Sing, America, Sing!

Language Arts & Music Activity

In this activity, students articulate their thoughts about citizenship in songs and poems.

WHAT YOU NEED

WHAT TO DO

  1. Have students meet in discussion groups to discuss, for a set time, what American citizenship means to them. Suggest directions the discussion might take, such as the responsibilities of citizenship, the history behind it, and emotions generated by certain symbols. Explain that the purpose of each group's coming together is not to develop a single impression of what citizenship means but to allow individuals to put their ideas into words and to hear what others think.

  2. After the discussion, have students work independently to write a song (such as a rap song) or a poem that describes what citizenship means to them. (You may want to have writers and musicians pair off to work together.)

  3. Have student share their ideas with a peer and use the helpful criticism to revise their work.

  4. With student input, plan a Citizenship Day during which students will perform their songs and read their poems. Set up a schedule of individual rehearsal times leading up to that date. Have students practice with a tape recorder so that they can hear themselves. Hold a final dress rehearsal with everyone present.

  5. Invite school and family members to the performance. Tape or video tape the performance and later play it for students so that they can appreciate one another's contributions.

TEACHING OPTIONS

Have students research patriotic music of the past, such as the national anthem and similar pieces, and compare the sentiments expressed in the older music and their own songs. A music librarian could help with works by Sousa, Cohan, Ives, and others.

Discuss with students the statistics for voting in local and national campaigns and how they indicate that not enough citizens are taking advantage of their right to vote. Students plan a radio ad campaign aimed at voters ages 18 to 21. The radio ads should feature catchy music and slogans to encourage young people to register and vote.

Artists in the class can design a series of posters to invite people to the performance. Have the class choose their favorite design and use it to make a souvenir program for the performance.


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