Tips Tuesday: The Organized Poet - Hip Hop/ Poetry Workshop
May 8th 2012
Ever wanted to try hip hop or poetry as a way to bring a global issue to life in your classroom, but didn’t know where to begin? Try this simple technique and graphic organizing tool to develop verse structure, imagery and rhymes around any topic at all. Whether you’re doing an introductory activity or an end of unit assessment, with students working alone or in groups, this will get you off to a running start.
- Once you have your issue, give each student or group a sheet of paper and ask them to divide it into quadrants labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4. This can also be done on chart paper as a whole group activity.
- Write the heading “What does this issue look like?” in quadrant 1 and fill the box with responses. Encourage students not to edit themselves and to write everything that comes into their heads – every image, thought, feeling that they can associate with the shape of that issue.
- Repeat the process in boxes 2, 3 and 4 with the headings “Why do you think it’s a problem?” “Why do you think it’s happening?” and “What would you prefer to see?” Note: Some continued prodding may be helpful in numbers 2 and 3. It is amazing what they will come up with when faced with “OK. But why is it a problem?” repeatedly!
- Once the boxes are all completely filled, ask students to go back and circle all the words within each box that can rhyme with each other. Each box will become a four line verse, so they only need to find a few rhyming words in each one.
- Have a new sheet of paper ready quickly, because once they have their rhymes picked out, writing their four line verses won’t take long at all. Ask them to leave plenty of space between verses, because now you’re ready to build a hook and a title.
- The foundation of the hook is almost always found in box 4. There’s just something about solution seeking that brings out the juiciest text. Ask the students to find the phrase or word from box 4 that they think should be the title of their poem.
- Once they have their phrase picked out. Tell them they just need to write one more couplet (a two line verse). Let them brainstorm all the words or phrases that rhyme with their title until they find the one that fits. The ask them to write their new two line “hook” or “refrain” before each verse of the song.