Singing schools
8th Aug 2019

Revision and singing – an experiment

Joe Waddle, Year 6 class teacher at Western Community Primary, describes his innovative approach to Science SATs revision, by adapting favourite songs

Joe Waddle
Revision and singing – an experiment

Retention is always a problem with learning: we forget 70 per cent of what we hear within 20 minutes of hearing it! As part of my training to be a fellow of the University of the First Age (UFA), I’ve explored visual, auditory, reading and kinaesthetic learning styles.

I have since structured lessons, particularly revision lessons, to allow children to select how they present their work to the rest of the class. Recently, while we were studying food chains, I let the children present their key information as a leaflet, poster, play, board game or song.

For song creation, I usually recommend the children choose a familiar tune (Frère Jacques and Twinkle, twinkle little star are favourites), allowing them to focus on creating the lyrics. I wasn’t expecting this group of girls to use Katy Perry’s Hot And Cold, but they loved the music, and when we are emotionally engaged with a song it uses much more of our brain function.

Once the group had written their revision lyrics, I helped them use a keyboard to play a drum beat and chords (a basic three-chord version). The rest of the class were impressed, which inspired another group to use Pink’s So What when we covered sound and hearing. This has lead to a whole range of subject-related songs, and just to prove that gender was not an issue, boys from the parallel class used Queen’s We Will Rock You for their food chain revision.

The children hugely enjoy the experience and can certainly now remember the key elements of food chains and circuits, showing this to be a very effective way of consolidating learning. For those children (or adults) who don’t play instruments, I am currently collecting karaoke backing tracks to use in future work.

Letter from Year 6

‘We’re Sophie, Lucy, Danielle, Heather, Patricia, Beth, Shonie and Courtney and we’re in Year 6. In Science we got the chance to make a play, song, poster, leaflet or board game to help us remember things. Then we had to present this to the class. We chose to create a song to the tune Hot And Cold by Katy Perry. We even videoed the song after Mr Waddle had worked with us to use the keyboard. We enjoyed it and thought it was a great way of remembering things. The purpose was to help us learn in a more fun way. Here are the lyrics we made up:

Food chain revision song

‘Plants are producers
Animals, consumers
Consumers don’t just eat
They can also be meat
That’s the food chain
It’s really quite plain
Arrows mean ‘food for’
Do you need any more?

You eat and you stop; you’re hungry, you’re not
You’re top of the chain, it’s really no pain
The sun shines so bright, the plants use the light
So we can all eat, it’s really so neat.’

Joe Waddle