Critical Literacy - Big Ideas

Reading lyrics to rap songs becomes an empty, fun activity if you take out critical thinking. Students can do that at home without the teacher's help. No problem. Mainstream hip hop itself is void of much substance these days. But that's a whole other story. What you want students to explore are big ideas or themes. Good songs are infused with them. That's why they resonate for years and for so many people.

You can share, discuss, and pick apart these big ideas:

  • Identity and Relationships
  • Conflict and Justice
  • Change, Growth and Destruction
  • Survival and Struggle
  • Power and Success
  • Rights and Freedom
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Justice and Genocide
  • Beauty and Perspective

What's key to promoting sound critical literacy skills is in how you phrase the questions. Which I swear must be an art form. As a student, you go through school answering questions left, right, and simple. It's not until you get to teacher's college, that you realize how painful it can be to come up with a good, open-ended question.

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