Assignment One: Spoken Word
Especially after a unit on poetry far removed from our own time, I think it is important to occasionally thrust the students' perspectives into a more contemporary medium of poetic expression. Placing traditional poetry alongside rap, hip-hop, and spoken word would yield many opportunities to examine which elements of poetry have changed or stayed the same throughout time. While incorporating key concepts of poetry such as hyperbole, metaphor, and simile throughout the assignment, students will argue why they believe certain aspects of a spoken word artist's delivery and words are effective.
Clearly it is difficult to argue with the proposition that rap is just poetry set to beats, but I believe that analyzing spoken word would be much easier and constructive for this assignment's purpose.
1. Watch the following 4 videos together as a class.
Liza Garza- "My Everything" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcjGTkADLqI
Gemini- "What are you fighting for?"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7eZOXmORA0&NR=1
Taylor Mali- "What teachers make"
Sarah Kay- "Hands" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuAbGJBvIVY&NR=1
2. Guide students through how to set up a blogspot account, and for each video, students will post a one-paragraph response.
3. Paragraph could include, but is not limited to, comments concerning the following themes derived from the clips:
Liza Garza's dramatic and heartbreaking performance includes themes of violence, community, motherhood, and gangs. Gemini's performance is confident and strong, and speaks to many of the same issues as Garza, but also includes themes of the ego, thug life, and death.
Sarah Kay's piece is peaceful and serene, and talks about fatherhood, accomplishments, altruism, and individuality.
The last piece by Taylor Mali all of you teachers out there will really like. It speaks volumes to the impact that teachers have on young people. Themes of respect, knowledge, and dedication can be found in this performance.
Assignment Two: History of Hip-Hop As Vehicle for Social Criticism
I looked on the website for our course's textbook, and found that kids today are "devoting approximately four and five hours a day listing to music and watching music videos" (Christenson & Roberts, 1998, p. 8).
Christenson, P., & Roberts, D. (1998). It's not only rock & roll: Popular music in the lives of adolescents. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
1. Students will watch the following two videos.
A video compilation of the life of Tupac Shakur with the song "Changes."
A music video called "Harlem Streets" by Immortal Technique.
Key questions to consider:
What is the main societal injustice that the song depicts?
Who does the song suggest the culprits are?
Is there an optimistic or pessimistic message?
Does the artist provide solutions to the problems in society?
2. Student's will divide into groups of three, and then do research the history of hip-hop.
3. Using imovie, the groups will create a short 1-2 minute video clip. Submission can spoken word, rap, or simply read, with an option to add still images or video images.
4. Students can make their video about the history of hip-hop, take a stance on a current political debate, or respond to some type of injustice in their community or around the world.
5. Post the video to their blog.
6. Make comments (roughly 2-3 sentences) on every group's blog.