Rap as Poetry

While many would disagree, many more would agree that rap, as a form of song lyrics, are analogous to poems as well.  In fact, an article on The Daily Beast was titled saying that “Americans Have Never Loved Poetry More–But They Call It Rap.”  In essence, that was the slant of today’s lesson.  Outlets such as The American Conservative and NPR are writing articles and blog posts asking exactly that.  Then again, educators such as myself and those at UPenn and Harvard have been using rap and song lyrics as evidence of modern pop cultural poetry for years.  I have found that this makes literature more interesting and relevant to students whilst showing examples of how assonance, end rhyme, and imagery are used outside of novels.  In essence, literature (and learning opportunities) are all around us!

After showing the students a brief clip where rapper Jay-Z is discussing how rap lyrics are akin to poetry, the students and I discussed a few examples of rap and analyzed as we had poems.




Literary Devices Review: Monday, October 27th, 2014

The beauty of English Language Arts is that it is recursive and the same concepts are explored from year to year, just at varying depths.  So today, we touched upon literary devices, which the students learned in seventh grade.  While there are a lot of literary devices to explore, today we touched upon the following:

  • alliteration and assonance
  • metaphors and similes
  • flashback and foreshadowing
  • personification
  • onomatopoeia

First, we did a quick pre-assessment so I could see who knew what general concepts.  We used my new favorite classroom toy, Plickers.  These “picture clickers” combine an app with cards that are specially-coded and can be assigned to students.  They turn the cards in order to answer with an “A,” “B,” “C,” or “D.”  Below is a (very roughly-done) screencast I did for one of my grad classes on the usefulness of Plickers.


Hopefully one day I will have enough time to re-do this video to make it better. 🙂

We then watched some videos to help illustrate the various literary devices.  Two of the best-loved videos were a rap about literary devices

and examples of literary devices in pop culture.

We then finished class by re-taking the Plickers pre-assessment so that I could see if the students had any better results.  In most cases, all of the students answered correctly.  There were only a handful of students (under 5) in each class that were unclear about the meaning of some of the literary devices.