Rap helps DC high school students learn Shakespeare

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- What do rapper Kanye West, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and Shakespeare have in common? A lot more than you might think.

They all come together in an English class at Capitol City Public Charter High School in Northwest, D.C.

Teens have a very emotional tie to their favorite music, and Sage Salvo from wordsliive.org says it's easy to use that passion to teach them writing techniques they can use in compositions for school, or even writing their own music.

Salvo broke down the lyrics "Homecoming" by Kanye West to help students also understand the masters of the English language.

He compared a metaphor used in the West song to the one used in Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". Both used one metaphor that was extended through the entire composition.

Senoir Daijah-Monai Williams picked up the technique quickly.

"I just kind of got what he was saying, I knew what the regular topic was and he said what they were trying to explain and all the other definitions I kind of put them together," Williams said.

Salvo says the real test to see if a student understands the concept is when they hand in their first paper after taking his class.

"You see the light bulb go off during Q and A when we are discussing, but once you see it appear in their writing, that's my check, that's how I know they got it."

Wordsliive.org is a D.C. based for-profit company that works in schools to bring literature to life through music. They partner with non-profits and local school systems to augment the English classes already in place.


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