I Wanna Rock

So I am pretty stoked. Excited. Ecstatic really. A few weeks ago, I tweeted something along the the lines that someday I hope to be able to teach a class on, “The History of Rock and Roll. Film or Digital Storytelling.”

But because I teach middle school and at the moment our school does not offer any of those electives, I felt my dream would be just that– a far fetched fantasy forced to flounder somewhere in the future or worse disappear as yet another ephemeral tweet. That is until, I became creative and active in making my dreams come true.

We have quite a robust after school activity program at UWCSEA. This year I facilitated four terms of Middle School Master Chef. And don’t get me wrong, I loved it. It was so much fun to watch kids take risks and learn new skills in the kitchen, but for next year, I was on the hunt for something new. I almost committed to a High School Mountain Biking club, when it hit me! Why not offer my dream class as an activity? It is not the same as a class, as we only meet for an hour a week, but for the time being it is better than nothing.

Below is the email exchange between the me and the activities director:

Hi Hugh,

I have an idea for an activity that I have had for a while and if you think it is worthwhile and possible I would like to offer it next year.

So my idea is this: The History of Rock and Roll. Open to HS students, it is a chance to get together and study, explore and listen to the most important bands, songs, and albums of rock music from the 1950′-the 2000s. We will explore the historical and social context of the music, while looking at lyrics, musical structure as well as lasting impact on the world and rock music.

I have alway wanted to teach this as a class, so if you think it will work, I can write up a more formal blurb and come up with a pretty comprehensive plan.

Let me know what you think.

Hi Jabiz –

To be honest I’m not sure. History of R&R sounds interesting but as you say, it is a class – not sure that it has the content to be included in the Activity programme. We really need activities to be active learning and interactive, so learning about something doesn’t really hit that does it?
Hi Hugh,

I totally get what you are saying about this being more of a “class” as for the active learning or interactivity of it I have some ideas:

  • Perhaps we learn to play a song from each decade and perform at the end of a few weeks.
  • Perhaps we create a digital story (exploring tech, film, and media) at the end of each decade.
  • Perhaps we can share our work and learning on a blog and/or youtube channel
  • Perhaps we create an iBook documenting the learning.

Or maybe we blend all three:

We discuss and learn about music from every decade, learn to play a few songs throughout the term, which we perform and document the learning through film, media and digital storytelling. Finally we consolidate all of it in an iBook helping us learn (interactivity ) how to use iBook author software etc…

As you can see I am really passionate and excited by this possibility. If you tell me what some of the guidelines are I am sure I can make it work and I know there are kids who would be interested. Perhaps, we can chat in person so I can explain further.
Hi Jabiz,
Sounds great Jabiz – love the ideas!

Will include it – please check when I send it round.


image by zentrad

And just like that I am teaching my dream class. The basic idea is as descried above, but I am a swirl in a brain storm at the moment. I am open to any suggestions or ideas. It will be for High School stuents, which will be a great way for me to get to know them better and a great way for me to stay in touch with my grade eights moving on next year.

I cannot think of a better way of getting to know and bonding with people than talking about and playing music. I will plan out a rough outline this summer, but in the meantime any ideas, or bands or songs or films or anything you can share would be great.

Just think- This could be me


6 thoughts on “I Wanna Rock

  1. avatarWilliam Chamberlain
    Twitter: wmchamberlain

    Sounds like a fun class, I really like the idea of doing performances of the songs. The debate about which songs to learn would be great. I know that I have had a lot of fun watching my kids learn to play the ukuleles. I guess that is what is so great about before or after school opportunities, the kids can choose if they want to participate. We don’t have to try to sell them on what we want them to learn.

  2. avatarShawn White
    Twitter: swpax

    Jabiz, — Congratulations! It’s fantastic to have opportunities to realize and share our passions with students. There are so many great ways this could be pursued, and so many ways it can be student-centered. Maybe students could interview family members regarding their past, present, and evolving music interests related to rock & roll, their experiences maybe seeing some of the bands you might study.
    When I read this it reminded me of my junior year World History class. Upon being assigned to research and report on someone or a group of people whose actions clearly changed the course of history, I requested to report on Led Zeppelin’s impact on rock & roll and the birth of heavy metal. My teacher was hesitant, but being the teacher he was, he saw my passion and permitted it. I got an A, for whatever that means.
    Very happy for your and your students who will get to do this; I look forward to seeing its development. — Shawn

  3. avatarAlan Levine
    Twitter: CogDog

    *You* rock– there’s plenty of examples of activity that Bryan Jackson gas done with his Talon students. A performance of perhaps a medley of the rock classics, kids could research the story behind the songs? Can’t wait to see what you do

  4. avatarSherri Marie Hudson

    Hello, I’m anEDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. That is so wonderful that you get to share your passion with your students. Along the way you might even meet some students that will want to expand what they learn in your class! It’ll be exciting because I know it’s hard for teachers to juggle their other passions and their career. I’m trying to be an English teacher and I write novels too. I’m scared it’ll be too hard for me to tend to both.

  5. avatarChasity Heubach

    My name is Chasity I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. EDM 310 is a class designed around project based learning. I think what you are doing is great, and it will be a great gateway to show students that they may have interests in something they otherwise would have never given notice too. Thank you for sharing.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.