Earlier this spring, our Lyric Legend Contest gave classrooms the opportunity to write and submit their own lyrics to be featured in original editions of the Week in Rap Junior and Week in Rap Extra! And the winners were (drum roll please): Steven Torres’ third grade class at Felix A. Williams Elementary in Florida, and Karl Karkainen’s sixth grade class at Enumclaw Middle is Washington!
For their impressive lyrical talents, the winning contestants were rewarded with a microphone, mic stand, headphones, AND an iPad! Now they can keep making masterpieces like the WIR Junior and WIR Extra editions that were based on each class’ lyrics!
We interviewed the proud educators of these talented students to learn more about how they use hip-hop as an instructional tool.
Steven has been using Flocabulary for two years and plans to continue as he finds that incorporating music and rhyme into his lessons has many benefits for his students. But why emphasize current events? “I try and make the Week In Rap Junior part of my regular social studies instruction. It is a fun and easy way to not only teach my students about current events, but it often leads to great discussions. I feel it also lays a foundation for the importance of paying close attention to the news,” he said.
Powerful student engagement was the key benefit for both teachers. We asked Karl Karkainen, who teaches Language Arts/History, to share how Flocab helps in that area. He described how his students keep the beat with their hands on the table and singing along to Flocab music videos. The Week In Rap, especially, seems to have a huge impact on Karl’s students. “They’ll talk about the issue and ask their peers what they think,” Karl continued, “It’s given them an access point to current events.”
But was writing the lyrics as exciting as listening for these contestants? The answer was unanimous—the teachers found it a challenging, fun and creative way for their students to put their critical thinking skills to work. As Steven states “Writing a rhyme is not as easy as it sounds. The hardest part was trying to scale down all of their creative ideas…overall we were very pleased with the final product.”
It was most exciting to know that other students all over the country would use the content as a learning resource. We went straight to the source and asked one of Mr. Karkainen’s participating students her thoughts. “It’s just really cool…the fact that it’s being used by other kids. It makes me feel like I’m helping other people around the world learn about this topic,” the student shared.
Congratulations to our winners! We thank you for sharing your talent and enthusiasm for academic rhyme. Stay tuned for another exciting chance to represent your school in a Flocab contest!