Matt Dix, one third of mracdpresent, reveals how he writes songs to create engaging and effective science, maths and English resources.
Tell us about your professional background and what you enjoy most about teaching?
I qualified as a teacher in 2008 and have been working in Key Stage 2 for much of that time. Before I qualified, I lived life as a teaching assistant in Key Stage 1 and spent my evenings touring the country and making records with an indie rock band called 'Love Ends Disaster!' Due to my passion for music, I enjoy writing songs for the classroom, getting the whole school singing, or using lyrics as reading comprehensions during whole class reading. The sound of my own voice seems a lot less monotonous when it has drums and guitar in the background!
How do you incorporate skills-based learning into your resources?
The reading comprehensions we’ve created focus on the key skills such as retrieval, vocabulary and inference, as well as summarising and predictions. I’ve started to teach lessons related to fluency (which incorporates intonation and expression), so I’ve included this in some of the reading resources.
Which resource are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of our science, maths and literacy songs and albums which took a few years to write, record and package together. We really wanted to create something unique and interesting for children in KS2 since many of the songs out there just didn't seem quite 'hip' enough for us! We've created 'alternative' songs – using hip-hop, rock, indie and electronica – that sound different yet are still educational, with a bit of humour added to boot!
What are your top tips for engaging reluctant learners?
Education is all about relationships. Give children your time and they’ll give you theirs. No resource can do that, but there are certainly plenty out there to help you engage them in lessons. It's important to have conversations with children about what they like and dislike, but also to help them understand why you do what you do, being explicit and honest all the way.
Teachers rock! After a conversation on Twitter, I'd noticed how many other teachers were also in bands, ensembles or were singers. So, I decided to collect a range of fantastic records from teachers in the UK who were in great bands (or who are still living that crazy double life today). It's now downloadable free on our Tes site!