A teacher in Roanoke has discovered the secret of how to use rap to teach grammar.
Cole Wilder makes videos with rhymes and jokes that feature his students, illustrating concepts of grammar.
In one recent video he made at James Madison High School, nearly 80 students have cameos in the film, which shows a shark sitting at a desk in the school office, a woman flipping pancakes, and a dinosaur handing a baton to a relay runner. As Wilder walks through it all, he raps to music that only he hears.
“Look at me now, YouTube celebrity, haters just jealous ’cause I’m in a spot that they’ll never be,” says Wilder. “Rambling — never me. I use sentences with clarity, apparently my students’ parents want my CD.”
His latest video is “Writing Rap 2”, about conjunctions and subject-verb agreement. It also features lessons on commas and quotation marks.
“This grammar rap, can you handle that?” Wilder says.
It’s not unusual for teachers to use rap to reach students.
“Some kids liked it, but some didn’t,” Wilder said. “But everybody, whether you liked it or didn’t like it, remembered the song.”
His rap has a following. There are 1800 subscribers who receive notifications from his YouTube channel whenever he posts a new video. Wilder planned to show “Writing Rap 2” in class, and uploaded it the night before. Students didn’t wait to watch.
“By the time I got to school they were already all talking about it,” Wilder said. All the scenes in the video came from student ideas. Wilder finds that the students’ creativity makes the video a favorite.