Points of View

From Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes collection, lesson plan 1 of 5

(90 minutes + assignments)

Grade Level: 9-12, College

Subject areas: Social Studies, Language Arts, Ethnic Studies, U.S. History, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Art/Music, Current Events

Purpose of the lesson: Good documentary work presents myriad points of view. Although Byron Hurt takes a strong stance against the violence, misogyny, and homophobia in hip-hop, in his film he presents many voices that speak for themselves on the subject. This lesson examines those voices and allows the students to reach their own conclusions about and evince their own responses to these points of view.

National teaching standards addressed:

Grades 9-12

National standards from the following organizations were used in developing this lesson plan. See recommended national standards available in the educator guide for full descriptions of standards employed.

  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • National Council of Teachers of English/International Reading Association

Curricula writer: David Maduli

David Maduli is an independent educational consultant who has contributed many curriculum guides and conducted various workshops for PBS programs. He has a master’s in teaching and curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education and continues to work as a veteran Bay Area public school language arts and social studies teacher.

  1. Write this quote:

    “Hip-hop is the voice of this generation. ... It has become a powerful force.”

    —DJ Kool Herc, one of the “founding fathers” of hip-hop

    Have students write a response using the sentence stems:

    • I think Kool Herc is saying that...
    • I agree/disagree with Kool Herc because...

    Have the class show their point of view with a “thumbs up/thumbs down,” then call on a few students from each perspective to read their sentences.

  2. In small groups, have students brainstorm what they know about hip-hop from their own experience and from various forms of media. They can use a chart like this one to organize the information they come up with, which can be in the form of related words, phrases, examples, and so on. They can use any or all of these categories or come up with their own. Refer to Student Handout B: Hip-Hop Matrix as a worksheet for your students.

  3. Have students read “Issue Brief: Hip-Hop” to inform their “History/Origins” square.

  4. Each group picks two or three squares to brainstorm. After the brainstorming session, have each group tell the rest of the class where their information comes from, then have the class as a whole discuss how the groups have similar or different ideas.

  5. Show Film Module 1, “Overview and Images of Masculinity” (7:40). While they are watching, have the students record speakers and quotations for further reference and discussion after viewing the video module. Refer to Student Handout C: Speaker and Quotes as a worksheet for your students.

    Refer to Teacher Handout A for a list of recommended speakers and quotations.

  6. Think: Pair-Share

    • Think – Have each student choose one of the speakers and quotations from his or her chart and journal responses to these questions: What is the speaker’s relationship to or role in hip-hop? What is the speaker’s view on violence and/or misogyny in hip-hop? If you could respond to the speaker’s statement, what would you say to him or her?
    • Pair – Divide students into pairs, then have them compare with each other what they wrote about their respective speakers. They can use the following questions to guide their discussion: Would the two speakers agree with each other? What would they say in response to each other’s statements? Which of the speakers most represents your view?
    • Share – The pairs share with the class, using these speaking stems:

    We agree with , who says ... / We disagree with , who says...

  7. Activity: Crossing the Line

    In this activity, students will think about their own views on hip-hop and express those views in a nonverbal activity. Make a line on the floor through the middle of the classroom with masking tape. Standing on one side of the line will indicate agreement with the statement the facilitator reads. Standing on the other side will indicate disagreement. One at a time, read each of the following statements aloud to the class and allow the students to go to the side that indicates their view:

    • Hip-hop is a creative art form and a form of expression.
    • I enjoy listening to rap music.
    • When I hear a rap song, I pay more attention to the beat than to the lyrics.
    • Rap lyrics contain too many references to violence and gunplay.
    • Many rappers are just reinforcing negative stereotypes about urban youth and young people of color.
    • Rappers who talk about violence and the streets are just reflecting the violent American culture that we live in.
    • Musicians have a responsibility to provide positive messages and images because children are listening.
    • Consumers of music don’t want to hear music with conscientious, righteous, or positive messages.
    • Record labels would rather promote stereotypical “gangster” rap music because it sells more units.
    • Hip-hop has become commodified and exploited by corporate America.
    • Rap music as a whole is disrespectful toward women.
    • Rap music as a whole is hateful toward gays.
    • Rap music, like movies, is ultimately entertainment and should not be taken so seriously.
    • Hip-hop is a culture that has the power to unify people across linguistic, racial, and geographic lines.
    • Hip-hop has the power to be a voice of resistance and social change.
    • Hip-hop has become a caricature and a modern-day minstrel show.

    Discussion – Reflect on the activity with the following guide questions:

    • Which statements were easy/difficult for you?
    • Which responses from the class surprised you?
    • Which statements did you feel very strongly about?
  8. Assignment: Persuasive Essay

    Have each student pick one statement from the Crossing the Line activity about which to write a persuasive essay. In their essay, students should take a clear stance on whether they agree or disagree with the statement and support their claims with evidence from the film. They should use as examples the quotations they selected in Step 3 of this activity.

There is no extension activity with this lesson plan.

  • Film module:
    Hip-Hop: Overview and Images of Masculinity

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