New York Times ‘Year in Rap’ Student Contest

Deadline: 7 January 2014
Open to: students from anywhere in the world from 13 to 19 years old
Prize: publication of your rap on the New York Times Learning Network blog page


Quick: What rhymes with “Affordable Care Act”? “Edward Snowden”? “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge”? If you can’t come up with at least one answer, you might want to start brainstorming, because the Year in Rap Student Contest is back.

Along with their annual partner, Flocabulary, (creators of the Week in Rap, the Year in Rap and other educational songs, videos and resources for K-12), The New York Times invites you to post your entry by Jan. 7, 2014.

If you’ve participated before, the rules are pretty much the same: just write an informed, engaging 12- to-16-line rap about some aspect of this year’s news.

To help, they’ll be publishing their usual end-of-year quiz and list of 2013 retrospectives that can help you remember the highs and the lows. Both will be available by Dec. 23, so stay tuned — or get ahead now by going back through their weekly news quizzes to see how well you do.

Teachers, they have also posted Flocabulary’s lesson plan and rubric to help in guiding your students through the rap-writing process.

The Contest Rules: Write Your Own ‘Year in Rap’

The rap should be 12 to 16 lines long. Students should choose at least four important New York Times stories from one of the news categories listed below.

It’s fine to focus on a smaller topic found within a section in The Times. For example, you can write a rap based on just the government shutdown rather than the whole range of national or political news this year. Or, you might focus on 2013 movies rather than covering other news from the Arts section. But you should also feel free to include as many, and as wide a range, of news stories from a particular section as you like. (More about narrowing your choices can be found in this section of the lesson plan.)

Here are the sections from which you can choose:

The rap should be original and must follow Learning Network commenting standards, which means no profanity or vulgar language.

Want inspiration? Here are the winners from 2012 and from 2011. Can you top them?


Submissions must be from students from 13 to 19 years old. (Update:Students can come from anywhere in the world.) No last names please, but an initial is fine, as is a school or class code of some type. (For example, “Ethan G. CHS112.”)

Submissions are allowed from partners and teams as well as from individuals — just remember to submit all of your names when you post your rhyme. (This year we’ll judge all entries the same.)

One submission per student, please. If you’re submitting as part of a team, you should not also submit as an individual.


Publication of your rap on the New York Times Learning Network blog page.


Raps must be submitted as comments on this post HERE by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 7. If you have questions about the contest, please feel free to post them in the comments section as well, and they’ll answer you there.

The top five raps, as judged by The Times and Flocabulary staff using this rubric, will be featured on both The Learning Network and Because of privacy rules that apply to students under 18, they are asking for only your lyrics. While they love YouTube videos of young rappers as much as anyone, please don’t post links to them here.

For more details, please see the official call for submissions HERE.

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