The Foundation was elated about the opportunity to make lesson plans to accompany the film RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World. The film explores the history of Native Americans through their involvement in popular music—it’s made in the model of a TeachRock lesson already! Moreover, it allowed us to address a void in our own offerings. Until RUMBLE we had no material with which a teacher could address Native Americans in U.S. history.
We’re proud of the five RUMBLE lesson plans up at Teachrock.org, but it’s not about us—our real hope is that the lessons will have a positive impact in the lives of students, perhaps by piquing the interest of a kid “on the fringe” in the back of the room, or allowing a Native student to see a positive, triumphant representation of him or herself in history.
We know that reaching these kids requires reaching out to their teachers, and we were grateful to take part in the First Nations Teachers Association winter meeting this February in Vancouver, Canada. RRFF Director Bill Carbone spent two days with a group of 40 educators from throughout British Columbia, most of whom work within predominantly First Nation populations.
In a full group presentation, Bill shared the Foundation’s arts integration philosophy as well as general techniques that use music to create engaging classroom activities in several disciplines. He also presented the RUMBLE lessons plans, and guided the participants through a classroom activity in which students gather data from various “stations” set up throughout the room, and then engage in a “Structured Academic Controversy” during which they consider diverse perspectives on the concept of cultural appropriation.
Later, Bill worked with a group of six social studies teachers to “localize” a RUMBLE lesson by re-writing it with British Columbia-focused content.
“There’s nothing better than working through this material with the people who are going to use it,” said Carbone of the trip. “When a teacher says, ‘my students are going to love this!’ it’s affirmation of everything we do. But it works the other way too because not everything we come up with is going to fit perfectly in every classroom, and it’s a chance to find out first hand why, and what we can do to improve it.”