Ben Hehn, TES Author Numberock, tells us about his collection of music videos that reinforce mathematical learning concepts using a multi-sensory approach
Entertaining in the classroom
When you look at the entertainment that’s being produced for kids in games and movies, it’s no wonder that they are starting to zone out in school. During the last seven years as an elementary school teacher, I’ve tried to find new ways to capture my students’ full attention, especially for that one subject that gets such a notoriously bad rap in elementary school – math.
I carefully honed a teaching method that integrated the emotional connectivity and stimulation of modern entertainment with the way children were learning math in the classroom. The key to this method was combining my life as a songwriter with my life as an educator.
Making math musical
Now, it's probably a safe assumption that everyone has experienced the magical power of hearing a song from the past, and then suddenly being transported back to the memories of a distant time and space. So why not use that power to remind students of what they've learned? Using music in this way, to transform my classroom into a multi-sensory learning environment, has resulted in an amazing amount of energy and enthusiasm being brought into math lessons.
I serendipitously stumbled upon this connection one morning after bringing my guitar into school to play an original song about long division that was accompanied by a simple animation. While not all the students liked the folk rock genre, I could tell I had everyone’s attention. By the end of class, some kids were singing the lyrics to themselves as they worked out the steps.
Soon, I began writing songs in genres that my students actually listened to: rap, rock, pop, country, you name it. Parents would tell me that their children were singing these songs in the car, at dinner, even teaching them to their siblings. Almost in disbelief that kids were singing math songs for fun outside of school, I felt encouraged and inspired to continue writing. Then, three years ago there came an “Aha!” moment, when I envisioned writing a song and animation for every math standard in the curriculum.
Spreading the word
Driven by the prospect of creating videos worthy of being disseminated across multiple digital platforms, I began working with professional animators. About a year ago, I launched Numberock and started uploading my lesson materials to TES. My content is gathered into this comprehensive workbook*, which contains over 27 songs with videos, fill-in-the-blanks lyric worksheets, word problems and answer sheets.
It’s incredibly rewarding to know that almost a year after uploading the videos on YouTube, they have been viewed by teachers and students in over 160 countries. I believe we are in the age of a new renaissance, where the arts and STEM can be viewed as one united, rather than two opposing, forces.
Numberock’s TES Shop
Follow Numberock on Facebook and Twitter
*This resource is being sold by the author
Are you a TES Author who would like to contribute to a blog post? Find out more about how to get involved.