Almost anyone can remember a tune that they learned as a child, but how many people remember what the difference is between a cirrus and a cumulus cloud, or think that “mode” is part of an ice cream dish? Thanks to teacher Cheryl Zenko, fourth graders at Kensington Intermediate School not only carry a song in their hearts, but keep facts in their heads.
During an impromptu concert at last week’s meeting, about a dozen of Zenko’s students showed school board members how music helped them to remember facts. “We have a song for nearly every topic,” stated Zenko, whose group demonstrated a math tune, complete with choreography, that explained the difference between mode, median, mean and range. “I will get your mind to change!” sang the students, who came forward in smaller groups to further illustrate the terms.
Zenko said that she finds most of the songs online, and students have come to expect a tune for each unit of study. “When we were studying weather, they asked, ‘Where’s our song about clouds?'” Zenko recalled. She said she then scoured the Internet, but found nothing her class could use. The solution? She created her own melody. The students enthusiastically went into the rendition, which compared cirrus clouds to feathers, and stratus to a blanket.
“They’re really taking ownership of this and sharing information.” Zenko said, referring to the fact that the students often teach the tunes to brothers and sisters. She added that one mom reported a group of kids clustered around the computer one day. Wondering what was going on, she discovered that they were on Zenko’s website, jamming to the music.
To demonstrate the staying power of the facts learned to music, Zenko called out to the students “The width of a paper clip!”, to which they responded “one millimeter!” “We know more,” one student assured the board after the demonstration.
Surveying the students for their favorite subjects, board members found that most liked math and science. “No one mentioned gym,” quipped Jay Milano, adding “I really learned something about mean and median.”