PACIFIC PALISADES ( — A teacher in Pacific Palisades has taken an innovative approach to teaching history by utilizing song and dance in the classroom.

Jeff Lantos has been teaching fifth-grade at Marquez Charter Academy for nearly two decades.

With a passion for history, he takes what some would consider a boring lesson and transforms it into a musical in an effort to help his students remember.

“I saw too many blank faces during history class. A lot of abstract topics were going over the kids’ heads so I thought there must be a better way to deliver this content,” Lantos said. “Growing up, I always remembered that if I sang it, I remembered it.”

Lantos’ musicals have become so popular, they’re even a part of the fifth-grade curriculum requiring all students to take part.

He says he starts each day with 15 minutes of song and dance.

“You infuse this joy in the classroom plus there is a proven connection between math and music so if you go right from your 20 minutes of singing into math class, you find the neurons are all firing,” he said.

As an added benefit, Lantos says the music, dance and drama also helps his students develop oral, language and people skills.

“At first, I was really, really scared because I had really bad stage fright. It kind of gave me a confidence boost to do what I like to do in front of people,” said Jessica Jacobs, a student.

Lantos’ story is one of six being profiled in the California Lottery’s Project Believe, a documentary series.


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