Big Idea Week

Big Idea Week

Here at Flocabulary, we believe it’s important for students to experience real-world applications of the subjects they study in school. We also know how important it was for us to have role models—people who inspired us to dream, create and learn. That’s why our co-founder and CEO, Alex Rappaport, partnered with an organization in our Brooklyn neighborhood, the DUMBO Improvement District, to create Big Idea Week.

Photo by Tory Williams

Photo by Tory Williams

Big Idea Week, which took place May 19-23 this year, is a project-based STEM curriculum designed to immerse students in the entrepreneurial mindset, allowing them to explore problem-solving and teamwork through innovation. This year, our fourth-grade friends at P.S. 307, a neighborhood school, started the week with a workshop led by Brooklyn-based entrepreneurs (from companies like Tattly, Pensa, BioLite and JRSportBrief), who shared their stories about the entrepreneurial process—from problem, to idea, to product. Since each company represented a tech-centric design, engineering or content-creating business, these founders served as real-life STEM role models for the students.

Thanks to our partners at Maker’s Row, another DUMBO company, we also unveiled a prototype of the PillowKet, a design from fifth grade students Jaylin Francois, Angelina DiLone and Hannah Hamilton, who participated last year’s Big Idea Week.

Throughout the week, students talked about identifying problems and brainstorming solutions in their classrooms, and split into groups to develop their own creative product ideas. To wrap up the week, students presented their ideas to us (along with other guests and business leaders, including Brian Lemond from Brooklyn United), showing off their fantastic drawings and allowing us to ask lots of questions. Some of the ideas we heard included: a combined rollerblade and ice skate, the “Double Skater”; a serpent-shaped vacuum, the “Snake Cleaning Slither Machine”; a combined car seat/walker/high chair for babies, the “Mood & Motion 3-in-1 Convertible Chair”; and many others.

This week, students are going on a field trip to visit the folks they met from BioLite and Pensa to check out their labs, and see where they develop all of their cool inventions. The students will also get a tour of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a park that sits on the edge of the East River, itself a “big idea” since it provides a new place for New Yorkers to enjoy nature in a space that was once vacant.

Visit the website to learn more about Big Idea Week.

Summer Fun: Student Raps in 4 Steps

How to Rap

Indigo Desouza singing some hooks for our new kindergarten vocab songs

Over the years, we have seen some amazing student rap creations. Want to have students make their own raps or videos? Here’s everything you’ll need to get started.

1. Choose a Beat

Have students check out these free Flocab beats. Once they find a favorite, right click on the beat title at the bottom of the page and click “Save Link As” to download the Mp3.

2. Write Lyrics

Start with our lesson plans for writing academic rhymes. You’ll learn how to lead students through writing rhymes, incorporating figurative language, and more. Have them choose their own topics or work with specific concepts from their coursework.

3. Record

Audio

Want to record the track as an Mp3? On a Mac, students can use the free app GarageBand to record and mix their raps. They can simply drag the Flocab beat Mp3 into a new project and start rapping over it. For PC users, Audacity is a great free recorder and sound editor.

Students can stop after making the Mp3, or can take the project further. You can make a playlist of class projects in iTunes and burn it to CD so that students have a collection of their classmates’ songs. Students can also use the Mp3 as the audio track for their own rap music videos.

Video

There are many ways to record students’ performances. Many computers and smart phones have cameras built in. The quickest, easiest way to make a video is to play the beat in the classroom and record students rapping over it. For a more in-depth project, students can record audio separately (using the resources above), then sync up audio and video together using free editing software.

On a Mac, you can use the video feature in the Photo Booth app that comes with the computer to record. Then you can edit your movie using the free iMovie app. On a PC, you can use Windows Movie Maker. Click here for a list of other free video editing tools.

4. Upload

Students can easily upload their videos to YouTube to share with the world. Click here for instructions on how to upload videos. To share audio, you can create a free account for your class on Bandcamp. Then you can share students’ videos and songs with us in the comments below! (Provided you have parent and student permission, of course :) )

 

It’s that simple. Students can express themselves, collaborate, practice using figurative language and learn more about a topic in one fell swoop. Leave links to your students’ creations in the comments below. We can’t wait to see what your students come up with!

 

Flocab Thanks Teachers

We were going to write a post about how it’s important to thank your teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Then we realized—Hey, why don’t we thank OUR teachers? This post goes out to all the teachers who inspired this creative team. From kindergarten to college, everyone at Flocab remembers teachers who changed us for the better and stayed with us forever. Without further adieu, THANK YOU!


Teacher Appreciation Week is May 5-9. How will you thank the teachers who inspire you?