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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

'ALL-WEATHER FRIENDS'


July 30th is International Day of Friendship!

'The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

The resolution places emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.'
We, as adults, know that friends - true friends - stand by us, no matter what: through thick and thin, good times and bad times, highs and lows, births and deaths, major house renovation-related nervous breakdowns ~ well, you get my drift...! 😁

We know that true friendship is a two-way street. 

Friends come in many guises: parents, siblings, spouses, children, neighbours, people we meet along the way.

Whether for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, friends are
an integral part of our lives, socially, emotionally, and spiritually, and they all have one thing in common - they enrich our lives and leave footprints on our hearts! 💗

As a mother and a teacher, I believe it is essential for children to learn the true meaning of friendship - to learn that it is not just about having friends, it is also about being a friend.


As a teacher who has always sung with students, I know and understand first-hand the power of music for helping children learn, as well as retain information (this, after all, is how most of us learnt the Alphabet...).  


To that end, my friend and colleague, Kathryn Radloff, and I create curriculum-aligned song & poem-based resources to help students learn curriculum content, themes, and concepts.

Our catchy song, 'All Weather Friends' is one such resource. The weather-themed lyrics 
help students to understand the value, meaning, and importance of friendship. 


   Video Preview Sample


Preview sample of a School Assembly Performance



This popular song highlights qualities of a good friend, such as loyalty, trust, honesty, and weathering the ups and downs of life.

The main message is clear - having a good friend means we are never alone, no matter what. 

If you are looking for a child-friendly resource to kick start discussion around the topic of friendship,
 'All-Weather Friends' not only fits the bill, I think you'll also agree, it also serves as a wonderful performance piece! :-)


Until next time, stay safe, and stay well!


Yours, in friendship,

Nuala :-)


FYI:

NB:
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, 15 April 2020

'ENVIRONMENT MATTERS'



World Environment Day,  Earth DayNational Recycling Week, and Clean Up Australia DayEarth Hour, and Keep Australia Beautiful Week are just some of the dates that occur annually, to highlight, and remind us of the importance of caring for our planet.

(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 learned, 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 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.'


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 our stores:
  • 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

National Poetry Day occurs each year in October.

'...each year the day is given a new theme, in order to highlight particular poets and styles of poetry.'

(In 1999 the theme was Song Lyrics.) 

The Lyric Writer's 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).

FYI:
All of our publications are Covid-friendly (Song packages, illustrated song videos, poem video lessons, song packages, lyric sheets...) so if your students are not allowed to sing at the moment, our song lyrics stand alone as curriculum content-rich poems!


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 & poem-based teaching resources, the lyrical content of which targets outcomes & learning sequences of curriculum documents, and supports and integrates learning across key subject areas. 
 


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
  • Poetry lessons/units...
  • Assembly & performance pieces
  • Arts integration
  • Building unity
  • Homeschooling
  • Distance learning...
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


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 some of our curriculum-aligned, read & learn-along poem videos from our ever-growing new series:
Below is a list of some of our curriculum-aligned
poems
 
currently downloadable as single lyric sheet/poem PDFs only:
FYI: Preview samples of all of our currently-available song packages and Curriculum Karaoke, read, sing & learn-along videos are available in our stores:
I will be adding more titles to this blog post, so be sure to check back from time to time.

Have a poetical day, and, 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 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 FREE 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!

FYI: 
Our 1 to 12 Times Tables Curriculum Karaoke
read, sing, and learn-along videos are now available for download (with bonus lyrics & worksheet PDFs)! 
Here are some video preview samples:

  




This is a sample of our '5 Times Table' video, and it's our FREE gift to you (offer will end soon)!:

'5 TIMES TABLE'


Why not pop over to one of our stores (see below) where you can browse our current titles!

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