Rapping Up a Unit

By Eve Pranis

"I wanted a fun and meaningful way to culminate our ecology unit, and to assess my seventh graders' understanding of some of the concepts we covered," reports Rochester, NY, teacher Laramie Brown. Taking inspiration from a "Decomposition Rap" song created at Hidden Villa Environmental Center (CA), she challenged her students to create some raps of their own.

Laramie had small groups of students randomly select a topic such as decomposition, succession, or water cycles from their ecology unit. They then brainstormed all of the concepts they considered important to understanding the topic. With occasional support from their teacher for rhyming words, the groups wove their understanding into lively raps, then presented them to the rest of the class. "I was impressed with the quality of their creations," says Laramie, "and was pleased what it revealed about their understanding of plant science and ecological concepts."

Photosynthesis starts it all,
If you want green leaves, give us a call.
Photosynthesis is our name,
Making oxygen is our game.
CO2 in and oxygen out,
If you want green leaves, give a shout.
Sugar and starch is what we make.
It's just what you use when you bake a cake.

--Jeff Mordaci, 7th grade

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