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Teacher Resources by Grade
|1st - 2nd||3rd - 4th|
|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
Making History Come Alive Through Poetry and Song
|Grades||6 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions|
This lesson pairs a magazine article about the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck in 1975 with the Gordon Lightfoot song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” After comparing and contrasting the elements of each text, students will choose a historical event and, using the song as a model, create a narrative poem about their chosen event.
In addition, more contemporary songs and current events will also work for this activity.
- Gordon Lightfoot: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald": This site provides historical background on the shipwreck, links to the lyrics and music, as well as links to additional Edmund Fitzgerald websites and news articles.
- Prewriting Chart: Students will use the chart to brainstorm and organize their ideas before drafting their poems.
- Historical Poem Checklist: Students will use the checklist as a guide while they draft, revise, and edit their poems.
Increasing student interest and motivation is a constant concern for teachers. Incorporating history and music into an English Language Arts lesson can serve to “motivate students, increase student achievement, [and] promote positive attitudes toward subject matter” (Cruickshank). NCTE echoes this idea in its Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies, noting, “It is the interplay of meaning-making systems (alphabetic, oral, visual, etc.) that teachers should strive to study and produce. ‘Multiple ways of knowing’ also include…music.”
In its “Adolescent Literary: A Policy Research Brief,” NCTE also notes that “allowing student choice in writing tasks…can increase motivation.” Further, NCTE asserts that “self-selection and variety engage students by enabling ownership in literacy activities.”
Cruickshank, Douglas. "Kaleidoscopic Learning: An Overview of Integrated Studies." Edutopia. The George Lucas Foundation, 7 Oct. 2008. Web. 30 Aug. 2012. http://www.edutopia.org/integrated-studies-interdisciplinary-learning-overview.
NCTE Executive Committee. 2005. Position Statement on Multimodal Literacies. Web. November 2009. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/multimodalliteracies.
National Council of of Teachers of English. 2007. NCTE Principles of Adolescent Literacy Reform: A Policy Research Brief. Urbana, IL: NCTE.