As high-stakes testing season approaches, the classroom can become a whirlwind of test prep. With these tests drawing nearer and nearer, it’s important for teachers to focus on more than just content because there's more to being prepared than just knowing all the answers. Students must be able to deal with stress and anxiety, have good studying habits and practice the act of taking a test itself. But how do you address these skills in the classroom? We asked teachers this very question, and here’s what we found.
In order to be a great rapper, you have to have an understanding of how to write rhymes. Mastering rhyme schemes and learning how to utilize slant and near rhymes comes with time and practice, and there are many ways to go about learning the skill. We wanted to explore how different rappers go about writing their rhymes, since the art of rhyming is so crucial to an emcee's style. So we interviewed two of our own Flocab artists, and broke down some bars formulaically.
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:
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:
In a recent edition of the Week in Rap, we dedicated our coverage to multiple stories about horrific acts of violence that were carried out by ISIS in Paris and Beirut and on a Russian airliner. Events like these can leave us with a range of emotions, opinions and questions, so for the accompanying Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest, we asked students to channel all of the above to create an artistic work in response to the news. We got many amazing submissions from students using art to express thoughts and feelings about the attacks. Though it was difficult to select a winner, we chose the students of P368K Star Academy in our hometown of Brooklyn, NY. These students wrote moving, thoughtful rhymes in reaction to recent news. We spoke with P368K American and World History Teacher and Debate Team Coach Debra Newman to learn more about the project.