How To Teach Comprehension Strategies In The Classroom With Flocabulary Plus

How to teach comprehension strategies in the classroom with Flocabulary Plus

All too often, the development of reading comprehension strategies is limited to the ELA classroom. There are so many content standards to cover in non-ELA subjects, and it can be difficult to find time to invite students to read with a purpose and analyze subject-specific texts. But with a generation of students who are exposed to more written, audio, and visual content than any generation before, it’s critical to develop and hone comprehension and literacy skills using a wide variety of texts in multiple mediums and contexts.

The outsize—and growing—role of video content in daily life and in the classroom makes video an especially valuable medium for extending comprehension practice. Using video as a text to be analyzed is a powerful way to engage students and practice comprehension strategies in a relevant way. That’s why we’re expanding upon Flocabulary’s existing reading comprehension activities with a new instruction experience called Flocabulary Mix and a new analysis tool called Break It Down*.


*Flocabulary Mix and Break it Down are available to users with a a school or district Flocabulary Plus subscription.

Comprehension strategies across the curriculum

Every academic content area calls for comprehension skills at one time or another. From poetry and primary source documents to lab reports and word problems, students are often asked to synthesize and summarize information, gather and cite text evidence, and make inferences and predictions about a text. While content-area teachers are best suited to understand the specific needs of a given subject, finding ways to incorporate comprehension strategies into non-ELA lessons can be difficult.

The creation of Flocabulary Mix and Break It Down stems directly from this need. We’re aiming to offer teachers across subjects engaging, grade-appropriate hip-hop lessons specifically made to be analyzed using key comprehension skills.  Flocabulary’s songs and lessons are not only a relevant and relatable way to teach content, but also a powerful vehicle for close reading and text analysis.

On average, rap uses two to three times more words per song than other music genres, and the natural opportunities for figurative language and wordplay make it a rich format for teaching complex concepts and emphasizing vocabulary acquisition.

With so much comprehension practice already on Flocabulary, we’re excited to introduce a new way to incorporate these skills across the curriculum. Teachers will quickly find that the new features and capabilities available from Flocabulary Mix and Break it Down are a natural extension of what Flocabulary already does so well.

What is Flocabulary Mix and Break it Down?

Flocabulary Mix is a new feature that guides students through a close viewing and analysis of Flocabulary videos. Break It Down is an analysis activity designed to help students develop and practice comprehension strategies and habits of evidence gathering. Break It Down not only plays a major role in the Flocabulary Mix instruction experience, but will also be available as part of the existing Flocabulary lessons you know and love.

How Flocabulary Mix works

We’ve created a library of two new video types for Flocabulary Mix: Skill Videos and Video Texts. 

  • Skill Videos are short videos that feature a host providing direct instruction (spoken, not rapped) of key comprehension skills, including main idea, making inferences, theme, author’s purpose, and characters. 
  • Video Texts are hip-hop videos made to be analyzed using these skills. These engaging nonfiction and fiction hip-hop videos cover diverse topics ranging from science and social studies to original and existing fiction, art, technology, and music.

Using the Flocabulary Mix pairing experience, students and teachers will pair a Skill Video with a Video Text to create a Mix. In a Mix, the videos will play back to back. The Skill Video provides direct instruction and a lens through which students will watch and analyze the Video Text.

How Break it Down works

After watching the Mix, it’s time to Break It Down—a new tool where analysis takes place. Using Break It Down, students are guided through an analysis of the Video Text they just watched using the skill they learned.

  • Students are invited to practice comprehension skills in a unique and engaging way through multiple choice questions, an interactive text evidence gathering tool—through which students literally select clips from the video to support their answer—and an open ended question to explain the connection between answer and evidence. 
  • In addition to its role in Flocabulary Mix, Break It Down is available on existing Flocabulary lessons to deepen engagement with the Flocabulary songs you already use in class.

Beyond the Mix: Comprehension strategies and more

But it doesn’t end there. Each Flocabulary Mix lesson includes the Flocabulary lesson sequence you already use. Students can test their understanding of the skill and content they learned by taking the Quiz. They’ll continue practicing the comprehension skill from the Skill Video by analyzing related passages in Read & Respond. They’ll also deepen their understanding of key vocab terms using Vocab Cards and the Vocab Game. Students can even respond to the Video Text with their own lyrics using Lyric Lab! Learn more about these activities and lesson sequence here

Flocabulary Mix and Break it Down* aim to help teachers strengthen student comprehension strategies by offering a wide range of Flocabulary songs and videos covering academic topics. With over 100 new Video Texts and 300 Mix combinations across grades K-12, students and teachers are sure to find a new favorite Flocabulary lesson. An ELA teacher may want to start by selecting a Skill Video first, then picking which Video Text students will analyze using that skill. A science teacher may prefer to find a grade-appropriate science Video Text followed by a skill to practice using that text. In either case, students will be developing comprehension skills and building text evidence gathering habits to the tune of engaging and relevant Flocabulary songs.

*Flocabulary Mix and Break it Down are available to users with a a school or district Flocabulary Plus subscription.

21st century students are exposed to a high volume and wide range of media every day. As video content continues to make up a bigger share of what students are exposed to inside and outside of the classroom, it’s important to meet students where they are. Using video as a text will not only encourage students to become more discerning consumers of video content, but also help them develop reading comprehension skills in a new and engaging way.

These new features will be available for users with a Flocabulary Plus school or district license. We’re excited for teachers and students to experience Flocabulary Mix and Break It Down.

Watch the webinar recording to learn more about the latest features from Flocabulary!

Interested in Flocabulary Plus for your school or district? 

Mike Judd

Mike Judd is a Curriculum Manager, lyricist, and rapper at Flocabulary.