Motivation is a key ingredient to successful learning. The best analogies or visuals will still fail to teach a student who isn’t motivated. My team even ran an experiment a few years ago, where we found that students who couldn’t solve certain SAT Math problems were suddenly able to solve them minutes later when the problems were presented as a “viral” meme puzzle.
Students spend hours binge-watching TV shows and listening to the same song repeatedly – without being forced to do so. What if they were that naturally inclined to learn math or history?
Students today have grown up with gadgets – many of them have probably read from an iPad before a book. When a student gets to choose between an iPhone and a boring math textbook (with confusing language and an endless list of problems), it’s no surprise that they choose the device that lets them access almost anything in the world within seconds. To “win” the competition for a student’s attention in 2017, Learning needs to appear in a more engaging format than a textbook.
The idea of making songs that teach students content has been around for a while. Teachers who want to incorporate songs into their lessons face a lot of difficulty in doing so. Creating a song on your own can be costly and time-consuming. The internet offers a lot of options, but not necessarily good ones. When I tried searching for songs to use with my own students, I found that most songs fell into two categories: songs are either too dense with content, or only cover content superficially. The dense songs are intended for people who already understand the content, since you can’t summarize a semester in 3 minutes. The superficial songs are entertaining songs that throw in relevant content vocab words, but don’t actually “teach” material.
Over the past few years, My old team tried to make songs that struck a balance between these two extremes. We’ve made some music videos and have performed in classrooms. The next phase is SKULE.org – a non-profit whose mission is to #MakeLearningFun
Our goal is to build a database of innovative learning materials – our goal is to have a topic list, and a searchable database of songs that teach each topic. These include songs that we create with schools across the country, as well as ones that are submitted to us. This way, teachers have a one-stop-shop to find high-quality educational songs. These videos will also include skits or other innovative ways to convey content while engaging students. We will also partner with DiagKNOWstics Learning to make an adaptive learning “KNOWadulting” platform available to all students for free. With this, they can learn real-world skills that aren’t taught in school. For example,”how do I get a debit card?”, “how do I do my taxes?”, and “What is my credit score and how do I improve it?”
We would love any and all help in achieving these goals over the coming year! Any help (donations and/or volunteering with us) would go a long way!