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.


Who "Discovered" America? Original Civilizations and Colonization Video

“Who Discovered It” is the first track (and unit) from Flocabulary’s Hip-Hop U.S. History program, and here for your classroom-use adventures and listening pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, is an original music video of the song!


This song explores the civilizations that were already here in the Americas when Columbus first touched shore, as well as the subsequent colonization of the continents.

A huge thanks to animusic95, whoever you are, for creating this video and sharing it with the hip-hop education world.

“Real Talk” Warning: As posted in a comment beneath the YouTube video, “Nice lyrics, I can relate, since I am from Arawak descent. You got your history facts right.”

Word Up Boxing: Innovative Activity for Level Blue, Unit 2 "Muhammad Ali"

Howdy do Hip-Hop Classroom! It’s my pleasure this week to share with you a very original, very incredible lesson plan from our good friend Shelby Oates. Shelby is a lit coach and teacher at Summerour Middle School, just outside of Atlanta, GA, and she never ceases to amaze with her academic creations: high-quality, detailed lesson plans to go along with units and themes – in this case from The Word Up Project: Level Blue.

The lesson plan has students learning new vocabulary words so well that they can literally “knock out” incorrect synonyms and definitions. There’s teamwork, there’s physical activity, there’s repetition and there’s competition. In other words: it’s fun AND it works.

For those of you using Word Up, enjoy this treat. For everyone else, maybe it will inspire some creative lesson planning of your own. A huge thanks to Shelby – keep up the amazing work!

Link to download lesson plan

Hip-Hop in the Classroom: Ontario

Flocabulary friend and colleague Cheryl McCarron of ESL Shop created a video that cuts right to the heart of “Hip-Hop in the Classroom.” In this short clip, you’ll see English Language Learners from all over the world in an elementary ESL classroom in Ontario. The students have been in Canada less than a year – some less than a month.

Watch as they fall in love with Biggie, a song about a very cool (and very fat) cat from Unit 1 of The Word Up Project: Level Red. They memorize the song, learn the vocabulary, practice speaking and using the words in original sentences -and have a great time all the while. The teacher, Oksana Hohol, relates her experience throughout the video.

Thanks Cheryl, Oksana and all the kids at Rose Avenue Elementary School, for working hard and reminding us why we do what we do.

Flocabulary buzz in Canada!

Flocabulary is honored to have been reviewed in the latest issue of the journal CONTACT – Ontario’s premier publication for ESL educators, administrators and consultants!

The rigorous review was written by Jim Papple, the speaking coordinator at Brock University. He has been a devoted “hip-hop head” for many years. His review of Flocabulary: The Hip-Hop Approach to SAT Level Vocabulary Learning, will “help all teachers befuddled by hip-hop to discover not only what it is but also its potential in the ESL classroom.”

Needles to say, we’re honored and thrilled – and excited to see Canadian ESL students use Flocabulary resources.

A big thanks to Clayton Graves, the editor of CONTACT, and Jim Papple. Hopefully, we’ll be making our way up north soon enough!

You can download the latest issue of CONTACT (and the Flocabulary review on pages 40-43) here:


The Roaring 20's – a multi-disciplinary curriculum

Hello again, Hip-Hop Classroom. We just found this incredible (and incredibly thorough) series of lesson plans revolving around the 1920′s, and needed to share. Four weeks worth of lessons are included!

Kudos to The Hip-Hop Circuit: Teachers for compiling some great hip-hop in the classroom resources – there’s more where this one came from, be sure to check them out too!

Here is the link: Roaring 20′s Curriculum

Happy Teaching!

Bronx students learn to rap the Periodic Table

The use of Hip-Hop as an educational tool continues to expand, and the media is taking note. Check out this video and news story from NYC local news channel, NY1!

Students at one Bronx high school rap their way through science class, and say the material is more interesting than ever before. NY1′s Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Read the report and see the video here.

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.

Listen to The Last Class Song

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!