Teaching children to spell through funky beats and rap

By Michelle Lockwood

Michelle Lockwood, Teacher at Saint Bernard’s Catholic High School in Rotherham, talks about her project which aims to help children improve their spelling. Michelle won the 2016 Let Teachers SHINE competition, which provided funding for the project.

With music becoming an ever-popular way for children to express themselves, I’ve long harboured ambitions of using music to develop new techniques to help children learn to spell. Having worked in both primary and secondary schools, I’ve often found that spelling can be a weak area for a lot of children and thought now was the perfect time to bring my idea to life. My idea was to increase the engagement factor and teach spelling using rap, rhyme and funky beats.

Trying to teach children spelling can sometimes be perceived as boring, so I wanted to develop an innovative project to turn that notion on its head, presenting teachers with an easier method to introduce it in class and making children more eager to learn.

For the last few months I’ve been working with a games developer and graphic designer to put the elements in place for my project ‘Spelling Beats’. When it launches early next year, children will be able to access a website and step into the role of a DJ to learn the rules of language in a fun and engaging way.

Increasing the engagement factor

I have a big vision for the project and although I’m working towards having it in my school early next year, I envisage thousands of children using it in the future. I’ll also be including tutorials and a number of different activities, so teachers will be able to develop clear plans to use in their own classroom.

I’ve been able to get a glimpse of how the project will work by using a prototype version in class. Despite only trialling it for a small timeframe, I noticed a significant difference in the children’s spelling and was encouraged by how passionate they were to learn to spell.

I was even able to include a short video of the children using the prototype as part of my presentation for the Let Teachers SHINE funding and was overwhelmed when I found out that I had been successful. The funding has really helped me to get the project off the ground; it’s allowed me to hire people for a number of different roles and will also be used to market it across England.

The project won’t be exclusive to a set age group and is being developed to be used in both primary and secondary schools. I’ve also incorporated feedback from the children themselves to add in personalised touches and to make it unique for both boys and girls.

Come and see the project at Bett 2017

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be giving an exclusive presentation of Spelling Beats at Bett 2017.

I’ll be presenting on the Capita SIMS stand on Wednesday 25 January, where I’ll be giving a more detailed overview of the project. I’m excited to be attending and hope to see lots of school colleagues who are interested in finding out more about the project and how it could help children improve their spelling.

Find out more about the Let Teachers SHINE competition and SHINE.

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