Charlotte Mellor, English Teacher at Littletown Junior, Infant and Nursery School based in Liversedge, shares her inspirational project which aims to improve children’s confidence and understanding of grammar. Charlotte won the 2016 Let Teachers SHINE competition, which provided funding for the project.
If you’re like me, then one time or another you may have felt the urge to start singing along to the songs playing on the radio in your car. It was from this simple concept that an idea suddenly blossomed in my head to develop this as a learning technique to help children improve their grammar.
With the terminology that has been included in the new curriculum for grammar, I thought that this would be the perfect way to help pupils with their reading, writing and spoken language.
Each week, the pupils would decide which grammar terminology they are most struggling with in class and then choose one of their favourite songs. They would take the song lyrics and replace the words to help them memorise this terminology, which could be understanding the use of verbs, nouns or adjectives.
Although I have trialled the project in class with pupils in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, we needed funding to help get it off the ground, so that we could purchase the equipment for pupils to record their own songs.
That’s why it was perfect timing for me, as it wasn’t too long after I discussed implementing the project in our primary school that I saw the opportunity to apply for funding with the Let Teachers SHINE competition. It was from here that the idea was born!
I only had a few days to enter the competition and after taking part in the interview process, I was delighted when I found out that I’d been successful for funding. It means that we now have a big wish list of equipment that we are planning to buy in November this year, which includes MacBooks to help us record the children’s songs, as well as speakers and microphones.
We’re also going to send pupils to a recording studio to record their first song, giving them a true taster of life as a recording artist.
Pupils have certainly embraced the project and one great example that a pupil came up with was changing the lyrics to the popular song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, to help them remember the adverb suffix -ly.
The chorus became: ‘Because I'm an adverb, clap along if you know what this really means, because I'm an adverb, I describe something with the suffix ly'.
Plans to expand
We are only a small school, but with the recording equipment, it’s going to help boost pupils’ confidence and hopefully over time, their grades too. We’ll be looking to run the project both in class and as an after-school club, and we’ll be giving pupils a CD of their recording to help them practice at home.
After this year, there is nothing to stop us looking to implement the project to help children learn their timetables, maths or any of the new scientific vocabulary. A local high school have already shown an interest in the project and as we are part of a Trust, I’m hoping that one day we can expand even further and have different schools embrace it.
Making a difference
As with any project, it’s important to know that it’s helping the pupils and although it’s early days in terms of testing it in lessons, the feedback so far has been very positive. Children are already asking when we are buying the recording equipment and it’s great to see their enthusiasm.
The reaction from parents has been great too, with one parent telling me that the Justin Bieber song we changed is all their daughter sings! In fact, one pupil told me that they can’t even remember the original words to the song – it’s feedback like this that shows we are helping to make a difference.