Sunday, January 18, 2009


One of the goals for teachers is to make learning authentic and relevant to our students. The purpose of such is so they will engage in the process of learning because they understand why they should learn and value that education.

We will soon begin a unit on poetry and I can just see the boys roll their eyes as they envision classic rhymed poetry about blue pools of water, love, flowers and rainbows. The very thought makes me want to puke, too. Sure, we have plenty of great poetry by Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, both of which I own and use. It's great, but there is much more to poetry than that.

With coupons in hand, Skinny Kitty, daughter and I headed to Borders to see what we could see. They didn't have too much in the way of poetry, but I did find a great gem: Hip Hop Speaks to Children. This is a poetry anthology edited by Nikki Giovanni and features both the poetry and voices of many of today's great poets and rappers.

Talk about making poetry relevant to children, this book hits home how poetry can be valued and appreciated by the 21st Century student. I am excited to use it. There is some powerful stuff inside – deep emotions, complex thoughts. It's wonderful. The book also comes with a CD of many contemporary poets and hip hop artists reading their own works and the poems of others.

For your reading pleasure, I offer you one of the pieces from the book, which comes from rapper Tupac Shakur and is read by Nikki Giovanni on the accompanying CD.


Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature's laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!

Oh yeah, poetry is relevant to the contemporary student. For your information, it has long been accepted that "the normal rules of grammar do not apply in poetry".

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