June 22, 2009

Two additional lesson plans

So, after searching the web for some time, I found a number of good starts for lesson plans, as well as some lesson plans that I wasn't a big fan of. One that stuck out to me was VH1's large number of lesson plans for lessons that accompany episodes of behind the music. I just can't think of a situation where in the english classroom, I'd want to teach all the students lessons about one particular musician's life. I think that as I've thought through the readings for this course, I primarily want to use pop music as a means of teaching students how to work on textual analysis skills, and as a means of unlocking particular kinds of self-reflections from them.

So here are two more ideas for lesson plans:

Lesson One: Music and Identity

Rationale: Many creative writing lessons attempt to give students a good sense of how to reflect on their own lives with writing and critical thinking. I think that by creating a lesson where students attempt to use creative writing to come up with an original work inspired by one of their favorite pieces of pop music to reflect one particular insight about their lives.

Materials: Handout on poetic devices, and measuring meter of poems.

Instructions: Give students an assignment to bring in the lyrics to a song that is significant to them; in class, have students identify poetic devices used in the poem that either help the meaning of the poem, or that set the music apart as a unique piece of poetry. This lesson may take two days, with the first day on analyzing the msuic that the students bring in. On the second day, the students will be expected to write at least eight lines of a poem about a particular issue in their own life in the style of the song that they've brought in.

Grading: Fifteen points for analysis of the poem; five for identifying major poetic devices; five for hypothesizing which poetic devices set the poem apart from others; five for effort put into the work, students who do not use class time to complete the analysis will lose these points. The poem itself will be fifteen points as well; five for using poetic devices identified from other poem, five points for having at least eight lines, five points for originality - students will recieve this unless the poem they turn in shows no effort to make a poem on their own.

Lesson Two: Teaching how to perform scansion and poetry analysis using pop music

Rationale: During my observations at a public high school, I attempted to help the students perform scansion on lines from Shakespeare in order to show them how iambic pentameter functioned in Shakespeare's blank verse. The students had never performed scansion on poetry before, and although they'd been given opportunities to write free verse, the student's weren't comfortable analyzing someone else's poetry, or use traditional poetry terms to talk about devices used within the poetry.

Materials: Lyrics to 4 Songs voted on in class. Printouts of Various Poetic devices. Desks clustered in Groups

Plan: Take five minutes in class to conduct an anonymous poll of favorite song, each student will write theirs on a scrap of paper; pick top four options and find lyrics online, printout one copy of each songs lyric one per group. EAch group will have a sheet of poetic devices that I will make from materials I have from undergraduate courses, and will be tasked with finding at least five poetic devices in each song and present those devices to the class after ten minutes of discussion.

Grading: Each student will keep a note sheet on the work their group is done which will be collected at the end of class. If they fill it out completely, they will recieve ten points. If they fill it out partially, they will recieve five points. If group members report a group member is not working, that group member will recieve half to no credit depending on the situation.

Purpose: By introducing students to poetry terms with music that they enjoy listening to or are at least familiar with, I think it will be easier to move on to poetry analysis with more traditionally taught poems that has language that may be unfamiliar, or the poems might not be the kinds of works that students even ejnjoy reading. This lesson would serve as an introduction to poems that cause students trouble, like shakespeare, or milton, etc.

June 21, 2009

Two Lesson Plans and Rationales

Lesson 1 Rationale:
The first lesson that I'd like to teach was inspired by events that happened last night. I attended Rock the Garden yesterday, a show with four bands that's an outdoor twin cities music festival. One of the bands there, the Decemberists, performed their last album from cover to cover live. The album was a rock opera, and although I'd listened to it recorded, it was a totally different experience live. Based on that experience, I'd like to create a series of lessons based on students attending a live concert event of some kind. Consuming music in album form is fine, but the albums are more symbols of a live experience than they are things of themselves; sometimes they aren't things students listen to actively, they are more background material for doing other things. I'd like to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on some kind of live experience with other students, and have them come up with a series of reviews for each event. The main problem that might arise with a lesson based around attending a live concert event could be the cost involved. I don't expect students to spend thirty five dollars on a ticket to a day-long concert, but there are school groups that perform on a regular basis each semester that students might attend. I realize that going to a high school or middle school band or choir concert may not exactly be pop music; but it's music that their peers are putting on to share, and by engaging their peers' art I think that student's might come up with useful information for delivering informed opinions on media.

Lesson 1:

Objective: Facilitate student discussion about live performance and enable student reflection on their own tastes in music and performance.

Materials: Instruction sheets for students, Desks grouped in clusters of four to five students, Questions for discussion.

Instructions: Attend one live musical performance, during the performance take notes on things you like, things you dislike, write down some lyrics, or write down some descriptions of music without lyrics. Do this by XX/XX/XXXX and come ready for discussion. You will be organized in groups based on the kind of performance you attend.

Questions handed out during discussion:
1. Was the performance something that you normally would attend? If not, what were some differences; if so, what were some similarities?

2. Would you listen to a recording of this performance; discuss why or why not?

3. As a group, think of what made the performance enjoyable, or if you did not enjoy it, think of what you expect out of a live show in order to really impress you?

4. Take your ideas from answer three and come up with an event of your own that could incorporate the performance you saw with two or three other performing groups:

- You'll need to come up with an event name, a venue, a time, vendors, and describe how it will be staged. When you're done with the planning; create publicity for the event.

That lesson should take an entire forty-five minute period; with time for each group to present their publicity to the other groups and have some discussion to answer the first three questions as a group.

Lesson Two Rationale:
Music is tied to important events in our lives. Whether it's a song played during a summer that will help us look back, a dance at our wedding, or a song at a funeral in memory of a friend or loved one. By allowing students an opportunity to reflect on music that has meant something to them at particular times in their lives, I'd like to help students explore their own identity and how it's been shaped by the experiences that the music represents or stands as a mark for. By the end of this assignment the students will have a mix-tape of their lives and a better understanding of themselves and each other.

Objective: Grant students with an opportunity to explore their own lives and tie it to the popular music of their lives.

Materials: CD Player/ CD burning capability or alternatively a Tape Player/Tape Recording capability.

Step 1. Music is a huge part of your life. Come up with ten songs that describe specific moments in your life that you think are important. Write a paragraph for each song describing the time and how the song relates to that time.

Step 2. Come up with a thirty second segment of each song that shows a good example of the songs tone or message, and create a five minute long 'mix tape' of your life.

Step 3. Come up with a five minute presentation to go along with your 'mix tape'; there are a couple ways you can do this, introduce the material on the 'tape' and then play the music, play the music and then explain the tape, or give a short introduction play the tape and give a conclusion.

Step 4. Present your tape to the class, prepare to present for ten minutes, and no longer than fifteen minutes.

This lesson may take some time. It will probably take students at least one class period of planning and one day of homework (or checking over a weekend) to come up with the music. The student presentations will take up the most of this lesson, it'll take a class of thirty students about seven days to present with full ten minute presentations. I guess i'm a little concerned about that but I think that it's in the student's best interests to give them time to present their work to each other.