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I’m No Aretha Franklin – Singing In Class

Today we sang the Star-Spangled Banner in class.

We learned about the battle of Fort McHenry and the poem written by Francis Scott Key.

Normally, this isn’t one of my more interesting lessons, so what I’ve done for the last few years to spice things up is to hand them a copy of the National Anthem and sing it in class.

Although I can keep a tune, I’m no Aretha Franklin.

It’s a tough song to sing, and I normally start too high causing me to go way off key when it hits, “and the rockets’ red glare,” but that’s OK. The funnier, the more the kids will remember it.

Once we were finished singing it, I had the students partner up, and re-write the poem in 8th grade language. “O say can you see” became “Hey, check it out!”

I then used the LCD projector to create a class version of the poem on the screen using their suggestions. I have a student type our version on the computer which is displayed on the big screen in front of the classroom.

Once we completed the class version of the poem, guess what we did?

Yup, we sang it.

It was pretty funny to try and sing our version using the original tune. Again, the funnier, the more the kids will remember it.

This could have been one of those boring history lessons about the Battle of Fort McHenry that my students will barely remember after the test. I chose, however, to be a little silly and make it a lesson that they’ll remember for a while longer.

My tip for new teachers is to find a way to make your lessons memorable, even if it means you have to play the fool. Add some humor to the lesson. Let the kids see you laugh at yourself. Ask yourself: What can I do to make this lesson stick out in their brains. Anybody can follow the instructions in the teacher version of the text.  If you want to really have an effect on your students’ learning, however, find a new and perhaps a silly way to teach it.

Another tip: If you ever sing the Star Spangled Banner, start low.



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