What better way to engage students than with music?
Students at Monarch School are using the Rhymes with Reason program, which uses vocabulary found in popular music, to improve their literacy skills.
Here’s how it works. The program uses clips from popular music and selects specific words from the clip to identify synonyms and antonyms, and teach meaning, word relationships, and other literacy lessons. Teachers select the words they want students to learn and the program will find those words in music. There are modules available for students in grades 4 through 12 and all clips are devoid of any explicit or suggestive content.
Monarch School teacher Charles Muhammad said his favorite part about the program is seeing the students light up when they realize the songs they are listening to have words in them that they are learning in class.
“They are starting to listen to the meaning of the words now rather than just bobbing their heads and enjoying the music. They are actually listening and learning at the same time,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see how much growth and development they have had just by using the platform."
Rhymes with Reason Founder and CEO Austin Martin, a graduate of Francis Parker School, first connected with JCCS Executive Director Tracy Thompson more than two years ago through a mutual judge friend. Mohammad’s students at Monarch are the only ones using the program consistently right now, but it’s been used on an individual basis with several students across JCCS, and there are plans to expand its use in the future.
Muhammad’s fifth grade students are piloting a new Rhymes with Reason program called Young CEO Playlist that helps students learn entrepreneurial concepts and financial terminology using the same musical approach. Students are also being introduced to concepts related to starting and maintaining a business.
As participants in the program, five of Muhammad’s students had the chance to see 13 local entrepreneurs present plans for expanding their small businesses. The students served as guest judges alongside a VIP panel of financial experts who listened to the presentations and asked questions to the business owners participating in the Founders First Black Small Business Leaders Accelerator program.