Nadine Ebri is the type of teacher who subscribes to the philosophy: Whatever it takes to help my students learn, I will try it.
Even if it means letting them rap and dance to learn long division.
A few days ago, her math students at La Core Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., were struggling with dividing numbers until one began tapping in rhythm as she kept repeating this cue: “Divide, multiply and subtract — bring it on down and bring it on back.”
“I guess it sounded rhythmic,” she told The Kansas City Star, “because one student started beating, then others started beating, too.
“Some teachers might have stopped them, but I let them. I saw how much it was helping them. A lot of time we think fun and learning should be separated.”
The students created the rap themselves. Then she made a video of fourth-graders Ze’yaria Dunn and Clarence Stringfield solving problems as they danced at the whiteboard, and things just exploded from there.
Within 24 hours of posting the video to Facebook on Dec. 12, it had racked up 4 million views. Right now, it sits at nearly 15.5 million views.
She wrote: “I always heard that teachers dreaded teaching long division! Well, not anymore! My students made this song up! They’re seriously the most crunk class ever! LOL”
In the feedback, which has come from all over the world, she’s had grown adults confess that if they’d known a catchy song like that they might have actually learned long division.
Ebri, who is in her fourth year of teaching, has been blown away by the response.
“I feel like a lot of people feel like, ‘Oh, if they’re dancing around and jumping around, they’re not learning,” she said. “No, they are learning and they are smart.”
Teachers have told her she has inspired them to start using music in their non-music classes.
“Even parents said their kids could not get long division, but then they played the song for them, and it just clicked,” she said.
A college student messaged her saying that he had used the song to learn how to divide polynomials.
“When Mrs. Ebri taught us long division, it was kind of struggling for us,” Ze’yaria told WJXT in Jacksonville. “So she taught us the steps to long division. But eventually it got easier and easier and then we knew it.”
Ebri is using the video to encourage her fellow teachers to use new ways to connect with their students.
“If you notice that you have a lively class, then you need to teach in a lively way,” she told WJXT. “You can’t just have them sitting down doing workbooks, or they’re going to be all over the place.”
The catchphrase “divide, multiply and subtract — bring it on down and bring it on back,” is a classic earworm.