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Lesson Plan

Jazz Up Writing Workshop: Writing Biographies of African American Jazz Musicians

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Jazz Up Writing Workshop: Writing Biographies of African American Jazz Musicians

Grades 2 – 3
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Twenty 20- to 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lily Jones

Oakland, California


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Lined and unlined paper, pencils, and crayons

  • Children’s books on jazz musicians

    • Dizzy by Jonah Winter (Arthur A Levine Books, 2006)
    • When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Live Oak Media, 2004)
    • Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, 2002)
    • Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford (Henry Holt, 2008)
    • John Coltrane’s Giant Steps by Chris Raschka (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002)
    • Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Hyperion Books for Children, 1998)
    • Ray Charles by Sharon Bell Mathis (Lee & Low Books, 2001)
    • If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong by Roxane Orgill (Houghton Mifflin, 1997)

  • Jazz CDs and CD player, or MP3s and MP3 player

  • Computer with Internet access

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  1. Obtain copies of the biographies listed under Materials and Technology.

  2. Print copies of both the Biography Planning Sheet and the African American Jazz Musician Biography Assignment.

  3. Locate or request jazz music to play for students. Ask families to lend jazz CDs, use an MP3 player and download MP3s, or stream music from one of the websites listed in the Resources section.

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