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Flocabulary and Black History Month: Teacher-Tested Best Practices

#BlackHistoryMonth is an important time for teachers to highlight both the struggles and the vast achievements of black figures in history.

Teachers may look to our handy compilation of Flocabulary’s Black History Month content for inspiration, however, with so much material and history, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To break down our content further, we asked teachers for ideas and tips on using Flocab during Black History Month. Starting broadly and working into more specific applications, these are some best practices for using Flocabulary to teach Black History.

For an overview of all our Black History Month lessons and resources:

Educator Implementations:
lorra-lynch

Lorra Lynch
5th Grade Teacher, Texas

I’ve utilized many videos for Black History month like Ruby BridgesHarriet TubmanCarverThurgood MarshallKatherine Johnson, and Maya AngelouMy students put themselves in their shoes.

nat-space

Natasha Space
Special Education Department Chair, Georgia

For Black History month, I have used Flocabulary to teach about reconstruction, Civil Rights and The March in Selma.  When they learned the distance of the march, they were amazed. That lead to a powerful class discussion.

Putting oneself into a historical figure’s shoes is an important place to start. But students should be able to understand the struggles and have engaging discussions about black figures on a deeper level. In order to facilitate these discussions, it can help for students to be able to relate to the lessons in some way. Comparing the world of the Civil Rights Movement to the world today and to students’ own lives can highlight the reasons we continue to honor Black History Month instead of students accepting this fact at face value.

On keeping lessons relevant to students’ own lives:
desiree

Desiree Taylor
1st Grade Teacher, North Carolina

I love to use the Ruby Bridges video. Many first graders enjoy seeing her because she is still living! I think knowing that connection, makes her very relevant considering many of our other historical figures like MLK and Rosa Parks are no longer with us.

nat stuart

Natalie Stuart
3rd Grade Teacher, Florida

My third graders are moved by the barriers that African Americans went through (and continue to endure) in our society, however, I don’t think they fully grasp the despair, heartache and turmoil that many of them faced in a time when inclusion was not prominent. Flocab helps to give them a visual representation of the past events that have occurred that have paved the way for African Americans to thrive in our society. They are able to reflect and grasp a better understanding through the images and vocab words used in the videos on a deeper level than I can ever provide orally.

Another way to keep lessons relevant is to allow students to interact with and interpret them in their own way. Lyric Lab can be a great way for students to do this. Students can both write about what they’ve learned and compare that information to their own experiences in a creative way. This keeps Black History lessons relevant by creating space for them to also be personal and individual. 

Black History Rap Contest

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To really engage students in Lyric Lab during this year’s Black History Month, encourage them to enter our Black History Rap Contest! Students will have the opportunity to use Lyric Lab to write an original song about the legacy of a black American figure we haven’t covered yet and that they think we should cover next. But don’t worry — students don’t have to use Lyric Lab to write their rap, so if they don’t have access they are still welcome to enter.

The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to our headquarters in Brooklyn, NY to record their song with a Flocab rapper! This is a Flocab first, and we’re so excited to read all the amazing entries to determine our next Black History lesson. For more information about the contest, prize, and to access Lyric Lab, visit the contest page at the link below.

Black History doesn’t solely exist in February, it always remains a chapter of history as a whole. That’s why it’s important to connect Black History lessons to other lessons as well and convey this to students so that they’re still thinking about it outside of Black History Month. One way Flocabulary can help teachers connect Black History to other subjects is with our lesson plans. The lesson plans for Martin Luther King, Jr., his “I Have A Dream” speech, Ruby Bridges, Voting Rights Then and Now, and Civil Rights Movement each give examples of existing Flocabulary lessons and other topics that pair well. For example, the “I Have A Dream” lesson plan suggests teaching figurative language and literary terms that students can search for in the speech and emulate when writing their own speeches. 

Below, teachers elaborate on ways they use Flocabulary’s Black History content alongside its other lessons.

On connecting Black History to other lessons:
nat stuart

Natalie Stuart
3rd Grade Teacher, Florida

I love that the raps can also be infused with other subject areas and social emotional learning. For instance, the Martin Luther King, Jr. & Ruby Bridges rap is perfect for perseverance/bravery and the civil rights movement (social/emotional learning). All of these raps also help with ELA standards. For example, my students have been able to make inferences about how the past events in Black History will mold our future.  Since many laws were passed on these events, it’s also a great introduction to learning about the government or landmarks/regions in Washington, D.C.

lorra-lynch

Lorra Lynch
5th Grade Teacher, Texas

One perfect example is from the Ruby Bridges lesson plan. After watching the Point of View video, we completed assignments for Ruby Bridges. The extended lessons are brilliant and my students were excited about creating ‘In Ruby’s Shoes.’ My students wrote a diary entry as if they were Ruby sitting in class. It is always so moving to listen to their perspectives, and to see their compassion for others through the use of Flocabulary.

For more Black History content, visit our Black History Month page. Be sure to check out our newest Black History lessons on Jackie Robinson and Malcolm X!

Cayley Ross

Cayley Ross is Flocabulary's Marketing Co-op. She is a senior at Northeastern University majoring in communication studies and minoring in English and graphic design.

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