Activities & Lessons

Literacy at Work: How to Write a Rap with Dr. Chris Emdin

3 Min Read
How to write a rap

In the "How to Write a Rap" episode of Literacy at Work, educator, author, and rap-enthusiast Dr. Chris Emdin shares his lesson on how to write a rap. Learn along with students from Brooklyn Preparatory High School and discover how creating and performing raps can inspire self-reflection, confidence, and an appreciation for writing.

With this video and the resources below, students learn how to transform their unique personalities and stories into a “persona,” the version of themselves they will take on when they perform their raps. Throughout this process, students gain a better understanding of themselves and the act of storytelling. Once they begin writing their raps, students use literary devices including metaphor, simile, and alliteration to bring depth and complexity to their performances.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Our free teaching guide and student worksheet can be used for whole-class instruction or completed by students outside of the classroom.

How to Write a Rap | Grades 6–12

Teacher Guide: Use this guide to teach students how to write a rap using this episode of Literacy at Work. This lesson plan can be used with individual students or for whole-classes instruction.

Teacher Rubric: Use this rubric with the Teacher Guide to assess your students’ written raps and performances.

Student Activity: Students are guided through the process of creating their personas, developing rhymes, and writing their raps. This activity can be used independently or with the Teacher Guide.


Dr. Christopher Emdin is an educator, author, public speaker, and science advocate. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as Director of the Science Education program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education.

Learn more about the Literacy at Work web series, an HMH effort to not only help students grow as readers and writers but also show them the lifelong role literacy plays in their lives.

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