What the lesson is about
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 X Factor and download a piece of free software from Microsoft, Songsmith, which gives them the chance to record their own pop songs, writes Dan Roberts.
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 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 onto 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.
So next time you are stuck planning your lessons on a particular topic, get your pupils to have a look at Songsmith. It is likely to spark their interest and 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 start collaborating together.
For some interactive biology, get mechanical with PhET's Gene Machine simulation. Turn chromosome conundrums into cartoon creations with a Year 9 (S2) lesson from clund.