5 Reasons Why Teachers & Students LOVE Flocabulary

Do you teach vocabulary? How do you teach it?  Did you know that "there is no one best method for vocabulary instruction." (National Reading Panel, 2000). And, did you also know that...

it takes "both direct AND indirect methods of vocabulary instruction" to reach and teach all kinds of vocabulary.  Teachers often think there is a magic bullet or one size fits all program for vocabulary instruction, but that simply just isn't the case. AND, many of the indirect methods are free, they don't cost you any money, just a thinking cap.

With that said, vocabulary instruction then is actually very purposeful teaching, because teachers must THINK, PLAN & DO vocabulary instruction on purpose. There are a lot of direct and indirect methods for vocabulary instruction, from more complex methods like teaching Tier 3 academic words using Marzano's 6-step process 9 (which I wrote about in this blog post) to more simple, free, incidental methods that involve teachers raising their own conscientiousness to their own word choice in the classroom.
For example, think of the increase in student vocabulary if teachers replaced oral classroom sentences like:

"Boys & Girls, I am looking for someone to help me pass out these papers."


"Scientists, I am searching for a volunteer to help me distribute these lab reports." 

Do you see how easy that was?  5 words substituted for 5 more specific, more sophisticated words. Do you think you could do that?  This is actually a very easy switch to make. It's something you could do tomorrow. And the best part about this strategy is that it works. If you want to read the research behind it, you can read the article here, The Vocabulary Rich Classroom. 

In addition, while we are on the subject of clearing up misconceptions about vocabulary, least be clear that there are two kinds of vocabulary, Expressive Vocabulary and Receptive Vocabulary.  And you will need to educate parents on the two-prong definition. Receptive vocabulary is words coming into the brain. Visualize words flying of the page or out of someone's mouth and going into their brain...that's receptive vocabulary...receiving.  Then Expressive Vocabulary is the opposite. Retrieving words, the right words, accurate words that describe what you are trying to say, and speaking them out loud or writing them down...expressing/giving. 

There are also websites that aid in vocabulary development, that are super crowd pleasers with teachers AND students.  The vocabulary website I'd like to spotlight in this blog post is Flocabulary. Flocabulary is a web-based site that offers over 700 music videos that are content area subject topics put to rap lyrics and rap music. The website has videos for all grades, K-12. BUT, can you say SUPER ENGAGING? I mean, you can't help but tap your foot, or yeck, get up and groove whenever a Flocabulary video comes on!  Here are the top 5 reasons why Flocabulary is AWESOME for vocabulary instruction.

#1-Flocabulary Uses Music, Rhythm and Rhyme to Learn
There is a lot of research to support the use of music when trying to learn.  Music has patterns, beats and the chorus repeats. Timothy Rasinski says that singing is one of the best forms of fluency practice because it's words out loud sung in a rhythm or pattern. In addition, when songs get stuck in your head, that is also a form of repeated reading...annoying sometimes, but nonetheless, repeated.  

One of the constants I saw while visiting the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA, was how much content area singing and dancing occurred ALL DAY LONG.  Not only does the Ron Clark Academy have a site license for Flocabulary, RCA students are challenged to create and produce their own raps and dances with content area material. And guess what? This is the highest levels of Bloom's, CREATIVITY, and students are hungry for these higher level opportunities and they rise to them every time.  How often do you give your students an opportunity to put content area learning into an original song or dance?

#2-Flocabulary Uses Subject Areas as the Base Content
Imagine learning about the Nile River in Egypt via a boring worksheet or 19 page chapter in a textbook. OR, imagine learning it to a rap song.  Kids choose the rap song every time! It's cute, it's catchy and that is the velcro that new learning stick to. They also have this other cool feature called The Week in Rap where they take current events from all over the world, from the last week, and combine all the stories together into one Week in Rap. What a great way to teach and learn about current events, and be able to talk about them around a common experience. 

#3-Flocabulary Makes Rhyming Cool
There are a lot of reluctant boy and girl writers out there. But through this website, and male rap producers of the videos, boys see singing, rhyming and song-writing as cool. And this is beautiful thing.  There are a lot of male singers out there that boys and girls look up to.  Girls also see rapping as an opportunity for girls too. Flocabulary even holds contests for classrooms and schools all the time to give students an opportunity to submit their work to be featured on the website. THIS is so motivating for kids. You know this generation of students REALLY wants their voice to be heard outside the four walls of the classroom. No longer is doing an assignment for the teacher, or school or the grade book motivating for kids.  That's boring, kids see no real life connection of assignments for assignments sake, and kids disengage.  In fact, research shows that kids do their worst writing when the teacher is the only audience.  So, think about, how will student work be shared outside the four walls of my classroom? And now with the internet and social media, anything is possible!

#4-Flocabulary Breaks the Rapping Stereotype
One of the teaching and learning opportunities with Flocabulary is the great opportunity to talk to kids about stereotypes, what they are and how they are formed.  This website takes rapping and makes it GOOD. Could you discuss with your students how rapping is a form of music, where it started, and if it's more prevalent in certain geographic areas of the world or country? Or if it's more prevalent in some cultures and how music is used to teach around the world? 

#5-Flocabulary Videos Come With Lesson Plans
This element is a teacher's dream.  Not only are there just over 700 music videos but there are interactive lyrics, lesson plans and assessments included with each music video.  LOVE THAT! These lessons and interactive organizers can be used paperlessly in apps like iBooks and SeeSaw or printed on paper.  And, wait for it, Flocabulary is offering a 75 day trial with this blog post.  Normally, they have a 30 day trial.  But y'all, this means you get until the end of this school year to use it and see if you and your students like it! That's an amazing offer.  And you have permission to share this code via an all-staff email or listserve. So once you read about it here, share the code with your teacher friends.  Teacher education teachers, share this code with your students who are preparing to be teachers! 
This code is only valid through March 15, 2016, so sign up today!

(This Vocabulary presentation is one of my most requested PDs)

I was recently Atlanta doing a Vocabulary PD for a school and when I contacted Flocabulary and told them I would be featuring their website in my presentation, they sent along a big ol' box of Flocabulary SWAG. Isn't that awesome?  Now here's a test:

Guess what those Atlanta teachers loved?
A)loved Flocabulary.com
B)loved the free trial
C)loved the Flocabulary SWAG
D)all of the above

You got it! All of the above.

Flocabulary SWAG...thanks Flocabulary!

Some of the awesome teachers at Wilson Creek Elementary!

And, don't forget to sign up for the 75 day trial before it's gone....



Katie Knight said...

Yes yes yes yes yes yes! I love the simple 5 word tweak and can't wait to start flocabulary!

Amandah Graham said...

This is an awesome idea and I can't wait to implement this, or a version of it, into my future classroom. As a science major I found your example to be quite intriguing. I feel I would be able to incorporate that type of language into the classroom every unit, allowing the students to understand how to use their vocabulary in educated discussions.

Nashima Harvey said...

This really needed to be said, resaid, and then said again! Thank you! Great post about putting vocabulary into action.

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