Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive April 11, 2013
Science Genius: Creating a Rhyme
A rhyming/rap activity for educators and students created by Christopher Emdin and Timothy Jones of Columbia University and Thaisi Da Silva and Allison McCartney of PBS NewsHour Extra.
Music, Science, Arts & Culture, Technology
One class period plus an assignment
In an effort to engage students, legendary rapper GZA has teamed up with Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin to use hip-hop to teach everything from biology to physics.
Students will watch the PBS NewsHour report “Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science” and have a discussion about using hip-hop music as a tool in the classroom.
Warm up questions:
- What keeps you engaged in the classroom?
- How do you learn best? What techniques do you have for retaining information?
- What do you think could be done in the classroom to make learning science more fun?
- What did you find most interesting about this video?
- Do you think you would learn well in this program? Why or why not?
- Do any of your classes use interdisciplinary techniques to teach you information? If so, how do you feel about them?
Next, students will watch GZA’s science rap:
After students have watched both videos, ask them to work independently and research a science topic they’d like to write a rap about.
Students will need a chorus or hook for the rap they will create. A chorus has been provided for them. This will also help acclimate students to the process of writing and performing his/her rap.
Sometimes in the world it is hard to dream
Based on realities my eyes have seen
Formulate rhymes from life as a thesis
This is what makes me a Science Genius
(Each line is 10 syllables which gives it a natural rhythm. Practicing this chorus, will help students construct their rhymes.)
Some/times/ in/ the/ world/ it/ is/ hard/ to/ dream
Based/ on/ re/a/li/ties/ my/ eyes/ have/ seen
For/mu/late/ rhymes/ from/ life/ as/ a/ the/sis
This/ is/ what/ makes/ me/ a/ Sci/ence/ Ge/nius
After students completed some research on a science topic, have them complete the following steps:
- Write down the first (8) words that come to mind. (These will most likely be science terms you have just learned.)
- After you have completed the first step, write down the first (5) words that come to mind when you think of each of the first (8) words.
- From you list of (40) words identify all the words that may rhyme and that you could use as “end words” in a rhyme sequence.
- Create sentences that connects the first (2) rhyming words.
- Create as as many of these rhyming sentences as possible.
- Review the rhyme when you have exhausted your rhyming words and begin to check for the following:
- Sentence structure and flow (matching syllables in sentences like the example provided in the chorus
- Coherence /logic in the sentences (how connected are they to the science topic you want to get across
- Revise your work for clarity, coherence, and recite it to perfect performance
- Begin getting creative by thinking of analogies and metaphors you can use to get your point across, different (more complex) or rhyme patterns you can use to develop the initial text
- Revise the rap you have crafted
- Continue the entire process till you create a rhyme you are comfortable with performing
The Materials You Need
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- Access to the Internet
- Writing utensils and notepads
- PBS NewsHour report: Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science
- Wu Tang Clan’s GZA Raps About Science
Common Core Standards
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Relevant National Standards:
McRel Compendium of K-12 Standards Addressed:
- Standard 1: Knows the characteristics and uses of computer hardware and operating systems
- Standard 3: Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual
- Standard 6: Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology
- Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
- Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes
- Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process
- Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
- Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
- Standard 10: Understands the characteristics and components of the media
Listening and Speaking
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