It’s their math teacher, LaMar Queen, using rhyme to help them memorize seemingly complicated algebra and in the process improve their grades.
“It gets stuck in your head,” says Cindy Martinez, a 14-year-old whose math grade went from a C-average to a B.
Queen, 26, is now known at Los Angeles Academy as the rap teacher, but his fame has spread far beyond the 2,200-student school in this gritty neighborhood. He’s won a national award and shows teachers and parents how to use rap to reach children.
“Math is a bad word in a lot of households,” he says. “But if we put it in a form that kids enjoy, they’ll learn.”
Queen is doing what many veteran educators have done — using students’ music to connect with them. Where teachers once played the rock n’ roll tunes of “Schoolhouse Rocks” to explain everything from government to grammar, they now turn to rap to renew Shakespeare or geometry.
“Rap is what the kids respond to,” Queen says. “They don’t have a problem memorizing the songs at all.”
Queen’s math raps came about by chance. Two months after starting at LA Academy in 2007 — his first teaching job after graduating from college — he was stung when kids told him his class was boring. They told him he resembled singer Kanye West and challenged him to rap.
Little did they know Queen has been rapping since the seventh grade. Back then, he’d throw together rhymes as he walked home from school in Carson, a city neighboring Los Angeles.
His students’ challenge on his mind, Queen pushed aside work on his lesson plans and wrote a rap song ‘Slope Intercept.’
Word of his rapping soon reached the school’s main office. Eyebrows raised, Principal Maria Borges went to investigate, and came out smiling. “It engages the kids,” she says. “Kids seem to know all the rap songs, but they can’t seem to remember different math rules.”
None of his raps are in the Top 40, but “Mean, Median, Mode and Range,” “Polynomials,” and “Quadratic Formulove Song” are chartbusters here.
“Some kids who aren’t even in Mr. Queen’s class go around singing his songs,” says Kejon Closure, 13, who went from a C-average to an A.
In the raps, Queen defines a math concept and works through sample problems step by step. He follows up with more traditional class work on the whiteboard, maintaining a fluid banter with his students.
Queen also tries to inspire them. His lyrics exhort students “to be a math sensation,” “to get As on your papers,” and even “be respectful. Listen to your parents.” Sometimes the students appear in the videos as a reward for good grades and behavior.
Queen says making learning fun is key for kids who often seem burdened with adult problems — there wasn’t enough food to go round at breakfast, they couldn’t sleep well in overcrowded homes or they have to serve as translators for Spanish-speaking parents in difficult circumstances.
When they leave those troubles at home, they arrive at a school that’s more fortress than learning sanctuary.
The campus is surrounded by a steel-bar fence and padlocked gate. Teachers conduct uniform checks to make sure students are not wearing local gang colors of red or blue. “I try to get them to leave their problems at the door,” Queen says.
There was a point last year when he thought he might not be able to continue at LA Academy. He was laid off as an untenured teacher, but he returned to the school as a long-term substitute to continue to teach his students as he hoped to get his staff job back.
In April, he won a national award for outstanding math achievement from Get Schooled, a pro-education initiative launched by media giant Viacom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s also been honored by school district and county educators.
He’s now hoping to make rap math a business and launched a website, MusicNotesOnline, with a colleague to market his rap CD and DVD, and expand the use of rap in education to other academic subjects.
During a recent class, Queen dons dark shades, sets his laptop to play a driving hip-hop beat and starts rapping about solving equations as he grooves up and down the aisles.
“Let’s talk about slope intercept.
I don’t mind if you interject,
Just don’t disrespect.
I say, you have a question for me?
What’s y equales mx + b?
The original article is on http://newsone.com
click on the link for FREE Multiplication Hip Hop For Kids Videos
American school buses have long run on diesel, pumping out toxic exhaust around children who are particularly at risk from such fumes. They also burn up costly, carbon-emitting fuel as they cruise around a limited area, often idling while kids get on and off.
All this makes school buses ideal candidates for electric motors, since they tend to idle and would rarely need to drive very far from a central charging station. Yet while a variety of fully electric cars are now available, the U.S. still has no all-electric school buses.
That may be about to change, however, thanks to two U.S. companies that have teamed up to make an electric bus for Kings Canyon Unified School District in central California. If it hits the road on schedule, it could be the country’s first fully electric school bus. New York-based Trans Tech already developed one in 2011 that never went into service, but now its partnership with California’s Motiv Power Systems is reviving the effort.
“This is Motiv’s first electric school bus, and we anticipate that it will be the first electric bus to be certified and used as a school bus,” a Motiv representative tells MNN by email. “The school district who bought this bus, Kings Canyon Unified, plans to put it in routes before the end of the year. No electric school bus has ever been put into operation before.”
Named SST-e, the Type A school bus will feature “battery-agnostic” design, which means it isn’t wedded to any brand or type of battery, letting the bus adapt over time.
“[I]t ‘future-proofs’ fleets against changes in the battery market, such as discontinued batteries or future improved technology,” Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz says in a press release. “This makes a Motiv-equipped bus the most flexible and customizable all-electric powertrain for trucks on the market. We are thrilled the ePCS [electric powertrain control system] will be assisting schools to get the most out of their transportation dollars, while at the same time educating children on clean transportation.”
The SST-e seats up to 32 students, according to the press release, or 24 students and one wheelchair. Districts can choose a range limit of 80 or 100 miles, depending on how many battery packs the bus holds, while fast-charging technology lets the bus reach 50 percent charge in less than an hour and full charge in 8 hours. The SST-e also comes with telemetry systems, providing real-time route data and preventive maintenance reports.
The bus isn’t cheap; it costs around $175,000, while conventional Type A buses are often less than $80,000. But it can also help school districts save thousands of dollars every year in fuel and maintenance costs, its developers say, and prices should fall if it manages to open up a broader U.S. market for electric school buses.
“An electric bus can save a school district about 16 gallons of fuel a day, or around $11,000 in fuel savings over a year, not to mention maintenance savings,” Trans Tech president John Phraner says in a statement. “We are very excited to continue to help school districts reduce their transportation budgets and are committed to opening the market for the all-electric
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