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We Gon’ Be Alright: A reflection on Kendrick Lamar’s visit

“Something for me even bigger than mentoring is really listening…When I do that we have a little bit bigger [of a] connection than me being Kendrick Lamar and you being the student. It’s almost like we’re friends because a friend listens.” – Kendrick Lamar at High Tech High School Reflecting on Kendrick Lamar’s visit to our high school is challenging …

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Why Schools Should Include Hip-Hop In The Curriculum

Most classes start with a “Do Now” or “Warm-Up.” Mine often start with a hip-hop cypher. In a cypher, students stand in a circle, spread at equal distances, and one at a time, contribute a rhyme, line of poetry, thought, idea, or affirmation. This circle is the pedagogical foundation of the work I do in hip-hop education.   On a …

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Part 2: High School Students Write Essays on Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp A Butterfly

“Over 40 years, we’ve made changes in this country, but did we make a change in the heart of the individual?” – Jalen (9th grade) Since my last post about teaching Kendrick Lamar’s new album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) in the high school classroom, many people from around the world, including educators and music fans alike, have asked me to share some …

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Why I Dropped Everything And Started Teaching Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

When Kendrick Lamar released his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), I was in the middle of teaching a unit on Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). My freshmen students were grappling with some big ideas and some really complex language. Framing the unit as an “Anti-Oppression” study, we took special efforts to define and explore the kinds …