Music & Motion: Rocketeers Use Chants to Achieve

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by Chioma Ellis
Principal, Rocketship Brilliant Minds

At Rocketship, we are continually seeking new ways to engage our students and our campus community.

One tool I have utilized in my classroom is chanting, a mnemonic strategy to help teach key concepts. This practice is especially useful for our English Language Learners (ELLs), who are able to recognize and engage in content by tying vocabulary to hand movements and sound.

Not only does chanting foster interest by teaching material in a fun and exciting way, it also increases brain function, memory, and retention. Chanting also builds confidence, emboldening students to create their own chants and mnemonic devices, keeping them engaged with the content they may be struggling with the most. Years after students have left my class, they still remember the chants we learned together.

Because chanting has worked so well in my own classroom, I videotape new chants and share them with our network; this way, we all benefit from this wonderfully fun and effective practice, and teachers save on valuable prep time. Here are a few of my favorites:

Learn what the table of contents, caption, and glossary are in this chant about non-fiction text-features.

What are the key parts of a story? This chant uses a clever acronym to help students remember! 

SADIE comes to the rescue when students encounter a word they don’t know. 

Do you use chants in your classroom? We’d love to hear them! @RocketshipEd


Chioma grew up in Atlanta, GA where she later joined Teach for America to pay it forward from experiences she had in the classroom growing up. She taught K-2 in a public school in Atlanta for five years before moving to a charter school in Newark where she taught kindergarten for a year. Chioma moved to San Jose to become a Rocketeer in the summer of 2013 because she was drawn to the urgency and need for true innovation in elementary education. After starting her career as a Rocketship teacher, Chioma was an Assistant Principal at Rocketship Spark, and is currently the Principal at Rocketship Brilliant Minds.

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