Waking Up From Winter Break: How These Educators Engage Students After the Holidays

From all of us at Flocabulary, Happy 2016! We’re pumped for another year of working with awesome educators to inspire students. But whether you’re in a Brooklyn office or the back of an ELA classroom, getting into the swing of things after the holidays can be tricky!

We chatted with some educators in the Flocabulary community about the best way to re-engage students after winter break, and a clear theme emerged: culture-building. Here are four ways to create a strong, positive culture in your classroom after break, inspired by these educators.

engaging students after the holidays

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Five Pedagogical Reasons to Add Writing Rap to Your Lesson

Do you wish you could make writing more exciting? (Yes, we meant that to rhyme). We all know that writing is not only critically important for academic development and achievement, but is a key tool through which we can deepen our learning, communicate with others, express ourselves and be creative. But students may not always see writing as a wellspring of opportunity: a study from 2006 found that only 8% of students said they enjoy writing (HSSE, 2006).

Crafting writing exercises and assignments that resonate with students, boost engagement and support the curriculum is a challenge, then—but a solvable one. At Flocabulary, a favorite student-centered writing exercise to incorporate in lessons is, naturally, rhyme-writing! It’s as engaging as it is educational, and you don’t need to be a professional rapper to do it—check out our Writing Academic Rhymes resources here. Here are five ways that bringing rhyme-writing into your lesson has pedagogical benefit:

5 Pedagogical Reasons

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Students Pen Poems and Host Thoughtful Thanksgivings for Shout-Outs!

Each week, we recognize stellar student work submitted to the The Week in Rap and The Week in Rap Junior Shout-Out Contests. For their Week in Rap Shout-Out, students in Mrs. Karen Chin’s 7th Grade Social Studies class at Jane Addams Jr. High in Schaumburg, IL flexed their poetic muscles to produce a plethora of poems dedicated to inanimate objects. Meanwhile, in Houma, Louisiana, Mrs. Parfait’s 4th grade Physical Education class at Acadian Elementary School claimed Week in Rap Jr. Shout-Out fame with a thoughtful entry on their Thanksgiving guests of choice. Read on to explore these excellent entries!

Jane Addams Jr. High

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Shout-Out Spotlight: Brooklyn Students Use Rap to Respond to Recent News

In a recent edition of the Week in Rap, we dedicated our coverage to multiple stories about horrific acts of violence that were carried out by ISIS in Paris and Beirut and on a Russian airliner. Events like these can leave us with a range of emotions, opinions and questions, so for the accompanying Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest, we asked students to channel all of the above to create an artistic work in response to the news. We got many amazing submissions from students using art to express thoughts and feelings about the attacks. Though it was difficult to select a winner, we chose the students of P368K Star Academy in our hometown of Brooklyn, NY. These students wrote moving, thoughtful rhymes in reaction to recent news. We spoke with P368K American and World History Teacher and Debate Team Coach Debra Newman to learn more about the project.

Debra Newman's Class

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Students Recruit Astronauts and Found New Holidays for Shout-Outs!

Each week, we task students with thinking outside the box for the chance at Flocabulary fame through The Week in Rap and The Week in Rap Junior Shout-Out Contests! Ms. Megan Shipley’s 7th Grade Social Studies students at Margaret Mead Junior High School in Elk Grove Village, IL stole the show by creating materials to recruit new astronauts. Meanwhile, Ms. Laura Maier’s 5th graders at The Valley School in Seattle, WA stood out by creating new national holidays. Read on to learn about their outstanding entries!

The Valley School 12.4.15 Continue reading

How Writing for a Global Audience Transformed My Students Into Passionate Writers

At Flocabulary, fostering a love of learning in every student is one of our biggest goals. We believe that motivated students are successful students. Our Student Engagement Series features stories from real Flocab-using educators on their practices, lessons, and ideas to get students excited about creating, writing, learning and dreaming.

“When children create for the world, they make it good. When children only create for their teachers, they make it good enough.” -Rushton Hurley

“My precious. My precious.” Many of you may recognize the phrase from The Lord Of The Rings. It’s a phrase spoken by Gollum, the crazy creature who hides deep in the caves. He craves the ring. He wants the ring. It’s all he can think of. What if I were to tell you that this creature exists in every school in the country? What if I were to tell you that this creature is you?

I am Typing by Adikos, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

I am Typing by Adikos, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Making Hip-Hop Music Videos to Bring History to Life in the Library: A Spotlight on Mt. Bethel Elementary

Last school year, Teacher-Librarian Heather Kindschy at Mt. Bethel Elementary in Marietta, GA wanted to expand on a songwriting history research project she’d led with students in the past. With a focus on project-based learning, the assignment would challenge students to work in groups to explore the stories of important historical figures from Reconstruction through the Great Depression using the Big6 Research Model. Students would then create their own music videos about these characters from history. And the project needed to be something students would get excited about. So using Flocabulary as inspiration, Heather created a hip-hop music video challenge, a project that had students eager to get to work – even during indoor recess and time before school! Here’s how she did it.  

Mt. Bethel Post Image

GarageBand + iPad!!??? by Joseph Thornton, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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North Lewis Elementary School Students Host a Circus for a Week in Rap Junior Shout-Out!

Every week, we ask The Week in Rap Junior fans a question through our Shout-Out Contest, and recognize the school that responds with creativity, imagination, and educational relevance, too. Students in Kristen Strother’s class at North Lewis Elementary School in New Iberia, LA did some delightful storytelling about their very own circus to win the latest Shout-Out. Delve in to discover their masterful use of descriptive language.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.53.44 AM

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Students at W.P. McLean School Design a Better Test for a Week in Rap Shout-Out!

Every week, we celebrate student creativity through the The Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest. For last week’s Shout-Out, students in Melissa Torres’ 8th social studies class at W.P. McLean School in Fort Worth, Texas stood out with their critical thinking about improving college admissions exams. Read on to learn what they proposed!

WP Mclean School

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