Lesson Plans -- Peer Review

Music of the Cold War
by Jonathan Powers

Grade: 8
Course: American History

Objective:

Students will be able to 1) identify thoughts, feelings, and expressions of artists during the Cold War, and 2) analyze and interpret song lyrics of the Cold War era.

Overview:

As an entire class students will discuss the importance of popular music throughout history, focusing on popular music written and listened to during several American wars. In small groups students will focus their attention on music and lyrics that address the Cold War. Together these groups will choose ten songs to include on a Cold War compilation CD. This project will be the final assessment tool for a unit on the Cold War.

Materials:

  • Lyrics to popular songs of American wars (see below for song titles)
  • Copies of "On Being Asked for a War Poem" by William Butler Yeats
  • Access to the internet
  • Computers
  • Materials for the final project (paper, poster board, CD Jewel Cases, markers, colored pencils, etc.)
Procedure:

Day 1
  • Lyrics for the following war time songs are shared with the class:
    Revolutionary War Era, "Yankee Doodle Dandy"
    War of 1812, "Star Spangled Banner"
    World War I, "America (My country 'Tis of Thee) and "Over There"
    Civil War, "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah"
    World War II, "God Bless America"
    Vietnam, "Times They Are a'Changing", "Where Have All The Flowers Gone","Fortunate Son", "For What It's Worth", "Universal Soldier" by Donovan
    Enduring Freedom/Iraq War, "The Final Straw"(REM), "Independence Day"(Martina McBride), "In a World Gone Mad"(The Beastie Boys), "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth" (Willie Nelson) and "Proud to be an American"
  • Class discussion on what feelings are brought up by the lyrics.
  • Students will split up into groups of 2 or 3 and receive copies of "On Being Asked for A War Poem" by William Butler Yeats and answer the questions that follow.
Day 2
Day 3-5

Groups will prepare their projects in one of the following formats:
  1.   A CD cover with liner notes. Requirements for this as follows:
    • Must include ten songs.
    • Must include lyrics.
    • Must include analysis of each song.
      • What aspect of the Cold War is each song about?
      • Who wrote it?
      • When was it written?
      • Are there any specific phrases or words that are worth noting?
    • Must include cover art.
  2.   A Compilation CD review magazine article (like one that might be found in Rolling Stone or Billboard)
    Requirements:
      Discussion of all ten songs that includes:
      • What aspect of the Cold War is each song about?
      • Who wrote it?
      • When was it written?
      • Are there any specific phrases or words that are worth noting?
    • Discussion of the compilation as a whole.
    • Written in the style of a music review.
    • A song list and lyrics must be submitted with the article.
  3.  An Infomercial for the compilation CD. Requirements as follows:
    • Must be videotaped or digitally recorded.
    • Introduction of all ten songs with brief discussion of each including:
      • What aspect of the Cold War is each song about?
      • Who wrote it?
      • When was it written?
      • Are there any specific phrases or words that are worth noting?
    • Discussion of the compilation as a whole
    • A song list and lyrics must be submitted with the project
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