MTCA: (S) 101 “Beat 2 the Rhyme” Creative Writing for Academic Achievement

1picThis workshop will introduce concepts based on the 5th stage of development for adolescence (12 to 18 years) according to Erickson’s Stages of Development.  The creative writing and critical thinking assignments will focus on the following:

–          Identity
–          Social Interactions/Peer Groups
–          Moral/Ethic Issues
–          Moratorium
–          Philosophy of Life
–          Skills for High School Students (according to www.FamilyEducation.com)

Song: Young, Wild & Free (Wiz Khalifa)                                Stage 5: Moratorium

Sound Check: If you could do three things and not worry about the consequences of your actions or being disciplined by your parents or any other adults, what would they be and why?  Ask a few students to read their responses and make a list on the board.  Or you can have everyone read their top response of the three that they wrote down.

Introduction: “A psychosocial moratorium is when a person takes a break from “real life” to actively search for their identity. The developer, Erik Erikson, noted that it is a period of time “during which the individual through free role experimentation may find a niche in some section of his society, a niche which is firmly defined and yet seems to be uniquely made for him” (Erikson, 1956). During a psychosocial moratorium, a person has the opportunity to try on multiple identities and/or roles before firmly committing to one. They also finalize their sense of ethics and morals in this stage. Erikson intended for it to be the final stage of identity development, which takes place in late adolescence. People going through a psychosocial moratorium are said to be having an “identity crisis.” Erikson postulated that identity development facilitated personal functioning and well-being. If a person does not make a commitment to an identity or role after taking a moratorium, or if they don’t have a chance to take a moratorium, the person has a high risk for developing confusion about their identity and their role in society. (Erikson, 1956; Erikson, 1988)” https://sites.google.com/site/motivationataglanceischool/psychosocial-moratorium

This break from “real life” is a prominent theme in adolescence because youth want the freedom of choice without the full weight of the consequences of their actions.  In looking at this theory further and attaching socioeconomic status to it, do we have a difference between the moratoriums for the wealthy versus the poor?  Do adult like responsibilities placed on young people from lower economic families like watching younger siblings and preparing meals impact a young person’s ability to fully engage in his/her moratorium?  Is the notion of taking a break from “real life” inherently negative, positive, or neither?  We are going to listen to a song by Wiz Khalifa called “Young, Wild & Free” and discuss whether Hip-Hop provides a sort of moratorium for youth to escape “real life”, but at what cost if Hip-Hop is presented as “real life?”

Performance: Pass out the lyrics to “Young, Wild & Free” and then play the song.  Have the students read along as the song is playing so that you know that they are paying attention because they will keep time with the song.

 Lyrics of Emphasis:
–          We’re just having fun/ we don’t care who sees
–          Living young and wild and free
–          Saggin’ my pants, not caring what I show
–          Got my own car, no job, no children

Students should choose 3 of the 4 lyrics and write (3) sentences that explain what is being said by each lyric.

Lyrical Exercise:
In the song the emphasis of being young, wild and free is on using drugs and partying.  I want you to attempt to rewrite the chorus and write a verse that focuses on other activities that young people participate in under the motto of “Young, Wild and Free.”  In the chorus you should change the first two lines to include the other behaviors that young people participate in under their moratorium and therefore not considering the consequences.  Your verse should talk about the fun that you have in doing whatever it is that you are doing and how society should really back off because you are “young” and this is what your youth is about.  Your verse should be 12 lines in length.

Performance: Each student will read their completed work in the front of the class and submit.

“Young, Wild & Free”
(with Snoop Dogg)
(feat. Bruno Mars)

[Hook: Bruno Mars]
So what we get drunk?
So what we smoke weed?
We’re just having fun
We don’t care who sees
So what we go out?
That’s how it’s supposed to be
Living young and wild and free

[Verse 1: Wiz Khalifa]
Uh, Uh huh
So what I keep ‘em rolled up?
Saggin’ my pants, not caring what I show
Keep it real with my ni*&as
Keep it player for these h*^s
And look clean don’t it?
Washed it the other day, watch how you lean on it
Give me some 501 jeans on it
Roll joints bigger than King Kong’s fingers
And smoke them h*^s down ’til they stingers
You a class clown and if I skip for the day
I’m with your b&#$% smokin’ grade A

[Verse 1: Snoop Dogg]
You know what?
It’s like I’m 17 again
Peach fuzz on my face
Lookin’, on the case
Tryna find a hella taste
Oh my god, I’m on the chase, Chevy
It’s gettin’ kinda heavy, relevant, sellin’ it
Dippin’ away, time keeps slippin’ away
Zip in the safe, flippin’ for pay
Tippin’ like I’m drippin’ in paint
Up front, four blunts, like, “Khalifa put the weed in a J”

[Hook]

[Verse 2: Wiz Khalifa]
And I don’t even care
Cause if me and my team in there
There’s gonna be some weed in the air
Tell ’em Mac

[Verse 2: Snoop Dogg]
Blowin’ everywhere we goin’ and now you knowin’
When I step right up, get my lighter so I can light up

[Wiz Khalifa]
That’s how it should be done
Soon as you thinkin’ you’re down
Find how to turn things around
Now things are lookin’ up

[Snoop Dogg]
From the ground up, pound up, this Taylor Gang
So turn my sound up and mount up and do my thang

[Wiz Khalifa]
Now I’m chillin’, fresh outta class, feelin’
Like I’m on my own and I could probably own a building
Got my own car, no job, no children
Had a science project, me and Mac killed it

[Snoop Dogg]
T-H-C, M-A-C, D-E-V, H-D-3, high as me
This is us, we gon’ fuss
And we gon’ fight and we gon’ roll
And live off life

[Hook]

[Bridge: Wiz Khalifa]
Yeah, roll one, smoke one
When you live like this you’re supposed to party
Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun
So we just, roll one, smoke one
When you live like this you’re supposed to party
Roll one, smoke one, and we all just having fun

[Hook]

Sample Lesson 2

1pic2This workshop will introduce concepts based on the 5th stage of development for adolescence (12 to 18 years) according to Erickson’s Stages of Development.  The creative writing and critical thinking assignments will focus on the following:

–          Identity
–          Social Interactions/Peer Groups
–          Moral/Ethic Issues
–          Moratorium
–          Philosophy of Life
–          Skills for High School Students (according to www.FamilyEducation.com)

Song: Starships (Nicki Minaj)                     Stage 5: Moratorium

Sound Check:

“So he moves with his peers, different blocks, different years
Sittin on, different benches like it’s musical chairs
All his peoples moved on in life, he’s on the corners at night
with young dudes it’s them he wanna be like
It’s sad but it’s fun to him right? He never grew up
31 and can’t give his youth up; he’s in his second childhood” –Nas 2nd Childhood

“Time flyin she the same person, never matures
All her friends married doin well
She’s in the streets yakkety yakkin like she was 12
Honey is twenty-seven, argues fights
Selfish in her own right, polite, guess she’s in her second childhood”- Nas 2nd Childhood

(If a person does not make a commitment to an identity or role after taking a moratorium, or if they don’t have a chance to take a moratorium, the person has a high risk for developing confusion about their identity and their role in society.) Analyze the two quotes from Nas’ song “2nd Childhood” and the statement in italics and write a short paragraph for each one telling what you believe could have happened to these individuals during the period of adolescence and their psychosocial moratorium that has them in these life conditions as adults.  Ask a few students to read their responses and make a list of the reasons mentioned in the paragraphs on the board.

Introduction: We are continuing our study on Erickson’s theory of adolescents participating in a “psychosocial moratorium” as a process of establishing their identity.  The break from “real life” as the moratorium is called takes on different forms based on socio-economic status and the individual desires of the youth.  Culture can play a significant role in influencing the behaviors that take place under the auspices of a “moratorium.”  What happens when the behaviors that are being promoted are behaviors that are legally adult in nature and are irresponsible for adults to participate excessively?  The song that we will be reviewing is “Starships” by Nicki Minaj.  The song is very upbeat and promotes a spirit of partying and forgetting the worries of the day, but at what cost?

Performance: Pass out the lyrics to “Starships” and then play the song.  Have the students read along as the song is playing so that you know that they are paying attention because they will keep time with the song.

Lyrics of Emphasis:
–          They say, what they gonna say?
–          Get on the floor, floor/Like it’s your last chance
–          Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
–          That’s our life, there’s no end in sight

Students should choose 3 of the 4 lyrics and write (3) sentences that explain what is being said by each lyric.

Lyrical Exercise:
Look through the verses of this song and identify the behavior in the song that you deem irresponsible.  Think about the potential short and long term consequences associated with the behaviors celebrated in the song.  Write two 8 line verses to “starships.”  One verse will outline the responsible way to ensure that you are ready to fly high in young adulthood in a manner that is healthy for you and full of opportunity.  The other verse should outline the consequences of the irresponsible behavior that you identified within the original song.  Include the chorus:

“Starships were meant to fly/Hands up and touch the sky/can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high/Let’s do this one more time” before each of your verses in your poem.  You can choose which verse you want to go first in your poem.

Performance: Each student will read their completed work in the front of the class and submit.

Nicki Minaj
“Starships”

Red one
Let’s go to the beach, each
Let’s go get away
They say, what they gonna say?
Have a drink, clink, found the Bud Light
Bad b@#$%@* like me, is hard to come by
The Patrón, own, let’s go get it on
The zone, own, yes I’m in the zone
Is it two, three, leave a good tip
I’ma blow all my money and don’t give two s#$^#

I’m on the floor, floor
I love to dance
So give me more, more, ‘til I can’t stand
Get on the floor, floor
Like it’s your last chance
If you want more, more
Then here I am

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

Jump in my hooptie hooptie hoop
I own that
And I ain’t paying my rent this month
I owe that
But f#@$ who you want, and f#$% who you like
That’s our life, there’s no end in sight
Twinkle, twinkle little star

Now everybody let me hear you say ray ray ray
Now spend all your money cause today’s pay day
And if you’re a G, you a G, G, G
My name is Onika, you can call me Nicki

Get on the floor, floor
Like it’s your last chance
If you want more, more
Then here I am

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one more time

Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Let’s do this one last time
Can’t stop…

(We’re higher than a mother#$@%^) [x3]

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The Sport of Hip-Hop: The Battle

TheSportoftheBattleBy Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd

The two MCs pictured above, to the left, Busy Bee and to the right, Kool Moe Dee, are credited with participating in the first MC Battle in 1982.  Over the past 30 years the MC Battle has been implemented in various forms from individual versus individual to crew versus crew.  Hip-Hop as a culture also embraced the aesthetic of the battle in the other creative staples of Hip-Hop as well (DJ, Graffiti, and Break Dance).  If you study the landscape of the South Bronx in the 1970s which is the decade that what we call Hip-Hop today was born (1973 to be exact) you have to acknowledge the gang culture that dominated youth culture.  Within gang culture competitions were settled violently and were seemingly never ending.  The Hip-Hop Battle provided an outlet for youth to compete in a manner that was non-violent and actually had a semblance of structure.  As the development of the standards of excellence was established in the Hip-Hop arts, these standards were used as ways of determining who was the best or the victor in any battle scenario.

There is research out there about the benefits of youth competing in organized sports.  Young people develop self discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, and confidence just to name a few character benefits of sports.  It is easily accepted in our society because of the role that sports plays in almost every fabric of our lives.  For those of us who were blessed to grow up alongside of Hip-Hop we witnessed the attributes that have been identified as the benefits of participating in sports, being achieved by those who participated in Hip-Hop Battles.  In the inner cities you had the neighborhood youth who excelled in the various Hip-Hop Arts receive the same accolades that top athletes received for staring on their high school or neighborhood all star team.

This article is not a piece to outline the history of the battle within Hip-Hop, but to introduce and reintroduce to some positive aspects of the Hip-Hop battle and it’s similarities to other more acceptable modes of competition.  The goal is to open the minds of educators to incorporate the concept of the Hip-Hop battle in its various artistic forms into the classroom as method of developing and promoting communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking amongst their students.   To help present this theoretical approach, think about the academic based battles ranging from spelling bees, science fairs, multiplication/math competitions, and a game show called jeopardy.  Oratorical battles in the form of debates are used to help distinguish the best candidate for the President of the United States in a similar fashion as the audience decided who won the legendary battle between Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee.

Over the years the Hip-Hop battle has helped sustain, rejuvenate, and expand the artistic standard of MCing and Dance.  The following is a resource of a collection of Hip-Hop MC Battles that range from the initial battle of Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee to the battle at the end of Disney’s “Let it Shine” (Don’t laugh J).  You can use the videos as resources for professional development to educate yourself on the Hip-Hop battle and some you can show to your students to get the energy flowing in the classroom.  If you are familiar with the history of Hip-Hop there are some classic battles that I did not include in the playlist.  I didn’t want to have a list of videos of songs that served as the weapons used in the battle.  I wanted to focus on reports about battles, and footage of actual in-person battles.  Here is the link to the playlist http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP47NQEbZOS2vBNdn0t_GMBHUJ5LGF0Ms

I would be remiss if I didn’t end this piece by making a clear distinction between a “battle” and “beef.”  In the spirit of Hip-Hop, the best way to explain the difference between two is as follows:

Beef is when the battle goes beyond the wax and needle

Beef is when the battle spills out amongst the people

Beef is when the battle ends inside a building with a steeple

Beef is when the battle uses weapons that are lethal” – OpTIMuS

Make sure our students understand the difference between a battle and a beef so that the benefits of battling never give way to the burdens of beef!

Shawn Carter/Jay-Z & the 4Cs

By: Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd

jay pics

In the 21st Century there has been a concerted effort to promote the message that it takes more than just a mastery of academic subjects to help a young person succeed in college and the workplace.  www.p21.org is a partnership organization that has created an equation of the skills that young people must acquire to be successful in the 21st Century.  The first variable in the equation is (3R) and this variable is based on how the following words have been historically pronounced, reading, writing, and arithmetic (rythmetic).  The second variable is (4C) and this variable is creativity (innovation), critical thinking (problem solving), collaboration (team work), and communication.

We need a “classroom mindset” where we will begin to look for “teachable moments” throughout everything that we encounter and or experience in life.  If learning shouldn’t be confined to the hours spent at school, then why should what we use to teach be confined to the materials that currently exist within the school?  The classroom mindset promotes the duality of being a student and a teacher.  The learning process is truly achieved when we show the ability to apply and or teach the lessons that we have learned throughout our lives.  A teachable moment is when an opportunity presents itself to reveal a lesson that lies within an analysis of media, behavior, thoughts, or culture as a whole.

As a developer of after school programs I focus on infusing elements within the 4Cs into my workshops and activities because most students do want to go to after school programs that mimic the content and approach of the school day.  The goal is to help students apply the 3Rs into project based learning opportunities that foster the 4Cs.  This provides a road map of transferable skills that helps students understand how they can bring the 4Cs into the conventional classroom and excel in the 3Rs.  This creates students that are confident, competent, conscious, and consistent throughout their experiences in life’s classroom.  So in essence, the www.p21.org (3R+4C) = youth who R 4C (Confidence, Competence, Consciousness, and Consistency)

Imagine a workshop that develops student’s 4Cs by studying the work inside and outside of the vocal booth of Jay-Z.  Jay-Z is many things and his impact is debated from but not limited to, the corners of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn New York, to Georgetown University and the White House in Washington DC.  The following is a proposed outline of how Jay-Z embodies each of the 4Cs and from the outline it wouldn’t be difficult to develop activities to engage students in the development and or enhancement of the 4Cs:

Creativity: is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.  An example of Jay-Z’s creativity is in the song  “Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)” and a portion of the introduction states “I’m leading the league in at least six statistical categories right now best flow, most consistent, realest stories, most charisma, I set the most trends, and my interviews are hotter Holla.”   In this portion of the song Jay-Z lays out a framework where MCs can be judged using a set of statistics that paint a picture of the total impact of an artist.  This development of a set of statistics is similar to the way a basketball player may be judged by points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and assists per game.  These six statistical categories give a full picture of the overall impact a play has on a game from the offensive stand point.  Jay-Z’s six statistics provides a similar landscape for the artistic assessment of an Artist’s impact on the rap game beyond merely sales or popularity for the moment.   Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s creativity to foster their own.

Critical Thinking:  is defined as disciplined thinking that is clear, rationale, open-minded, and informed by evidence.  An example of Jay-Z’s critical thinking is the first verse of “Moment of Clarity” which states:

Pop died, didn’t cry, didn’t know him that well

Between him doin heroin and me doin crack sales

With that in the eggshell, standin at the tabernacle

Rather the church, pretendin to be hurt, wouldn’t work

So a smirk was all on my face

Like d@#n, that man’s face is just like my face

So pop, I forgive you for all the s%^# that I lived through

It wasn’t all your fault, homey you got caught

Into the same game I fought, that Uncle Ray lost

My big brothers and so many others I saw

I’m just glad we got to see each other

Talk and re-meet each other

Save a place in heaven ’til the next time we meet forever!”

In this verse Jay-Z is very honest with the change in his feelings about his father not being there for him while he was growing up.  The initial emotion of not caring due to not knowing the man that was his father to identifying with the physical dimensions of the face to connecting to the life’s journey that they both travelled on allowed Jay-Z to see his father as a victim and not just a perpetrator.  Imagine the activities that can be developed with students (many who are disconnected from their fathers) using this example of Jay-Z’s critical thinking to foster their own.

Collaboration: Is when something is created by working jointly with another or others.  There are countless examples throughout Jay-Z’s career within music and outside of music where collaboration has taken place.  The example I want to use is the Best of Both Worlds album that Jay-Z recorded with R-Kelly in 2002.  This was a huge under taking because both artists were at the top of Hip-Hop and R&B respectively.  Fast forward to today where R&B and Hip-Hop artists collaborating on songs is common place; you have to take a moment and reflect back on the first full album collaboration to create a sound that would expand the reach of both genres.   Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s collaboration to foster their own.

Communication: is when something is imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.  If you think about Jay-Z and everything that he has been able to accomplish and what seems to motivate him it can be summed up in the statement “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!”  This play on words makes for a catchy lyric but this also serves as an affirmation of one’s self worth and a personal thesis statement.   This ability to communicate has created opportunities for Jay-Z that seems to be limitless based on what he has been able to accomplish and he is showing no signs of slowing down.    Imagine the activities that can developed for students using this example of Jay-Z’s communication to foster their own.

 Timothy Jones is content developer for #HipHopEd a weekly twitter chat that takes place every Tuesday from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  If you are interested in developing programs that develop the 4Cs please contact me at tdj6899@gmail.com and follow me on twitter at @tdj6899

#HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape”

Curated by Amil Cook and Timothy Jones for #HipHopEd

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On November 13, 2012 #HipHopEd featured its weekly chat session, which was operating off the topic, “Creating and Evaluating a #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape.” This was an important topic for #HipHopEd to tackle because of the realities that Hip-Hop educators face in teaching our students through Hip Hop music and culture. This chat was not trying to devalue and delegitimize the substantive value of Hip-Hop music that contains profanity and delves into seedier topics. This chat was actually the response to the continuous requests for Hip-Hop tracks that could be played in schools around our country and classrooms throughout the world, without creating ethical and professional dilemmas for these much needed and highly valued educators.

As educators and adults, many if not all of us have learned how to speak effectively in the various settings that we find ourselves in, from our classrooms, office suites, homes, and our neighborhoods.  This instinctive ability to “switch up” is something that many of our young people based on the language that they hear and speak at school and in their neighborhoods.  If you include the language in the Hip-Hop that many young people listen to and the movies that they watch, they are bombarded with profanity filled narratives that can limit the range of how youth use words to communicate.

The #HipHopEd “Profanity Free Mixtape” is a resource for educators to allow young people to hear Hip-Hop that met and or meets the musical aesthetics test of the day based on overall production, content, and delivery.  The songs on this Mixtape can also serve as examples for students who believe that you cannot effectively rhyme without using profanity.  In putting together the Profanity Free Mixtape, we wanted to be conscious of trying to focus on music by Artists with a level of commercial success so that students wouldn’t dismiss the Mixtape as an underground effort of Artists who never achieved mainstream success.

For this endeavor “Profanity Free” is focused on language with some consideration for subject matter.  We know that you can have a song with questionable subject content without being profane and in these circumstances we as the Executive producers of the project made the decision as to whether to include the song on the list.  We also wanted a list of songs that are absent of profanity which is different than edited versions of songs that are on the radio and are on sale at retailers such as Walmart.

Out of this chat, came numerous song suggestions that have been collected in one place for educators, Hip Hop aficionados and others to enjoy, share and teach with. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape Edcanvas, an intuitive educational media platform, that contain profanity free Hip Hop track in each of its tiles. Here is the link to #HipHopEd’s “Profanity Free” Mixtape YouTube Playlist of profanity free Hip Hop tracks.
It is our hope that more songs will be suggested and included to this dynamic and live database of profanity free Hip Hop tracks. If you have a suggestion, comment or find profanity in any of the songs let us know.

For those who don’t know, #HipHopEd is a Twitter hashtag that hosts interactive chats on a range of topics at the intersections of Hip Hop and education. These chats take place every Tuesday from 9pm to 10pm EST. Unlike many other educational Twitter chats, #HipHopEd embraces the freestyle, the cypher and inclusion of everyone in attendance. Timothy Jones (@tdj6899) serves as the Master of Ceremony, tweeting out the week’s topic on Tuesday mornings, inviting special guests and community members.

#HipHopEd was created by two top tier leading educators, Brandon Frame (@brandonframe) and Dr. Christopher Emdin (@chrisemdin). #HipHopEd has organically grown into a significant community, mission and movement, intertwining and advancing education and Hip Hop simultaneously. The community’s response to #HipHopEd was so overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic that other participants and leaders were brought into #HipHopEd’s leadership team. Make sure you get involved with #HipHopEd and come through the weekly Tuesday night chats from 9pm to 10pm EST. Alright ya’ll, it’s time to get it! Let’s keep building!