Using their own individuality and creative flair, sixth grade students in Ken Newton’s class at Fair Oaks Ranch Community School taught their peers about the negative impacts of bullying through original songs and raps.
The lessons were part of the school’s LifeSkills Training program that teaches students personal self-management skills, general social skills and drugs resistance skills.
“With the LifeSkills Training, part of it is creating PSAs,” Newton said.
The sixth grade teacher decided to put a spin on the curriculum by incorporating an educational program called Flocabulary, where students watch a compilation of videos in different subjects before making up their own creative rhyme in the program’s Lyric Lab.
“The Sheriff’s Department used to do this type of program but now we have to do it so I figured hey I’ve already been using this program so why not put a twist on it,” Newton said. “The kids are so talented and it’s giving them real-life, fun experiences for life skills so they can apply it. You hope along the way it ingrains in them the lesson of do not bully.”
In groups and individually, students rapped about what it means to be a bystander, the importance of following the Golden Rule and different kinds of bullying like cyberbullying and social bullying.
“We learned that bullying is not okay and about different types of bullying and what you should do. That’s what we were trying to say in our song,” Alicia Reinhold, 11, said. “I liked how you get to make your own lyrics and make it however you want.”
Students also had the option of using about 30 musical riffs the Flocabulary program offers to accompany their lyrics, but many opted for instrumental versions of songs like “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B and “Your Obedient Servant” from the “Hamilton” musical.
“It gives you certain beats you can choose from but we chose a song to do it to,” said Jenna Ju whose group performed its rendition of “Feliz Navidad.”
Students Kalia Jones, Hannah Hill and Carinna Richards were especially creative when they added a scene and acting to their rendition from “Hamilton” that told the story of two students facing a bully.
“Carinna thought it would be kind of fun to do a bully versus another person, like a parody,” Hill said. “It was hard because we had a list of Flocabulary words and I didn’t think we could put it all in there but surprisingly we did.”
The performances also reinforced the students’ classroom lessons and reminded them not to bully others.
“I’ve always been taught not to bully and to be nice to everybody,” Izzy Vasquez, 11, said.
The Flocabulary program also helped students get out of their shells, speak confidently and think creatively about academic subjects they normally learn in textbooks.
“Some of these kids in the regular classroom setting don’t say a peep,” Newton said. “The kids are so talented… Programs like this really tap into the kids’ creative side where they don’t necessarily show it in the classroom.”
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