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Using “Wrote My Way Out” From Hamilton With Students (Including Writing Prompt)

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My wife took me to see Hamilton as birthday present this past week and, of course, it was amazing!

Regular readers know I’m a big fan (see The Best Teaching/Learning Resources On The Musical, “Hamilton”).

I’ve used Hamilton in class (see Using “My Shot” From Hamilton With ELLs & Others (Including Writing Prompt)), and I’ve been thinking about how I could use its song “Hurricane.”  That song has been modified and released as a mixtape titled “Wrote My Way Out,” which is the part of the song that I think I could particularly use with ELLs.

This is a lyrics video of the original Hamilton song:

You can read the lyrics here.

The verse that I’m thinking of using is this one:

I wrote my way out
Wrote everything down far as I could see
I wrote my way out
I looked up and the town had its eyes on me

There are variations of that verse in other parts of the song, and I think those parts could be pretty accessible to ELLs and they’d certainly enjoy it.

The mixtape uses lots of the original lyrics, but adds a lot, too. You can read all the lyrics here and I’ve embedded the video below (which only contains audio):

I  particularly like the final lyrics to that version:

I picked up the pen like Hamilton
I wrote my way out of the projects
Wrote-wrote my way out of the projects
Picked up the pen like Hamilton
I wrote my way out of the
Wrote-wrote my way out of the projects
I wrote my way out
Picked up the pen like Hamilton
I wrote my way out of the

(I wrote my way out)
Really, I saw like a hole in the rap game, so if I wanted to put my
little two cents in the game, then it would be from a different
perspective
(I wrote my way out)
I thought that I would represent for my neighborhood and tell
their story, be their voice, in a way that nobody has done it
Tell the real story

WRITING PROMPT:

I’m thinking that I could use the music with my Intermediate English Language Learners and ask them to respond to this prompt:

What do you think the singer means by “I wrote my way out. I thought that I would represent for my neighborhood and tell their story, be their voice, in a way that nobody has done it. Tell the real story”? Who do you think has told the story of your community? Do you think you could be a voice of your community? If you think you can help tell your community’s story, how could you do it and what kind of help would you need? If don’t think you can tell your community’s story, please explain why not.

What do you think?

I’ll be adding this post to Best Posts On Writing Instruction, as well as to the Hamilton “Best” list.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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

One Comment

  1. Larry: Nice work. You have a typo on the first line, has instead of as. Look for this posted today at http://DrDougGreen.com. Keep up the good work and consider following @DrDougGreeen. You are one of my best resources.
    Doug

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