I teach a rock history elective with connections to Language Arts, music, social studies and technology. The goal of the class to for students to examine specific events in history and their impact on and responses to rock and roll music.
As educators, we must help to prepare young people for living in a world of powerful images, words, and sounds. Young people need the tools to navigate and decode the messages and emotions sent through music. By teaching rock and roll history my objective is to enable students to engage critically in the study of music and history by bridging music, writing, and understanding of historical events.
If you want to bring a little bit of rock and roll into your classroom, here are some ideas and activities to inspire and ignite students.
Health – Let’s be truthful, the issue of drug use is intertwined with rock and roll music, from the 1960s even up until today. Use music biographies and lyrics to address songs and artists who have abused drugs. These lessons are pertinent to teach students about drug abuse and negative effects of drugs on the music industry.
Art – Symbols of Rock Music include the guitar, the hair, the clothing, the cars. Students can create a collage of rock music images. All these images and symbols help define rock and roll music. Album covers are also great pieces of art work to examine. Students can analyze the images of album covers or even create their own.
Business – Corporate Rock Debates. Music is a multi-billion dollar industry. Students can examine the economic factors on the music industry and debate about whether music should be free and accessible to all.
Language Arts – Read and Rock Out. Students can create a music selection and soundtrack for their favorite book. The music choices can coincide with the themes, moods, character actions, and plot points in the book.
History – Make a Rock n’ Roll Timeline that includes the most important events in the history of rock and roll. Students decide and plot out the major events in rock and roll history along with historical milestones. Students can include pictures and images along with the timeline for a graphic representation.
Science – Cold Case File Investigations. There are so many unsolved mysteries throughout rock and roll history. Take the 2Pac and Biggie Smalls murders in 96 and 97, these two murders have gone cold in the past ten years. Students can use their detective and forensic research to help solve the case and build a hypothesis regarding this rap tragedy.
For more ideas and projects that my students have completed be sure to check out our class wiki.