Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Now we're talking: hanging out here in NECC's virtual realm I just caught a session with Anne Batchelder that showcased Flocabulary, which according to its website:
creates original hip-hop music and standards-based curricular materials to teach academic content for grades 3-12. Flocabulary programs are proven to increase student motivation and achievement and are currently being used in over 10,000 schools nationwide.

Everyone from Howard Zinn and Cornel West to Good Morning America and Oprah has blurbed good things about the program.

Now, as a musician myself, I can testify to the power of music and song for teaching concepts in the classroom. I've brought in drums to teach poetic meter, I've had students use GarageBand to score music demonstrating that they understood where mood and tone changed in a narrative, and I've used the piano to demonstrate conceptually the differences between formal and open forms of poetry.

We also translate the lyrics of Brazilian pop songs in Latin class and listen to jazz in Art History. Music can go a long way towards helping students engage with and understand content.

And that's one of the key points: the music has to lead to deeper engagement and understanding. We're not talking about using music simply as a memory aid.

Of course, Flocab will be an aid to memory -- and that's great -- but it's my understanding watching the presentation and reading about the program that Flocabulary is much more than that. It's really driven by a sense of how to motivate learning. Combined with a teacher who can then draw out the big questions related to language and history, and access the knowledge students are internalizing through song, well... it's a powerful duo.

So, I'm excited to hear this stuff -- especially given the thumbs up from Profs. Zinn and West (two of my favs).

Are any of you all using Flocabulary? Please tell us about your experience. Or just your experiences -- for better or worse -- in using music in the classroom.


  1. Wow what a great tool. Perfect for helping students retain info. Was just talking to a friend about how music and songs are such a great learning tool. Thanks for the post from someone who cannot be at NECC.

  2. I use The Week In Rap in my classes as a jumping point for discussion on current events.

    Pros: Rap is motivational. Videos and beats are engaging. Lots of current events in a short segment. Timely, each week in new. Can post comments on the site. Lyrics are under the video each week. The website is a bit hard to read.

    Cons: Students said the rapping was too fast to understand. Commenting didn't always work (might be my computers).

    *We read the lyrics after the video and then watched the video a second time while students jotted notes and questions.

    I haven't done much with Flocab other than The Week In Rap. I need to do some exploring.

  3. cant flocab send it for free not 124.95 or 400.00


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