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Rappers Are Millionaires Exercise

Posted Mar 30 2006

This supplemental activity was designed to get students to address various topics as related to microeconomics. Basically, I took an article written by Wendy Day, founder of the Rap Coalition, that breaks down a recording contract and who gets paid from an album that sells 500,000 copies. I've use it in different contexts, but students analyze constructions of "wealth" as presented in music videos, concepts such as supply and demand, monopolies, distribution, and costs of living. Page one is a lesson outline, page two is the article itself, and page three is the questions that we use.

Cadillac Escalade1. Why am I teaching this lesson?
This is a supplemental activity to expose students to microeconomic concepts such as supply and demand, alternative forms of business, deteriments of pay, distribution of income, costs of living, and monopolies. It is designed to use the students' knowledge of popular culture as an entry point and taps into other skills such as arithmetic and internet usage.

2. What do I want students to learn?
Students will practice critically analyzing the media and portrayals of wealth.

Students will gain a better understanding of monopolies and other factors that determine wages and prices.

Students will gain a better understanding of how economic principles affect their lives in unexpected ways. Follow up questions include; "After reading this article, why might an artist change his/her image and marketing strategy?" and "how can this lesson be applied to your own career?"

3. How will I assess students' learning?
The bulk of these questions are to aid students with comprehension. Assessment will be made from observations of the discussion, questions 9 and 10, and a short written response upon completion of this assignment.

4. How will I implement this lesson?

1. Introduce the activity, showing a CD cover, asking how much money do they think artists make off of sales and who else gets paid. Another option is to show a video with plenty of bling bling.

2. Hand out the questions sheet, but not the article

3. Define vocabulary word number 2 then allow them a few minutes to look up the words individually. Discuss if needed.

4. Hand out and read the article together. Be sure to work out the math problems in the article on the board to give students a visual representation.

5. Discuss the article, with questions including: "Why does the artist get paid so little compared to others?" "How can artists increase their leverage?" "How can artists make more money?" "What are the pros and cons of being signed to a major label and what are the pros and cons of being independent?"

6. Use remaining time to let them work on questions and they can finish as homework. Remind them that they can use the internet.

7. Continue the discussion the following day. Check homework and give credit for effort.

8. Discuss questions as a class, leading into topics such as the supply and demand of labor and skills and how they can icrease the demand for themselves as workers.
9. Have them write a three paragraph reflective paper (adjust as needed) on "How this discussion affected views on their career choices and aspirations."

5. Resources needed
CD Cover (artist varies)
Hip Hop video, VCR, television (optional)
Hand outs
Dry erase markers or chalk


As always, adjust as needed.

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