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A People’s Playlist: U.S. History with Music as a Primary Source

Through generous support of The Lewis-Houghton Civics and Democracy Initiative Grant,TeachRock.org is developing a U.S. History Course entitled A People’s Playlist: U.S. History with Music as a Primary Source. In the course, students explore history through diverse voices in American music from the Reconstruction Era to today.

Currently, TeachRock is seeking enthusiastic High School U.S. History teachers to pilot the first unit of A People’s Playlist and offer valuable feedback. By participating in this pilot program, you’ll have the opportunity to help review the curriculum and ensure the materials meet the needs of both educators and students alike.

TeachRock.org: Music Tells Our Stories

Music connects us all! For more than a decade, the Rock and Soul Forever Foundation has published free, standards-aligned curricula at Teachrock.org. Using popular music as a lens for learning, we’ve partnered with nearly 75,000 educators and hundreds of thousands of students to deliver open educational resources for all subject areas.

TeachRock is Developing a New Course

TeachRock is developing A People’s Playlist: U.S. History with Music as a Primary Source, a unique High School U.S. History course where students explore history through diverse voices in American music from the Reconstruction Era to today.

Course Description

A People’s Playlist: U.S. History with Music as a Primary Source is a High School U.S. History course that features American music as a source of historical inquiry. The course comprises over 60 lessons covering a period of history from the Reconstruction Era to the present, and aligns to C3, NCSS, and a variety of State standards for U.S. History.

Created in partnership with the Library of Congress, the course is based upon the Library’s Observe-Reflect-Question methodological framework to develop students’ historical thinking skills. By investigating primary sources including recordings, photographs, and other musical artifacts, students discover important eras and moments in United States history through the diverse perspectives of its citizens.

While analyzing music as a primary source, students come to understand how the diverse voices of “everyday” citizens were able to alter the trajectory of American history. By doing so, students leave the classroom empowered to contribute in meaningful ways to U.S. society.

Calling all High School U.S. History Teachers

TeachRock is seeking enthusiastic High School U.S. History teachers to pilot the first unit of A People’s Playlist and offer valuable feedback. By participating in this pilot program, you’ll have the opportunity to help refine the curriculum and ensure the materials meet the needs of both educators and students alike. Join us in pioneering this exciting new curriculum and making a difference in the world of education!

Pilot Material Overview

Unit 1: Post Civil War America
Lesson TitleObjective
Early Reconstruction featuring the Hyers SistersStudents will be able to describe the effects Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction had on African Americans by watching video clips, investigating primary source documents, and doing a dramatic reading of excerpts of musical theater work performed by the Hyers Sisters.
Late Reconstruction featuring The Jubilee SingersStudents will be able to identify the reasons that Reconstruction came to an end and its lasting impact on the United States through the analysis of primary and secondary sources that surround the Jubilee Singers’ tour to raise money for Fisk University after the Civil War.
Plessy v. Ferguson featuring Bert WilliamsStudents will be able to describe the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, identify Jim Crow laws and the term’s musical origins, and explain how the life of Black American entertainer Bert Williams represents an American experience by analyzing texts and examining media.
The Transcontinental Railroad featuring Work Songs Collected by John LomaxStudents will be able to assess the significance of the Transcontinental Railroad on the development of the United States by listening to railroad work songs, examining art, and investigating shopping catalogs of the period.
The Homestead Act featuring Cowboy Songs Collected by John LomaxStudents will be able to describe how the interaction between different cultures shaped the development of the American West by listening to traditional cowboy songs and discovering the life and experience of Black cowboy Nat Love.
Native Americans and Westward Expansion featuring RedboneStudents will be able to describe the Native American experience during Westward Expansion through the analysis of media, primary sources, and the music of Rock band Redbone and Hip Hop artist Taboo.

Pilot Responsibilities

  Deliver all six lessons to a High School U.S. History class between August 1, 2024 and October 31, 2024

  Participate in two one-hour virtual meetings; one at the start and one at the end of the pilot program

  Complete a post-lesson reflection after each lesson

Participation Criteria

 Teach a semester or year-long U.S. History course to high school students  Have support from the school’s administration

Compensation

In recognition of each teacher’s valuable participation in our pilot program, TeachRock is pleased to offer a stipend of $500 at the end of the pilot.

Selection Process

Interested applicants will submit an application package (see below) by June 30, 2024  Pilot participants will be selected and notified by July 19, 2024

To Apply

  Submit a letter of recommendation from your school’s administration team to [email protected]

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