If you often find yourself wishing for more catchy children’s songs you can have stuck in your head all hours of the night, have I got a post for you!
But really though, Flocabulary is a great educational resource. It’s a website uses hip-hop music videos to teach a variety of subjects. Flocabulary is by far my favorite website that I’ve used as an educator.
Reasons Why I Love Flocabulary:
There are so many subject areas!
No matter what you teach, there is a video for you. Flocabulary includes videos for Language Arts, math, science, social studies, life skills, vocabulary, and current events. Each category also has sub-categories, so it’s pretty easy to find the subject/content you’re looking for.
Everything is Common Core aligned!
Regardless of your opinion of the Common Core Standards, as educators we have to use it. You could say that if you’re teaching at a private school, you don’t have to, but most curriculum currently being published is going to align with the standards, so it’s nice that Flocabulary fits in.
Since Flocabulary is aligned with the Common Core, the lessons and handouts they provide are legit. Most of the videos have a printable activity that you can use, and if there isn’t one, there are plenty of graphic organizers to choose from that work for any video.
The videos are awesome!
Personally, I love music. I have it playing almost 24/7. In my classroom, I had music playing constantly! I’d change the genre depending on the activity at hand or the tone I was trying to set for the students. If we were reading, we listened to Pitbull; test taking, T-Swift. Obviously. (not really – I usually played Jim Brinkman or found some coffee-shop style playlists on Apple Music).
Anyway – I think it’s important for people in general to have that background music. There have been studies done that show evidence for background noise boosting our production. You can check out this article for information on music in the classroom or this one about why we tend to be more productive in coffee shops for more information. Not only is background music helpful, we simply memorize things better when they are set to music. And we remember those things forever! How many of you could still belt out all the words “Wannabe” even though it hasn’t been on the radio for about 15 years? Exactly. We teach younger kids all sorts of stuff using songs and rhymes – the days of the week, months, weather, ABCs, etc. – but we stop using those devices the older kids get. Flocabulary uses that same idea to teach a variety of topics, from comma usage to long division.
Another thing I love about the videos is the “Pause and Play” feature. If you enable this feature, the video will pause at key points, and a question will pop up on the screen. I found this helpful for discussing the topics, which I used as a quick way to assess whether or not my kids were paying attention or not.
There’s also a quiz provided for each video. This is a good tool to use after watching the video to assess any gaps that may need re-taught or explained more thoroughly.
It’s fairly inexpensive
Everything comes with a price, but honestly, Flocabulary is worth it. There are free trial options, which give you complete access to try everything out. Currently, Flocabulary has three different options for subscriptions and pricings:
- Lite – this is for individual use and cost $96 a year. Only the teacher as access to the videos and content.
- School – this provides access for all the teachers and students in a school and costs $2,000. It’s a big price jump, but this allows you to assign activities and assessments for students and records the data from those assignments.
- District – this is a lot like the School option, but covers an entire district. There’s no pricing currently listed, so a quote would have to be requested.
How I Used It
As an introduction to a topic:
This is probably my favorite way to use Flocabulary. I think it’s vitally important to give kids a context of what they’ll be learning about. That way they are (at the very least) familiar with the academic language used before we even start on the content, and they (hopefully) have a general idea of what we’ll be discussing. There is literally tons of research that shows the importance of building quality background knowledge to promote learning. According to Robert J. Marzano, “What students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn new information relative to the content.” You can read the first chapter of his book Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement here.
As a quick review:
If there was any point in time where I felt the kids weren’t grasping a certain concept, I’d plan to show a Flocabulary video the next day. I found this especially useful if it was a concept I didn’t want to spend a whole lesson on or if it was a concept that they just needed to have refreshed. For example, my 7th and 8th graders could not remember the difference between a simile and metaphor. They were familiar with the concept, just couldn’t remember specifics. Since this was something I felt like they should have known pretty well, I didn’t want to spend an entire lesson review a concept they were somewhat familiar with. Next day, pulled up the Flocabulary video, and bam. Magic.
As an end of unit activity:
I used this the most with social studies. I’d find a video discussing the section we just talked about and let them watch it. It was fun to hear them shout out, “Hey! I remember that!” or “We talked about that!” Okay, so the shouting part wasn’t that fun, but they fact that they were excited was. I hate yelling. So much.
Like I said, I love Flocabulary. There’s just so many ways to use it! If you’re still curious or want to know more, check out the website here. There you can see a more detailed explanation of their pricing options and purpose.