Hip Hop History
Submission Due Date: March 26, 2021
Designed for Middle and High School Students
|Table of Contents
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By now, most of us have heard of the success of the Broadway musical Hamilton. What is the hullaballoo all about? On the one hand, the show – about one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, who died in a duel with Aaron Burr – is an energetic, rapturous story, told in hip hop and R&B, that provides insight into American history in a way that has never been done before. For our purposes, the success also lies in its madly creative use of hip-hop – a form that uses rhyming and word play, combined with rhythm and syncopation – to deliver a thrilling story and thoughtful psychological portrait about a very complicated man: Alexander Hamilton.
In this Competition, you have the chance to do the same: create a hip-hop biographical song about an important person in history. The aim for your portrait is to report to your audience both the key historical facts about your chosen character, but also to provide some insight into the nature of the person: what, based on your research, made your character tick? According to Ron Chernow, on who’s book the musical Hamilton is based, this is what Lin- Manuel Miranda (the show creator) accomplished in such a startling way: “I think he (Lin) has plucked out the dramatic essence of the character — his vaulting ambition, his obsession with his legacy, his driven nature, his roving eye, his brilliant mind, his faulty judgment.”
You and your team are charged with doing the same: identify and then present, in a hip-hop performance, “the dramatic essence of the character” of your chosen historical figure.
- Hip Hop History Video (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Outline (at teacher’s discretion)
- Second Draft Script (at teacher’s discretion)
Assumptions and Logistics
Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any and all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.
Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Resources Center section of the site for guidance.
Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.
Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
COVID-19 does not mean that students can’t collaborate. This unusual societal circumstance allows students to, paradoxically, focus on their collaborative skills even more through a clear delegation of responsibilities; and tight communication in order to insure that everyone is clear on the scripting and blocking of individual scenes that need to tell a cohesive story, even though the scenes may be shot in isolation. Digital storytelling projects in general move the essential communication about content and learning away from the educator and toward the students themselves. That is part of their educational strength. But in COVID-19, this quality is expanded. With the teacher more ‘unavailable’ than normal, the students must rely on their collaborative skills more than ever. It’s like playing a team sport with less input from the coach. They have to rise the occasion …and they will.
Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.
During Phase I, student teams will:
- Choose your historical figure, in collaboration with your teacher. In selecting your figure, look for someone about whom there is plenty of information and that, perhaps, intrigues you; that makes you wonder why this person made this or that decision. In short, we recommend choosing someone whom you genuinely want to learn more about.
- Begin to research your figure using primary and secondary sources – a good biography will be based on a mix of primary and secondary sources (not just the latter). Be sure to present a mix of these two as you create your portrait.
- Once you have started to gather information about your subject, we recommend creating a timeline that organizes that information. In doing so, check if you have covered the following:
- Childhood – a few key or defining events that connect this character to their community.
- Home Life – Parents, siblings, economics, religion, travel, etc.
- Education – Any significant interests, strengths and weaknesses.
- Personal Life – Girlfriends or boyfriends?
- Professional Career – Where did they get their start and how did they progress into historical notoriety?
- Character type – What can you learn about the emotional make-up of this person? This is an important piece: to become a historically significant character, you usually need to possess one or two outstandingly good…or bad qualities. What are they for your chosen figure? (This is where primary sources can be particularly valuable.)
- In general, in order to tell an effective audio biography, your team will need to know a lot more information than you can possibly include in a very short biography. The list above is not exhaustive: there are many other areas of life to investigate. Be sure to see the lyrics posted at the end of this Challenge to get a sense of how Alexander Hamilton was portrayed in the opening number of the musical.
- With the timeline in place – a structure that allows your team to organize all the information that you have so far – the next step is to outline the story you want to tell. What key moments or events in this person’s life do you want to focus on in order to deliver a biography that is informative and evocative; that paints, for the listener, a three-dimensional person? Again, keep in mind that your aim is to tell a story and not just recount facts in chronological order.
- Teacher’s Option: Outline Teachers may require that teams hand in an outline of the story that they plan to translate into a hip hop performance, for review and feedback.
- Based on your outline, write the first draft of your hip hop verse.
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Brainstorm about production issues. The two biggest issues are:
- Who is going to recite and perform this verse? All of you or just one of you? (In a clear departure from all other Meridian Stories Challenges, you can bring in a ringer to perform your verse – you are the producing team: you don’t have to perform as well in this particular Challenge.) And where is the beat/music coming from?
- What are we seeing? Will this be a video featuring a performance of the song that is shot on location or on a stage? Or will the song be recorded as voice over that is scoring images that you have researched? Those images could be paintings, graphic depictions, text from the time period – anything that would convey who your historic figure was then…and is understood to be now. Or a combination of the two.
- Complete the second draft of your verse.
- Teacher’s Option: Second Draft –Teachers may require that teams hand in a first draft of the hip hop verse for feedback and comments.
- Plan or storyboard your visual presentation, working through the details of each shot.
- Keep in mind that this is visual story about words – your words. This is less about what we are seeing than what we are hearing. So, as you finalize your visual plan, think of ways to help the audience hear and understand the words as clearly as possible. How do you make your lyrics…burst off the screen visually?
- Pre-produce the scene: scout the location(s); create the set and costumes, if any; prepare the logistics, and rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again.
- Finalize the script.
During Phase III, student teams will:
- Shoot the video.
- Edit the video, adding stills and graphics as desired.
- Post-produce the video, adding music and sound effects as desired.
Meridian Support – The Digital Storytelling Resource Center
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams:
1. Meridian Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four-minute videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Media Resource Collection – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity and production.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Meridian Innovators and Artists||Media Resource Collection|
|Margaret Heffernan on Non-Fiction||Guide to Working in the Public Domain|
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These short digital stories provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.
Evaluation Rubric – Hip Hop History
|Historical Facts and Background||The video presents pertinent and thoughtful facts that allows for a deep understanding of the historical figure|
|Presentation of Character||The video demonstrates a clear and nuanced understanding of the person – flaws and strengths – that catapulted her or him to historical fame|
|Biographical Story||The narrative is clear, engaging and presented in a creative and compelling way|
|Language||The hip hop verse is clever, insightful, creative and entertaining|
|Performance||The performance demonstrates exceptional skill and aptitude for the genre and the content|
|Music and Sound Effects||The music and sound effects are exceptional and enhance the verse|
|Media Use and Editing||The editing of video, stills, graphics and/or text is engaging, visually interesting and enhances the content of the video|
|Visualization||The choices made to bring the verse to visual life are creative, inventive and engaging|
21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
- What are the specific traits and events of your chosen personality that make her or him a significant figure in history?
- How does depicting an individual personality help shape your view of the broader historical period?
- How has information gathered from primary sources enhanced your understanding of the topic? How is the information from the primary sources different from the information gathered from secondary sources?
- How does one research, select and organize content from a variety of sources in order to present a compelling, cohesive and historically accurate narrative?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- The student will be familiar with the key human traits and situations that shaped a key historical figure and the decisions that she/he made.
- Through the depiction of an individual personality, the student’s view of the broader historical period becomes more humanized and relevant.
- The student will understand how combining primary and secondary sources can help one to reach a more complex and nuanced understanding of history.
- The student will understand the processes involved in researching content from a variety of sources; selecting relevant information from those sources; and organizing this information in a way that yields narrative cohesion and historical accuracy.
- The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating historical content into a new narrative format.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21stcentury skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
The Hip Hop History Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by two nationally recognized sources:
- The Common Core Curricular Standards– English Language Arts & History/Social Studies; and
- The C3 Framework, as created by National Council of Social Studies (NCSS).
Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts & History/Social Studies
READING INFORMATIONAL TEXT
Key Ideas and Details
|Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
|Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
|Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.|
READING INFORMATIONAL TEXT
Key Ideas and Details
|Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).||Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.||Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
Text Types and Purposes
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
|Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.|
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
|Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.||Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.||Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.|
Conventions of Standard English
|Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Key Ideas and Detail
|Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Key Ideas and Detail
|N/A||Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.||Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.|
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
|Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.||Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.||Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.|
C3 Framework for Social Studies
|6th – 8th Grade||9th – 12th Grade|
the relevance of personal interests and perspectives, civic virtues, and democratic principles when people address issues and problems in government and civil society.
|D2.Civ.10.9-12. Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.|
|D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
|D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.|
|D2.His.3.6-8. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to analyze why they, and the developments they shaped, are seen as historically significant.||D2.His.3.9-12. Use questions generated about individuals and groups to assess how the significance of their actions changes over time and is shaped by the historical context.|
|D2.His.4.6-8. Analyze multiple factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.||D2.His.4.9-12. Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.|
|D2.His.14.6-8. Explain multiple causes and effects of events and developments in the past.||D2.His.14.9-12. Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.|
|D3.1.6-8. Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.||D3.1.9-12. Gather relevant information from multiple sources representing a wide range of views while using the origin, authority, structure,
context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
Reprint of Opening Song Lyrics from Hamilton
Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain
Just you wait!
Just you wait!
In New York—
Just you wait
Just you wait