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Tale of Two Cities: Cultural Capital of Hip Hop in Kenya and Philadelphia

Author: Jeri Johnson, M.S. Ed., M.S. School Psychology


CCA Baldi Middle School

Year: 2021

Seminar: Listening to the Music of Contemporary Africa: History, Politics, and Human Origins

Grade Level: 6-8

Keywords: black placemaking, Charles Dickens, Chris Emdin, COVID-19, critical hip-hop pedagogy (CHHP), Elizabeth Acevedo, hip-hop music, Kenya Vision 2030, mind-mapping, musical patterns, Philadelphia Vision 2035

School Subject(s): English, Language Arts, Social Studies

Hip-hop music tells a story of hope that is derived from the tales of poverty, homelessness, disease, disadvantage and addiction.  This unit will use the classic Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities paired with Elizabeth Acevedo’s Poet X, to create an artistic space for students to both analyze international hip-hop music and  create lyrics and poetry based upon the Philadelphia Vision 2035. COVID-19 has added another dimension of complexity to the narrative because students have witnessed the effects of the global pandemic.  Students will share insight through the lens of social justice and black placemaking framework which ultimately corroborates their cultural capital as a Philadelphia citizen.

Download Unit: Johnson-Jeri.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives


Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities opens with the famous line, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  This opening classic literature reveals a juxtaposition of time with the tragedies of a social climate that anticipates change and revolution.  Much like what 2021 looks like, students across the world are considering what is next following more than a year of quarantining and learning online.  COVID-19 has bridged the gaps of culture and region because the impact of the pandemic has been felt in Mombasa and in Philadelphia.  In this unit, hip-hop music will be used as the background music and soundtrack for a developing narrative about the parallels of an emerging narrative that comes out of more than a year of COVID-19.  Hip-hop music has its origins associated with artists who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Becker & Sweet (2020) report that hip-hop created a voice and a vehicle for the dispossessed which gives them hope.     This unit will give students an opportunity to aspire to ideals about communities that share a renewed sense of existence.

Access to water, problems of urban blight, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, poverty and now COVID-19 have prompted political leaders and everyday citizens to address the needs of their local communities.  The challenges have become global issues that impact everyone.  In Kenya, there is a campaign called Kenya Vision 2030 that seeks to address these needs.  In Philadelphia, there is Vision 2035.  This vision seeks to address the current norm of gun violence while establishing  a plan for poverty reduction and housing.  These issues are at the forefront of what its citizens want and need.  Students will examine the complexities around these issues and compare and contrast these conditions in order to develop a creative work that explores the issues and confronts the problems.

Yosso (2005) looks at the power that is derived from the voices of the community through critical race theory (CRT).  According to Yosso, there is a cultural wealth that is made up from the aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial and resistant capital that belongs to every student of color.  “If one is not born into a family whose knowledge is already deemed valuable, one could then access the knowledge of the middle and upper class and the potential for social mobility through formal schooling (Yosso, 2005).”  In Kenya, 97.58% of its citizens are affiliated with its 32 major indigenous groups (

CRT is important because colonialism still shapes and impacts students who learn under a predominant British system.  What is taught in schools and how it is taught in schools is a major and critical contributor to students’ cultural wealth and power.  Hip-hop music builds on the wealth that students bring.  It develops a sense of belonging that adds value to the story that the artists tell.  “The “black placemaking” framework sidesteps pitfalls of asset/deficit fram-based studies of urban American life, teasing out asset/deficit tensions by analytically centering place and acknowledging the interdependent relationship between structural forces and human agency’s resistive potential (Hunter et. al, 2016; Hunter & Robinson, 2016; Nieves, 2008).  This project focuses on developing the voices of students to share their own narratives and tell their own “tales” about the life of a Philadelphian.

Byron Hurt, the film producer for “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” explains how important it is to embrace the true messaging of hip hop. He found that violence, misogyny, homophobia and masculinity are dominant themes in hip hop music.  These same themes are penetrating Kenyan hip hop making it challenging to find songs that are appropriate for academic settings.  While the music perpetuates these images in the lyrics and videos, the majority of African and American men are not how they see African and African-American men portrayed on television and on YouTube.  He notes on his interactive site, “The predominant number of Black men are not criminal. They are none of those things but that is the most prevailing image of Black men, increasing the possibility of police brutality, racial profiling, young males dying before they are 21 or ending up in jail doing long prison sentences.”  Hurt, fifteen years after the original release date of his documentary, has a more mature understanding of the dominant themes and issues that are plaguing our society today.

Kenya, one of three African countries to make up the East African Common Services Organization (EACSO) has a complex musical background.  The level of blight and poverty also contributes to the aspirations of the artists.  Now that COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the two cities have a common problem greater than the issues of blight and poverty:  recovering from a pandemic that has left people and industry traumatized by the high levels of illness, death, loss of work and social isolation, among other factors.  Historically, hip hop music is created by artists who share stories of resilience.  These lessons will challenge students to look beyond the beat and rhyme to discover their own voices.

Hip-hop music will be introduced using a problem-solution framework because the messages that are included within the music of Kenya and America share the history of countries that have been impacted by social injustices that have adversely affected them: colonialism in Kenya and racial injustice in the United States.  The inspirational nature of music and poetry has shaped the responses of Hip-Hop artists.  In this curriculum unit, students will listen to existing hip hop and then create messages of their own to pose a solution to the socio-political problems of their time.

Hip-Hop Background

Emdin (2012) says, “Hip hop is a culture…hip hop requires a space, a place where students can write their thoughts and ideas.” In a Twitter feed from 2017, Christopher Emdin said, “To teach hip hop means to teach with Heart Inspiration Power to Heal Oppressive Pedagogy.”  This theory corroborates what Akom (2009) shares in his critical hip hop pedagogy (CHHP).  There are five key ideas in critical hip hop pedagogy that the educator must consider.  There is an existing intersectionality of race and racism along with other forms of oppression. The experiences of children of color challenge the traditional paradigms, texts and theories.  Children of color bring within their experiences a knowledge that differs from their counterparts.  CHHP must give credence to social justice and it must include as Solorzano & Delgado Bernal (2001) share, a transdisciplinary approach to learning and teaching.

Hip hop has its origins in the African traditions of storytelling.  Davey D, a music commentator and journalist, has posted details on his website solely dedicated to the world of hip hop and its history.   These lessons celebrate hip hop music as an art form that pays homage to its history that comes from Africa. Ultimately, the coastal wars that emerged in hip hop in America during the 1990’s are erased when students examine critical issues that come when we look at “the best of times and the worst of times.”  This opening line of a classical story bridges the literary world with the historical-cultural worlds of hip-hop music.  Out of these blended contexts, students will be encouraged to explore the local and global social ills that are pertinent to their perspective.

Content Objectives

This unit seeks to address the issues of social justice and cultural equity in the curriculum unit.  Giving students hands-on experience with the music addresses the information gap within the curriculum. This curriculum unit will consist of four weeks of instruction and research and will conclude with a student project.   As students develop competencies around analytical, critical, strategic and chronological thinking, the unit will integrate multi-media platforms that include video, podcasts and audio content.

This unit will stimulate their minds through music while making critical connections to History and English Language Arts. Students will listen to the hip hop genre of Kenyan and American music which will be paired with literature to help students make connections to larger global and local ideas. Students will engage with the ELA and Social Studies curriculum that address citing evidence from a historical perspective, determining the region and using Geography resources and tools to explore the region’s economic, social and cultural issues.  They will then analyze the actual songs and history of music while exploring the influence on contemporary songs. After students learn about the social problem of their choice, they will then create a song, poem or narrative from a social justice perspective.

Students would be enriched by exploring the topic in an integrated manner.  Tasks would incorporate Literacy, Geography, History, Writing and Technology.  This helps students maximize their learning by making connections across content areas.  Students will be able to use primary sources to support their research including video, maps, literature and podcasts.  These resources will help them to develop a creative yet informative work product.  Students will choose a format to present their content.

Teaching Strategies

Valuing multiple perspectives as well as valuing individual students’ own cultural perspective is important to developing a sense of self-worth.  Using a “minds on” and “hands-on” approach to this unit of lessons intentionally will engage students’ minds and bodies.  These lessons will access multiple modalities for learning:  kinesthetic, musical, literary and creative.

Students will first create a mind map for both African and American hip hop artists.  The mind maps analyze the tempo, mood, tone, dynamic and rhythm of the music, beats and lyrics.   After listening to the music several times, students will then identify the social issue (ills) represented in the song.  The final presentation allows student voice through creative expression.  For example, some may choose to write a poem or spoken word, create a song or presentation about a social issue that is important to them.

Student Objectives

  1. Students will be able to listen to African and American hip hop genre in order to create a mind map that describes musical patterns and then compare and contrast styles, beats and other musical elements.
  2. Students will be able to read A Tale of Two Cities in order to determine and analyze the theme.
  3. Students will be able to compare and contrast themes in A Tale of Two Cities in order to make a connection to a contemporary social issue.
  4. Students will be able to read selections from The Poet X in order to analyze the social issue presented by the author.
  5. Students will be able to determine the central ideas of A Tale of Two Cities and The Poet X in order to write an objective summary.
  6. Students will be able to compare and contrast the vision plans of two cities in order to develop an individual action plan that supports
  7. Students will be able to create a FINAL presentation in order to share an issue that is important to them (while posing a solution to the problem).


These terms will become a part of the teaching and learning.








Boom bap








FL (fruity loops)





Hip hop









Mind map








Parallel (-ism)












Social Ill (Issue)

Social Justice


Spoken word









Big Questions:

  • Africans have a rich heritage in story-telling, how did the music pair with oral traditions?
  • What are the relevant customs in Kenya and the general cultural memory in the US?
  • What is the impact these customs (Kenyan and American) have on Diasporic people?
  • How were political leaders influenced?
  • Did the political leaders use music to persuade citizens to believe in a particular way?
  • What is the impact of the African drum on contemporary musical arrangements and songs?
  • What is the message behind specific rhythms and beats?
  • What were the specific musical patterns that were created to send specific messages?
  • What was the correlation to these musical patterns on oppression and liberation?
  • Who were the originators?
  • Were there specific leaders? How were these leaders influenced by Western Hip-Hop artists and the Hip-Hop movement?
  • What circumstances inspired their movement?
  • How did they envision their music being used? interpreted?
  • How were contemporary artists from across the world influenced by the music of Africa?


  1.  What is the significance of Charles Dickens’ Book 1, A Tale of Two Cities when he says, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.?”
  2. Write a summary of the excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities.
  3. Analyze The Poet X using SIFT Method (Symbolism – Imagery – Figurative Language and Tone/Theme).
  4. What patterns do you hear in the music? Draw a mind map to represent your ideas after listening to the song.
  5. Compare an African/Kenyan hip hop song with an American hip hop song.

Classroom Activities


  1. Students will read excerpts from Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities as an introduction to social justice and revolution movements.

Lesson 1: Pre-reading Discussion and Activity

  • Teacher-led discussion of key vocabulary terms – literary terms
foreshadowing hyperbole imagery
irony metaphor mood
personification parallelism simile
symbolism theme tone
  • Students will complete a collaborative board explaining the meaning of Social Justice and Revolution movements. Students will be able to brainstorm definitions, draw pictures/sketches and use any details that they know to share ideas about both terms.
  • Teacher-led overview of Charles Dickens, London and Paris. It is important to note that while the setting for A Tale of Two Cities is during the French Revolution, this will not be the main topic of discussion but rather the social movement that was created within the two cities.

Lesson 2: Excerpt A Tale of Two Cities – Book 1 – “Recalled to Life”

  • Students will read Chapter 1 and use the SIFT method to analyze the symbols, imagery and figurative language. Students will explore the dominant ideas of silence, bravery and voice and will develop theme statements about one of the ideas.
  • Accommodations for students: they will have the text as they listen to the excerpt read.
  • Students will analyze the text and compare Dickens’ narrative to the historical moments that caused a revolutionary movement. Using a Venn Diagram, students will document the key happenings that led to the French Revolution.  Students will look for patterns in the movement.
  • Students will then create a summary that cites the steps that were taken that lead to personal transformation as a part of the societal revolution.
  • After analyzing these elements, students will write theme statements and cite evidence from the text to support their responses.
  1. Students will read excerpts from Elizabeth Acevedo’s, The Poet X as a parallel text to A Tale of Two Cities. Students will continue learning about social justice and revolutionary

Lesson 3: Pre-reading Discussion and Activity

  • Teacher-led discussion of key vocabulary – literary terms
freestyle/free verse flow protest
rhyme spoken word vibe
  • Students will complete a collaborative board about modern social justice movements (i.e. BLM, Asian American, LGBTQ, etc.). Students will compare their board to the board that was created with A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Student-led conversation will look at Elizabeth Acevedo’s life. Students will then pose questions about her performances and interviews.  Who is Elizabeth Acevedo? What is her motivation? Why did she write The Poet X?

Lesson 4:  Excerpts from The Poet X will be read and analyzed using the SIFT Method.

  • Students will read chapters and use the SIFT method to analyze the symbols, imagery and figurative language. Students will explore the dominant ideas of silence, bravery and voice and will develop theme statements about one of the ideas.
  • Accommodations: students will have the text read aloud to them as they follow along (
  • Students will create a Venn Diagram or T-chart comparing and contrasting the narrative in The Poet X with a social justice movement (student choice). Students will look for patterns in the movement and story that Acevedo shares.
  • Students will then create a summary that cites the steps that were taken that lead to personal awareness as a part of the societal revolution.
  • After analyzing these elements, students will write theme statements and cite evidence from the text to support their responses.
  1. Students will listen to various African and American hip hop artists and compare and contrast the format and styles of the songs in order to create a mind-map (visual representation).

Lesson 5:  Mind-map Listening

  • Teacher-led Model how to create a Mind Map as students listen to 9th Wonder & Murs, “Tale of Two Cities.” Teacher uses student thoughts and ideas to create the mind map.  After the ideas are recorded on the mind map, the teacher leads the class in a discussion about the themes, music instruments, musical patterns that are heard.  Key vocabulary will be reviewed – musical terms
808 (Drum machine) bars beat
break hook remix
sample/sampler quantization producer
  • Students then are broken into small groups to listen to and create a mind map of Real Swagg’s “A Tale of Two Cities.” Students discuss the terms, musical patterns and lyrics.
  • The groups are brought back together in a whole group to discuss their findings. Students will also look at the visual representations of both songs.  As a class, the mind maps will be compared for similarities and differences.
  • (Individual) Exit ticket: The individual student will then free-write/free draw about a societal issue creating a mind map, poem or song.
  1. Students will learn hip-hop terms and will be able to make connections with literary terms and musical terms.
beat cypher DJ (deejay)
MC (emcee) flip FL (fruity loop)
rap/hip-hop remix scratch
spit trap vibe

Lesson 6: Board, card or digital game for terms

  • Students will review ALL the literary and music terms. Students can use their notebooks, the text or Internet to define the terms. Students have to put the meanings into their own words.
  • Students choose the terms that they want to use for their projects. Guidelines:  students must use at least 10 terms (5 literary terms and 5 musical terms).
  • Using the terms, students will create a themed game to test each other on the meaning of the terms. When possible, students should include a picture or musical representation.
  1. Students will read and review the Vision Plans for Philadelphia and Kenya. In discussion, the students will examine the similarities and differences.  Students will also explore why those issues were chosen as the priority within each respective country/locale.  Students then listen to African and American hip hop artists and they will determine the social issue represented in the music.  Students analyze how the social ill of the song interfaces with the vision.  What issue is important to you as an individual? How will this issue interface with the vision of the city?  What tale does the issue tell?

Lesson 7: Tale of 2 Cities

  • Using the published vision plans for Kenya and Philadelphia, students read and compare/contrast the two city plans.
  • Students will decide which of the issues they want to respond to. Note:  the issue should be important to the student and should lead to personal awareness and personal transformation.
  1. Students will create either a poem/spoken word, song or other (3 – 5) minute multimedia presentation.

Lesson 8: Listening to various artists for inspiration

  • Students listen to a playlist (cold-play)
  • Students create a mind-map of the patterns, lyrics and symbols that are in the song
  • Students analyze the lyrics of the song – what is the problem presented?

Lesson 9: Brainstorm a word that summarizes a problem

  • Students begin to create a draft of free verse about a problem
  • Revise their verses with a peer or small group
  • Finalize hip-hop song or spoken word
  1. Students will propose solutions to an identified social ill and create either a public service announcement, blog/podcast or action to address the issue (i.e. write a letter to the City Council, create a blog or vlog, etc.)

Lesson 10:  Revolutionary Action

  • Using all of the elements of this project, students will create a PSA, blog, podcast or action


  1. Objective Summary with analysis of Tale of Two Cities
  2. Analysis of select poems from The Poet X
  3. Card, board or digital game
  4.  Mind maps of select hip-hop songs
  5. Public service announcement or civil action plan
  6. Final presentation


  1. Acevedo, E.  (2018). The poet x. Harper Collins Books.
  2. Boston-Weatherford, C. (2019). The roots of rap. Simon & Schuster Books.
  3. Carrick Hill, L. (2013). When the beat was born. Roaring Book Press.
  4. Dickens, C. & Jennings, L. (1995). Tale of two cities. Penguin Books.
  5. Largie, A.D. (2019). Hip-hop history for kids. Largie Publishing.



Kenya Plan – Vision 2030

Listening Logs (Graphic Organizer)

Mind Maps (Brainstorm Graphic Organizer)

Philadelphia Plan – Vision 2035

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Abridged by L. Jennings)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emdin, C. (2020). “How to write a rap.”

PSSA English Language Arts Glossary


9th Wonder & Murs. “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Akom, A.A. (2009). Critical hip hop pedagogy as a form of liberatory praxis. Equity & Excellence in Education. 42 (1), 52-56.

Becker, S. & Sweet, C. (2020). What would I look like? How exposure to concentrated disadvantage shapes hip-hop artists’ connections to community. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 6(1), 61-75.

Beyond Beats and Rhymes Interactive Clips.

Blair, D. (2006). Look at what I heard! Music listening and student-created musical maps. Dissertation for Oakland University.

Byron Hurt Interview

Cable News Network (CNN) (Producer), (2018). Kenya’s Electronic Music Industry; RedOne. [Video/DVD] Cable News Network (CNN).

Davey, D. “Respect those who came before us.” (1999)

Emdin, C.

Emdin, C.

Emdin, C. (2020, Aug. 1). “How to write a rap.”

Emdin, C. (2012).

Hali Halisi

Hip Hop Glossary of Terms

Hunter, M. A., Patillo, M., Robinson, Z. F. & Taylor, K-Y. (2016). Black placemaking: Celebration, play and poetry. Theory, Culture and Society, 33 (7-8), 31-56.

Hunter, M. A. & Robinson, Z. F. (2016).  The sociology of urban Black America. Annual Review of Sociology.  42: 385-405.

Kenya (Tourism)

LaViolette, A. & Wynne-Jones, S. (2017). The Swahili world. Routledge.

Music Dictionary

Nieves, A. D. (2008). “ Introduction Cultural Landscapes and Resistance and Self-definition for Race: Interdisciplinary Approaches to a Socio-spatial Race History.” In We shall independent be: African American space making and the struggle to claim space in the United States.  edited by Nieves, A. D. & Alexander, L. M. Boulder; University of Colorado Press.

PSSA English Language Arts Glossary

Tale of Two Cities Audiobook

The Psalmist with renowned Gospel musician Esther Wahome.

The Rise of the religious industry in Kenya: Gospel from roots to rap.

Ntarangwi, M. (2016). The street is my pulpit: Hip-hop and Christianity.   University of Illinois Press.

One Nations World – Kenya

Park, J. K., Michira, J. N. & Yun, S. Y. (2019). African Hip Hop as a Rhizomic art form articulating urban youth identity and resistance with reference to Kenyan genge and Ghanaian hiplife. Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, 16. 99-118.

Solorzano, D. G., & Bernal, D. D. (2001). Examining Transformational Resistance Through a Critical Race and Latcrit Theory Framework: Chicana and Chicano Students in an Urban Context. Urban Education, 36(3), 308–342.

Stroeken, K. (2005). Immunizing strategies: Hip-hop & critique in Tanzania. Africa: Journal of International Institutions. 75 (4), 488-509.

“The History of Africa.”

Winters, J. (2013). Contemporary sorrow songs: Traces of mourning, lament, and vulnerability in Hip Hop. African American Review, 46 (1), 9-20.

Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education. 8 (1), 69-91.

X Plastaz featuring Fid Q & Bamba Nazar. “Africa”


Content Standards:


  1. Content Standard: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music:
  1. Students describe specific music events in a given aural example, using appropriate terminology.
  2. Students analyze the uses of elements of music in aural examples representing diverse genres and cultures.
  3. Students demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of meter, rhythm, tonality, intervals, chords, and harmonic progressions in their analyses of music.
  1. Content Standard: Evaluating music and music performances:
    1. Students develop criteria for evaluating the quality and effectiveness of music performances and compositions and apply the criteria in their personal listening and performing.
    2. Students evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their own and others’ performances, compositions, arrangements, and improvisations by applying specific criteria appropriate for the style of the music and offer constructive suggestions for improvement.
  2. Content Standard: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts:
    1. Students compare in two or more arts how the characteristic materials of each art can be used to transform similar events, scenes, emotions, or ideas into works of art.
    2. Students describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with those of music.
  3. Content Standard: Understanding music in relation to history and culture: 
  4. Students describe distinguishing characteristics of representative music genres and styles from a variety of cultures.
  5. Students classify by genre and style (and, if applicable, by historical periods, composer and title) a varied body of exemplary (that is, high-quality and characteristic) musical works and explain the characteristics that cause each work to be considered exemplary.
  6. Students compare, in several cultures of the world, functions music serves, roles of musicians, and conditions under which music is typically performed.


English Language Arts/History

  1. Content Standard: Reading Informational Text – read, understand and respond to non-fiction text:
  2. Students will analyze the text structure and explain key details of the text.
  3. Students will describe the meaning and significance of charts, maps and graphics.
  4. Content Standard: Writing – develop skills of informational, argumentative and narrative writing as well as having the ability to engage in evidence-based analysis of text and research:
  5. Students will research various topics (of their choice) regarding the nature and culture of hip-hop music, Kenya and Tanzania
  6. Students will craft poems, songs and essays based upon their research


  1. Content Standard: Speaking and Listening – focus on communication skills that enable critical listening and effective presentation of ideas:
  2. Students will listen to, describe and analyze works of art using domain-specific vocabulary.
  3. Students will explain the historical, cultural and social context of an individual work or body of work.
  4. Students will relate the work or body of work in the arts to the geographic regions in Africa and America.
  5. Students will analyze and explain how the historical events and culture impact forms, techniques and purposes of works in the arts

Academic Standards

Standard – CC.8.5.6-8.A 

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Standard – CC.8.5.6-8.B 

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.

Standard – CC.8.5.6-8.F 

Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

Standard – CC.8.5.6-8.G 

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

English Language Arts Glossary of Terms

Adage – A saying that sets forth a general truth that has gained credibility through long use over time (e.g., No risk, no gain).

Alliteration – The repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words.

Allusion – An implied or indirect reference in literature to a familiar person, place, or event

Analogy – An extended comparison showing the similarities between two things

Analysis – 1. The process or result of identifying the parts of a whole and their relationships to one another. 2. Using a close reading of text(s) to examine the relationships/connections among ideas, details, and/or examples referenced therein, as directed by a task.

Bias – The subtle presence of a positive or negative approach toward a topic.

Cause-Effect (Reading) – Noting a relationship between actions or events such that one or more are the result of the other or others.

Cause-Effect (Writing) – An organizational structure in which the writer analyzes both the reasons and the results of an action, event, or trend.

Central Idea – The unifying element of a piece of a text.

Character types – The kinds of characters that appear as archetypes in literature. These commonly include the hero and the trickster.

Comparison/Contrast (Reading)To place characters, situations, or ideas together to show common and/or differing features in literary selections.

Comparison/Contrast (Writing) An organizational structure in which the writer explores how two or more things are alike and how they are different.

Connection – A relationship or association between one or more individuals, ideas, or events

Distinction A difference or discrimination made between two or more individuals, ideas, or events.

Fictional betrayal – Any story that is the product of imagination rather than a documentation of fact. Characters and events in such narratives may be based in real life but their ultimate form and configuration are creations of the author

Figurative Language – Language that cannot be taken literally since it was written to create a special effect or feeling.

Figurative Meaning – The metaphorical, idiomatic, or ironic sense of a word or expression, in contrast to its literal meaning.

Figure of Speech A word or phrase used in a nonliteral sense to convey meaning or to heighten effect (e.g., hyperbole, simile, metaphor).

Historical account – A text that shows the development of a historical event or events in proper chronological order.

Historical Event – An event that has taken place in the past, often including an explanation or a commentary on that event.

Historical Novel – A genre of fiction that is based on historical settings, events, or people. The setting is drawn from history and the story may contain actual historical people, but the main characters are usually fictional.

Hyperbole – An exaggeration or overstatement (e.g., I had to wait forever).

Idiom – An expression that is peculiar to itself grammatically and cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements (e.g., raining cats and dogs).

Inference – A judgment based on reasoning rather than on a direct or explicit statement. A conclusion based on facts or circumstances; understanding gained by “reading between the lines.”

Informal Writing Style – The use of everyday language in writing and speaking; informal writing style may employ a conversational tone. It favors emotion and personal preferences.

Informative Writing – Writing that examines a topic and conveys ideas, concepts, and information accurately. Its purpose may be to provide a reader with knowledge of a particular topic, to increase a reader’s understanding of a process, or to make concepts or ideas accessible to readers

Integrate – To bring together or to combine information so as to produce a larger unit or a whole.

Introduction – The opening of a piece of writing that is integral to what follows. The introduction grabs the reader’s attention, establishes the main idea or thesis of the writing, and explains how the writing is going to develop. To present for the first time.

Irony – The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal or usual meaning; incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the expected result.

Map – A representation on a flat surface of the features of an area of the earth that shows them in their respective forms, sizes, and relationships, according to some convention of representation.

Metaphor – The comparison of two unlike things in which no words of comparison (like or as) are used (e.g., The speech gave me food for thought).

Narration – A collection of events that tells a story and is placed in a particular order and recounted through either telling or writing.

Narrative technique – A storytelling tool or device an author uses to produce the desired artistic effect (e.g., flashback, flash forward, foreshadowing, dramatic irony, situational irony, symbolism, interior monologue, pacing, point of view, metaphor, simile, personification, imagery).

Pattern of events – The episodes that comprise the plot of a text.

Personification – An object or abstract idea given human qualities or human form (e.g., Flowers danced about the lawn).

Phrase (Reading) A small group of related words within a sentence or a clause; a group of two or more words that expresses a single idea but does not form a complete sentence.

Phrase (Writing) A group of words that does not contain a subject and a predicate.

Place The location in which events in a text occur

Plot – The structure of a story. The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. The structure often includes the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. The plot may have a protagonist who is opposed by an antagonist, creating what is called conflict. Poem – In its broadest sense, a type of text that aims to present ideas and evoke an emotional experience in the reader through the use of meter, imagery, and connotative and concrete words. Some poems are carefully constructed based on rhythmic patterns. Poems typically rely on words and expressions that have several layers of meaning (figurative language). They may also make use of the effects of regular rhythm on the ear and may make a strong appeal to the senses through the use of imagery

Problem-Solution A type of text structure in which a difficulty is identified and resolutions are proposed.

Proverb – A saying that reflects truth and wisdom and has practical application to everyday life (e.g., Two wrongs don’t make a right).

Relevant – Evidence that is pertinent and that supports a given claim.

Relevant Details (Reading) – Details that relate to the central idea of a text.

Relevant Details (Writing) – Words, phrases, sentences, and details that are vital and illustrative to a piece of writing. Relevant details support central ideas; provide evidence, examples, and reasons; and generally, enrich a piece of writing.

Resolution The part of a story following the climax in which the conflict is resolved. The resolution of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is neatly summed up in the following sentence: “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled.”

Rhyme – The repetition of an identical or similarly accented sound or sounds in a work (e.g., plain/stain). End rhymes exist in words that rhyme at the end of a verse line. Internal rhymes exist in words that rhyme within a verse-line.

Scene – A dramatic sequence that takes place within a single setting on stage. The place where an action or event occurs.

Secondhand Account – An account not directly known or experienced but obtained from others.

Sensory language – Details that involve one or more of the five senses; writers use sensory language to create a strong impression on readers.

Setting – The time and place in which a story unfolds.

Shades of Meaning -The small, subtle differences in meaning between similar words or phrases (e.g., knew/believed/suspected).

Shape Presentation – To give a certain form or organization to information offered to the reader; to come to a desired conclusion or to take place in a certain way.

SIFT Method – Symbolism, Imagery, Figurative Language, Tone & Theme analysis

Similarity – Showing resemblance in qualities or characteristics; alike but not identical.

Simile – A comparison of two unlike things in which a word of comparison (like or as) is used (e.g., The ant scurried as fast as a cheetah).

Speaker – The voice used by an author to tell/narrate a story or poem. The speaker is often a created identity and should not automatically be equated with the author.

Stanza An arrangement of lines of verse in a pattern usually repeated throughout a poem. Usually, each stanza has a fixed number of verses or lines, an overall meter, and a consistent rhyme scheme.

Story – An account of imaginary or real events told for the purpose of entertainment.

Story Element – One of the essential components of a story (e.g., character, setting, plot). Structure How information within a text is organized (e.g., chronology, comparison/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution, question/answer).

Style The author’s choices regarding language, sentence structure, voice, and tone in order to communicate with the reader.

Stylistic Technique One of various ways in which the writer may employ multiple elements of writing to distinguish and strengthen a piece of writing. These include variations in sentence structure, word choice, tone, usage, and point of view.

Summarize – To capture all of the most important parts of the original text (paragraphs, story, poem) but express them in a much shorter space and as much as possible in the reader’s own words.

TAG – A question that the speaker or writer adds to the end of a statement (e.g., The play was good, wasn’t it?).

Task (Writing) The assignment. Factors that affect the task are purpose, audience, and organizational structures.

Technical – Pertaining to a particular subject, field, profession, or trade.

Technical Meaning – The meaning of a word as it relates to a particular subject, discipline, field, profession, or trade.

Technical Procedure A process or method used to accomplish a certain task within a particular field such as art or science.

Technical Word/Phrase A word or phrase that relates to a particular subject, discipline, field, profession, or trade.

Theme – A topic of discussion or work; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work. A theme may be stated or implied. Clues to the theme may be found in the prominent and/or recurring ideas in a work.

Tone (Reading) – The attitude of the author toward the audience, the characters, the subject, or the work itself (e.g., serious, humorous).

Tone (Writing) As established by the writer, the attitude that is expressed toward the audience and topic through a piece of writing.

Topic (Reading) The subject matter of a text or of a discussion.

Topic (Writing) The subject of a piece of writing.

Traditional Stories – The ancient stories or poems of many cultures that originate in the oral tradition; many of these texts have no known original authors.

Verse – A single metrical line of poetry.

Viewpoint – A perspective or opinion.

Word Choice – An author’s use of words that affect the meaning, tone, and mood of a text. Wordiness – When a writer uses more words than are necessary to provide a point, detail, or explanation (due to the fact that rather than because).

Writer’s Purpose – The intent established by the writer to inform or teach, to entertain, or to persuade/convince. See also Author’s Purpose.

Other Music Terms

Auto-tune pitch correction

Bars – rap lyrics

Beat- rhythmic aspect of music

Beatbox – creating a drum sound with your mouth

Break – instrumental loop

Cypher – improvising

Flip – alter a sample

Text declamation – A method of setting text or words to music in a speech-like manner. In this method, notes and rhythms will typically follow the flow and accents of natural speech of the text. It is often used with opera libretto to set dialogue or narration without elaboration so it can be easily understood

Quantization – Quantization is a process used in the production of digital music. To quantize, simply put, is the process by which notes performed by a human are made by the computer to more closely match the tempo and beat of the composition.

Playlist – These songs are a starter list for students to analyze.  Each song speaks to an issue that students will be able to identify.  The overarching theme of these songs is to leave the listener thinking about solutions creating an avenue of hope.

9th Wonder & Murs. “A Tale of Two Cities.”

“Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.” (with Greek Subtitles)

Kaligraph Jones, “Open Doors”

“Kenya’s Epic Free Style (Cypher)”

“Kenyan Hip Hop Old Skul Collection 2”

Masaka Kids Africana Dancing Koti Ko – MastaGaan ft. Simmone

Matata Achuu

Rapper Bupe, “The Holy Ghost”

Real Swagg, “Tale of Two Cities”

Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade featuring Rudeboy “Deceive”

Yemi Alade with Angelique Kidjo “Shekere”

Yemi Alade “True Love”

Wangechi, “Used to it”

  1. Literacy Reflection Sheet
  2. SIFT Analysis Chart
  3. Venn Diagram
  4. T-Chart
  5. Mind Map
  6. Kenya Vision 2030 Infographic
  7. Philadelphia Vision 2035 Infographic