Students’ work highlighted in contest


Seventh-grade gifted English students at Bennett’s Mill Middle got five seconds of national fame during a Friday Week-in-Rap Shout-Out sponsored by Flocabulary, a creator of educational hip-hop videos, interactive activities, and online assessments for students in grades K-12.


English teacher Carol Saboda had been using Flocabulary in her classroom, and noticed the weekly contest while she and her students were watching “The Week in Rap,” a collection of videos that rap the current events making headlines for that week. Since her seventh-grade gifted classes were studying poetry, she decided to give it a try to see if it would make learning the elements of poetry (rhythm, rhyme, off-rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.) more relevant for the students.  


Every Thursday Flocabulary posts a contest topic related to a story it covered during the week. Students are asked to write a rap in response to a question about the story. Saboda’s students entered the contest that was posted late December featuring “The Year in Review.”


Students in her two classes, 33 total, worked on a class rap, and each class submitted a six-line rap, as well as video of the it, for the competition. In preparation, the students looked at the prominent news stories of 2015, and then did some additional research to learn more about the issue. Saboda’s second-period class focused on the upcoming Presidential election, while the third-period class chose the Black Lives Matter movement.


As the classes were composing their raps, Saboda says huge debates ensued among students about whether content had become subservient to rhythm or rhyme, and about how to make each word count. She quoted one student who said, “If we include a word, it’s got to mean something.”


“I cannot tell you how the concepts of poetry came alive for them as they laid down those lines. My students are not going to forget this experience any time soon,” said Saboda.


Contestants have one week to submit their entries. Only one winner is selected each week based on the entry’s creativity, topical relevance and educational relevance. Winners receive a five-second “Shout-Out” for their school at the beginning of Friday’s Week-in-Rap video.


The “Shout-Out” to Bennett’s Mill Middle occurred Friday, January 15, 2016 during “The Week in Rap” on www.flocabularycom.