Kids like hip hop. It's a form of music that they feel belongs to them because many older adults don't like it or don't approve. It also talks about current events that they might be interested in or social justice topics that they could feel strongly about but not know how to express. As a result, there is a lot to be gained by integrating hip hop into the classroom. Here are some tips for using hip hop as an educational tool.
1. Use it to Teach Poetry
There's no denying that the people who create hip hop are able to use wordplay in order to get their point across as eloquently as Shakespeare. If you have been teaching Shakespeare's sonnets to your students for a few weeks and have noticed the energy starting to fade, bring in hip hop to teach your children about rhyme structure and where the emphasis of the word falls. Print out lyrics from a song that are appropriate for a school environment. Then, play that song for your students. Have your students highlight rhyming words and identify the rhyming structure, count syllables and compare it to the syllable use in Shakespeare's works, and identify where the emphasis is placed on each word and how changing that emphasis would change the overall sound of the music. Doing all of this will help connect your students' everyday lives to poetry and make them more likely to seek out poetry further.
2. Create Raps for Memorization
Have your students compete to create the best rap that will help them name all of the elements in the periodic table of elements, the Commutative and Associative properties in algebra, or SAT vocabulary words. This will allow your students to fully engage in the material that you want them to memorize and make it more likely to stick with them in the future. If you don't have time to have your students make their own raps, go online and find educational raps that match the subject matter that you are trying to teach.
3. Utilize Historical Hip Hop
Hip hop is being integrated throughout many different forms of art. For example, the new music "Hamilton the Musical" is a blend of traditional musical theater and hip hop. Hip hop is also being used to explain different viewpoints of historical characters, such as in the "Epic Rap Battles in History" video series. Show your students clips from the musical or video series and then have them break down the video line by line to explain why the writers of the music chose to include them and how they represent the historical figure's particular viewpoint.
For more information, talk to a performing arts company that specializes in hip hop.