I entered the world of teaching Slam Poetry and Rap a few years back. This past year, and now in 2012 its weekly thing. Searching the heads of friends and the internet has been helpful in coming up with curriculum so I thought to add a bit.
Slam Lesson:Repetition (using a Hook) & Street Talk (common speech poems)
Overview: A repeating phrase is often used in music and poetry to provide a base for a piece. Students learn to identify a hook, discuss how it is used and then try it in their own original poetry. The language of a poetry is often very flowery and over the heads of the readers. How using common words can make a poem more accessible.
Gil Scott Heron & Street Talk: Begin the lesson introducing Gil Scott Heron. He is a founder of spoken word and rap as we know it. His stuff is still contemporary and the themes are very relevant. Acknowledging Gil is a nod to the history and culture of spoken word poetry. All of Gil Scott Heron’s poems are written in the language of the street. This means that no big vocab words were used. This was a very conscious choice by the poet to make the poems reach a larger audience.
Play the Gil Scott Heron Track ‘Whitey on the Moon’, while the track is playing its helpful to put the lyrics up on the board.
Discuss the poem: What is the poet talking about? What is repeated? Why is this hook repeated? On one hand is ‘Whitey on the Moon’ on the other is hand is…? Can you give a contemporary example of two contrasting interests in today’s news?
Now play another Poem: ‘Rock out’ by Anis Mojgani. This is a modern poem, by a New York based poet. It is helpful to put the lyrics up especially for this one, as there are plenty of words spoken quick.
Discuss the poem: What is repeated? Why?
Compare the uses of repetition in each poem. Compare the language – Are there any words that we did not understand? Why do the poets use street language or simple language?
Create a word bank of words the students would call their own street talk.
Ask the students to write a poem of their own using words from in the word bank and including the repetition of one phrase or word – this should emphasize the theme of their poem. (during this session I suggest playing a simple rap beat in the background with no words)
Once the students are done (about 5 – 10 minutes) ask them to share their poems with a buddy and give feedback.
Ask the students to share their poetry aloud in front of the class.
Applaud the students like crazy when they come up to the class and after they are done reading.
Have fun, See – firstname.lastname@example.org