Alternative Learning with Cow Inspired Choruses

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Second semester of fourth year is a stressful time for undergraduate students. The typical pressures of midterms and exams are compounded by the need to apply for full time jobs or graduate school, while everyone keeps asking, “What are you doing after graduation?” At times the stress can be palatable.

“In last week’s class you could feel the tension,” explains Prof. Vern Osborne from the Department of Animal and Poultry Science who is currently teaching the  Applied Environmental Physiology & Animal Housing course.

“The students are stressed out with midterm assignments, job applications and applications for vet school. I realized they just needed to have some fun.”

The course content is focused on understanding animals' biological responses to their environments. It is designed for all students who will be involved in the care and management of agricultural, laboratory, exotic or companion animals. Students from various majors take the class, including animal biology, animal science, zoology and bioscience.

Vern’s solution to a class full of stressed out fourth years was to mix up one of his class’ format to give them a break. In his March 12 class, he asked his students to become “Flash Mob Solvers”.

The students were split into three large groups each consisting of approximately 30 students. They were tasked with writing three paragraphs of three to four sentences or lines per paragraph on the discussion point of “Should all dairy cows have access to pasture”.

The first paragraph needed to describe the industry. The second paragraph needed to give the con of the issue and the third paragraph needed to illustrate pros of the issue.

The catch was that it all needed to be written in the format of a song, and include a two-line chorus to speak for the issue. The winning team would get an additional .5% on their final grade.

After presenting the idea to his class, he was pleasantly surprised by the students’ enthusiasm as the groups quickly broke out into their groups and got to work.

Students sit in lecture room facing each other and working together
Group 1 working on the development of their song.

“Students can remember lyrics of songs from 10 years ago but they can’t remember notes from the class they had that morning,” laughed Vern.

The music style was left open for each group to select their own, with the final choices being modern pop, 90’s style rap and country.

“I was on the fence when Vern first suggested the idea,” shared Lisa Skrtich, one of the class’ TAs. “I didn’t know if the students would like the assignment, but it went over really well.”

Thirty minutes before the class ended, all groups came back to the main lecture room to present their songs. Visibly enthusiastic students presented their songs, belting out their dairy-inspired lyrics to instrumental versions of their selected songs on YouTube.

Vern was sincerely impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and commitment to showcasing their knowledge. At the end of the class he decided to give all participating students the extra .5 percent on their final grade.

“I’m so glad I came to class today. It perked up my day 100 percent,” said a student as she was leaving the lecture hall. Obviously Vern’s non-traditional approach worked. Who knows, maybe the students will be singing their cow lyrics for 10 years to come.

Group of students stand at front of lecture room singing
Group 3 performs their country-inspired song.

Below are videos and lyrics of each song:

Group 1: Dairy Rap - In the style of “Fresh Prince”

Youtube video: Dairy Rap - In the style of “Fresh Prince”

This is a story all about cows they produce our milk we all love how
I would like to take a minute just ruminate there
I’ll tell you how they like to graze out in the fresh air

(Instrumental)

In a free stall barn born and raised, ruminating in stalls most of their days
They live inside but they like to eat grass, they eat TMR and produce methane gas

Cows like grass – from the pasture
Cows make milk – from the grass

I rolled up to the pasture and saw cows grazing, thought that’s freedom looks amazing
Not only is there exercise and natural light but the fresh air and social squad is hella tight

(Break)

Chillin and relaxing feeling all good, laying outside chewing their cud.
Picture perfect straight from a book, all grazer haters take long look.

Cows like grass – from the pasture
Cows make milk – from the grass

In Western Ontario born and raised
If the pasture is where they spend most of their days
Chillin’ in the mud, creating diseases on their udder
Inefficient milk yield, can’t make enough butter
When a couple of farmers with not enough space,
Started spreading poop all over the place
Released a few emissions, the neighbours got mad
Lost all of their money, now they’re said

Cows like grass – from the pasture
Cows make milk  – from the grass

Group 2: Uptown Moo – In the style of “Uptown Funk”

Youtube video: Uptown Moo – In the style of “Uptown Funk”

This milk
It’s fat full
Jersey made
That white gold
This one for them dairy girls
Them country girls
Straight masterpieces
Milkin’ while in
Livin’ it up in the country
Got boots on with EastGen
Got milk myself, I’m so steamy

I’m too hot (inside)
Gonna go out to the pasture, MAN
I’m to hot (inside)
Gonna need to put up some fences, MAN
I’m to hot (inside)
Stealing space from them crops, MAN
I’m too hot (inside)
Raising risks of parasites

BREAK IT DOWN

Free Range of motion (MOO) x3
The pride of milk gon’ give it to ya x3
Saturday night n’ we ruminating
Don’t believe me just watch (MOO)

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