Vocabulary Practice With Rap Your Words
I love being able to let popular celebrities inspire my students with a positive educational message, especially the most unlikely ones. Eminem did my work for me when he was interviewed by 60 Minutes; he talked about how he can rhyme unlikely words together and therefore has an almost obsessive need to know as many words as possible. That one snippet of his interview alone is a great inspiration as to why students should care about learning new vocabulary!
I also use his interview to prime students right before I assign them to write their own vocabulary raps (or song lyrics if students would rather not rap but sing).
My students team up in pairs and have to use at least 15 of the 20 vocabulary words of their current unit. They also should incorporate 5 other words from past units-for some groups, this is mandatory, other groups it is optional, depending on the skills of the students.
The vocabulary words have to be used in context and must make sense; furthermore, the lyrics need to be clean and not cruel. When students struggle, I often given them a topic; I instruct them to rap about a specific school subject (math is always fun), about taking a vacation, about how awesome learning vocabulary is-the goofier the subject, the more likely they are to relax and have fun with the assignment.
I give students one to two 45 minute class periods to create their lyrics; if you can stretch it to three class periods, you will have time to let students record their raps. To have groups record, you can use laptops and either Garageband ( for Macs) or download Audacity (a free program for PCs). If you (or your students) have access to iTouch devices, the Voice Memo app can record and send mp4 files to your computer. Additionally, most cell phones actually have a voice memo option; you just have to make sure students can send their recordings to you if you want have them for future years.