Hip new teaching tool: Rap music!

Passing standardized tests is tough enough for students - but even tougher when they're given in English and English isn't their native language.

Now, reports "Early Show" Marysol Castro, a program in New York is addressing that in a novel way for some students - using rap music.

In New York State, high school pupils must pass a series of five standardized tests, called Regents exams, and the task can be daunting.

Enter the intriguing new program for underserved students, which blends hip-hop with homework, giving a fresh take on learning.

Fresh Prep, created by the Urban Arts Partnership, fuses hip-hop music and rap lyrics with the New York State curriculum to engage the students.

Castro visited students at Gregorio Luperon High School, an English language-learning school for new immigrants in New York City who have all failed Regents in the past.

They were to re-take the U.S. history Regents Thursday.

Among their instructors: Sam Sellers and Jamel Mims - both from Fresh Prep and neither an ordinary history teacher.

"If you're a good educator," says Sellers, "you're going to stay in tune to what students' outside interests are and to be able to fold those into the class."

For the program, Sellers, also known as rapper Rabbi Darkside, created 24 rap songs that review U.S. and global history.

From the Constitution to Supreme Court cases -- everything needed to pass is packed into catchy, vocabulary-dense lyrics.

"As teachers," says Jamel, "it should be our job to figure out how to take where (students) are culturally and the content you need to pass and package our content in the culture you bring into the classroom."

For their part, the kids told Castro they love the program and find it helping them learn and boosting their confidence.

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