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Using “My Shot” From Hamilton With ELLs & Others (Including Writing Prompt)

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I’m a big fan of the musical “Hamilton” but, of course, who isn’t? (see The Best Teaching/Learning Resources On The Musical, “Hamilton”)

“My Shot” is one of my favorite songs from the show and, though, like most of the songs, it’s sung too rapidly for many English Language Learners, it has an accessible chorus:

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy, and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

I’m going to talk with my student teacher about playing the song in U.S. History (after students learn about Alexander Hamilton), have students learn and sing the chorus, and then have them respond to this writing prompt:

The songwriter has Alexander Hamilton saying these words. What do you think he means by “I’m not throwing away my shot”? Can you think of others you know or who you have read about who have also not thrown away their “shots”? Who are they and what did they do? How can you apply this idea to your own life?

I think that prompt might be accessible to our Intermediate ELLs.  If not, I can make some changes.

I also want to try a version with my ELL Beginners. I think they would really enjoy the music, and they would like singing the chorus. It would be a good opportunity to learn about idioms. And I think, after explaining what it means, I’ll give them this sentence frame to respond to the question “How can you apply this idea to your own life?”:

“I’m not throwing away my shot because ______________________________________________.” Things I will do to not throw away my shot are _______________, _________________________, and __________________________.

It will fit in with our Social Emotional Learning lessons, and students could turn their response into a poster to hang on our classroom walls.

The lyrics to the song can be found here, and I’ve embedded two lyric videos that we can show in the classroom.  There is one classroom inappropriate word used in the song, but it’s just a quick “sh__ting” and, though I’ll double-check with administrators, I think it should be okay.

I’d love to hear ideas on how to make it a better activity!

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

NOTE: New Hamilton Mixtape Version Of “My Shot” Nice Addition To Yesterday’s Lesson

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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