Preserving Our National Anthem



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Title: “Preserving Our National Anthem”

Subject area focus: Music; Social Studies

Brief Summary: Through this study, all students will have memorized the words to the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner as well as understanding the vocabulary used in the song. They will also know its history and the appropriate etiquette when it is performed.

Goals and Objectives: The goal of this unit is to assure that every 4th and 5th grader in my school will know the words to the first verse of our national anthem, the appropriate behavior when it is sung or played and its history.

General Description of Lesson: Through internet site exploration and/or handouts as well as actually singing it, students will be thoroughly exposed to the Star-Spangled Banner resulting in their understanding of its history as well as an appreciation for the respect required when it is being performed.

Evaluation and assessment: Students will complete two handouts to ascertain their initial knowledge of the words to the Star-Spangled Banner as well as one handout about its history. Their final assessment is both written and sung.

Additional information or Activities: This lesson unit has the flexibility to be accomplished in any number of ways under any number of circumstances. The follow-up activities can be additional lesson units as well. For instance, students might listen to and learn or review other patriotic songs and debate the option that one of these replace the Star-Spangled Banner as our national anthem. Another direction would be for students to listen to national anthems from other countries choosing one to research its roots and then comparing that to how the United States adopted its national anthem. Finally, the art teacher might choose to download the PowerPoint slideshows at the bottom of the site and print them out as individual pages. Students could then illustrate the story and/or the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner.

National and/or state requirements or standards addressed


National Standards:
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture
Illinois State Standards:
Goal 27.A—Analyze how the arts function in history, society and everyday life.
Goal 27.B—Understand how the arts shape and reflect history, society and everyday life.

Materials:



NONE if using the website. Any recording of the Star-Spangled Banner would be appropriate if teaching this lesson without the website. Additional recordings that may be helpful would be any version of Stars and Stripes Forever, God Bless America, This Land Is Your Land, America the Beautiful or other patriotic songs—no specific artist or recording company is necessary.

Options:
Option One: Students meet in a computer lab using headphones at computers.


Option Two: Teacher will need a computer and a projection device to lead students through each lesson as a group.
Option Three: Students are assigned this lesson to be completed at home using their personal computers with worksheets completed digitally and e-mailed or printed and filled in by hand.
Option Four: This lesson is done using a CD player, any recording of the
Star-Spangled Banner and the handouts from my site are downloaded (printable versions), duplicated and given to the students to complete during each lesson plan.

Follow-up activities There are three follow-up activities included at the bottom of the website—


1. Illustrate the story of the Star-Spangled Banner.
2. Listen to and learn about anthems from other countries around the world.
3. Listen to other American patriotic songs and make a case for why one of them should replace our current national anthem.


Lesson Plan #1: An Introduction to the Star-Spangled Banner

Objective: To introduce students to the Star-Spangled Banner and allow them to determine whether they really know the words they have heard so often.

Materials: Any appropriate recording of the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner, an American flag displayed somewhere in the classroom, handout “The Star-Mangled Banner”, website http://outsidethebox93.org/StarSpangledBanner , access to a computer and projection device for the teacher or access to computers for all students (both of these are optional)

Prior Knowledge and Experiences: It is assumed that all students will have at least heard our national anthem somewhere at sometime.

Procedures:
1. Introduction: Ask students if they’ve ever attended a professional sporting event or even just listened to one on the radio. What always happens just before the game begins? (The Star-Spangled Banner is sung.) If students do not know the name of this song and or what the words “national anthem” mean, define this for them or ask another student to define.
2. Listening: Show at least one of the sites indicated on the website that plays and illustrates the Star-Spangled Banner.
3. Singing: Have all students stand and face the flag displayed in the classroom. Share with them appropriate options for the way they might stand when singing our national anthem (hats removed, hand over heart or at their sides, always standing, always facing the flag). Play a recording asking students to sing along. Ask how many of them believe they sang all of the words correctly. (If you have the option of playing the recording again without singers, do so and allow students to attempt singing it again without the assistance of professional singers!)
4. “The Star-Mangled Banner” handout. Give students this handout to complete individually. Consider playing the recording again as they work or reminding students to at least sing the song “in their heads” as they fill in the blanks. Note: This handout can be completed digitally in Microsoft Word if you have that option for students.
5. Review: Check answers on the handout so that all students make any corrections needed so that all have the words accurately to take with them. Ask students to write out all of the words to the Star-Spangled Banner on the back of their handout prior to the next classtime.
6. Singing: Stand and once again sing the Star-Spangled Banner giving students the options to use their corrected handout if they choose to. Prior to singing ask volunteers to share appropriate etiquette rules for singing our national anthem.
Indicators of success: Students will know more of the words to our national anthem than they did when this class began indicated by more confident singing.
Comments and Additional Material: This lesson should take 30 minutes. There is the option of exploring more than one of the sites indicated on the first star on the website.

Lesson Plan #2: A History of the Star-Spangled Banner

Objectives of this Lesson Plan: Students will learn about the origins of our country’s national anthem.

Materials used: The music and/or recording of any other patriotic songs with which students are already familiar (God Bless America, America the Beautiful, This Land is Your Land, Fifty Nifty United States etc.), “Historically Speaking” handout, an American flag displayed somewhere in the classroom, website http://outsidethebox93.org/StarSpangledBanner access to a computer and projection device for the teacher or access to computers for all students (both of these are optional—there are filmstrips and videos generally owned by school districts which could be used instead)

Prior Knowledge and Experiences: Students should have experienced Lesson One above. If using computers, students should have at least minimal facility on this tool.



Procedures:

1. Singing: Ask students to stand and sing a patriotic song with which they are already familiar such as God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, America the Beautiful, or America (My Country ‘tis of Thee). Ask why they think this isn’t our national anthem. Ask “What does it take for a song to be good enough to be our country’s anthem?”

2. Information Sharing: Any of the sites on the top row last star to the right of the website should be explored either by students individually or led by the teacher for the class as a whole. (A filmstrip or video with this information, if available in your district, might be used instead.)

3. “Historically Speaking” handout: Give students this handout to complete individually. Consider completing the “Story of the Star Spangled Banner” PowerPoint slideshow prior to this class and playing this prior to or as students complete the handout. (This might even be accomplished outside of class by asking students in advance to create the artwork and could be displayed nonelectronically.) Note: This handout can be completed digitally in Microsoft Word if you have that option for students. Students might hand this in for a grade, or you may choose to correct it together during this class so that all have accurate answers.

4. Word review: Ask students to fill in the missing words as you recite the words to the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner. Begin and pause at various words allowing them to say it instead (I recommend pausing on the vocabulary words you will be addressing in the next lesson.).

5. Singing: Ask volunteers to share one fact about the Star-Spangled Banner. Stand and once again sing our national anthem facing the flag displayed in the classroom. Students should not use any word sheets or sheet music to help them. Suggest that they write the words from memory and then check themselves prior to their next music class.

Indicators of success: Confidence in knowing the words to our national anthem will continue to grow indicated by large numbers of volunteers for #4 above. Students will be able to state information about the Star-Spangled Banner without referring to their notes.

Comments and Additional Material: This lesson, once again, can be done technologically or not. My experience is that if it is possible for students to use technology in learning this material, even completing the handout electronically, they will be more engaged in the process.



Lesson Plan #3: Star-Spangled Banner Finale!

Objectives of this Lesson Plan: Students will learn definitions for vocabulary used in the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner and also complete this unit by taking a written assessment.

Materials used: “Oh Say Do You Know These Words” handout, “Star-Spangled Test”, Vocabulary Cards including all of the words on the first handout as well as others that are not a part of the lyrics, any recording of the Star-Spangled Banner (an instrumental version as well if possible, any recording of Stars and Stripes Forever & website: http://outsidethebox93.org/StarSpangledBanner

Prior Knowledge and Experiences: Students have completed Lessons One and Two above (although, if absent, the majority of these lessons could have been completed at home or in their classroom individually on a computer)



Procedures:

  1. Vocabulary Cards are posted on the board. (An alternate would be to simply write the words on a transparency projected on a screen in the classroom.) Ask students to eliminate any words which are NOT used in the Star-Spangled Banner. Ask how many think they know what each of the remaining words means.

2. “Oh Say Do You Know These Words” handout: Students might find a partner and complete this with them, it could be done individually, or it could be done digitally if students are in a computer lab. An instrumental recording of the Star-Spangled Banner could be played as students work. As a class allow students to check their answers and make corrections.

3. Singing: Ask students to stand as they sing the Star-Spangled Banner with appropriate etiquette and all of the words memorized. Ask them to raise their hands each time one of the vocabulary words just defined are sung. (Students should be informally assessed as they performed the Star-Spangled Banner noting their confidence level in singing the words and accurateness of pitches. This informal assessment could begin in earlier singing opportunities with the teacher first checking those students who are obviously confident with the tune and/or words. At repeated performances, additional students will be able to be successful with the majority of the song.)

4. “Star-Spangled Test”: This is the final formal assessment of this unit. Students should complete this individually and turn it in to be graded.

5. Celebration: Play a recording of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever as students keep the beat in a variety of ways. If time allows, share Sousa’s lyrics with the class, asking how they support the intention of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Indicators of success: Rubric for the test is at the top of it. It is expected that 85% of those assessed will be at the Meets or Exceeds level. Students with special needs may have the opportunity to have the test read to them and could verbally give their responses to their special services teacher.



Comments and Additional Material: In reading through these three lessons, it may seem that there is a great deal of repetition at least in singing our national anthem so many times. This is intentional so that every single student will complete this unit confident in singing the Star-Spangled Banner and clear about its meaning. This third lesson can be done without any computer technology at all, but if time allows and computers are available, students could connect to any of the sites on flag etiquette.

Judy Meyer Hays


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