Teaching with Rhythm and Rap
We all recall songs, prayers, and poems we learned as early as age 4, 5, or 6—before we learned to read. The reason for our deep memories of these early experiences is that rhythm and rhyme have a unique ability to embed words and concepts indelibly in our brains.
In Hip-hop Poetry and the Classics, Sitomer and Cirelli (2004) show that rap lyrics possess the same literary components as classical poems: alliteration, allusion, metaphor, etc. Teachers can take advantage of the dynamic power of rap to instill important information in students’ memories. I’ve found that you don’t need experience with rap to use it successfully—all you need is the desire to try something new!
As a teacher, I discovered that rap is a great way to draw in all types of students and simultaneously meet state and national standards. “The Rap Protocol” provided here guides students to write their own raps about themes and concepts from complex texts. Writing raps about texts inspires students’ enthusiasm and enhances their ability to read complex texts closely, improve comprehension, review for tests, and relate texts to their own lives. “The Argument Rap,” also provided here, helps students master the complex skills necessary for writing a persuasive argument paper.
The Rap Protocol
- Tell students to use rhythm and rhyme to create a rap about a chapter/text. Not every line must rhyme; encourage alliteration and rhymes within lines.
- Explain that raps should use language appropriate for school.
- After writing, have students practice reading raps aloud expressively and rhythmically. Encourage gestures, clapping, body movement, and costumes.
- Have students perform raps for the class, families, and assemblies. Record performances and post on websites/blogs.
- Display raps on bulletin boards or display cases and publish them in school newsletters or online newspapers.
The Argument Rap
by Rosalie Fink
Let’s analyze an argument.
What must it contain?
The first component
Is the argument’s claim.
Some call the claim “the thesis.”
It’s the author’s main idea.
The important things about it?
It’s a statement and it’s clear.
Where does the claim belong?
Beginning? Middle? End?
Any place can work well,
But there’s usually a trend.
Often the first paragraph
States the claim there.
But sometimes the claim
The second component
Is called the evidence.
Data, details, facts, and reasons
Used to convince.
To convince your readers
That your argument is tight,
Use facts and examples
To convince them of its might.
Explain each fact fully
So they know you’re right.
Reasoning and logic
Make your argument tight.
Raise rebuttals or counterarguments
To show your awareness and strengthen your position.
Concede any weakness in your argument,
Acknowledge the strengths of the opposition.
Finally your argument needs to end
With a clear conclusion that leaves no confusion.
To give your argument an awesome end
Write a clear conclusion that leaves no confusion.
Have you used raps successfully in your classroom? We’d love to hear what’s worked for you!
Want more about this topic? Check out Reading, Writing, and Rhythm: Engaging Content-Area Literacy Strategies, K-12.