Category Archives: great thinkers

Working with disengaged students

MWPThe challenge when working with disengaged youth is not only to re-engage students so that they participate happily in class but also to empower them to believe that they can read and write and that it is worth it.

I began working with Mark as part of an AIR program designed to challenge students and in so doing provide them with an opportunity to empower themselves.  Mark’s process provides a venue through which students can write, polish and publish artwork that can be included in a portfolio.


Mild mannered Mark has worked as a Youth Worker in Ipswich and at Annerley and he understands the students and their needs very well.  To get them started, he brainstorms words to build a lexical word bank.  From there, the students are engaged with a process of rhyming, which often causes them to say, This is too hardor I can’t spell!    Student work groups build up around the dictionary and other co-building aids.

Mark is a wizard of the freestyling genre and often the students ask, Can’t we just have a go at doing this?   This capacity to record instantly brings about an aura of spontaneity and the capacity for unfettered creativity is fostered.   Rebecca a VET coordinator said……

Rapping develops student’s ability to use and manipulate language in a creative way, which effectively supports their capacity to engage in more rigorous VET courses that they undertake when they are in contact with Youth Justice sites throughout Queensland.

During the rapping sessions, students achieve and develop

  •        research/dictionary skills
  •        phonological awareness
  •        an understanding of rhythm and tenor

teamFurthermore, they are developing life skills such as team playing and commitment, while becoming proficient with the more formal presentation, editing and refinement skills as they develop through the publishing aspect of the musical program.