Patty Bertram and Third Graders Do Math
Dear Friend of Learning and Making Music,
Thank you so very much for making our fall programs successful! It was YOUR generosity empowering our trainers to bring essential tools for leading lessons through song to children in every region of the country and in Ontario, Canada. Your faith in an innovative approach, your passion putting energy into the arts, your decision to emphasize creativity in the classroom... your values are creating social change by changing the way teachers engage students.
This fall, many young students were shown how to turn complex mathematical operations into fun and easy-to-remember steps when their teachers coached them to apply math concepts to writing song lyrics.The students worked as a class and in small groups to pour their math problems into song lyrics
Imagine being a first grader trying to tell time and getting stuck on the "afters" and "befores". Or a second grader attempting to substract 2 digit numbers for the first time. Put yourself back in third grade, memorizing mutliplication tables and trying to solve for equivalent fractions.Just as you are tiring of trying, your teacher pulls out a guitar and says, let's see what we can do to help ourselves learn this lesson to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey." Now THAT is funny. Especially since children already know "On Top of Spaghetti."
Maybe you were a fourth grader who had trouble lining up columns and carrying over, then bringing down the remainder during long division. Enough wrong answers in a stern and unforgiving classroom of right/wrong answers and almighty test scores and any child can become math-phobic. Relieving anxiety around learning and increasing joy are just 2 reasons why we need more music making in math classes. Making music gets kids breathing and it lowers their anxiety level (which teachers call the "affective filter").
Writing math lyrics for learning embeds equations, operations and outcomes in melody and rhythm so the students remember them by remembering the song.
Here specifically is how, thanks to you, GITC has been making math easier to learn this fall.
Remember the old song, "You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole" ? This is one of the "starter songs" we help teachers learn to play, sing and lead because it is catchy, fun, simple to play and in the public domain. The teachers this song in their GITC training class, then they can listen to it online, download the free song chart and be ready to share it in class right away. Once the students have learned the song, it's time to write new lyrics for learning.
Here is a fun old video of Ref Foley and his band performing the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLwG6whHhq4
Now, below, are some lyrics written by the students in a third grade class at Sandburg Elementary, in San Diego. Teacher Patty Bertram wrote this with the students and it was their very first classroom GITC composition. Her idea to have each student add his or her name at the end of each line. This had the magic effect of instilling pride in the children as they sung their own invented equivalent fraction lines.
The impact was phenomenal. Not only did the song reinforce the process of simplification, it helped students memorize certain fractions and practice doing the essential math without doing a boring worksheet or undergoing the old "drill and kill" routine that makes kids turn off to learning.
Patty's students had a wonderful time singing together- and they also did brilliantly on their math test. In fact, thanks to making music, her class finished their math curriculum one chapter ahead of the other 3rd grades that did not integrate music last year. You can hear her talk about it on our video, linked to this report.
Here is her song. You can play with with the G, G7, C and D7 chords if you like. The chart is at our website.
(to the tune of "You Get a Line and I'll Get a Pole"
Chorus: Simplifying fractions is our game, simplifying fractions is our game,
We di-vide the top and bottom by one number, then we’ve got ‘em!
Simplify a fraction & say your name! (Teacher points to student and she says her name)
‘Cuz simplifying fractions is our game! (Teacher points to student & he says his name)
1. Divide by two! (spoken)
Two over four equals one over two, I’m Madi!
Two over four equals one over two, I’m Sam!
Two over four equals one over two!
Two fourths equals one half, it’s true!
I can simpli-fy and so can you!
2. Divide by five! (spoken)
Five out of ten equals one out of two, I’m Jane!
Five out of ten equals one out of two
Five tenths equals one half, it’s true
I can simplify and so can you!
So... how much exactly have you helped children? Your gifts have empowered us to train over 200 new teachers since July to teach math through music.
You have made it possible for us to donate or loan instruments to teachers and students in 130 schools.
You have given 19,000 students a way to learn things this fall that are hard to understand by other means.
And you have made it possible for me to explain the value of music in learning to people who had never considered it possible.
Thank you for standing by GITC and me. Thanks for giving. Please stay with us in 2014 while we endeavor to raise funds for staffing and for impirical research on the academic impact of integrated music which continuing to provide the free trainings that return creativity to classrooms previously stiffled by overtesting. The time for making education better is now - and you are already involved!
We wish you a happy New Year filled with love, abundance, friendship, health and inspiration,
Girls Compose Math Lyrics