Humming the quadratic formula

At our lunch meeting today, Paige Madsen (my lecture assistant) and I were discussing plans for the end-of-the-semester meeting with the current seven teaching assistants for Writing for Mass Communication and the new TA who will be teaching with us for next semester.

We listed materials we need to have for the meeting and issues to include on our agenda. As we were discussing how we, as a teaching team, can be more effective in our teaching of grammar, Paige said she’d read my last blog post about using music to enhance learning.

In fact, one of her high school history teachers had assigned Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as a class activity. Paige and her classmates were to find out about the events and people included in the song. And it worked, she said. The students did research to figure out the song and enjoyed that unusual challenge.

Quadratic equation – Wikipedia

But she shared an even more amazing use of music for learning — a song for the quadratic formula.

Paige said that when she was in middle school one of her math teachers had the class memorize a song to remember the quadratic formula. Paige said that when she arrived in high school math classes, she could hear her former middle school classmates humming or softly singing during math tests when the quadratic formula was needed.

As I listened, I did remember the term quadratic forumla or quadratic equation, but I certainly couldn’t remember how it would be used let alone how to write the formula.

Paige said she could write the quadratic formula now — years after that middle school math/music lesson — because she still could sing that song.

It would seem that No Child Left Behind needs to include more song books and fewer test booklets.

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