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Using Popular Music in the Social Studies Classroom

April 10, 2018 - 7:00pm EDT to May 1, 2018 - 8:00pm EDT

This webinar series is designed to share techniques as well as specific songs with participants that can be used in Social Studies classrooms. We will discuss specific strategies that numerous educators have found to be effective when using music in their classes. In the course of the four webinars we will also do four specific case studies to explain how popular music can be used to explore specific topics or themes. It is hoped that participants in this webinar series will contribute strategies, ideas and songs to enhance the webinar experience for everyone involved. Those who have used music on a regular basis in the classroom are welcome to this series, as are people who are simply curious about the topic.

  • Webinar #1: Introduction. Explore strategies to effectively use music in the social studies classroom. Participants are invited to share strategies that they have used when including music in classroom lessons. An obvious but key strategy that will be utilized throughout the entire series is that music can be used as a window into the values and beliefs of the time period in which it is created. Our first “case study” will be to use music of various forms to analyze the Great Depression: we will see how jazz, popular music, classical music, country music, the blues, and folk music can all be used as we teach that period.
  • Webinar #2: Using Music to Teach Social Protest and Social Change. A "case study” in the importance of music to many social movements in American history. Songs of the labor movement, the civil rights movement and the women’s movement will be featured; we will also be listening to songs that oppose social change. In all of the webinars we will continue to explore effective strategies that teachers can use when including music in classroom lessons.
  • Webinar #3: Using Music to Teach America’s Wars.  A “case study” analyzing themes that have been found in American popular music made during wartime. We will study songs created during the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and recent wars in the Middle East to identify common themes; we will also see that popular music has taken on different roles during certain American wars.
  • Webinar #4: Using Music to Teach Black History. A “case study” on how music can be an invaluable aid in teaching Black History in the United States. Beginning with slave songs and ending with contemporary songs of social commentary, we will study the rich tradition of black music in America as well as the critical impact of black music on “mainstream” American culture. We will discuss the concept that some have made that at some point black music has become the mainstream. This session will conclude with observations by participants on the use of music in the classroom and on other topics where music can be utilized effectively.

Presenter: Stephen Armstrong, NCSS Past President and Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut Department of Education, Hartford, CT, has taught social studies for over 20 years in and out of the classroom. Before his work at CT Department of Education, Steve was a social studies department supervisor in the West Hartford, CT public schools. In addition to serving as past president of NCSS, Steve was past president of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies, the Connecticut Committee for the Promotion of History and the New England History Teachers Association. A well-versed and noted presenter, he has given workshops on the local, state, regional, and national levels on a variety of subjects including using popular music in the social studies classroom. Steve has also lead workshops on popular music and social studies at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the original location of the Woodstock Music Festival. 

Registration Fee: $65 NCSS members / $139 NCSS nonmembers