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John Wahl, aka OfftheWahl Muzak / Blog

Fun in the sun

Spent a week in California seeing family and friends; it was a much needed and well-deserved break. I took a ton of pictures and wrote at least 3 songs. If I ever get the time, they will be displayed.

Poetry Slam

So we decided to do a Poetry Slam on the Friday before Spring Break in the Imagineers' classroom. Total kewlness; my students are so creative. Once I get parental permission, I want to share some of their lyrics about math and science topics they've learned so far this year. KEEP ART IN SCHOOLS!

Dividing Fractions RAP: The Story Behind the Song

So it's a Friday afternoon, last period of the day, and I'm teaching a math intervention class for rational numbers. There's a weekender dance going on after school, and needless to day, no one really wanted to be there. I'm trying to teach a group of restless and bored 7th graders how to divide fractions, so I went back to a rhyme I learned as kid: Yours is not to reason why, just invert and multiply. Well, I had the kids repeat that a few times, and it just didn't have the impact I was looking for. So, a girl in the back pauses from texting for a moment to raise her hand (she was so polite), and says, "Mr. Wahl, you should just make a song out of that." I paused for a moment and looked around the room as everyone agreed and edged me onward. The "ah-hah" lightbulb went off, and I responded with "Challenge accepted!" I spent that afternoon drafting the lyrics to a full version that I haven't had a chance to finish yet. I quickly recorded a 1 minute version to meet a deadline for ASTE's (Alaska Society for Technology in Education) iDidaTune contest. I used GarageBand to mix my vocals (not much I can do about my voice) and sampled some tracks using KORG's iElectribe App for the iPad. It has since become the most requested song in my classroom (and the whole 7th grade for that matter) and kids actually said they wanted to "buy it" and "where can I download that on iTunes?" More on that later. I went to ASTE, won the iDidaTune song for the grownup category (there's 4 age groups: K-4, 5-8, 9-12, and Educators). I had to perform the song on the spot, and I never saw a room full of teachers whip out their SmartPhones so fast to capture some video. The presenter said, "Wouldn't you like to have that song in your Math Class," and piped in with "You can download it for just 99¢." Thanks to a great musician at the Apple Store, I discovered ReverbNation, and plan to keep pumping out the tunes. I still need to record the full version and I have a music video in mind.