Bye Buffering: New Variable Video Streaming Means Better Playback

Fall – it’s a great season for feasts, foliage…and new Flocab features. We’re always looking to improve so Flocabulary works the best it can for teachers and students, and recently, that meant addressing an issue we’ve heard from a number of educators out there: buffering. With our latest feature, you have the option of adjusting the playback quality for every Flocabulary video, from high definition (HD) to 240p, the lowest quality option. Adjusting your playback quality offers a quick fix for when internet issues arise.

HD feature image

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Durham Intermediate School Students Create Awareness Crazes for Wildlife Conservation to Win a Week in Rap Shout-Out!

The Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest challenges students to think, write and create to win a shout-out for their school each week. Students in Ms. Loewen’s 6th grade class at Durham Intermediate School in Southlake, TX took things a step further, acting as designers and advocates to win Friday’s shout-out. Read on to learn about their ideas to bring awareness to their favorite environmental and wildlife causes with some creative fashion crazes.

Durham Intermediate School

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Why Flocabulary Takes Field Trips to Schools (And Why Every Edtech Company Should, Too)

At Flocabulary, we visit the classrooms of NYC teachers as often as we can to observe Flocab lessons, answer questions and gather feedback. We went on our first visit of fall 2015 today and had a blast! Our Product Director, Aliza Aufrichtig authored this post, originally published on, to explain why we started this classroom visit tradition and how other edtech companies can do the same. 

First Student #336 by ThoseGuys119, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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The Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest: Congrats Slatington Elementary School!

Each week, we challenge students to think critically, create and innovate to win a shout-out for their school through The Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest. Friday’s winning entry came from Mrs. Coppolecchia’s 6th grade English class at Slatington Elementary School in Slatington, PA, which designed a way to improve on existing camera technology. Here’s what they thought up!

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 12.14.53 PM

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Milton Hershey School’s 2nd Graders Use 3D Printing for Good to Win the Week in Rap Junior Shout-Out Contest!

The Week in Rap Junior is new for Flocab – and keeping pace with the program’s big bro, The Week in Rap, we kicked off a shout-out contest just for our Junior viewers! In a recent edition of the series, we introduced the technology of 3D printing and asked students: if you could print a 3D object, what would it be and why? This question “hijacked the entire learning day” (luckily, in a good way) in Mrs. Halliday’s 2nd grade class at Milton Hershey School, winners of the shout-out. Read on to learn how these students used the challenge as a chance to do some good for the world.


Mrs. Halliday’s class watches The Week in Rap Junior every Friday. After watching the video, they use our interactive lyrics and do a close read of an article that sparked the students’ interest. Sometimes they’ll use their personal whiteboards to write about the cause and effect of a story, or write two facts and an opinion – they even pull out their class microphone from time to time to share their opinions loud and proud.

Mrs. Halliday wasn’t sure what students would think about 3D printing, but because their school recently added a STEAM lab with a 3D printer, she was ready to give the contest a shot. It turned out the class was enthralled! Students’ curiosity fueled a day of 3D printing conversation, research and innovation. Students wanted to know what was already being 3D printed, leading the class to use research skills to find relevant news. In their search, they learned about a baby who was given a breathing apparatus made from a 3D printer, and students were hooked.

Mrs. Halliday’s classroom has an initiative they call #kindnessmatters – as part of building their classroom community, it’s a theme they use to discuss how even small acts can make a difference. They used their #kindnessmatters theme as a lens to explore 3D printing as well.

Later in the day, students met up with their STEAM coordinator, Mr. Crowley, who told them that 3D printers can even create prosthetic limbs. He shared Enabling the Future with students – a network of volunteers who use their 3D printers to create free prosthetic hands for underserved populations around the world. The students were so excited about the prospect of giving back that at the time of publishing this post, they are still working with Mr. Crowley on printing a prosthetic hand for someone in need.

See Mrs. Halliday and her students as they discuss their ideas for ojects they would print in 3D, including their project for Enabling the Future!

FlocabJr 3d Printing from Christine Halliday on Vimeo.

When we spoke with Mrs. Halliday about this project, she noted how design thinking is such a big theme in education right now, and how creating links to the real world is so important. She also shared her thoughts on the process of presenting students with a problem and empowering them to come up with a solution. “I think there’s so much power in letting kids know that they can be problem solvers and that most problems are surmountable, if you’re willing to use your resources and time. This project was a really clear example of that.”

A big shout-out to Mrs. Halliday and her students for inspiring us to think about using technology to change the world!

Do your Week in Rap Junior fans want a shout-out? Click here to find out about the next Week in Rap Junior Shout-Out Contest Challenge.

The Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest: Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus!

Each week, we offer the chance for students to win a shout-out for their school by completing a critical thinking challenge through our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest. Friday’s winning entry came from Mr. Boscarino’s 7th grade science class at Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus in Barrington, IL – and it had a little something to do with pizza. Read on!

Barrington Middle School Shout-Out

Last week, after covering a story about how video games may develop key parts of the brain, we asked students to design their own educational game to teach an academic subject or skill.

A favorite from Mr. Boscarino’s class was a game that used pizza making to help students learn division, multiplication, and inequalities. As master pizza makers, players of the game get orders of different size pizzas with an array of toppings. Here’s an example of how the game works according to the student:

The customer orders a large pizza (12 slices) with 24 mushrooms and 36 olives. As the student, I would divide 24 by 12 to get two and then 36 divided by 12 to get three. This shows that there should be 2 mushrooms per slice and 3 olives per slice. To double check their work, a student might want to multiply (12 times 2 equals 24).Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.09.08 PM

The student added in additional layers of complexity as the player moves up levels within the game. For example, at level 3, the game starts to give the player two orders with a prompt to write an inequality about the toppings, slices, or number of pizzas the customers ordered.

We loved that this idea offered a great way to practice math skills while playing with pizza – because who doesn’t love pizza? Amazing job, Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus.

Does your school want a shout-out? Find out about the next Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest challenge!




Fullerton Union High School Students Survey 2,000 of their Peers to Win the Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest!

In a recent edition of The Week in Rap, we covered research findings on how much fast food U.S. kids and teens eat, so for the Shout-Out Contest, we asked students to design their own survey, predict its outcome, and then summarize its results. Tenth grade AVID students at Fullerton Union High School took the challenge to the next level by surveying 2,000 of their classmates. Here’s what they did to win last week’s shout-out…

Fullerton UHS

Every Friday, AVID Coordinator Mr. Hebert and his students watch The Week in Rap, using the fill-in-the-blank exercises to practice test-taking and note-taking, and later collaborate as they work with a partner to revise their work. When students saw the survey challenge, they were itching for a shout-out, and felt up to the task. They spent class time that Friday brainstorming a wide range of a questions they might ask their peers in a survey. They saw a common thread emerge – they were interested in time management and how students spend their time after school. Mr Hebert immediately saw the value in exploring this topic. “It is something we as educators and administrators could use, and time management is a theme we discuss often in AVID.” The students constructed a five-question, multiple choice survey to find out, on an average school day, how much time their peers spent on:

  • social media
  • homework and studying
  • enjoying media entertainment
  • doing physical activity
  • sleeping

The class wanted to reach as many students at their school as possible, and brought the project to the school administration, getting approval to conduct the survey widely. The following Monday, they worked together, collaborating with other teachers on campus to administer their survey to almost 2,000 students in one day! Knowing data is only useful when people can read it, the students created graphs and explained their findings in the following video:

Hebert picture for Flocabulary (1)

Mr. Hebert, AVID Coordinator at Fullerton Union High School

According to Mr. Hebert, the data that students collected was sent to the entire staff, and has become a conversation starter, leading staff to consider how the findings correlate with grades and college readiness. Prior to the students’ project, the school hadn’t completed a comprehensive survey related to time management. They are considering making it a more frequent initiative, perhaps adding additional categories to reflect other student commitments, such as working.

Beyond conducting a successful, large-scale survey, collecting valuable data, and raising awareness about student time management at their school, students practiced other skills putting together their Shout-Out Contest entry, according to Mr. Hebert. “Projects like this give students an opportunity to practice real-world skills, like communication. They had to figure out when to meet, and determine roles and scheduling,” he said. Mr. Hebert noted that many of the skills students exercised – including leadership and collaboration – are directly applicable to skills needed in the workforce. We’re super impressed, Fullerton Union High School! 

Does your school want a shout-out? Find out about the next Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest challenge!