North Texas Daily

UNT student teachers take creative approach to history

UNT student teachers take creative approach to history

July 03
18:21 2012

Jaliza Brown / Contributing Writer

The Bill of Rights was the theme for next day’s lecture, and UNT student-teachers Adriana Segura and Allyssa Sobey struggled to create a lesson plan that would capture the attention of 60 high school students.

The night before class, the two scoured the Internet for unique ways to teach the first 10 Amendments of the Constitution. They came across numerous Bill of Rights-themed songs, which sparked an idea.

In the bedroom of Segura’s student living apartment, the two recorded “Bills of Yo Rights,” on her Mac Book Air – their rap remix to songs they heard on YouTube.

Their rendition was recorded over the beat of rapper Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap.”

Segura and Sobey said their musical debut may have, at best, amused their younger audience that Monday afternoon, but it did lighten the mood in the classroom.

“It was something fun for the kids. They didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought they would,” Sobey said. “They were just like, ‘Are you for real?’ But they thought it was funny.”

The class takes part in the Upward Bound program at UNT, which allows high school students across North Texas to experience post-secondary education in a university setting throughout the summer.

“We are trying to teach them what college is about by simulating the college experience while they are here,” said Rodney Mitchell, program director of Upward Bound. “They gain new information, learn different skills and subject matters that will help them in the future.”

Sobey, a women’s studies and geography graduate student, and Segura, a political science and anthropology senior, were assigned to teach the program’s history course, which focuses on civil rights in the 20th and 21st centuries.

On the first day of class, the Upward Bound students received the same 1965 Alabama literacy test that African-Americans were required to pass to obtain their voting rights.

“The program takes them to a Rangers game at the end of the semester, so we told them that if they don’t do well on the test, then they won’t get to go,” Sobey said.

The teachers collected only the tests from students who would have been obligated to take it in 1965: everyone but white males.

The class erupted in disbelief.

“They were pissed,” Segura said. “Some of them asked ‘Are you serious? My teachers couldn’t even pass this!’”

Relief set in after the teachers told them that the test had no effect on their chances of seeing the Rangers game. Some students were even excited to take the test home and show their parents.

“Ultimately, I want them to think critically about what is going on in the country today and relate that to the past so they can understand what happened 100 or 50 years ago is still important to them in protecting their rights today,” Sobey said.

Future plans for upcoming classes include a guest speaker who specializes in Pan-African studies in addition to more “shock value” lessons, said Segura.

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