Writing Rhymes for Test Prep: A Spotlight on ESL Teacher Leah Simpson

When working with an ESL population, one of teacher Leah Simpson’s goals is to help students prepare for the WIDA test, an English language proficiency exam used by a number of states across the country, including her home state of Tennessee. The Warren County High School Teacher, based in McMinnville, TN, uses our Word Up Blue and The Week in Rap to help students practice Tier 2 vocabulary and bring nonfiction text into her classroom.

As part of their test preparation, students also need practice with academic vocabulary across subjects. How did Leah decide to boost subject-specific vocab with her class this year? With rhyme-writing, of course! Each of Leah’s five class periods picked a subject—math, science, social students, ELA or social/instructional language—and worked over the course of a month to compose a rap as a group. Students performed their raps for their families at Warren County High School’s ESL Family Night this fall to much celebration. Here’s what Leah told us about the experience:

Leah Simpson Post Image final

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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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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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