Archive for September, 2009

Educators That Rock!: Blake Harrison

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Blake Harrison, left, and Alex Rappaport of Flocabulary.

This week findingEducation caught up with Blake Harrison, a.k.a. Emcee Escher, rapper, educator and creative director of Flocabulary, to hear how he and Alex Rappaport, cofounder and executive producer, are bringing their energy and passion for hip-hop to the classroom.

By weaving words into rhymes with infectious beats, Harrison and Rappaport knew they could engage students and ultimately teach them something. Their first CD, released in 2004, put vocabulary words in context, helping prepare students for the SATs. Since then, they’ve developed programs for teaching world and U.S. history, math, science and even Shakespeare. They’ve taken their music on tour, held teaching workshops and created a current events series called The Week in Rap, now being broadcast on Channel One, a national TV news network for teens.

fE: When did you get the idea for Flocabulary?

BH: In high school, I had one teacher in particular who used to say “’Sesame Street’ has spoiled you guys. You guys don’t know how to learn. You think education has to be fun, but it doesn’t. It shouldn’t be.” And I couldn’t disagree with him more. I just thought he was being lazy.

Education can be fun and we make it really fun for youngsters. But right around middle school and high school, there isn’t as much emphasis on that. And I just didn’t think that was necessary. I thought you could teach really serious academic content, get people where thy have to be in terms of the standards in achievement, while also doing something that’s really engaging.


Related Link Resources
The Week in Rap
The Huffington Post
The New York Times
ill Doctrine

Take a Tour of findingEducation

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

FindingEducation, an online educator tool, aims to help teachers find the best classroom resources on the Web, and share those resources with their students and colleagues. The tool is backed by findingDulcinea’s hand-selected and professionally edited education resource library.

Use findingEducation to:

  • Find the best online education resources, with full access to findingDulcinea’s library of online education content
  • Manage all of your links in one easy tool, and organize them by grade, subject or category
  • Create and distribute e-assignments for students by accessing links in your collection
  • Share best practices, lesson plans, e-assignments and link collections with educators from around the world
  • Help the environment by utilizing a paperless digital classroom

Ready to get started? Take a guided video tour of findingEducation to learn more, or visit our FAQ page to have your questions answered. If you still have questions on how to get started with findingEducation, e-mail us at

Related Link Resources
findingEducation video tour

The Answer Sheet: Week of Sept. 19

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Did you take the Quiztory last week? Now it’s time to check your answers:

1. What was the first organized baseball team in history? The New York Knickerbockers

2. Which member of the Polish resistance allowed himself to be captured by the Nazis? Witold Pilecki

3. When did Congress pass the Bill of Rights? Sept. 25, 1789

4. Who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford on Sept. 22, 1975? Sara Jane Moore

5. When was J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” published? Sept. 21, 1937

Related Link Resources
findingDulcinea: OTD: Witold Pilecki
findingDulcinea: OTD: Knickerbocker Club
findingDulcinea: OTD: Bill of Rights Passes
findingDulcinea: OTD: Ford Assassination
findingDulcinea: OTD: "The Hobbit" Published

Quiztory: Week of Sept. 19

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Test your students’ knowledge of the notable events covered in findingDulcinea’s “On This Day” column this week with the Quiztory—a quiz on important events in history. A new Quiztory will run every Friday.

1. What was the first organized baseball team in history?

2. Which member of the Polish resistance allowed himself to be captured by the Nazis?

3. When did Congress pass the Bill of Rights?

4. Who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford on Sept. 22, 1975?

5. When was J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” published?

Come back on Monday to check your answers.

What’s Coming Up?

Next week, “On This Day” will profile the first person to successfully decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, and we’ll take a look at the 1995 civil control agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Look for articles on the 1982 Tylenol-poisoning scare, the world’s first hydroelectric power plant and the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in 1910. We’ll also profile Charles Schulz, creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip.

Related Link Resources
On This Day column

Improve Students’ Online Research Skills With the On This Day Challenge

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

With today’s launch of the On This Day Challenge, findingEducation invited teachers and students to learn how to perform better Internet research and develop critical thinking skills while writing about important events in history.

In August 2008, Mary E. Shacklett asked the question, “Do Kids Have the Right Internet Skills?” for the Web site Internet Evolution. She spoke with Susan Brooks, cofounder of Internet4classrooms, to find an answer.

“Internet skills are like any concept which necessitates student instruction,” Brooks said. “Since these skills are not tested by many states, other areas of instruction that are tested get class-time priority. Because of this issue, many students may not have had direct instruction on how to perform research, and their skills reflect this.”

The On This Day Challenge provides the direct instruction that students need. Through tutorials, students practice their Web research skills and learn how to find reliable information on historical events. Using critical thinking and analysis skills, students then organize their research and write articles that may be featured on

Each month, a drawing will award a $100 gift card from a national retailer to classes that have submitted at least five articles that month. A grand prize drawing will award a cash prize of $1,000 to a class that has submitted at least 25 articles during the school year.

Get complete On This Day Challenge rules and examples of project submissions.

Related Link Resources
Internet Evolution
On This Day Challenge