Hip history lesson from Buffalo school teacher

Jun 11, 2013

Students across the region began taking New York State Regents tests Tuesday and a Buffalo Public Schools teacher is using digital means to help students review for their History Regents.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley visited the classroom of McKinley High School teacher Keith Hughes to learn about his "Hip Hughes History" lessons on YouTube.

"I think a long time ago I figured out that kids are really smart.  They just don't speak in academic kind of discourse.  So I think that what my videos do is try to speak in student language," said Keith Hughes.

Hughes is a Social Studies teacher at McKinkley. He says he creates a bridge to the world of academics while making it fun for students through digital media.

"So the green screen and multi-modality of it all gives me a lot of different layers that I can introduce that I couldn't ordinarily do in the classroom," noted Hughes.

About 90 percent of his videos are geared toward preparing for state testing.

McKinley junior Ali Rexhepi said Mr. Hughes' concepts stay with him.

"Well he has these concepts that kind of stay with you, that help a lot because I have more of a photographic memory, but that also helps watching the videos, so that's for me personally," said Rexhepi.

With a blending of history facts, dance and music Hughes has become know as "resident professor of cool". Last year Hughes won a YouTube award.  Most recently he signed on to make a film with Leftfield Pictures in New York City, producer of reality television shows American Restoration and Pawn Stars. They're going to create a new pilot for the networks. 

Hughes has a natural talent in front of the camera and he has a similarity to comedian Drew Carey.

"I've heard that on my YouTube comments a few times. I always clarify it by saying the thinner Drew Carey," said Hughes. 

WBFO News asked Hughes if he finds it hard to perform.

"No. I think I'm so use to talking in front of kids.  150 kids every year, that for me in front of the camera seemed pretty natural," said Hughes.

A student stopped Hughes in the hallway asking about where he could learn about the G.I. bill.

"He gets every point out, so that helps a lot too," said student Rexhepi. "And you can pause the video anytime you want if you need, if you missed anything...so that helps a lot."

Students studying for Wednesday's regents are urged to joint the U.S. Regents online review at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Hughes said it's all about trying to engage the disengaged.