Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

January 1, 2009

A Modern-Day School House Rock

A Modern-Day School House Rock

Teachers have long relied on mnemonic devices and catchy lyrics when they want to help their kids remember vital information for tests. But what about teaching the kids how to study for a test in the first place? Enter McKinley Broome (MD '10).

Broome, a fourth-grade math and reading teacher at Baltimore, MD's Woodholme Elementary School, received the Milken Educator Award, in part, because of his focus on keeping learning fun and engaging. He calls his students the 212 Crew after his classroom number, turns lectures into trivia challenges, laughs off wrong answers instead of scolding the students who say them, and yes, even composes song lyrics set on inspiring kids to learn and study. Naturally, that last one was just begging to be made into a music video.

"In my first year of teaching, my class government had decided that for our Valentine's Day party, we'd play music on the radio," said Broome, explaining how the idea came about. "I was completely amazed at how well the whole class not only sang along, but also that they knew all of the words to each song we heard. Part of me was a little frustrated by this because these were the same kids that at times struggled to remember some of the skills I taught the day before. I knew that I had to find some way to incorporate music into our daily lessons.

"I started off using songs the kids already knew and just replacing the lyrics," Broome said. "After the second year, some of our songs were starting to get old because their original counterparts were no longer on the radio. So then I started to purchase music beats offline and made new lyrics to music the kids have never heard before. Each year, I make some differences to excite my new class and give them some sense of ownership to the songs."

Aside from songs about studying, Broome also composes raps about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and the Maryland School Assessment (MSA). (An example from his STEM Fair rap, set to the tune of Terror Squad's 2004 song "Lean Back,": Time to write the procedure, so let's get busy / A lot of confusion will make us dizzy / List all the steps in the right order /And know what data should be recorded").

“We'd play music on the radio. I was completely amazed at how well the whole class not only sang along, but also that they knew all of the words to each song we heard. These were the same kids that at times struggled to remember some of the skills I taught the day before. I knew that I had to find some way to incorporate music into our daily lessons.”

Broome also mixes in a bit of home team pride and tracks students' growth by posting "A" students' photos on a 3D poster of the Baltimore Ravens' arena. At the end of the quarter, they have Tailgate parties during lunch and recess that have included kid-friendly chemistry experiments like making Silly Putty and bouncy balls and playing with Alka-Seltzer rockets.

The payoff has been worth the missed lunch breaks: All of Broome's fourth-grade students received proficient or advanced math scores on the MSA for 2008, 2009 and 2010. But test scores aren't Broome's only merits for validation.

"My ultimate goal as a teacher has always been to increase the amount of time that families spend talking about school with their child and doing anything I can to increase the level of importance of a good education," Broome said. "This has led to awesome relationships with the parents and my relationships with my students have involved me being invited to parties, dinners, and their sporting events. [Recently,] our class had a surprise going-away party for one of our classmates at one of the student's homes. My students' attendance has always been good, but my best moments are when the students would rather not go home at the end of the day, or when the end of the year comes and half of the class is crying because they don't want to leave my class."

Contact McKinley Broom via email at mbroome@bcps.org

 

"Woodholme is Ready!"
© by McKinley Broome
Background Music Produced by
www.MyBeatShop.Com/Joshua Diederich

(hook)
When preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!

Preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!

(Verse 1)
I'm a smart guy, with some big dreams
See the textbooks, knowledge is the key
Now it's test time and it's all good.
I've been preparing for it since the first day of school
My pencil sharpened, nice #2 lead
Moving on now, it's time to get busy
I know the first thing to do, directions must be read
If not there's no way I'll ever get ahead
Now look at all these questions there's a lot to complete
Just do the easy ones first, I can do those quickly
So I have more time to think about all of the
challenging ones, higher thinking ones
When in this situation, this is what I've done,
I would think about it. Take a second
Monitor and clarify if I need. And reevaluate, this is so easy.

(hook)
When preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!
Preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!

(Verse 2)
Yeah this is easy, but y'all know that
Because we studied, yeah we had to do that
And there are strategies that we can use to help us
like crossing off choices in multiple choice questions
And it's the best way to rid of us confusion,
I cross them off, but always with precaution, A nope B nope C
Leaving me with one choice left, it must be D
Now the next one is hard, oh it's a thinker
I'll just move on now and come back later
Now it's time for the BCRs,
first underline the verbs you know what they are
Like compare and contrast, summarize, and describe
Those are the keys to helping you score high
Now putting all those things together and writing neatly
will make my teacher proud and the grading will be easy.

(hook)
When preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!

Preparing for a test, we're going to study every night,
The night before, you know we're going to sleep tight
And in the morning you know we're going to eat right
Because we're ready. Woodholme is ready!
STEM Fair Rap
Song: Lean Back
Written by Mr. Broome

[Intro:]
[Verse 1] (30 seconds into song)
A good investigation starts with a question
One that would help lead to an experiment
We're breaking down STEM Fair today
So let's get serious… no time to play
We have our question, now it's time to write
Our research report, this is going to be tight
At least three sources will help us out
Background info is what it's all about
As we move on to the hypothesis
A well thought outcome we will predict
An attempt to answer the question we stated
That is what will be investigated
All these steps are just pieces to the puzzle
List all materials and there will be no trouble
Be specific with what you use
And then no one will be confused

[Chorus]
Make sure you understand
Do the best you can, and
be proud of what you've done
Lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back
Make sure you understand
Do the best you can, and
be proud of what you've done
Lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back

[Verse 2]
Time to write the procedure so let's get busy
A lot of confusion will make us dizzy
List all the steps in the right order
And know what data should be recorded
Don't forget our variables
Independent, dependent, and controlled
Only one variable can be independent
This helps make sure the data is consistent
Everything else must remain the same
Controlled variables shouldn't affect anything
All these results should be written down
To see what information we have found
Graphing data helps our explanation
Something to mention in the conclusion
This information, and what you've learned
Should be added for the great score you will earn

[Chorus]
Make sure you understand
Do the best you can, and
be proud of what you've done
Lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back
Make sure you understand
Do the best you can, and
be proud of what you've done
Lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back

Repeat chorus

Preparing for MSA (remix)


© McKinley Broome, 2007
Boys
Hook:
MSA, Is coming, You know this (Woodholme!)
Studying hard, will pay off, it's worth it
Girls
Get good rest, Each night, You know this (Woodholme!)
A good breakfast, Will help us, Stay focused
Boys
Hook:
MSA, Is coming, You know this (Woodholme!)
Studying hard, will pay off, it's worth it
Girls
Get good rest, Each night, You know this (Woodholme!)
A good breakfast, Will help us, Stay focused
Part 1
Verse 1:
I have my pencils
I'm sitting up straight
I'm here on time, made sure I wasn't late
Test time now
You know it's all good
Been studying really hard since the first day of school (Woodholme!)
Part 2
So it's time to get started with it
The first thing I do,
I'm reading the directions
I'm reading clearly so I understand it
And now I'm gon' do the ones that are the easiest (Woodholme!)
Part 3
But I'm showing all my work and
Taking my time with the challenging problems
Don't let it slow me down I know I can
Use some strategies so I can do the best I can
Part 1
Verse 2:
Slow Down, don't rush
Time is on your side
Don't speed through the test
Like there's no tomorrow
Just do your best because you're very smart
And you know strategies to help you get far (Woodholme!)
Part 2
Like if a question takes to long,
Just put a mark by it, don't forget it
Then move on
BCRs, you know what they're all about
Flashbacks, of all the times
You've filled them out
In reading, underline the verbs
In math we explain what they're asking for
But either way every point, we will earn
Because we're showing off the skills that we have learned

Hook 1 more time.

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