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Rap music and maths - any ideas for using rap music to teach maths up to about NC level 6?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by rsingram, May 6, 2016.

  1. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

    Hi I work with young disengaged students - aged 13 - 17 . Many of them love rap music. I am trying to find ways of incorporating this into my sessions without it just becoming a number comprehension exercise (ie how many likes has Eminem for such and such a track etc...) I'd be happy to develop ideas if anyone had any good pointers or ideas and I would share....thanks very much...
  2. maths126

    maths126 New commenter

    Personally I'd be very wary of suggesting you go much further down this route. Acknowledging their love of rap music is one thing, but 'using rap music to teach maths' I'd regard with suspicion, not least because of the complete unsuitability of much of the language of rap music for classroom use.
    Then there is also the risk of pretending to be knowledgeable in a field where the students are the experts, and this could damage a teacher's credibility. I would prefer to see a teacher allowing a few minutes' discussion about music as the students entered and settled, but then calling them back to work with some engaging Maths on a different theme altogether.
    As for what constitutes engaging Maths, it boils down to not much more than letting the students experience success at whatever they are doing - lots of ticks, praise and high marks has always done wonders to motivate the most disaffected student.
    However, if you really do want some ideas about using Maths and Music, then you might be able to track down some of the old Bowland Trust Maths projects. There was one such investigation into the analysis of bpm in music of different genres, and it involved the use of laptops running open-source Audacity software to change the bpm (without changing the pitch) and to note the effect on the music. It's conceivable that similar software exists for classroom iPads too.
    Taking this further, one could next explore the importance of powers of 2 in dance music (4-bar, 8-bar, 16-bar sequences) and classify the various elements of a track by number of bars and their place in the overall composition. Maybe go from this to fractions, perhaps, but it all starts to get rather contrived.
  3. mathsmutt

    mathsmutt Star commenter

    I sometimes get classes to make up a song to express the key points of the maths topic they are doing, under the banner of VAK. Some pupils invariably make a rap, and one that sticks in my mind had the lines "welcome to the fractions hop, what you do to the bottom you must do to the top". They performed to their classmates complete with impromptu beatbox sounds.

    Here is an alternative to the circle song which your pupils may like - or tell you that it has just ruined the song for them. Its called "A rap about circles" by Dave Johnson :-

    The subliminals are good - especially as the music seems to suggest " pi, r, squared" !
  4. mathsmutt

    mathsmutt Star commenter

  5. MLMaths

    MLMaths New commenter

    Google for Chris Moules maths starters. He did a pub quiz program where one of the questions was a maths song that had you doing some mental maths. I think some of the young rap singers did some.

    Edit: found them:
    http://www.sheffieldmaths.co.uk/Chris Moyles Starters.html

    Russell Watson spits some dope beats...
    mathsmutt likes this.
  6. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

  7. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

    Hi Thanks very much for your input. I know exactly what you are saying - and in mainstream and even in a pru setting I agree with you. However my setting is one with young people who have been permanently excluded from school - for social, emotional and behavioural issues - many have been excluded from prus - they are mostly working at NC level 4-5 and have rejected every form of education in the sense you may mean. Anything to engage them is welcome... so whilst understanding your view - and certainly knowing the language involved in rap songs and in no way condoning it - I want to work with our youngsters where they are. We work 1-1 and adapt everything to meet the need and resiliance of the young person - knowing that education is not beyond their reach and that not all educational establishments reject them is so important...and that they can really learn....sometimes it is uphill!!! We do have some successes.
    Once again thanks. I have looked at the Bowland maths activities before - but most are beyond the understanding/tenacity of our yp
  8. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

    Hi Thanks so much for your reply. I think your idea is great. When I have engaged our youngsters in a particular maths topic I will give it a go. Currently my issue is engaging them at all!! - see reply above. T
    mathsmutt likes this.
  9. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

    This is great - thank you so much....I shall certainly use these - really helpful.
  10. rsingram

    rsingram New commenter

    See notes below - my first posting and so have accidently copied your text 3 times before managing my response. Really sorry and thanks again

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