Using Small Group Instruction And Rotation Centers As A More Personalized Teaching Method For Elementary Students

Five Ways to Use Flocabulary for Small Group Instruction

Whole group instruction is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  While modeling and guiding is important (and essential), small group and centers are becoming the focus of most elementary classrooms across the nation.  Breaking down concepts in a small group instruction setting has proven to show mastery of a skill or standard with a more rigorous approach to teaching. It allows students to participate in progressive struggle and build upon knowledge from their peers. 

As a teacher with limited time, I know it can be challenging to prepare materials for center rotation or groups.  Flocabulary makes it easy to incorporate standards at the click of a button without having to spend lots of time preparing it.  

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Here are five ways you can use Flocabulary and its activities for small group instruction or center rotation!

1. Turn & Talk
elementary students discuss flocabulary lessons as part of small group instruction

Discussion mode is one of my favorite features that Flocabulary offers.  Usually, I will play the rap 1-2 times to let the students listen to it and absorb the information, and process their thoughts.  Then, I turn on discussion mode and we discuss and answer questions related to the video.

Last year, I decided to turn this into a center.  After playing the rap video for the students as a whole group, they proceed to their center where the team leader plays the video on discussion mode.  When the question pops up, the leader asks the question to the group where they discuss the answers among themselves.

When I meet with them for small group afterwards, I review what they discussed to evaluate if they understood the rap/lesson.  If the answers aren’t what they should be, I review the questions with them again with more guidance.

2. Quiz

Assessments seem to be pushed more and more with students, but sometimes they can be time consuming or challenging.  I use the quizzes for the Flocabulary videos in small group rotations when they are difficult to understand.

This allows me to also practice the process of elimination (when choosing the right answer) with them as well.  Once this is done in a small group setting for some time, I find they can complete the quizzes on their own for the easier assessments with a high success rate.

elementary students take quizzes in small group settings to prepare for assessments
3. Buddy Work
third graders and kindergarten students buddy up to understand flocabulary lyrics and learn vocabulary as part of small group instruction

The most common concern I get (at the elementary level) with Flocabulary is how it isn’t suitable for students in Kindergarten and first grade.  Most teachers say the lessons are too challenging and the technology can be overwhelming for the little ones.

This year, I have teamed up with a kindergarten class to teach social/emotional learning (SEL) with Flocabulary.  Each of my third graders pairs up with a buddy Kindergarten student. We slow the rap down to the slowest possible pace (yes, this is possible for those that didn’t know! Just click on the speed in the upper right corner of the video) and put it in discussion mode. When the questions pop up, the older student asks the younger student questions and guides them with the answers. 

Sometimes, I’ll pair two students from each grade level to talk about the ideas/answers.  Once we complete most of the SEL lessons, the Kindergarten teacher may request that we do this again for another subject area to emphasize the skill being taught. It’s also a great way for intermediate students to practice sharing what they know with their younger peers.

4. Interpreting Lyrics

Figurative language and vocabulary is often a struggle amongst intermediate grade levels in elementary school.  Did you know that you can view the lyrics from every Flocabulary rap video? I copy and paste the lyrics on a Microsoft Word Document and print them for each group.  

I will assign an activity based on the lyrics of a Flocabulary video for the specific writing skill of the week.  For instance, I may ask students to highlight any idioms they see and explain what they mean on the back of their paper, or, I may ask them to highlight all of the proper nouns in a rap song.  The possibilities are endless, and with so many videos, you can use them for any subject area. While they are practicing writing, they are also being exposed to other subjects while reading the lyrics.

students interpret lyrics of Flocabulary videos as part of small group instruction to learn figurative language and vocabulary
5. Vocabulary Hot Potato
students work together and collaborate to play a vocabulary game as part of flocabulary small group instruction

Students love to build beats with their answers and work hard to do so.  I took this concept and turned it into a game! The students sit in a circle on the carpet and each log into their Flocabulary accounts on their iPads or laptops.  Then, they all begin the vocabulary game at the same time; when they answer one question, they pass the computer to the person on their right. Once they get the next laptop, they answer the next question. 

This is an absolute blast for them as they get to answer all of the questions on the game but on their peer’s computers. It’s really cool to see how they work together to complete the game!

In summary, there are various ways to use Flocabulary in the classroom, no matter what grade level you teach.  It’s about finding what works for you and working smarter, not harder, with setting up small group instruction centers.  

I’m always looking for new ideas with how to use Flocabulary in different ways!  If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear all about your idea! Be sure to comment below!

Natalie Stuart

Natalie is a 3rd grade teacher in her hometown of sunny South Florida. She has been teaching for ten years with experience in 2nd-4th grade. She prides herself on building relationships with her students through SEL, which she attributes to their successes in academics. She has many obsessions including hip hop, Halloween, the NY Yankees, boxing, and her cat.

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