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June 10, 2014

Celebrate high school seniors with Flocabulary’s “18 years in rap” – Lesson Plan


Looking for a great way to celebrate your graduating seniors? Try out Flocabulary’s “18 Years in Rap”, which covers major world events from 1996, the year most of this year’s graduating seniors were born, to 2014. As they embark on the next chapter of their journey, “18 Years in Rap” gives them the opportunity to reflect on the defining moments that have shaped their world. Even if your students aren’t graduating this year, they are sure to enjoy the rap and connect with the biggest news stories from the last 18 years.

For more background on “18 Years in Rap” and Flocabulary, check out this article from the NewsHour’s Rundown blog.


History, social studies

Estimated time

30 minutes

Grade level

Ideally 12th grade (as the rap identifies the major news stories from the years 1996-2014), however students from other grades may also enjoy the rap.


Warm up activity

  1. Write the word “nostalgia” and its definition on the board. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines nostalgia as “pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.”
  2. First ask students to write down their favorite movie and cartoon from their childhood. Next ask students to think of the five biggest news stories that have happened during their lifetime.
  3. Then have students share their notes with the person next to them to compare answers and see if they had come up with the same answers or had thought of different ones.
  4. Ask students as a class how remembering those events, films and cartoons makes them feel, then write their answers on the board.


Science Genius: creating a rhyme

Students will watch the PBS NewsHour report “Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science” and have a discussion about using hip-hop music as a tool in the classroom.

Main activities

  1. Now explain to students that they are going to watch a short video, Flocabulary’s “18 Years in Rap”, that is going to mention important events that took place from 1996-2014. Ask them to listen to see if their events were mentioned and to put a check by the event if they hear it. Also ask students to be aware of the emotions they are feeling as they watch the video.
  2. Ask students to reflect on the video independently and ask them to choose the one event that they feel has shaped their life the most. Have students identify the event and describe it as if they were reporting the basic who, where, what, why and when.
  3. Also ask if there was a news event that was left out and ask why it may not have made it into the video.
  4. Then ask students to recall their own experience related to the event and explain why the event was so important to them personally.

Support materials from Flocabulary

More information about Flocabulary

Flocabulary is an online library of educational hip-hop songs and videos designed for K-12 classrooms. Educators can access both free materials and resources that are for sale online at their website as well as on PBS Learning Media.
Resources are aligned with both math and ELA Common Core Standards . Check out a math example to the right that tackles PEMDAS the handy mnemonic to help students remember the order of operations. You can also find more free Flocabulary resources on PBS Learning Media.

Interested in teaching the news in your class? Each day PBS NewsHour Extra creates a daily video blog that includes a PBS NewsHour video, questions, vocabulary and a text designed for middle and high school students that covers the day’s most important story.

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