Tag Archives: hip-hop in the classroom

School reform? The key may be motivation

Flocabulary was created for many reasons – but none more significant than the urgent need to get students more motivated to learn. They say that “a motivated student is a successful student,” and we couldn’t agree more. Music and culturally relevant connections (e.g. Hip-Hop) are but one of countless ways to engage students, and motivate them to try hard and care about their education.

Here’s an illuminating article from Newsweek that speaks to the issue of motivation. Whatever we’re doing as educators, we need to never neglect the inspiration, compassion and investment it takes to get our student excited about the endeavor of learning.


Flocabulary Fridays, Word Up Baseball and more

Shelby Oates from Summerour Middle School (just outside of Atlanta, GA) is an educator with a never-ending supply of tricks up her sleeve – to motivate students, engage them in learning, and help them achieve to their highest potential. Check out some ideas she recently submitted for use with Flocabulary’s Word Up Project program!


“I have begun to use the program!  My kids were excited just from the mention of the name!  We have deemed our Friday’s, “Flocabulary Friday” and though sometimes we have to miss a week due to other deadlines, it has become such a reward for the students;-)  They even have started to say “WORD UP” when taking attendance on our “Flocabulary Fridays”, and they are publishing a magazine soon where the first 15 words from the program must be used throughout.

“We spent a couple of weeks on the first rap, Bottom of the Ninth to ensure retention of the words as they slipped up a little when we assessed them; but that’s what I love about the program, it is so flexible!  We even played Word Up Baseball in Flocabulary Field!! We set up the room like a baseball diamond and named if Flocabulary Field.  The students used the sentence mix up activity with Bottom of the Ninth and on home plate was the incorrect word on a large piece of paper for whatever sentence we were on.  The opposite team had the other 14 words written on large pieces of paper and those were their “gloves” and the batter had to hit a baseball (a rolled up papertowel hit with a yard stick;-) into the field and had to do his/her best to hit or come close to the correct word in the field.  We figured out equivalents to 3 strikes, walks and different base hits/home runs/grand slams, but it forced each team to know what the correct word is so they could either play defense in the field and block the correct word so it wasn’t hit, or to hit the baseball in the right direction.  IT WAS ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!

I am ready to study Mime in a Box next and this is really just a preview of next year for me as a teacher, because EVERY Friday next year will be “Flocabulary Friday” and I can’t wait to think of great games to play with the sentence mix ups……I think charades will be the next challenge to do our best to mime out the meanings;-)

PS/IS 150 in Brooklyn: The School of Rap

Meet Craig Campbell and his students, at PS/IS 150 in Brownsville, NY. Mr. Campbell and his students created the “School of Rap,” using Flocabulary as inspiration for their own brand of Hip-Hop in the Classroom.

Check out the pics, and listen to a song the class recorded below. Dare I say, the production is truly ahead of its time and the rhymes just get stuck in your head. We’ve been singing it at Flocabulary for days!

Craig Campbell got in touch with us with an amazing story of turning “disinterested rebels” into “engaged students” with Flocabulary programs (in his case, Hip-Hop U.S. History).

Mr. Campbell writes,

“My students’ interest in Flocabulary got me thinking. I had some Mac computers with Garageband software, a personal interest in home recording and, low and behold, a talented 7th grader named Pablo who could play piano and program beats. Soon we were writing lyrics, positive and school appropriate, as modeled in Flocabulary. We called ourselves School of Rap and recorded about six songs. Everyone had a chance to rap… Interest in all subjects increased and conflict in the classroom lessened. The class was obviously proud.”

Way to go, School of Rap. You all did a fantastic job, and we know your talent and motivation will lead you all to great things.

Rhyme ‘n Learn

Joe Ocando was teaching middle school in Washington Heights NYC as part of the Teach For America program when he thought of starting Rhyme n’ Learn. Inspired by Flocabulary, and “particularly concerned with the low numbers of US citizens in graduate STEM programs,” Joe began creating math and science raps. Citing research results from the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, Joe continues to create high-interest “edu-raps,” and bolstering what more and more people already know: hip-hop in the classroom works!

Indianapolis 6th Grade Class Uses Hip-Hop To Get on Top

Whoa – we just got word of a school putting out one extraordinary academics-based rap music video after another! The 6th graders at Lew Wallace Elementary in Indianapolis, IN, have been busy this past year, creating songs and videos that cover everything from atomic structure to the dangers of drug use.

Check out the “Bacteria Rap” or a great track about “Animal Relationships

Flocabulary commends these students and their teacher, Damon E. Jennings, for their work. All of the videos (available on Mr. Jennings’ YouTube channel) are great, and serve as examples of the possibilities for using Hip-Hop as a part of the learning process. If done right, Hip-Hop in the classroom can help students master content, become more motivated to achieve, and have a memorable, fun experience in the process!

Bacteria Rap Music Video:

The Hip-Hop Game of Skillz

That’s right: A hip-hop board game that educates players about the history of the genre and the culture intertwined with it, connects “rap culture slang” to standard English, and more. Learn more about this innovative and engaging (and educational) game here.

How did we find out about this? Folks connected to the Hip-Hop Skillz creators reached out to us! Here’s what Shon wrote:

“I enjoyed looking at all the work other educators are doing
to use hip-hop as an engaging tool to embrace youth culture and get
them involved more actively in the learning process. I noticed
you did not have anything on the The Hip-Hop Game of SKILLZ, by Wil
Seegars (an educator from Detroit that created a powerful board game
that teaches the rich history of Hip-Hop Culture, chronicles its
social diversity across the globe, engages its players in vocabulary
battles, and gets students to demonstrate their ability to go from
slang to standard English). If you never heard of his work and his
product, I think it’s well worth looking into and posting something
about him on your site. His website is www.hiphopskillz.com

Good luck with what you’re doing and lets keep showing the world
Hip-Hop is more than a negative blub on the evening news.”

– Shon Watts

Right on!

Hip-Hop Geography (International): Exercise/Trivia Game

Hip-Hop related trivia as a tool for teaching geography? Absolutely.

Daniel D. Zarazua – a teacher at Oakland Unity High School – created this incredible excercise, which quizzes students on their geography skills by connecting Hip-Hop artists, groups, and history to places and cultures from around the globe. With 31 questions, an answer key, and suggested lesson plan, this is the best Hip-Hop Geography exercise I’ve seen yet.

Mr. Zarazua’s site has a wealth of advanced ideas for integrating Hip-Hop into your classroom and more.

Hip-Hop Geography Exercise