Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Math and Music: Making Mathematics Interesting

It was last year when I decided to bring something new into my mathematics class by integrating music in one of my lessons which has been deemed boring by most of my students who were in a way hyperactive in the classroom. I decided to compose a rap based on our lesson and taught it to the learners. The purpose of the rap was not merely to have the learners do mathematical computations but to make their learning of mathematics more meaningful and relevant by making it interesting to them. Considering that they were all-boy classes, I thought that such activity would motivate them to learn mathematics in English which happened to be their second if not foreign language.

I taught the rap in the class with enthusiasm and was so amazed of its impact. Reading powers which was very difficult for them at first became so easy as they learned the structure through the song. It became easier for them too to master the mathematical terms involved in the lesson, thus, easily identify which is which as I taught the concepts and the operations. The result was very stunning for the fact that most of the students still memorized the lyrics of the rap even after few months. It's very uplifting to hear the students doing the rap each time I happened to see them in the school corridors. They were doing it as if they were not doing the mathematics which they found dreadful. Even until now that my students are already in the 9th grade, they do still master some parts of the rap that they happily hum it every time they see me. Just this afternoon, I met a former student near the school's gate and he called me, "Teacher Phil!" and when I answered back, he asked me if I know exponents. 

So that you would exactly know what I have been talking about, play the following video and listen to me rapping. It's not that good. I admit, some of my students had a better version than mine.
With such brilliant result in mind, I am becoming more motivated to do more in some of my lessons in the future especially those which would involve thorough understanding and memorization of mathematical terms and formulas. This is one of the exciting things that you would get from teaching -- you could have a multiple personality. There are times wherein you need to become a singer, rapper, dancer, poet, actor, stand-up comedian and the list continues. I once entered in my class with a husky voice due to my sore throat and the students noticed it as soon as I greeted them. Instead of giving them alibis for not being able to teach, I started the discussion grabbing the microphone which I specially had because of my sore throat and told them, "Class, as you have noticed, your teacher's voice is not that good. Please bear with him because he just had a series of concerts earlier." My statement then stirred laughter in the classroom.  I remember my professor who once told us, "As a teacher, think that you are all performers and your performances happen each time you teach. Make each performance the best that you could ever do." 

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