Press Release: Flocabulary Aims to Close Financial Literacy Gap with New Hip-Hop Video Series

Brooklyn, N.Y., November 12, 2014 – Flocabulary, producer of educational hip-hop videos, today announced a new content series for teaching financial literacy. The collection of 12 hip-hop videos and accompanying classroom activities supports lessons on budgeting, college loans, credits cards and other financial literacy topics. Flocabulary produced the videos in partnership with The City University of New York (CUNY) and the NYS Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC).

“We know that uninformed financial decisions can have a long-lasting negative impact on students,” said Elsa Magee, Acting President of HESC. “Our partnership with CUNY and Flocabulary allows us to provide practical financial literacy education that connects with students in an engaging manner, increases knowledge and helps bring about positive action on the part of students.”

The new series comes at a time of increased emphasis on personal finance education across the nation: this year, 17 states required a high school personal finance course be taken – nearly triple the number of states with this requirement in 2004. In addition, study results released this July demonstrated a financial literacy gap between U.S. teens and their international peers. In the study, American 15-year-olds performed near the average in an assessment of financial literacy, scoring lower than students in China, Australia and Estonia. More than one in six U.S. teens did not reach the baseline level of proficiency in the subject.

“Teachers and students have come to rely on Flocabulary to bring educational content to life across academic subjects,” said Alex Rappaport, co-founder and CEO of Flocabulary. “Personal finance can be a little dry and inaccessible for kids and adults, so we saw this as an opportunity to use our unique approach to teach these important skills and prepare students for life beyond the classroom.”

Each of the twelve units in Flocabulary’s new series teaches a financial literacy topic with an original hip-hop video, providing a subject overview to engage students. Corresponding interactive lyrics offer in-depth explanations of concepts covered, and classroom activities allow students to demonstrate personal finance knowledge through hands-on practice. Each unit in the series incorporates key financial vocabulary to reinforce students’ financial fluency. The series aligns with The Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy.

“Students need this information to help them understand the real world and make better connections to it,” said Marie Green, a middle school social studies teacher in Michigan who uses the new financial literacy videos in her classroom. “We are always looking for new and innovative ways that reach out to students. Flocabulary does that.”

The complete financial literacy series is now available at

About Flocabulary
Flocabulary is a Brooklyn, NY-based online library of educational hip-hop songs and videos for grades K-12. The content library includes resources to support instruction in math, science, social studies and ELA, in addition to vocabulary, current events and life skills. Over 20,000 schools use Flocabulary to engage and inspire students. The company’s team of artists and educators is not only committed to raising test scores, but also to fostering a love of learning in every child. For more on Flocabulary, visit or connect on Twitter or Facebook.


Every week, our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest gives students an opportunity to win a shout out for their school in the next Week in Rap. For this week’s contest, we challenged you to write a dictionary entry for a word of your own creation, or a neologism. The Oxford English Dictionary, the “definitive record of the English language,” updates regularly to include new words. Language is constantly evolving, and new words are coined all the time. Maybe one day some of your neologisms will find their way into the dictionary!

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Retell the News

Every week, our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest gives students an opportunity to win a shout out for their school in the next Week in Rap. Here at Flocabulary, we put the news into song every week. News articles are a great way to learn about current events in detail, but other formats can make the big picture easier to understand. For this week’s contest, we challenged you to retell a news story in a different form of media. A comic strip, an infographic, a video—any format that can tell the story.

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Behind the Scenes: Making New Rap Music on a News Deadline


Dillon V, dressed to the IXs

Flocab rapper Dillon V was up late waiting anxiously to see who won the World Series. His home teamthe Atlanta Braveshad been out of contention for quite awhile. So why did he care?

He needed to wait until the game ended to record the Week in Rap. Otherwise we couldn’t include the winner! (Missed the game? You can find out who won in this Week in Rap.)

We typically record the Week in Rap on Wednesday evening. That way, we have time to make the video all day Thursday, and get it to you by Thursday night! But that means that if news breaks late on Wednesday, or any time on Thursday, we don’t get to include it.

When big news is missing on a Friday, we hear from you! (Students were very mad when we missed the death of Steve Jobs.) So if we know a major news story is going to break late on Wednesday, or even Thursday morning, we’ll hold off on recording as long as we can.

Dillon told us, “I was glad that the game didn’t go into extra inningsmy bed time was getting close, and since Halloween is coming up I’ve been a little sca…eh. I was just glad to get to bed on time.”

Sometimes we even record two versions! Back in 2012, we knew the Supreme Court was going to announce its huge decision about the Affordable Care Act on a Thursday morning, so we recorded two versions of the Week in Rapone where the law was upheld, and one where it was struck down. (We just have to make sure we use the right version).

So thanks to Dillon V for staying up late to get you the news! And if you’re trick or treating around Atlanta, look out for a man dressed as a lobster.


Dillon V, spitting rhymes as a lobster

Did we miss any news stories you wanted to see? Let us know in the comments!

Q&A with Shannon Miller, Teacher Librarian and Digital Citizenship Expert

Shannon Miller PicAfter earning her degree in elementary education and art, Shannon Miller stayed home with her three children for thirteen years. When a district teacher librarian position opened up, she applied, got the job, and went back to school to get a master’s in library science. As a teacher librarian, she worked with students in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as teachers, parents, and the school community. After several years on the job, Shannon began speaking and consulting about librarianship, technology, education and connecting classrooms online with social media. Today, she’s regarded as a thought leader on these topics. On top of her presenting and consulting work, she’s now an educational consultant for Mackin Educational Resources, the Director of School and Library Strategy for In This Together Media and the Executive Director of Library & Educational Services for Biblionasium.

Digital citizenship is a new topic at Flocab. This summer, we created the video “Think Before You Post” with our partner Common Sense Education, offering tips for students juggling multiple social media channels and deciding what to post on them. We know it can be tricky! To gear up for this year’s Digital Citizenship Week (October 19-25, 2014), we talked with Shannon to learn how she teaches students about our lives online, and why she’s so passionate about it.

Flocabulary: What is your definition of digital citizenship?
Shannon Miller: To be a digital citizen means that you are aware, responsible, and part of the world that we know, which is filled with technology, collaboration, and connecting to one another in a variety of ways. I often think about this though…should we keep calling it “digital citizenship” or just make it part of the definition of citizenship? Everyone is digital, it is everywhere, and it is part of almost everything we do. So why keep adding “digital” – it is just part of who we all are as citizens.

Flocabulary: That’s true! When did you begin teaching students about digital citizenship, and how have your lessons changed or evolved as technology has developed?
Shannon Miller: I began teaching students about digital citizenship a month into my job as a teacher librarian. When I first got hired, I was teaching 7th and 8th graders keyboarding. Before long, I was in the curriculum director’s office talking to her about changing the class to be one filled with exploring, creating, and collaborating through digital tools and resources. With this, I also knew that we had to make digital citizenship part of our curriculum within these classes. Then, it didn’t take long for me to see that this had to be infused into all grade levels within our district, as well. We wrote a new curriculum that would bring digital citizenship, technology, information literacy and a love of reading to all our students. You can find that curriculum here. From the start, I used this curriculum to guide the topics we covered, but used the technology and tools to bring creativity, exploration, and fun to the learning and teaching of these topics.

One age level that didn’t have a lot of resources was for our youngest learners. I went to my friends at Rosen Publishing and asked them if I could write a series of books that would help teachers and parents have conversations with young students about important topics. The series is called Internet Do’s and Don’ts and includes titles such as Be Nice Online, Don’t Share Your Address Online, and Don’t Share Your Plans Online. You can see them here.

Flocabulary: Since many students enjoy using social media and technology, the topic of digital citizenship has natural relevance to their interests. Tell us about one of your favorite digital citizenship lessons.
Shannon Miller: One of the best parts of using social media and technology with young people is being able to connect them to anyone throughout the world. We can connect them to other students and teachers, to experts, to authors and illustrators, to developers, to gamers – to anyone they want to connect, learn, and collaborate with. When our students entered kindergarten, we started using Skype to bring the world into the library. This brought an important conversation on being respectful and safe online while connecting with others. One of my favorite things were these first connections because of their excitement and fascination with Skype and the connection taking place. To connect the little ones to a class in Wisconsin or to the author of Little Critter, Mercer Mayer, is one of the best things ever and will create digital citizens who can communicate and collaborate with others through these connections and beyond.

Shannon McClintock Miller also blogs at The Library Voice, where she highlights her work within education, technology, social media, and digital citizenship.