Fresh from a scholarship in the United States, innovative Primary teacher Dan Colquhoun – or Rocking Dan Teaching Man, as he’s affectionately known – has won an inaugural Australian university teaching award.
Mr Colquhoun – Year 4 Teacher at St Declan’s Catholic Primary School Penshurst known for his innovative integration of music in all his classes – has won a Highly Commended Community engagement award from Australian Catholic University.
He was acknowledged for integrating music and movement with the primary curriculum (and sharing it on YouTube).
“I try to tap into the auditory side of children,” said Mr Colquhoun.
In 2013, the former ACU postgraduate student was awarded the Bob and Margaret Frater International Travel Scholarship allowing him to attend a teachers’ conference in Las Vegas where he networked with other teachers who also used music and movement in their teaching.
“Music really engages children, it engages everybody and so does movement, children are not made to sit still, they really need to get up and move, it lights up the neural pathways,”
“The best way to get them to sit still is to get them moving. Songs also help develop their social skills – they learn routines and how to be a good friend through song,” he adds.
He said he sets the Mathematics curriculum to music because using a beat or rhythm helps students become fluent and aided instant recall.
“For example, patterns and algebra work with music,” said the teacher who has been using music to teach his students for much of his 11-year career.
“Children are more able to learn concepts through melodies,” he said.
He also uses music in the English Curriculum.
He picks a character for the students (like the Gingerbread Man or the Big Bad Wolf) and students sing descriptive language in time to the music to describe that character.
“When they transfer that to writing and try to think about how they will describe their own character, they can recall the song and think about what adjectives or descriptive language was in the song,” he said.
He and his class have had a big success recently using music to teach a procedure – how to make a paper frog. The activity also stimulated the students in their creative writing.
The music video he made with his class showing the procedure is so popular that teachers as far away as New York and Nevada have picked it up on You Tube.
“The class in New York sent us photos of them learning how to make paper frogs (from the video) and samples of their own writing,” said Mr Colquhoun.
The ACU awards are part of the university’s 25th anniversary.
Rocking Dan Teaching Man You Tube videos can be found here: