Student made plausible arguments explaining what the song is about, who might have written it, and why. Student demonstrates understanding of the composition.
Student made weak arguments explaining what the song is about, who might have written it and why. Student demonstrates vague understanding and cannot discuss the piece other than in very general terms.
Student cannot identify what the song is about, who might have written it, or why. Student does not demonstrate understanding of the piece and has no contribution to the discussion.
About the History
Students discusses the relevance of the song to the time period in which it was written. Student identifies one or more events that occurred at that time in history and provides details about the events.
Student makes a reasonable guess when the piece was written and can identify one event that occurred at that time in history. Student is unable to provide much detail about the event.
Student cannot make a reasonable guess when the piece was written. Student cannot identify a historical event that corresponds to the time the piece was written.
Students can write/perform their own work songs or rap songs. They should be able to explain their purpose for writing the song.
Students who play musical instruments can perform selections for the class. The school music director would be a good source for easy arrangements of spirituals and jazz compositions.
Students can create artwork in response to the musical selections. The artwork does not have to be a literal interpretation of the piece but can be an emotional response. That may mean abstract designs using colors and shapes that fit the mood of the piece.
The instructional activities are appropriate for 9th grade because students have had the opportunity to acquire prior knowledge of American history and Black history. The time periods and events referenced by the musical selections will be familiar to them. Further research is encouraged, but they should already have enough background knowledge to be able to discuss the compositions and their historical references.
Students will connect what they know with new information through classroom discussions. Often, students know more than they realize. Skillful prompting by the teacher will elicit thoughtful responses from students. The teacher will use recordings and web resources to provide students with additional information.
Different learners may need lyrics in written form; they may not be able to process ideas sufficiently if they hear the words only. Some students may need to hear recordings multiple time before understanding. Students can wear earphones or other type of individual device for listening.
The lesson demonstrates constructivist views by providing activities in which students can participate. There is very little lecture associated with this lesson. Students listen to musical selections and discuss with their teachers and peers. The teacher uses leading, open-ended questions to elicit student responses. The musical genres are clearly defined, but much of what students are asked is open to interpretation. There are no right or wrong answers when they explain how a piece of music makes them feel. Although there are both correct and incorrect responses possible when discussing historical references, there is latitude for students to make choices about the events they choose to discuss and the details they choose to provide. The flexibility of the assignments and the variety of musical styles ensure that students will find something to their liking.
Word Search Activity
History of Jazz, the. (2011). iPad application. < http://iTunes.apple.com/us/app/the-history-jazz-interactive/id411521458?mt=8>.
Hotchalk. (2010). Lesson plans page: Black history month. < http://www.lessonplanspage.
Smithsonian Education. (n.d.) Black history teaching resources. < http://www.smithsonian education.org/educators/resource_library/african_american_resources.html>.
Word Search Puzzle. Puzzlemaker. Discovery Education.