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Nourishing the Teacher – “Bump” up the music

The classroom is packed. Every chair is full and 2 extra seats are pulled in to accommodate the students who want to take this class.  We are 6 weeks into the semester and all 32 students who signed up for this U.S. History class are present.  I’ve heard good things about Jennifer Bump’s teaching but this level of attendance still surprises me.  

Jennifer is a bit of an actor and grabs the attention of her students using short clips of music. When a student gave a good response to a question Jennifer said, “That is right and do you know what I owe you?” With a click of the computer, a short audio clip of “Eye of the Tiger” played for a quick congratulations.   A short musical clip from Nelly singing, “It must be the money” helped reinforce the economic factors that lead to the French and Indian War.  As a musical memory jogger Jennifer played a snippet of Queen singing, “We are the Champions” to highlight the British arrogance after capturing additional land during the war and how it played a role in worsening the relationship between Britain and the American colonies.  All of these audio music clips took only seconds but grabbed my attention and made class more fun.  I also found that the music clips made it easier to have a hook to help recall the information.  When I try to recall the major participants of the French and Indian War, I remember the clip of Stevie Nicks singing “who, who, who” and the names of the major players come readily to mind. 

Surrounding the attention-grabbers are good teaching techniques to make sure students are not just entertained but learn.  Jennifer decided to try incorporating music into her history class after reading studies that link music to learning retention.  After putting this technique into practice Jennifer said, “I can reference any one of those songs now, and they will generally recall the information that corresponds.  I’m still working the kinks out, but I think it’s getting there.  The most important strategy that I employ is adaptability.  I have to be willing to try new things and realize that not every strategy will work the same in every classroom.  I may have to change things up a bit if necessary.”
Teaching nugget
A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson. (John Henrik Clarke)

Great joke to start the week
Dr. James Gardner, a retired Vice-President of Academic Affairs and one of our Adjunct Sociology Instructors sent me the following email.  He obviously missed his calling as a comedian.

“I wanted to share with you my new innovations and hope it leads to a Rubber Chicken award and recognition of a ground breaking innovation in learning. I recently implemented a new method of sharing notes with students that I believe is original and will have long lasting effects. Here’s how it works, I have moved from using the “yellow tablet” notes to showing my notes on an overhead projector. Man, the students sure like it and a sub innovation I have come up with is I found out that I can use a sheet of paper to cover the information I don’t want students to see and then reveal it when I get to the subject matter I want to present. I think this will change the way we do education forever. I would be happy to provide this information during an in-service for faculty if you think it is groundbreaking, of course, a large stipend would be expected. Looking forward to acquiring “Rubber Chicken” status.”

Steven Bishop, PhD
Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Ozarks Technical Community College
Springfield, MO 65802


Dr. Steven Bishop

Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Phone: 417-447-8152


Brenda Woods

Secretary to the Provost / Vice Chancellor

Phone: 417-447-8151


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