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08-30-2000

New Iberia, Louisiana

Rap & Write: Workshop asks kids to improve
Youthful approach motivates students

By Amy Cary
The Daily Iberian

Students at Park Elementary School were given the opportunity to combine dance moves, chart-topping music hits and their knowledge of grammar and spelling into one day of learning fun. Nationally recognized writing consultant Erik Cork led third-to sixth graders through a writing workshop where rap and rhythm were a major focus.

The students learned their favorite songs are measures of poetry – from their reactions at the event they enjoyed the fun and light atmosphere of the workshop. Through his self-created writing workshop, “Rap, Rhythm & Rhyme: Rebuilding the Writing Foundation.” Cork taught students the importance of writing skills and features such elaboration stretching sentences and structured paragraphs. Cork’s youthful approach to teaching students the importance of reading and writing seemed to be a hit.

The former writing instructor had enthusiastic student participation. Children screamed with delight as Cork invited teachers to join him in a line-dance. Students were encouraged to shout out answers and jump out of their seats when answering some of Cork’s question. Children screamed with delight as Cork invited teachers to join him in a line-dance. Students were encouraged to shout out answers and jump out of their seats when answering some of Cork’s questions.

Given the opportunity to expand their abundant energy, students were very active in the participation of activities that Cork provided. One activity included allowing students to chose other students for question-answering. Cork demonstrated to the students an in-person interview, and gave them a preview of his upcoming children’s literature series.

It’s fun to have a person who can relate to children. It’s fun to learn from him,” said DeAndre McCall, a fifth-grader. “I thought it was going to be just writing. I didn’t know it would be music and fun. I liked the program.,” said sixth grader Sparkle Landry. Principal Evelyn Louis said this was the first year the program has been at Park elementary.

The school chose to let the students in grades four to six attend because school officials believe the program and the skills Cork stresses help improve scores on high stakes testing.

Cork has conducted writing workshop for more than 100,000 elementary and secondary students. He also has presented his program professional educators in more than 500 school districts and universities across the country. He is a former writer-in-residence for the Writers In The Schools organization. A presenter for the Ohio-based Visionary Leaders Institute, Cork was recently chosen to serve on a national Musication committee chaired by Stevie Wonder. A contributing editor for Houston Style magazine, Cork has published interviews with talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Cork has written two plays and is working on a children’s literature series.

I like the way he plays the music people enjoy so they can learn to write better and get a better education,” said Cliff Moss, fourth-grader. “He gives a new approach for the students to learn from,” said Leona Singleton, a sixth grade teacher.