Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flocabulary: The Hip Hop Approach to SAT-Level Vocabulary Building by Blake Harrison and Alexander Rappaport

An SAT prep book might sound like a hard sell to students seeking independent reading material, but Harrison and Rappaport’s efforts will not be wasted on any teen interested in improving his or her vocabulary. While the beginning of the book explains the technique, readers can dive right into the songs in chapter 2 and start improving their lexical stylings immediately. Each song is prefaced by a wordbank which lists all notable vocabulary words contained in the song. The list is followed by the song lyrics which run down the left side of the page while the right side offers extremely brief definitions line-by-line along with identifying the part of speech the term most commonly appears as. Oxford English Dictionary it’s not, but Flocabulary offers students more than etymologies. There’s synonym matching, sentence completion, and reading comprehension exercises following each original lyric. Will your students undertake these with no assignment or grade hanging over their head? Many will-- and even without the musical CD that accompanies the books-- because who doesn’t want to rhyme fiercely and out-metaphor Lil’ Wayne on the hall? For readers with CD player access, the CD can be the treasure because the rhythm, rhyme and music allow the listener to memorize the new vocabulary words almost effortlessly, the way one memorizes the lyrics to one’s favorite song.

Chapter 3 offers brief analyses of the songs-- best suited for ELA teachers and their ilk, Chapter 4 lists hip-hop resources. Chapter 5 provides answer keys to the 11 songs and Chapter 6 is a quick reference dictionary of the approximately 500 SAT words contained in the lyrics. The book’s website offers even more for the educator.

Harrison, Blake, and Alexander Rappaport. Flocabulary: The Hip-Hop Approach to SAT-Level Vocabulary Building. Kennebunkport: Cider Mill Press, 2006.

1 comment:

Jessica Fenster-Sparber said...

Horizon’s student leadership council meets weekly to communicate the needs and opinions of the students directly to the school’s administration and staff. Today we learned that one representative, A., had formally requested that vocabulary instruction increase. Later on, when I saw A. in a class I had the pleasure of co-teaching with Ms. Taub, another student, L., was happy to recommend Flocabulary: The Hip-Hop Approach to SAT-Level Vocabulary Building to A., and they spent the next five minutes trading words: myopic, prodigious, loquacious, enigmatic and paradoxical to name a few.