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Jun 6, 2010 2:24 PM by Chris Welty

Students Record Math Rap Album

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The CD playing in the background sounds
like something you might hear on the radio, until you listen
closely to the words.
"14, 21, 28, 35, yea I know my multiples cause I'm so fly."
The students of Sarah Broome's sixth-grade math class spent the
month after the LEAP test writing and recording a math rap album.
That lyric was from the song "Bedrock" written by Broome's
students.
The project was a non-traditional and fun approach to help
students in areas where they were weak, such as factors and
multiples, rounding or estimating and place value, said Broome, a
second-year Teach for America teacher at Prescott Middle School.
Prescott is one of the schools taken over by the Louisiana
Department of Education due to low academic performance. It is
being operated as a charter school by the nonprofit group Advance
Baton Rouge.
"We were still doing math all along, but it was different and
more creative," Broome said.
Broome's students celebrated the completion of their CD with an
album release party in the school gym last month.
While students and parents were coming in, the CD was playing in
the background.
In a song titled "Run This Town," students sang about
rounding.
"All you got to do is underline the number you want to estimate
... then circle to the right."
"0, 1, 2, 3, 4, keep the numbers the same, they don't need to
change."
The students wrote all of the lyrics, but Broome made a list of
key points that had to be included in each song.
For instance, they couldn't just repeat the word "rounding"
over and over again, she said. They had to say something about
rounding.
"I have to say, they turned out amazing," Broome said of the
songs.
Broome created a recording studio inside her classroom and hired
a professional to record the students' singing and to mix the CD.
As a fundraiser, Bistro Byronz held a special night where 20
percent of the profits went to support the project, Broome said.
"Kids struggle with math," Broome said. "This morning in the
gym I had kids singing about rounding. Whether they know it or not,
they're learning."
Broome is originally from Cincinnati but most of her family
lives in Covington, she said.
When she joined Teach for America, she wanted to be close to
them, she said.
Her two-year commitment ended in May, but Broome has signed on
for an additional year and will remain teaching sixth- and
seventh-grade math at Prescott, she said.
While this project took a month, Broome has incorporated other
creative projects into her lessons that last only a day or two.
When learning about probability, Broome talked to her students
about gaming odds. When it was time to learn about measurement,
each student grew a lima bean plant from seed and measured its
growth, she said.
For a unit on nutrition, her students watched the movie
"Supersize Me," a documentary where for a 30-day period, the
filmmaker ate only food from McDonald's.
Broome said she appreciates such standardized testing as LEAP,
but sometimes gets frustrated "because you lose them being able to
enjoy learning."
"It's nice to have these few weeks after the LEAP test where
you can be creative and have a little more freedom," she said.
Sixth-grader Lennisha Armstrong, who won the best songwriter
award, said Broome told her students to put everything they had
into the songs and that's what they did.
"I love that she let us do it," Armstrong said. "Most schools
wouldn't let students get up and do what they love to do."
"Everybody loves what they did," she said. "It was cool."

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