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School House Hip Hop Brings Popular Music to the Classroom

Study shows "Flocabulary" curriculum improves memorization with rap music.

Amid the war between parents and popular music, a compromise has been drawn in schools across the country as rap music makes its debut in classrooms. The Flocabulary program, an educational hip hop music series, has been introduced as a means of learning facts and rote memorization. Its founders, Alex Rappaport and Blake Harrison, created their company in the belief that difficult material could be mastered if introduced in an engaging way.

Flocabulary co-founders Blake Harrison (left) and Alex Rappaport (right).

Flocabulary is a series of CDs and books targeted at students from third grade through high school. The team worked with educators to determine what information is required of students at each age. The series offers programs for vocabulary, writing, social studies, math and science.

“I had the idea for this back in high school,” says Harrison, Flocabulary’s creative director. “I was a good student but became a bad one as soon as I wasn’t engaged in the classroom material.”

A November 2009 study conducted by Indiana University professor Roger Farr and the Educational Institute of America revealed that students using Word Up, Flocabulary’s language arts series, received higher scores on state tests than those who did not use the program.

Currently, Word Up is part of the language arts curriculum for all schools in Jersey City (N.J.) Public Schools that serve students in grades 6-8. “We have seen a change in the karma in the room,” says Treniere Dobson, language arts supervisor for grades 6-8 in the district. “Students are making the leap of incorporating those vocabulary words into their writing and speech, not just on their unit tests.”

Flocabulary is now being used in over 10,000 schools nationwide. For additional information, visit