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Teacher Uses Hip Hop To Help NYC Students Pass Regents Exams

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Bronx classroom

Bronx classroom (credit: Getty Images)

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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…

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