Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking Back at Marian Anderson

I was asked by a Kindergarten teacher to do a lesson with kids on authors purpose. Apparently, all her students are under the impression that pretty much all books are written with the purpose to help them learn to read. While we hope they do, we talked about how to get this idea across and decided to focus on a biography with the author's purpose of giving information. Since it is Black History month, I wanted to do a biography that went with this as well, but not someone they will hear about for years to come. I chose Marian Anderson, someone who faced down challenges with grace and is an accomplished singer all on her own that should be remembered even without those challenges.

I wanted to give the students more of an experience with her than just reading a biography, so I started searching. I was a little surprised to find video clips of her Lincoln Memorial performance that I didn't know existed. This will help to put that into context with the time, the location, and to be able to hear her voice and see her face as she becomes her music will be an experience for them. 75,000 people attended this concert and millions listened in on the radio. What an impact this must have made, especially with Eleanor Roosevelt helping set it up after Constitution Hall would not let her perform due to her race. I also came across several song recordings, interview recordings, and photo galleries from various sources that could be used in a larger unit.

A study of Marian Anderson can fit into units on music, opera, NAACP, Eleanor Roosevelt, segregation, and many other topics.

What is a topic you brought to life from the past for students?

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