Teacher Uses Hip Hop To Help NYC Students Pass Regents Exams

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Some instructors are turning to music to help high school students in New York City schools prepare for Regents exams.

“If you’re a good educator you’re going to stay in tune to what students’ outside interests are and to be able to fold those into the class,” Samuel Sellers, Fresh Prep instructor, told CBS 2’s Mary Calvi.

For the program Fresh Prep, one teacher created 24 rap songs that review U.S. and global history – hip hop fused with the New York State curriculum to engage hard to reach students.

From the Constitution to Supreme Court cases, everything needed to pass is packed into catchy, vocabulary-dense lyrics.

“As teachers it should be our job to figure out how to take where you guys are culturally and the content you need to pass and package our content in the culture you bring into the classroom,” said Jamel Mims, Fresh Prep instructor.

At Gregorio Luperon High School in Washington Heights, young immigrants are catching the beat.

“We love music and dance all of that and when we are reading we get tired and bored, so with the beat we get excited,” one student said.

Only 71 percent of American students graduate high school, a figure that drops to 58 percent for Latinos and 55 percent for African Americans.

“If the beaming eyes and big smiles that they leave the class with today is any indication how they feel, then I take it to heart and it helps bolster my confidence,” said Sellers.

Fresh Prep has seen promising results since its 2009 inception. Last year, 70 percent of students who had previously failed their U.S. History Regents passed after taking the program.

With the Iliad and Beowulf, among other classic examples of Western literature, being oral works, do you think incorporating music into classwork is appropriate or effective? Sound off in our comments section below…

Comments

One Comment

  1. Nec says:

    Do they still teach ebonics in NYC schools?

  2. sk says:

    ideally of course kids should pass tests based on studying and reading, rather than listen to a song. however, if that is what a teacher thinks will help a student pass then let it be! if the old standard is not working for all students than a teacher’s job should be to find what evr works. and maybe this would be agreta way for children to always remmeber the material way after the test. b/c as long as they remeember rthe song they can remember the material! i give the teacher credit for trying to find alternaotve methods!

  3. Surgin Bird says:

    this teacher needs to be fired. Rap music prmotes violence.

  4. randy says:

    u do know that the same teachers are the ones grading these regents exams and that there WILL be erasures where there werent before .. do some investigating and also read some of these essays … high school level? really? old news about fraud minded assistant principals and grade inflation as gotta keep up with the other high school who do the same thing.

    1. badman says:

      you’re a conspiracy nut with too much time on your hands. go rent some netflix

  5. Bernie Sanders says:

    IT S A GREAT THING I REMEMBERED FROM MY CHILD SATURDAY MORNINGS AND LEARNING FROM SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK ..

    THEN ON A HISTORY TEST ABOUT THE TEA PARTY THEY ASKED WHO THE KING WAS AND I SANG THE SONG AND REMEMBERED GEORGE THE 3RD ..

    I THINK ITS EASIER TO REMEMBER A SONG WHEN YOU HEAR IT OVER AND OVER THAN TO JUST READ AND STUDY IT ~

    1. TJ says:

      We ned to change our education system to focus on learning not memorizing to achieve test scores. I do think that these teachers have become creative and it’s a good way to remember things. Like Roy G Biv for the color spectrum. However, this is a short sighted answer. You aren’t learning, you are memorizing and you are also caving to a “language” that will not help these kids beyond highschool. In college and the workplace noone is hip-hopping to the tune of their work. I hope that as these kids get older they realize that test scores are only a step and that overall education is what will shape their lives. In other words, unless they go on to become a rapper or hip-hop star leave the hip-hop in highschool and actually LEARN your trade or profession. Memory songs and acronyms will only take you so far. And the lanuguage and attitude of hip-hop will hold you back, again unless you are Eminem or Jay-Z (1 in a million). I’m not baching hip-hop, I like the music, I just think it’s a bit of a step backwards in education in order to meet demanding test scores and statistics.

      1. tj says:

        Need not ned and bashing not baching. Typos, not spelling errors. Please don’t start saying I should have hip-hopped in school…….lol.

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