Student Engagement

Infusing Hip-Hop and History

April 10, 2017         Updated April 3, 2017

Musicians use hip-hop to tell a story about their lives. Historians use history to tell a countries story. In my 8th U.S. History class I have combined the two to help bring history to life.

The idea came about when I was teaching about King George taxing the colonists. I was really into my lesson and when I looked up all I saw were blank stares. Now if we had a honest teacher moment you too know all about that blank stare. It can be kind of heartbreaking because we spend countless hours planning the "perfect" lesson. We go to deliver it and our students are not "feeling it".

I was faced with two options: (1) cry on the inside and give up or (2) find away to connect to my students. I choose option number two. As I heard myself talking about the various taxes placed on the colonists, Rihanna's hit single "B**** Better Have my Money" came to mind. The song discusses how someone better pay her back the money that is owed to her. I could not play the song in class because of the language used, but I played the instrumental version to hook them in. Students were then able to make the connection to King George's taxing the colonists to Rihanna's song. Later on that day I went home and created my first hit single off the Hip-Hop History Album "Colonist Better Have My Money."

When I played it for my students they laughed, but then started singing the song. With the infusion of hip-hop, not only were my students more engaged, but they could better recall the information. If you're interested in learning other ways to infuse hip-hop into your lessons feel free to follow my blog at hip-hophistory.com.

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.