Sound of Pen classes use music as a doorway to a deeper understanding of GCSE & A-Level English texts.
Sound of Pen is home to original, unique free lesson plans and resources that will accelerate A-Level and GCSE English learning. For use by students working independently or teachers instructing whole classrooms, all activities revolve around the best music and the belief that everyone should be offered an English experience relevant to their own dreams and ambitions.
You will find countless lessons here – fuelled by the songs of more than 150 pop, rock and metal artists. Want to learn about ‘The Great Gatsby’? Listen to Taylor Swift and you’ll discover a thing or two. What about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’? Well, it turns out Bring Me The Horizon share quite a few of Margaret Atwood’s concerns.
The likes of Holding Absence have already popped into the Sound of Pen classroom to offer their support. Radio 1 artist of the week, YONAKA, made an appearance too. Singer, Theresa Jarvis, says the project is: “Really cool… a more fun way to learn.”
Sound of Pen’s online resources are designed and delivered by John Cahillane (English teacher and KS5 coordinator at Hinchley Wood School). The former Kerrang! journalist has also been running live Sound of Pen classes since 2020.
Students say they love the sense of community, appreciate having the chance to voice their feelings about important issues, and thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to view their course texts from a new perspective.
Key to Sound of Pen’s success is the underlying message that everything on the GCSE and A-Level syllabus is absolutely relevant to today’s students. Rather than teaching simply to pass an exam, focus is centred on the ideas and messages that today’s teenagers can connect to.
Which is why each class starts with the music. Themes that seem complicated when buried in the pages of dusty looking schoolbooks are actually strikingly clear and relatable when explored by the likes of Dave, Kim Petras, PVRIS, Machine Gun Kelly, Against The Current, Years & Years and FEVER 333.
The music, then, serves as a doorway to an accelerated understanding of those concepts students need to get a firm grip on if they’re to make a success of both their exams and – importantly – life itself.