Using the Blues to Teach Standards-Based Curriculum
When Jon Schwartz broke out his guitar and started plucking old blues tunes in front of his first-grade class, he never imagined that he’d eventually be forming a band with them. Nor did he imagine that this random jam session would be the impetus for a standards-based curriculum—one that would use the blues to uphold reading, writing, speech, social studies, math and technology standards.
Impossible, you say. Not in the least.
In Schwartz’ class, students engage in sing-alongs to help them build their vocabulary and sound out multi-syllable words with fluency and correct intonation. Geography and social studies lessons trace Greyhound bus tours along with the lives and culture of those who rode them. Then, when it’s math time, Schwartz has students draw their own tour bus to illustrate the illusion of depth, placement and size.
Once they’re done with this, each student scans his or her art into the classroom computer, edits it in Photoshop and uploads it to their own personal blog where parents can read and comment. Inspiring, isn’t it?
To learn more about Schwartz’ methodology, check out his website, Kids Like Blues.
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