a very early age, there are so many opportunities to help children to explore and develop a love for nature and to learn and develop age-appropriate habits that will help to move our planet towards a more sustainable future.

This can be a simple as teaching children to:

  • Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
  • Recycle into correct bins
  • Think about packaging when making purchases
  • Turn lights off when not in use
  • Composting
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off tap while cleaning teeth and washing hair
  • Write on both sides of a sheet of paper...

Over a decade ago, I was substituting for three weeks on an Assistant Principal's Year 5/6 class.

During recess, on the first day, I was in the staffroom, when the principal informed me that it was Year 5/6's turn to lead the weekly school assembly that Friday.

When he enquired as to whether I would be able to come up with an assembly piece at such short notice, I replied, 'Not a problem - absolutely!', as my brain commenced its journey into overdrive!

As the Year 5/6 students had been learning about the environment, I began poring over the trusty curriculum documents for inspiration.

The result, the lyrics to our environmental rap song, 'Keep It Clean!'. (My friend, and now 'Partner in Rhyme', Kathryn Radloff later added music for a catchy chorus.)

The curriculum-aligned song highlights such things as the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), water and electricity conservation, composting, the importance of solar power, and individual and collective responsibility for helping take care of our planet for future generations. 

There was great excitement over the next few days, as the class prepared for the assembly performance - the girls, choreographing the rap dance routine, 3 of the boys asking permission to play their guitars (YES, PLEASE!). 

I had never seen a group of upper primary school students so motivated - their enthusiasm knew no bounds!

When Friday came around, those delightful students not only performed their little hearts out, in front of some very proud parents (not to mention their teacher), but the learning that took place spoke for itself!

I wish I'd thought to ask for a video copy of that performance, but here is a sample from a Year 2 assembly performance:


The Year 5/6 assembly performance confirmed what I had always believed, that even the most disengaged students love to sing, and that engaged children really do learn what they sing. I was hooked, and although I didn't know it at the time, what was to become my life's mission had begun.

'Keep It Clean!' was selected for inclusion in the ABC's 2010 SING! publication for schools (we were chuffed to be alongside songs from the likes of ABBA, Sir Cliff Richard, Jennifer Lopez, Sir Paul McCartney, Skyhooks, and others. :-) 

The song's timeless message is still going strong, and since the MP3 version, we've added our very popular Curriculum Karaokesong video version (here's a sample):


I'll leave you with these words from the chorus of our 'Keep It Clean!' song:

'Let's clean up our nation,
For future generations,
It all depends on what we do today, yeah.
We all have a duty,
Protecting Earth's great beauty,
Together, you and I can lead the way.'


FYI:The downloadable MP4 video version is discounted (for a limited time)!

Until next time, stay safe & well!

Nuala :-)

FYI: 
  • Preview samples of all of our currently-available MP3 song packages and Curriculum Karaoke™ read, sing & learn along videos are available in both of our stores, Teachers Pay Teachers and The Wheel.
  • Our ever-growing Curriculum Karaoke song video series is available to subscribing schools on ClickView, '... the world's leading producer of educational videos, providing curriculum-aligned content to schools.'
A Review:
'In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.' ~ Brendan Hitchens, Teacher, Music In Action: A Magazine for Educators


A Lesson In Every Lyric












   









Thursday, 2 April 2020

LYRICAL CREATIONS



'National Poetry Month, a celebration of poetry which takes place each April, was introduced in 1966 and it is organized by the Academy of American Poets... (It also) provides free educational resourcs to teachers for classroom celebrations and activities...' ~ Wikipedia
The Lyric Writers' Workroom explains the difference between song lyrics and poetry, thus: '...there's only one difference between poetry and song lyrics: Lyrics are set to music.' 

My colleague, Kathryn, and I write curriculum-aligned songs (and lesson materials) for schools. These songs started life as lyrics/poems before being transformed by Kathryn's musical genius (download a free sample, here). 

As a teacher, it had been a long-held dream of mine to combine my passion for teaching, singing and writing, to provide time-poor teachers with resources that would support and integrate classroom learning across key subject areas ~ through the powerful and effective medium of song. 

The result is a catalogue of song-based teaching resources, the lyrical content of which targets outcomes & learning sequences of curriculum documents.
 


These curriculum-aligned songs (and poems/lyrics) are perfect for:
  • Motivating and engaging students
  • Introducing new units of work
  • Kickstarting discussion
  • Summarising, reinforcing and aiding recall of important curriculum content
  • Integrating learning
  • Reinforcing school and life themes & concepts
  • Extending literacy
  • Assembly & performance pieces
  • Arts integration
  • Building unity
  • Distance learning...


One of my earlier blog posts, 'Lyrical Literacy' discusses the rhythmic nature of songs, highlighting the importance of the 3 Rs: rhyme, rhythm, and repetition, as a perfect platform for building phonemic awareness and a firm foundation for literacy. 

The same 'Lyrical Literacy' post also gives simple, practical suggestions for achieving Literacy outcomes when using poetry with students, through integrating Grammar, Writing, Talking, Listening, and Reading Comprehension. 


Below, is a list of downloadable, curriculum-aligned poems (lyric sheet PDFS) we currently have available (some of them FREE, for a limited time), and more are being added all the time:
FYI: Preview samples of all of our currently-available song packages and Curriculum Karaoke, read, sing & learn along videos are available in both of our stores, Teachers Pay Teachers and The Wheel.

I will be adding more titles to this blog post throughout this National Poetry Month, so be sure to check back from time-to-time.

Until next time, stay safe & well!

Nuala :-)


FYI: Our ever-growing Curriculum Karaoke song video series is available to subscribing schools on ClickView, '... the world's leading producer of educational videos, providing curriculum-aligned content to schools.'


A Review:
'In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.' ~ Brendan Hitchens, Teacher, Music In Action: A Magazine for Educators

A Lesson In Every Lyric















Wednesday, 25 March 2020

TABLES TIME!


I hope this finds you safe and well amid the present  mayhem in our world!

If you have students, keep reading to reveal our little gift to you, to help them with their learning at this time. 


Today's post is about going back to basics - basics of the mathematical kind.

I am sure you will agree, there are certain basic things in life that we just need to know. For instance, we need to know basic hygiene, basic nutrition, how to keep ourselves safe, etc.

The same is true for the area of Mathematics, one of the key subject areas of the school curriculum - there are certain things that students just need to know

Students need to know basic operations because these form the very foundations of proficiency in numeracy.

They need to know basic multiplication facts - yes, I am talking about the good old-fashioned Times Tables!
  


As a teacher, I am more than familiar with Maths problems, but this is a different kind of problem, and it has to do with the fact that a concerning number of students do not know their Times Tables.       



I see this for myself, I hear it from teacher-friends colleagues, and I hear it from parents at their wit's end.

The struggle is real - students are having trouble learning and remembering these very basic operations, which, in turn, impedes their mathematical progress.

By the time students enter Year 5, they should be proficient in multiplying up to 12 x 12.
The fact is that many students are not able to recall these facts. 

Schools, today, rightly believe in moving from the concrete to the abstract - a practice from which, I, for one, would have greatly benefitted when I was a student.

Teachers spend time ensuring that the groundwork is laid, through the use of a variety of hands-on experiences with concrete materials. 

Then, once students have made connections, become familiar with the concepts, and understand the mathematical terms (groups of, lots of...), they can move on to memorising to help them remember (e.g. Times Tables).

This is where I believe the gap exists. 

Journey with me for a moment, if you will, back to the last century, when, as young primary students, we went through the daily drill of rote-learning the Times Tables. 

We would chant them, like some kind of mathematical mantra, in unison, and by golly, we learnt those pesky Tables off by heart!

We could reel those things off to beat the band! We could chant them at school, we could chant them at home, we could chant them on a chair - heck, we could chant them anywhere!

It got to the point where we could chant them in our sleep (in fact, I'm pretty sure most of us did!)


Sadly (in my humble opinion), learning Times Tables by rote has gone out of vogue, but it has left me wondering whether we might just have thrown the baby out with the bathwater? 

If a whole generation of us can still, to this day, reel off the Times Tables as a matter of course, can this method of learning really be such a bad thing?


Times Tables are fundamental not only to proficiency in numeracy but to ordinary, day-to-day life - shopping and cooking, just to name a couple of examples.

And that, my friends, is why Kathryn and I  decided to do something about it (that, and a discussion I had with my dentist about her son's difficulty remembering the Tables) and added Times Tables song videos to our ever-growing Curriculum Karaoke, read, sing & learn video series.

Students and teachers are loving these engaging, interactive song videos because they put the FUN into learning ~ and they work! There is a reason they work, and this can be summed up by Dr, Georgi Lozanov, who informs us that:
'Music stimulates parts of the brain not activated with words alone and can help carry information more deeply into memory.'
As with all of the videos in our Curriculum Karaoke series, these Times Tables utilize strong visuals and catchy vocals to help students learn and remember basic facts. The Times Tables videos also provide tips to help students identify patterns in the numbers, and include an interactive call to action element!

Here are some video preview samples:

  




This '5 Times Table' video is for you, with our compliments (click link below sample!


'5 TIMES TABLE'

FYI: We have bundled the first 5 of the Times Tables, the '1 Times Table'and '2 Times Table' are also available, and the 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 & 12 Times Tables are currently in production ~ so watch this space!




Why not pop over to one of our stores (see below) where you can browse our current titles, plus pick up a few lyric sheet freebies (great for poetry lessons)!

Until next time, stay safe!  

Yours in singing to learn,

Nuala :-)

FYI: Our ever-growing Curriculum Karaoke song video series is available to subscribing schools on ClickView, '... the world's leading producer of educational videos, providing curriculum-aligned content to schools.'

A Review: 
'In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.' ~ Brendan Hitchens, Teacher, Music In Action: A Magazine for Educators






A Lesson In Every Lyric














Thursday, 12 March 2020

'LIVING IN HARMONY'


©Keystone Creations ~ Educational Song lyrics from 'A Class Family'

Harmony Week takes place March 15-22, and Harmony Day, March 21st.

It got me imagining a world where we all lived together, peacefully, in harmony; a world where everyone respected differences, embraced diversity and felt included and accepted.


©Keystone Creations~ Educational Song Lyrics from our song,  'Living Values'

Imagine if that were reality!

The reality is, that it all begins in childhood. Children listen more to what others do than to what they say. And, as they 'listen', they are learning how to treat others. They learn by the way they themselves are treated, and by the way they see others being treated.

Children are not born knowing how to behave; behaviours are learntAs parents and educators, we are well-placed to teach children how to love and treat others. It is our responsibility to make sure that we model positive values and behaviours to the children in our care, because as Nelson Mandela famously stated: 
‘No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite'. 

©Keystone Creations~ Educational Song Lyrics from our song, 'Manners'

If you are looking for effective, child-friendly resources to help students not only learn about, but also to celebrate and embrace diversity, harmony, and inclusion, you might like to have a look at our curriculum-aligned songs. 

We've created a bundle of 
4 Harmony, Diversity & Inclusion Song Videos PLUS 1 MP3 & Lyric Sheet’ (
discounted, for a limited time).
The download includes:
I’ll leave you with a preview sample of our Curriculum Karaoke™ whole school, anthem-style song, ’Living Values’ that highlights 9 core values (the government's 'Nine Values for Australian Schooling'):




Until next time!

     Yours in harmony,
     Nuala 🎵

P.S. Why not pop on over to our store, where you can browse our current titles, plus pick up a few lyric sheet freebies!
FYI: 
Our Curriculum KaraokeTM read, sing & learn along song videos are available on ClickView, to subscribing schools.
A Review: 
'In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.' ~ Brendan Hitchens, Teacher, Music In Action: A Magazine for Educators


A Lesson In Every Lyric