Greetings Fam! This is Marsha Francis here. Dr. Love attended a conference this week and left me in charge of creating and implementing this week’s lesson. It’s been about a year and a half since I left the classroom to attend the University of Georgia, so I was excited to get back in front of children and talk to them about my favorite subject: science. These students are a special group, as they out preformed their district and state classmates on last year’s standardized test in science; so they were ready to make this connection between hip hop and science.

We started our afternoon cypher with a greeting of “I’m dropping knowledge on ya!” and the message of the day was, “Knowledge of self: Determination!”  This week we turned towards the fifth element of hip hop which is knowledge of self, with the understanding that knowing yourself, your abilities, your interests and the things that affect you are the key to using the other elements (graffiti, dj’ing, rapping, and b-boying) to work towards change in your community.

Blackstar- Knowledge of Self

We reviewed the last week’s lesson and I was excited to see how well they remembered the information about the griots, the African roots of rapping, and even the father of hip hop.  Then we talked about the identity of a scientist, as the students had time to draw their image of a scientist. Some students talked about typical mental images of a scientist, but other students drew scientists as female, or working in groups.  We then looked at Google images of scientist clipart and how most of the pictures showed older White men in lab coats. Then we discussed how we see scientists walk and talk on TV shows. Some students demonstrated how they saw scientists on TV with high-waisted, flooding pants, pushing up their glasses and walking quickly while looking down. That led to the question, do you have to walk or talk like that to be a scientist or do science? Being the intelligent students they are, they screamed NO!

Next we moved to the science content and talked about global warming. Like I said before, these students were on it when it comes to science! They talked about the holes in the ozone layer, the melting ice caps, and the pollution that is all over their community. After we discussed ways we could do our part to slow down global warming, the students broke into groups and selected a message or strategy that they could perform to show their school or community what to do to slow down global warming. Students pulled a topic and an element of hip hop to use in their performance; however, a few groups asked to change from rap to graffiti or graffiti to writing a script. Student choice is a large part of this program, so those choices were welcomed.

As I walked around and observed the different groups, it was awesome to see how well they worked together, thinking about their global warming strategy, their hip hop element and the best way to perform their knowledge. Students collaborated on what to draw for their graffiti, looked on Youtube for instrumentals to lay the beat for their rap and talked back and forth about the best lines for their skit.  Looking back, I would have liked to give them more time to create their performances, but all of the groups did a great job with their performance for the whole group. This a great group of students who are eagerly soaking up all that we are building together, and I can’t wait to see them flex their Dj’ing skills next week!


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