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Lesson Plan

A Collaboration of Sites and Sounds: Using Wikis to Catalog Protest Songs

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A Collaboration of Sites and Sounds: Using Wikis to Catalog Protest Songs

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Chris Kawakita

Normal, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • work in pairs to critically analyze and examine the lyrics of protest songs.

  • identify the social ill/problem the artist is protesting against.

  • research information presented in the lyrics.

  • build a case for or against the artist's position.

  • add their research to the class wiki.

  • learn about the collaborative nature of wikis.

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Session One

  1. Begin this lesson by playing the chorus of rapper Kanye West's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." Ideally, students will instantly recognize the track and artist, and even sing along. Before you hand out the materials, ask the class to speculate as to why you played this particular song. Play snippets of other "recognizable" protest songs, including Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up," Dave Matthews Band's "Cry Freedom," Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and Edwin Starr's "War."

  2. Ask the students if they can think of any other protest songs.

  3. Explain that each student will first search the Internet for a protest song (subject to your approval for content and appropriateness).†The list at Protest Songs from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is a good place to start.

  4. After students make their decisions, ask them if they are familiar with their song and artist.

  5. Ask students to share their selections out loud. On the board or chart paper, compile a list of the selected artists and issues these artists are protesting against. Explain that a more detailed compilation will be published on the class wiki.

  6. Have each student work with a partner to analyze their songs' content and purpose. Students will use the research guide for this part of the assignment.

  7. Invite students to share their finding with their fellow classmates.

  8. Encourage students to find the songs they have selected in their own music collection, their family members', or online.

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Session Two

  1. Pass out copies of the two articles, "Make Way for Wikis" and "Wiki: Don't Lose That Number."

  2. Allow the students to read the pieces in class.

  3. Discuss Eric Oatman's "Make Way for Wikis" first. The article provides a good overview of wikis' history, characteristics, benefits, and potential problems.

  4. Ask the students if they have ever created or edited a wiki. Explain the practicality of using wikis in an educational setting (i.e., the simplicity of creating and managing Websites, the opportunity for project development with Web review, the streamlining of group collaboration, and the ease in which group members' contributions can be tracked).

  5. Display the example wiki for the class and explore the way the example works so that students have a visual understanding of what they will be working on. This is also a good time to show and discuss the Wiki Rubric so students know what is expected of them in this project.

  6. Discuss Jennifer Dorroh's "Wikis: Don't Lose That Number." Remind students (and yourself) that even though wikis are potentially wonderful educational tools, they are not without problems.

  7. Have the students brainstorm other applications, benefits, and problems of wikis not discussed by either article.

  8. Have students return to their original groups of two. Explain that the class is going to post their responses to the research guide on the pre-established class wiki. For tracking purposes, you will want the students to establish login IDs. However, make sure that they either use pseudonyms or first names only.

  9. Help students with the technical aspects of uploading information onto the wiki.

  10. Encourage them to get creative-graphics, pictures, and hyperlinks are all perfectly acceptable. You may want to have some of your tech-savvy students assist those who need extra guidance.

  11. Once all the responses are loaded onto the Website, direct your students' attention to the wiki on your projected screen. As a class, determine the best way to arrange the entries, whether that's by artists, issues they're protesting against, song names, etc.

  12. Play the protest songs that students bring in. Using the research prompts as a guide, ask the students to jot down responses to the songs they listen to. Encourage them to add their comments to the ones already posted on the class wiki. Furthermore, encourage them to add to and edit their entries in the future.

  13. Remind the class that the best wikis are the ones that are constantly being taken care of and tinkered with.

  14. For homework, ask the students to complete the Group Participation Assessment Sheet and the Online Self-reflection Checklist (if a student does not have Internet access at home, this form can be completed later on at school).

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  • Students can write their own protest songs. They would identify issues that they deem worthy of protest and then compose lyrics that bring those issues to light. These too could be added to the class wiki.

  • There has been a lot of news lately about blogs and students. Blogs and wikis are cousins in the new media family. They both have similar design elements and collaborative components. However, wikis have escaped the type of scrutiny blogs currently face in school districts across the country. Have the students hypothesize as to why this is the case. Ask them to draw up the similarities and differences between wikis and blogs. This is a great time to introduce the concepts of content, form, arrangement of entries, search mechanisms, authority, and classroom possibilities.

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Students can be assessed through their song responses, class discussion, and group participation. They are to complete both the group participation assessment sheet and the Online Self-reflection Checklist. Carefully review the studentsí comments, and provide appropriate feedback on their participation with this lesson. In addition, use the Wiki Rubric to assess student participation in the class project. If you are teaching this lesson for the first time, make sure to get student input as to the strengths and weaknesses of the assignment.

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