Welcome, teachers, to TeachRock. Our website provides a wide range of teaching and learning resources, including videos, image galleries, print journalism, lesson plans, and more – all designed to bring the History of Rock and Roll into your classroom. Much of what we provide is historical in nature, allowing educators and students to study the music in context. We suggest that teachers review all materials in advance of using them in the classroom so as to be sure that all content is age-appropriate for your classroom.

The “Welcome Teachers” section of the site is designed to help educators make the most of all that we provide. From professional development videos to standards and partner resources, this will be a home base for teachers who bring TeachRock into the classroom. We hope that you create an account, share your ideas, dig deep into the material provided, and become a long-term member of our group. What we have to offer comes alive only when teachers give it life.


TeachRock is rooted in a teaching philosophy that believes students learn best when they truly connect with the material to which they’re introduced. Obviously, popular music is one such point of connection. This site is devoted to bringing music into the classroom as a gateway to substantive and meaningful exploration of a wide range of topics in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Humanities, Music and other subject areas.

This curriculum is not simply about allowing students to listen to and enjoy music in school, but about empowering them to become more critical listeners and thinkers. We believe one of the most effective ways to do this is by regularly using material in our classrooms for which students have a natural and deep affection, by making our classrooms places students look forward to entering, and by teaching in a way that makes the classroom an engaging, enjoyable and exciting place for students to be. This curriculum is a tool that can help teachers do all of those things.

Elements of our teaching philosophy include:

  • It’s student-centered. The lesson plans on this site put students at the center of their own learning. They incorporate a wide range of learning activities that enable students to construct their own meaning of the topics and issues covered, rather than be passive recipients of knowledge. There are no lectures or slide shows, only limited “teacher talk.” Students gather information and address issues presented through videos, still images and primary and secondary source readings. Hands-on learning activities include everything from classroom discussion to group investigation, “Structured Academic Controversy,” interactive “TechTools,” and a range of performance-based activities, such as creating an album cover or issuing a press release.
  • It’s media-based. The TeachRock curriculum is built around media that are sure to excite and engage even the most reluctant students. In addition to text and print resources, every lesson includes videos and a range of still images, including maps, photographs, graphs and paintings. Students will not merely listen to songs, but will also view live musical performances, interviews with artists and historical figures and historical footage that will help them better understand the social and political context from which different songs emerged.
  • It’s interdisciplinary. The aim of TeachRock is much more than simply adding music to traditional curriculum. From the start, this project was conceived as an interdisciplinary effort, in which music, history and literature are brought together to broaden students’ understanding of the world. Our curricular materials can be used by teachers in a variety of subject areas, and actively encourage teachers in different school departments to cooperate and work toward more collaborative teaching.Because TeachRock deals directly with the history of Rock and Roll, most of its lessons will fit easily into Social Studies and History classrooms. The exploration of themes such as identity and self-expression, and the analysis of song lyrics as a form of poetry, enable numerous tie-ins for English/Language Arts and Humanities classrooms. Music teachers will find lessons useful for engaging students in discussions of the social and historical context of a particular piece of music. In addition, the curriculum features a number of lessons geared specifically to music classrooms; these are clearly identified with the title “Music Lesson.” In the best cases, these materials will encourage teachers to collaborate across disciplines, music teachers working with Social Studies teachers, English/Language Arts teachers working with History teachers.
  • It’s teacher-empowering. TeachRock was designed to be used by teachers in multiple ways. It is not a scripted curriculum that requires lessons be taught in a specific sequence or time frame. While many lessons work well in tandem, every lesson was designed to be used independently, requiring no particular background or the completion of any other lesson.The materials on this website are presented in a form that encourages individual teachers to adapt lessons to meet the needs of their particular classrooms and teaching contexts. Each lesson plan offers one suggestion for a procedure through which a particular topic may be approached. However, teaching contexts vary greatly, as do student ability and maturity levels. Therefore, lesson plans are constructed in a way that allows for easy modification. They do not include precise time limits on activities, allowing teachers the flexibility to devote as much or as little time to a particular activity as he or she judges necessary. In many cases, particular elements of a lesson plan may be omitted. Extension activities allow teachers to supplement lessons with additional activities if they decide a particular topic is worthy of further investigation. We strongly encourage teachers to preview lesson plans and make them their own, as they know better than anyone what works best in their classrooms.
  • It incorporates authentic assessment. Every lesson has some form of assessment built into its learning activities. These range from informal assessments, such as “exit tickets” or summary discussions, to longer projects and performance-based activities, such as participating in a “Structured Academic Controversy” or writing a script for a radio broadcast. In addition, every lesson has a writing prompt that teachers may use in a variety of ways. The material in this curriculum does not lend itself to traditional tests and quizzes, and in keeping with the student-centered nature of the curriculum, such materials have not been included on the site.
  • It’s standards-based. Teachers will quickly see that all of our lessons aim to engage students in high-level discussions on a wide range of issues and topics. They are designed not simply to increase student knowledge, but to promote critical thinking and substantive analysis. Our lessons heavily emphasize the development of analytic skills and encourage students to think more substantively about both visual and printed media. The curriculum also heavily promotes the development of basic literacy skills, and includes writing activities for every lesson.As such, TeachRock is a natural fit with a variety of subject-area standards and will work extremely well in any standards-based classroom. All lessons include the relevant National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and National Association for Music Education (NAfME) standards. In addition, the curriculum is fully aligned with the Common Core initiative, and offers teachers a model of instruction that can help them meet Common Core standards in their classrooms.


TeachRock is an entirely self-contained, web-based curriculum. It is free to anyone who has access to a computer. It was designed to be easily accessible and as user-friendly as possible. Virtually all of the resources you will need to teach a particular lesson are hosted on the site. You can play our videos for your class without connecting to YouTube, iTunes, QuickTime, or any other program or website. All of the images and student handouts needed to teach a lesson are available directly from the site as well. (Please note that there are a small number of exceptions, calling for teachers to link to additional materials available on the web or supply their own audio recordings and lyrics for particular songs.)

This site is divided into three main sections: Lesson Plan Collections, Welcome Teachers, and Resources. You can access these at any time from tabs at the top center of every page.


Clicking on the title of a lesson will take you to the individual lesson page. Each lesson page offers a brief introduction to the broad themes and content of the lesson. Under the title of each lesson plan is a menu that allows you to access the Media Resources, Objectives, Activities and Standards for the lesson. You may also scroll down the page to find these sections. Lesson plans were designed to enable teachers to easily use the videos and images in their classrooms; see Technical Matters below for more information about how to do so.

Each lesson plan follows a format that will be familiar to most teachers. All lessons are organized around an Essential Question (found at the top of the lesson page), which drives the lesson, and can be answered by students in multiple ways. All activities and materials in the lesson are designed to help students find meaningful answers to the question posed.

Lesson plans also include a list of Objectives, broken down into knowledge and skills. The skills section includes the Common Core skills highlighted in that lesson, with clear and specific reference to how that skill is implemented within the lesson. (Please note that all lesson plans address multiple Common Core skills; for a complete list of all Common Core skills addressed in a specific lesson, please see the Standards section at the bottom of each lesson page.)

The Activities section outlines the instructional plan for the lesson. Every lesson opens with a short Motivational Activity, designed to pique student interest and draw even reluctant students in to the conversation. In many cases, these activities tie in with students’ lived experience – for example, asking them why having access to a car might be important to them, or how living without electricity might affect their lives.

The Procedure section lists the main learning activities in the lesson. Videos and images used in the lesson are hyperlinked and appear in blue, so that teachers may click on them at any time to share them with students. Because our lessons are student-centered, many of them are built around a performance-based activity that also serves as the lesson assessment.

The Resources tab will take you to links for the Handouts used in the lesson. These are all in PDF form, and may be viewed on the screen or printed out and distributed individually to students.

All lessons end with a Summary Activity, designed to bring the lesson “full circle” and ensure that students are able to answer the Essential Question posed. In many cases, summary activities also include an informal assessment, such as an Exit Ticket or a concluding discussion.

In addition, many lessons include a Writing Prompt, which may be used in a variety of ways at the teacher’s discretion. Writing prompts can be used as an assignment for a formal essay. Teachers may wish to have students keep an ongoing journal and contribute to it upon the completion of each lesson.

Some lessons also include additional Homework and Assessment activities, or directions for projects that may be completed over a period of time.

Most lessons include Extension Activities, which allow students to further investigate topics and themes that were not fully explored in the main lesson plan. These may all be used at the discretion of the teacher.

The lesson page also includes a list of the key people discussed in the lesson, which may be found by clicking the Resources tab. Clicking on the name or picture of the individual will take you to the People section of the site, which is discussed further below.

Technical Matters

Because the TeachRock curriculum is entirely web-based, each teacher must develop his or her own strategy for making lessons work with the equipment available in his or her classroom. As a general rule, the lessons work best in a classroom equipped with a computer projector, SMART Board or television-sized monitor. For some lessons, particularly those that include listening/viewing stations, additional computers or laptops may be very helpful. If additional computers are not available, teachers may complete these lessons by playing the station materials for the class as a whole.

Playing Videos. To play a particular video from the lesson page, simply click on the title or thumbnail image for that video. The video will then open in a new window. Use the arrows in the lower right-hand corner to enlarge the video to full-screen size. The sound on any video may be muted by clicking on the sound icon on the lower right. When you are finished with a video, click on the X in the upper right-hand corner and return to the main lesson page.

Displaying Images. Every lesson includes an Image Gallery. To enlarge any one of the images, simply click on it. If you click on an enlarged image, you will move to the next image in the gallery, making it easy for teachers to scroll through all the images in a lesson without returning to the main lesson page. For further information about a particular image, click on the name of the image below the Image Gallery.

People. Every lesson page includes a list of the key artists discussed in the lesson. (You can go directly to the People section by clicking on Resources at the top of the lesson page.) Clicking on the name or image of the person will take you to the People section of the site, which includes a biographical library covering the artists addressed in the curriculum. Instructors may find it useful to include these biographical sketches in their lessons. The People section also includes a list of all images, videos and lesson plans in the curriculum in which that particular artist appears.


Our Resources section includes:

  • A Search Tool that enables you to search the entire site for a particular artist, title, word or phrase. In addition to helping you locate lessons that mention a particular artist or song, the search tool can be particularly useful for teachers who wish to use the curriculum to examine a particular theme. For example, if you search for “California,” you will find lessons on “Surf and the California Dream” (which addresses how surf music offered a vision of California as a kind of American “promised land”), “The San Francisco Scene, 1967” (which discusses the migration of thousands of youth to California for the “Summer of Love”) and “Divergent Paths in the 1990s: Gangsta Rap and Conscious Hip Hop” (which addresses Compton, Calif., as a hub of “Gangsta Rap” in the 1990s). Used in sequence, these three lessons might comprise a powerful mini-unit on different visions of California in American life.
  • The People section. As noted above, this section includes a biographical library covering the artists addressed in the curriculum. Instructors may find it useful to include these biographical sketches in their lessons. The artist listing in the People section also includes a list of all images, videos and lesson plans in the curriculum in which that particular artist appears. Please note that artists are alphabetized in this section by first name.
  • Exclusive Partner Media. TeachRock is not only a library of lesson plans, but also a database of resources that teachers can use in unlimited ways. Even if you decide not to use our lesson plans, these sections contain a wealth of video and text resources you can integrate into your teaching. This section of the site includes an extensive library of material from:
    • ABC News Video Source — The ABC News Video Source collection spans from 1896 to the present, and includes the vast archives of ABC News, the Associated Press (AP), British Movietone and Helinet. The collection provides archival news footage that teachers can use in their classrooms for a wide range of purposes.
    • Reelin’ in the Years — Reelin’ In the Years is the world’s largest library of music footage. From the roots of Rock and Roll to the present day, music from every period relating to Rock and Roll and from across the genres is represented in this remarkable library of film footage.
    • Rock’s Backpages — Among the very best online libraries of music writing, Rock’s Backpages is an archive of writing contributed by the most celebrated writers in the field. The collection offers rich written content spanning more than five decades. These text resources, as with all the materials on our site, are available to teachers at any time.


The Professional Development section of the site also includes a free poster about the project created by our partners at Scholastic, Inc. Feel free to download the poster and use it in your classroom. One side of the poster is an illustrated timeline of the history of Rock and Roll, which teachers can use to design their own lesson plans around a particular era, artist or historical event.

You should also create your own TeachRock account, which will enable you to customize the resources on the site for your own teaching purposes. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to sign up for email updates about the project.

Finally, we are always happy to hear from you – so don’t hesitate to send us an email with any questions or suggestions, or just to tell us what is happening with TeachRock in your classroom.


Poster Timeline

Download this Poster and Teaching Guide from our partners at Scholastic. The poster features an illustrated Timeline that covers nearly eight decades of Rock and Roll History. The poster can be used in your classroom in a variety of ways, from being a tool to prompt class discussions to a starting point for research projects.