Sunday, March 29, 2020
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Kan. teacher wants to write a song about Obama

A high school social studies teacher who writes songs about the subject for students everywhere to learn has created a petition on White House.gov seeking to meet the president, after he finishes serving his term, to collect a few interesting details about him for a song to add to his playlist about other presidents, WDAF-TV (Fox affiliate, Kansas City) reports.

A petition of this nature requires 100,000 signatures in order to compel someone within the administration to consider it, and Tonganoxie High School world history teacher Matt Beat only had 99,818 signatures to go as of early Saturday morning.

“You can’t go wrong with music in terms of learning new material,” he told the station. “Teachers across the country have used my videos in class.”

His 150 or so videos, which feature songs he has written and some public domain images, solidify the content for students and add a measure of fun to the learning process.

“Learning about capitalism and communism, I couldn’t remember which one. I had really struggled with that, and he showed us the video and during the test I sang the song to myself,” WDAF-TV quoted one student as saying.

Music has its own place in students’ minds and hearts

Not only can Mr Beat’s jingles help students remember the details about world history or even an American president, but seeing and hearing music performed tends to reinforce content with a plodding rhythm, an appealing melody, and the requirement that we spend a specific amount of time dwelling on that content and letting it sink into our brains.

Having felt its powerful effect for years, in school and in our daily lives, students have given music special standing.

The Honda Battle of the Bands for marching bands from historically black colleges and universities gets underway tomorrow at the Georgia Dome. More than 60,000 people will bear witness to the powerful hold a musical mix of new and old along with dance choreography can have on our brains.

Even in our classrooms for generations, music has strong footing and is used by some of the nation’s best teachers and their colleagues.

Daniel Jocz, the 2016 California Teacher of the Year from the Downtown Magnets High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District and one of four finalists nationwide for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year award, has been teaching for 11 years, according to a news release.

“Daniel is a dedicated, passionate, and innovative educator who incorporates popular culture and music in the teaching of history and social studies in a way that engages his students, and makes the subjects more accessible while still being rigorous,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “I am so pleased that Daniel is a finalist for this award. He is clearly one of the best teachers in the country.”

His classes include AP US history, world history, and leadership, and, like Mr beat, he has a YouTube channel as well. Through his YouTube channel, Jocz Productions, he specializes in APUSH review materials and incorporates popular culture and music into his lessons to create a challenging curriculum that engages his students.

He graduated from UCLA and holds a master’s degree, for which he wrote a thesis entitled “Culturally Responsive Education: No Culture Left Behind.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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