Science - Sing a song of study

9th March 2012 at 00:00
Use music to engage children with difficult subjects

If ever you find yourself struggling to interest a group of pupils in a difficult or dull subject, help is at hand. Take inspiration from the nation's favourite talent show, The X Factor, and download a piece of free software from Microsoft, Songsmith, which gives them the chance to record their own pop songs.

Recently, I was having a difficult time getting my biology pupils interested in learning about the respiratory system. I showed them Songsmith and within an hour they had formed their own pop groups and written, produced and performed a song all about the subject.

Writing the lyrics themselves helps learning and understanding. And it is an additional bonus that pupils create their own copyright-free piece of music that can be used again in a themed homework task. Even better, most pupils copy the songs on to their iPods so that they can use them for revision.

The pupils were totally engaged when using the software and I was surprised that it was the boys who enjoyed it most. They loved using it and it helped them to remember the key concepts of what they were learning. It was astonishing to see the transformation that can take place when you give pupils the responsibility and independence to approach their learning in this very individual way.

So next time you are stuck when planning your lessons on a particular topic, get your pupils to have a look at Songsmith. It is likely to spark their interest and, as a consequence, they will probably work a lot harder in any difficult-to-teach topic.

You can download the software for free by signing up to Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network. Join four million teachers from 107 countries in downloading free resources and begin collaborating together.

Dan Roberts is deputy headteacher at Community School in Cornwall. Follow him on Twitter @chickensaltash. Read his blog at

What else?

For some interactive biology, get mechanical with PhET's "Gene Machine" simulation.

Turn chromosome conundrums into cartoon creations with a Year 9 lesson from clund.

Banish that Friday feeling with Wordy WIlliam's atom game.

In the forums

In the TES science forum, a teacher has asked for ideas for science assemblies. Can you help?

Find all links and resources at

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now