Our school is enjoying something of a hip-hop... renaissance? (First awakening, perhaps?)
Over the past two years, it's been a delight to watch students channel their inner creativity, find their voice, and find their rhythm -- alone and together -- and perform the occasional class-wide (or school-wide, morning assembly) rap about Zero Waste Week, or a year-long Ocean Guardians project. This year alone, we've had some students volunteer to spit fire about their summer reading, about completing two-step equations in math, about the early chapters of Treasure Island....
Why not channel this energy, and direct it towards an upcoming unit on the writing of the U.S. Constitution? With Hamilton enjoying a much-deserved moment, I'm eager to watch my 8th graders "get into character" as a prominent Federalist or Anti-Federalist, and "battle rap" (with appropriate ground rules for civility, of course!) over what it means to be free in America. There'd be ample room for teachers to require appropriate secondary and primary source investigations -- and, for the more creative, room to compose their own beat.
This idea can be scaled towards older students (I'm looking at all of you AP US history students!), or towards classes whose focus invites deep dives into current events issues, of a local, national, or global scope. More importantly, my hunch is that we (as faculty, staff, and meaning-making adults in the lives of our students) will learn a LOT about the worlds in which our students already live. We crack open a window in our classroom and invite the fresh air of cross-curricular collaboration. We invite students to be surprised and delighted by the hidden gifts and insights of their classmates.
We invite appropriate, honest, and creative expression around important issues that need to be heard. And we invite the young people in our world to remind us how that expression can be joyful, exuberant, and... everything the current election cycle has not been.