The most common feedback that we received from our professional development workshops is from teachers wanting to know more about how to activate some creative activities in their classrooms. We hear questions like, what are some great icebreaker activities to use to engage my students more? What are the best interactive and engaging activities I can add to my lesson plans to make my classes more engaging? Or which activities should I use when teaching different themes and concepts related to academic subjects to better resonate with my students? We hear you all loud and clear and we are excited to share a resource that we know will be helpful to some if not all of these needs.
Using activities and games in our lesson plans is the difference between our students memorizing the content versus actually knowing and embodying it because it was introduced to them in a familiar way that allowed them to engage with the academic content more. We learned that the willingness of our students to engage has a lot to do with the students being able to see themselves in the work. Continuing to stay creative in the classroom allows us to witness activities like using drama, acting things out, or creating in other ways to help our students think for themselves more freely and problem-solve more independently.
We also learned that many of our students are so afraid of being wrong, that if the lessons are too structured the participation and engagement decrease, due to students being afraid of being incorrect. These findings encouraged us to begin to pull back on the structure and nurture an environment that was more free and open. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the growth we noticed in our students’ social skills amongst each other. When we include activities like singing, visual art, dancing, processed drama (acting), and other creative elements in our lesson plans it creates a space for our students to work together and support each other pretty organically. Gaming was another great way to nurture this type of learning environment.
In our schools, Hip-Hop culture is the dominant culture among the students. In Youth Culture Power: A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Student Teacher Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement, Jason D. Rawls and John Robinson, educators and hip-hop artists with experience in the classrooms of urban schools, focus their efforts on Hip-Hop Based Education (HHBE). They argue that Hip-Hop culture could be helpful in building relationships and student engagement.
The approach to achieve this is Youth Culture Pedagogy (YCP). In this volume, the authors lay the groundwork for YCP and how they envision its use within the classroom. YCP is based on a foundation of reality pedagogy (Emdin, 2014), culturally responsive pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), and HHBE (Hill, 2009; Petchauer, 2009). We define it as a pedagogical approach that uses students' own culture to create scenarios to facilitate learning.
In Youth Culture Power, the authors put forth their C.A.R.E. Model of youth pedagogy to help teachers create a positive learning environment by building relationships and lessons around students' own culture. Instead of forcing students to give up the things they frequent, they feel teachers should discuss them and when possible, use them in lessons. The purpose of this book is to present a fresh take on why educators should not discount youth culture within the classroom.
For listeners, Youth Culture Power by Jay ARE consists of J Rawls produced, jazz-infused hip-hop tracks over which the emcees rhyme poetic on the state of educating inner city youth today. Rawls and Robinson list the many challenges; like culturally-biased standardized tests, the whitewashing of history in textbooks and the cutting of resources, but counter with a wealth of solutions; like relating to students, implementing new techniques in the classroom and simply being attentive to the happenings of their lives. The wordplay within every verse is weighted with the tenets of Youth Culture Pedagogy (YCP), and sound bites from educators and scholars with foundational schools of thought, like Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Dr. Jocelyn Wilson, Martha Diaz and Dr. Christopher Emdin, are laced throughout this musical journey. The project stays true to their musical craft as well as their educational message, welcoming longtime fans of their music in addition to educators and administrators.
Ohio University’s Patton College of Education is implementing the first ever hip-hop based education program that will help prepare pre-service teachers to incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy into their own teaching styles. The innovative and progressive program known as Hip-Hop OHIO Patton Education (HOPE) is led by program coordinator and longtime hip-hop producer Dr. Jason Rawls.
Hip-Hop Based Education (HHBE) teaches the value of incorporating hip-hop-based education, culturally relevant pedagogy, and relational pedagogy into the classroom to build healthy and affirming relationships while bettering engagement with students. Although this type of programming has been taught before, according to Rawls, this is the first time it will be incorporated into a College of Education’s Teacher Education program.
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In the forthcoming Fall Semester, Ohio University will launch a new program within the Patton College of Education called Hip-Hop OHIO Patton Education, or HOPE.
The HOPE program has two components. The first focuses on preparing future educators to work with diverse K-12 students and emphasizes building a culturally relevant curriculum: specifically, using hip-hop culture to create healthy relationships and facilitate student engagement.
Dr. Jason Rawls has intertwined his two passions, education and hip-hop, to create Ohio University’s Hip-Hop OHIO Patton Education (HOPE) program, kicking off this fall.
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