I graduated from Ohio State’s molecular genetics program in 2009 and the College of Education in 2010, so I was thrilled to see that my undergraduate department had put together a fairly decent rap about protein synthesis. Being the thoroughly ridiculous teacher that I am, I decided that my kids were going to learn and perform it. My morning class didn’t really get into it, but my afternoon kids did great. I purposely chose three strong personalities to do the chorus, and they brought a lot of necessary energy to the whole thing. (Another subtlety of classroom management that they don’t teach you in college!)
I wrote out the lyrics on index cards divided approximately into stanzas or verses. Then I picked out key vocabulary words and wrote those on Post-it notes. I gave each kid a post-it, and after playing the original rap for them, instructed them to find their classmates who had vocabulary words from the same verse. This became their performance group. I ended up with 6 groups, and since there were 6 verses total plus the chorus, I decided to do the last verse myself. Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I think that willingness to participate with them was one of the intangibles that made the lesson work. I believe that students are supposed to do their own learning work, of course, but I also think that the teacher has to be willing to do anything she asks of her students. Plus I just thought this was a lot of fun!