Students Dissect Culturally Relevant
Content for Comprehension
The issue in the English class is often lack of interest in the content of "boring" material and text they cannot relate to. By replacing content with modern songs, students begin the learning experience from a place of expertise. In the Speak Poetry live classroom model, students are asked to speak out the lyrics to songs with no music, as if it is a monologue. This is a fun exercise that opens them up and excites them about speaking. The example below is an actor dramatizing lyrics to Beyonce's "Ring On It".
This structure is relevant as students are familiar with the lyrics of popular songs. By getting them to say the lyrics without singing or rapping them, it challenges the brain to take in the content of sentences as opposed to the melodies of song. Now, popular music becomes the key place for innovation in English comprehension. In the live model, students get up happily trying to present their favorite songs seriously, minding the commas, emphasizing feeling, speaking with inflection when the words call for it. Then, we discuss the meaning of those words. Students begin to become aware of the words they sing, and feel capable of tackling the tracks to create their own songs. In the online model, students will share their versions of the songs in the classroom board, and give each other feedback. Students will be challenged to talk about real issues in the place of otherwise happy songs.