A clever teacher has found a way to integrate music into other subjects and in his class the kids are singing though science and math as well as other subjects.
Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, a small girl takes the microphone and sings a loud and confident song about the city of Westerville, Ohio, where they are located. This takes place in front of the class of roughly 25 students.
Soon, the other six and seven year olds are singing the chorus and chiming in. .
Jim Ledford, a first-grade teacher at Alcott Elementary, plays the guitar. He switches from his acoustic guitar to ukulele, and the girl passes the microphone to another student for his turn at a solo.
Just like all first-grade students in the district, Ledford’s students learn compound words, introductory science and math, and continents and oceans.
But in Ledford’s class, students sing about it.
“We sing a lot,” Ledford said. “We sing from the time we get here in the morning. After we say the pledge, we sing You’re a Grand Old Flag, and then pretty much throughout the day.”
Ledford has played guitar most of his life, but found a way to incorporate his passion for music with his passion for education. He customizes and writes his own songs for his lessons and teaches the songs to his students. The songs make learning fun and interactive.
“When I started my student teaching in college, I realized how powerful music was so I incorporated it,” he said. “I realized how much kids love it and how much they learn through doing that.”
Many of his songs stick to the curriculum and help students easily memorize facts, such as where continents are on a map or where their city is and in what state. These songs stick to his students after first grade, too.
“The cool thing about it is I have kids who were in this class that are in third, fourth or fifth grade and the teachers will come back and say, ‘Well they knew this or that because they remembered it from first grade in a song that you taught,’ ” Ledford said.
“It’s a fun way to teach, but there is also something about the brain and you keep that in your brain longer,” he added.
This isn’t necessarily an uncommon theory either. In a brief Google search, more than 11 million pages contain sources, sites or articles about the impact of music and how it helps the brain learn. Many of these sites encourage educators to find ways to incorporate music in teaching by offering songs, how-to articles or testimonials to its impact.
According to an article from Music and Learning by musician, author and art therapist Chris Brewer, music activates students mentally, physically and emotionally and engages students in learning by creating a focused atmosphere.