When you hear “rap” music today, you certainly don’t think of me, but you should, as I think I was the first to invent rap. When I was teaching middle school English in the 1970’s, I searched and searched for ways to make teaching English grammar and poetry relevant and interesting. My students were typical of many middle school students in that they were interested in diverse areas, none of which included English grammar. Some of the challenges facing me were how to teach students gerunds and participles. My solution came in the form of the world’s first rap; well, at least the world’s first grammatical rap. I had the students tapping rhythmically on their desk and introduced them to the following lyrics:
“A participle is a verbal adjectuv–it tells which, how many, and what kind uv”
“A gerund, a gerund is as cute as can be. It is a verbal noun. It ends in i-n-g.”
The students loved it, and I found them mouthing the words during tests.
Next I taught them to sing the forms of the verb “to be” using “Obla De, Obla Da,” the Beetle song:
“Am, is, are–was, were, be … being, been–ugh. Now you know the verb to be”
“Am, is, are–was, were, be … being, been–ugh. Now you know the verb to be.”
Did you know that you can sing Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” to the tune of “Hernando’s Hideaway?” Try it. It works!