Memory tricks, mnemonics, hand movements, dances; every teacher I know has a few tricks up her (or his) sleeve to help their students remember things. For me it's silly songs. Some songs I find online, some songs I've learned from other teachers and some songs I make up (often on the spot in front of my kiddos). Each year I seem to add more songs to my repertoire. Now that I have been teaching over 10 years, I feel like I should have a song for everything, and yet I've added 3 more just this month!
I tell my students that these songs are meant to get stuck in your head like the commercial songs that you sing without really meaning to. My explanation is that on test day I can't give them hints, but they can remember the songs and that will be like me giving them a hint. The songs help them remember specific things, and so we focus on making sure they know what the song MEANS and not just memorizing the words. For this reason, I have found that the simpler the song the more helpful to the students.
Some of my favorite copyrighted songs are the grammar songs by Shurley English. They are catchy and get stuck in your head so bad I am often still singing them while I'm cooking dinner! But the ones the students remember the most are silly things like "A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, that is where you're comma should be!" which I learned from my mentor teacher while I was student teaching. This song is sung to a Jackson 5 tune and used when we are trying to figure out where to put a comma in a number with at least 4 digits.
I can promise you that often when I am singing these songs I feel like an idiot. I really hate when my instructional coach decides to walk in while we're singing. But then on test day I love watching the students sing these silly little songs in their head. I love seeing the "aha!" moment when the song actually helps them. This makes all of the silly embarassing moments completely worth it.
Since it's hard to really share these songs in a blog post, I have decided to try out my first Facebook Live Video. Tomorrow evening (Thursday, February 23, 2017) around 6pm MST/ 8pm EST I will share a video with you of all kinds of silly songs that I use in my classroom. So even though I know I'll feel silly, please tune in at my Facebook Page and see if any of these songs could be a good memory jog for your students.