MI Monday | Learning Poetry with Bollywood Songs

Welcome to MI Monday – Week 2 micro-innovation.

Last Monday, we shared an interesting micro-innovation to engage children in learning maths in a fun way! This Monday, we share a micro-innovation by a teacher who uses Bollywood (name of Indian Film Industry) songs to help children learn poetry.

Poetry plays an important role in literacy development as it enhances phonemic awareness in children through the predictable rhymes and structured verse. Parents and teachers for many years have read poems with rich rhythmic language to encourage children to hear sounds and recite lyrics to increase awareness of how sounds and language work together. For these reasons, learning and reciting poetry is a crucial part of Indian school curriculum as well as of most national curriculums across the globe. In most schools, students are not only tested on their understanding of poetry, but are also graded on their ability to retain and recite them. Children often find difficulty in memorizing poetries, so micro-innovation provides a creative way through which teachers can help students learn poetry through Bollywood songs.

Problem statement

Bindu, a teacher in a small private school in Delhi, noticed that students often find difficulty in learning poetries they are required to learn as part of the curriculum, possibly because they struggle to see the connection to their daily lives.

Micro-innovation description

In thinking about how to overcome this problem, Bindu identified students’ ability to remember the lyrics to popular Hindi songs, and used this insight to incorporate popular culture into the curriculum as a powerful tool for learning. Bindu applied the words of the poems students are required to memorize to popular hits, creating connections that enabled students to recall the lyrics to poems. The value of this innovation is that it supports students to succeed in an area on which the curriculum places significant emphasis.

Why interesting

This micro-innovation recognises and makes full use of two important insights. Firstly, the need to connect learning to children’s lives and secondly, the need to give children a ‘hook’ in to learning and to make learning fun. By providing a means to remember poetry, Bindu creates a foundation for the children to begin to explore the meaning of the poems in a way that is fun and increases confidence.

Potential implementation challenges

If this micro-innovation is to be effective, it cannot simply make rote learning easier, it has to be seen as a means of creating time to spend discussing and understanding the meaning of poems.

Impact so far (according to teacher)

This innovative technique has, Bindu reports, improved student knowledge of poetry. 100% of Bindu’s class was able to recall the poem by heart and adding an element of performance to the work has visibly improved student confidence in class. It is not clear, so however, whether students’ understanding of the meaning of the poetry being studied was also enhanced; this will need to be tested.

Download the full implementation guide for Learning Poetry Through Bollywood Songs. For more information, please leave a comment below, or write to us at info@stireducation.org.

We look forward to hearing your experience of using this micro-innovation in your classrooms.

STIR Education

STIR Education

STIR is a UK based charity working in developing countries ( India and Africa) to improve quality of school education by working with teachers in the poorest schools in the region.

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1 Response

  1. September 17, 2013

    […] MI post this week (MI Monday | Learning Poetry with Bollywood Songs) showcases a teacher who uses Bollywood songs to get her students to learn poems. By singing poems […]

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