Rapping Math Concepts – WSHSmath Video Review

For this week’s blog, we were asked to either critique a unit of instruction done by someone else, or to use one of the content creation tools that we discussed to create our own content. I have decided to do both.

Like Andrew mentioned in his post Crash Course – 7 Thumbs Up!, I also like to use videos in my teaching for both learning a new concept as well as for review. I am a huge fan of the Crash Course videos as well as I use historyteachers as they present the information in a unique manner and give students another perspective or way of viewing things that help the importance of what we are discussing sink in.

As a math teacher, finding videos that are not super cheesy but that are mathematically sound is not an easy task. I also try to stay away from videos that fall into the “math is not cool” or “wow that person is a nerd” stereotype such as Mathmaticious. That is why I was pumped when I stumbled across WSHSMath‘s channel. They only have 7 videos but they are QUALITY. They are created by a group of teachers at Westerville South High School in Westerville, Ohio. The next video that I will be using in my classroom is the factoring video.

I love that they remake popular songs and sing/rap about mathematics concepts. This is Teach Me How to Dougie by Cali Sway District, but they also use Yeah! by Usher, Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It by Will Smith and Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. They have their students in their videos as well. I find that this helps my students relate more as they can see people their age involved and engaged in the content (not to mention, some of them have some sweet dance skills).

These videos are catchy and educational, I will often hear students in the hallways humming the melodies after watching the video in class. (I am sure they are not thinking the “math lyrics” but a teacher can only hope!)

So, how hard would these be to recreate by the “average” teacher?

Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings Flickr via Compfight cc

Personally, I do not have a singing voice nor am I very good with the remixing of the lyrics. To recreate an entire song would probably take me weeks or months of trying to make it work and sound good. I would say that these three gentlemen are masters of the parody of lyrics, but, that doesn’t mean it is out of reach for the average teacher, just maybe for me.

Their students are amazing. I am pretty sure that I could convince my students to join me in making a video such as this if I had the right “motivation” (which could be as simple as a candy at the end). If you are passionate about your project, I think that most teachers would be able to gain a dancing posse for videos such as these.

Screenshot from Urban Dictionary

So what about the graphics? This is where I am going to try to out a new tool! I am going to try to recreate some of the graphics in the video Teach Me How To Factor (above).

The Difference of Squares example

I did not rap, but I did go over the example in a (not very catchy) way. The graphics were not very difficult. I used SMART Notebook and SMART Recorder to take the video.

Overall, I think that this would be an achievable goal for many teachers. And, knowing how my students react to these videos, I think that it holds a lot of value for students. It is not a lesson in itself as many of the videos glaze over some of the key things that are needed for understanding but as a review, I feel that they have done an amazing job of their videos!  What do you think?

When I started to recreate the graphics, I really tried to used Screencastify but it repeatedly froze my computer for some reason. I will try again in the future but for now, I will settle for using SMART products instead of more “open” options. I am also very intrigued by Audacity for my Social Studies classes I did record myself reading out of a mathematics book that I own A Curious History of Mathematics by Joel Levy and will probably be playing around with that in the near future.

UPDATE: I have figured out Screencastify and have made a how-to video of me uploading files to Canvas in the modules. More work to come on organizing the course!

7 thoughts on “Rapping Math Concepts – WSHSmath Video Review

  1. I think if you want to incorporate videos like this in your class, have the students do the heavy lifting! There’s no reason they can’t be the ones to create the content! I use a song for the development of atomic theory and students still know the tune years later! It does help things stick for sure!

    *Dalton, Thomson, Rutherford, and Bohr…Schrodinger and Heisenberg and many, many more…they used their brains to venture in the realm of inner space and found the world of the atom is a weird and wondrous place!*

    That’s the chorus but I can rock the whole tune!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ashleypmurray

    Love the rap video! It is hard to find math videos that aren’t boring and dull. I make my own video lessons using SMART recorder with the notebook as well. They are not entertaining by any stretch of the imagination haha. I’m just not sure how to jazz them up. I’ll maybe have to throw a joke in there every once in a while or something. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I agree with @andyforeman2. If you want to do videos, get the students involved. I’m a big believer that students really internalize the content when they are ask to explain it in their own words. Plus it would be super awesome to use the videos in your future lessons (maybe extra motivation for the kids?)


  4. I’ve never tried Smart Recorder and I do have Smart software. I’ve used notebook with Screencast-o-matic to record a math lesson. I’ll have to try out the smart recorder. Did you upload it to youtube after or how did you embed it? Great work!


    1. Kara

      I uploaded it to Youtube in order to embed it. I enjoy Smart Recorder as you can choose how much you are recording, you do not necessarily have to record the entire screen.


  5. Pingback: The end is near…. – Kara Taylor's Blog

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