In a world where pursuing knowledge and personal growth is a beacon of hope, we somehow overlook...
As a Teacher, you can quickly grow tired of the same old song and dance when it comes to aspects of the curriculum that require memorization– continent names, multiplication facts, planet names, animal classification– it’s hard to engage students without a hook.
Joanna Pace, a Teacher at Amelia Earhart, felt the same way. With catchy videos and a curriculum-based approach, Joanna and her husband, Matthew Pace, created an educational channel called Hopscotch that has kids singing a new tune about the more stubborn, memorization-based content.
Their page hosts videos with millions of views– and it started during a frustrated scour across the internet five years ago.
“As a teacher, you’re always looking for new resources. I was teaching second grade in 2017, and part of the content involved learning about the seven continents.”
Because the content requires some memorization, Pace sought a catchy song or music video to aid students.
“I was hunting high and low for good videos or songs to share with my class, and I wasn’t satisfied with my options. I realized that someone could make better content.
“My husband, Matt, is a songwriter, and the thought hit me. He could do better than what’s out there.”
Matt initially balked at the prospect of creating content for children, but Joanna persisted, sharing some of the existing content with her husband.
“I remember him asking me, “how many views does this have?” And the video had more than a million views. We both knew that Matt could write a catchier, more useful song. So we gave it a try, just for my class, and wrote a song about the seven continents.”
After creating the song, the two sang it for Joanna’s class.
Her students loved it. They recorded and shared the song schoolwide. They soon realized that they could add a video component to the song and share it on Youtube for ease of access. After hiring BYU animators, they created their first video– which has forty-three million views and counting.
You can find it on the Hopscotch Youtube page.
(Be forewarned, this catchy jingle will get stuck in your head. I’ve played it twice in a row after writing this article.)
Pace noted that, while there is a lot of elementary school content, much of the content lacks a definitive connection to the curriculum, which, as a teacher, Joanna offers.
And, to authorially insert a comment here, a lot of the content isn’t half as catchy, either.
Most importantly, Hopscotch has been a product of dialogue with other students and teachers of Amelia Earhart, who offer feedback for their videos. School members can point out gaps in the curriculum or learning where more videos might help teachers in different grades shore up missing aid.
Outside of Hopscotch, Matthew and Joanna Pace wrote the AVIATOR and RISE songs for Amelia Earhart, which instill school culture, advocating and highlighting traits of respectful, lifelong learners. Joanna Pace also uses music in her classroom to develop students’ social and emotional skills and learning.
“Social and emotional learning is something I emphasize in my classroom. I worked with our Social worker to write a “Boundaries Song,” teaching students how to treat each other and navigate relationships with other kids.”
“Overall, I want my students to know that they are loved and capable.”
Although Hopscotch recently hit their two-hundred millionth view, their goal has remained unchanged.
“Hopscotch exists to aid teaching and learning. And I love both,” Pace says. “Our project was always intended to aid teachers, parents, and students.”
“Some students with learning disabilities can struggle with content requiring memorization. For a host of learning disabilities, music aids memorization, so we hope that our videos will offer a little extra help for students who need it most.”
Because Pace likes creating content informed by teacher and student needs, she’d happily take any video suggestions for the Hopscotch channel. Reach out with suggestions to her district email at firstname.lastname@example.org.