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Rap Session

It’s not often that you hear about a professional-development event that rocks. But some 400 educators gathered at a South Los Angeles middle school this weekend for a conference on the uses of hip-hop as an instructional tool. Workshop participants were encouraged to let students compose hip-hop songs as a way to get comfortable with the writing process. They also learned how to help students analyze rappers’ lyrics using the conventions of English Lit. The goal of the conference—organized by graduate students at UCLA along with local community groups—was to give teachers a way to make learning more relevant to urban youths. “Why not use [their] culture to connect?” said UCLA grad student Mark Gonzales. “It allows them to engage.”

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