The most common feedback that we received from our professional development workshops is from teachers wanting to know more about how to activate some creative activities in their classrooms. We hear questions like, what are some great icebreaker activities to use to engage my students more? What are the best interactive and engaging activities I can add to my lesson plans to make my classes more engaging? Or which activities should I use when teaching different themes and concepts related to academic subjects to better resonate with my students? We hear you all loud and clear and we are excited to share a resource that we know will be helpful to some if not all of these needs.


Using activities and games in our lesson plans is the difference between our students memorizing the content versus actually knowing and embodying it because it was introduced to them in a familiar way that allowed them to engage with the academic content more. We learned that the willingness of our students to engage has a lot to do with the students being able to see themselves in the work. Continuing to stay creative in the classroom allows us to witness activities like using drama, acting things out, or creating in other ways to help our students think for themselves more freely and problem-solve more independently. 

We also learned that many of our students are so afraid of being wrong, that if the lessons are too structured the participation and engagement decrease, due to students being afraid of being incorrect. These findings encouraged us to begin to pull back on the structure and nurture an environment that was more free and open. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the growth we noticed in our students’ social skills amongst each other. When we include activities like singing, visual art, dancing, processed drama  (acting), and other creative elements in our lesson plans it creates a  space for our students to work together and support each other pretty organically. Gaming was another great way to nurture this type of learning environment.  


In our schools, Hip-Hop culture is the dominant culture among the students. In Youth Culture Power: A #HipHopEd Guide to Building Student  Teacher Relationships and Increasing Student Engagement, Jason D. Rawls  and John Robinson, educators and hip-hop artists with experience in the classrooms of urban schools, focus their efforts on Hip-Hop Based  Education (HHBE). They argue that Hip-Hop culture could be helpful in  building relationships and student engagement.

The approach to  achieve this is Youth Culture Pedagogy (YCP). In this volume, the  authors lay the groundwork for YCP and how they envision its use within the classroom. YCP is based on a foundation of reality pedagogy (Emdin,  2014), culturally responsive pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), and HHBE  (Hill, 2009; Petchauer, 2009). We define it as a pedagogical approach that uses students' own culture to create scenarios to facilitate  learning.

In Youth Culture Power, the authors put forth their  C.A.R.E. Model of youth pedagogy to help teachers create a positive learning environment by building relationships and lessons around students' own culture. Instead of forcing students to give up the things they frequent, they feel teachers should discuss them and when possible, use them in lessons. The purpose of this book is to present a  fresh take on why educators should not discount youth culture within the  classroom.