A while ago, I posted a lesson plan for A Cultural Fire, which took Billy Joel’s famous We Didn’t Start the Fire and used it as a platform to teach history, culture, and music all at the same time.
Today, my students presented their version to the world during their graduation ceremony. And what an amazing portfolio of learning it was.
We worked on this project for 3 weeks during their music classes. We compiled our list of events that happened since they were born 10 years ago. It started with the 9/11 attacks and ends with Bin Ladin’s take down (which happened right in the middle of us writing this). After we compiled the events, we separated them out by 2-3 year increments, studied the rhythmic structure of the original song and then the students wrote their lyrics using the timeline of events and the rhythmic bones to guide them. I simply facilitated the conversation and helped to ensure the rhythmic accuracy.
After this, we created an iMovie that contained the words and pictures of the events as they occurred through history. Not so much for the students, but so that the parents could follow along and make visual connections to what they were hearing. The students then memorized their song and sang it today for their “graduation to middle school” presentation.
It’s absolutely awesome to see students that were once kindergarteners in your classroom be able to accomplish this type of product and project. They were absolutely amazing and I’m so proud to be able to share this with you. It’s posted without the voices or my students for privacy and so that you can use it with your own students. Please watch it here and see if you can remember each of these events over the last 10 years. Enjoy!
Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.