|Return to Five Lessons in Black History|
Students write a rap or hip-hop lyric about the life a famous Black American.
poem, poetry, rap, Black History, African American, inventor, writer, famous, theater, drama, writing
In this lesson, students put the lives of historic Black figures into poetic form; they pen rap or hip-hop lyrics such as the ones that commemorate 19th-century inventor Granville T. Woods in the Granville T. Woods Rap Song at the Preschool Black History Activity Theme site.
Note: We have purposely kept this lesson general in nature, but feel free to focus the lesson on figures related to a specific topic or subject that connects to your curriculum -- for example, famous Black inventors or writers.
Rap has its roots in the African American community with such 1980s groups as the Sugar Hill Gang and Salt-n-Pepa. It's a form of poetic expression to which many students relate; and it can be used to great effect as a classroom discussion starter. It's even the subject of serious study on such college campuses as Stanford University, the University of Connecticut, Michigan State University, and Pennsylvania State University.
So why not incorporate it into your Black History Month activities?
Start the lesson by sharing a brief biography of Granville T. Woods. You might read about his life from a childrens book or from one of the following Web resources:
Woods Bio #1
Woods Bio #2
Woods Bio #3
Woods Bio #4
Alternate Archive Bios
After sharing biographical information about Woods, share the Granville T. Woods Rap Song. You might provide an opportunity for students to read the lyrics aloud to themselves, for a few students to share their reading aloud, or for students to work together in small groups to practice and perform.
Next, invite students to select a figure in Black History to learn about and then compose a rap about. You might allow students to select an African American of note, or limit their selections to less well known African Americans. Students might also provide a brief biography of the individual along with their original rap.
Make a special occasion of the day when students share their rap lyrics with their classmates. Videotape students performances and run the video outside the meeting room at the next parent-teacher event.
Create a rubric for students so they are aware of what is expected. Let students secretly rate on a scale of 1 to 5 the lyrics their peers write. Tally the results and give out "Rappy" Awards to the best efforts.
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Music
GRADES K - 4
NA-M.K-4.1 Singing, Alone and With Others, a Varied Repertoire of Music
NA-M.K-4.3 Improvising Melodies, Variations, and Accompaniment
NA-M.K-4.7 Evaluating Music and Music Performances
NA-M.K-4.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.K-4.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-M.5-8.1 Singing, Alone and With Others, a Varied Repertoire of Music
NA-M.5-8.3 Improvising Melodies, Variations, and Accompaniments
NA-M.5-8.7 Evaluating Music and Music Performances
NA-M.5-8.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.5-8.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-M.9-12.1 Singing, Alone and With Others, a Varied Repertoire of Music
NA-M.9-12.3 Improvising Melodies, Variations, and Accompaniments
NA-M.9-12.7 Evaluating Music and Music Performances
NA-M.9-12.8 Understanding Relationships Between Music, Other Arts, and Disciplines Outside the Arts
NA-M.9-12.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
NSS-USH.K-4.4 The History of Peoples of Many Cultures Around the World
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Eras 1-10 (Beginnings to Present)