On Friday, November 6, ten educators met at the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation (RRFF) offices in New York City to participate in a professional development workshop, specially designed for teachers in our 2015-16 pilot project. Spanning multiple disciplines and grade levels, the pilot teachers provided RRFF staff with valuable feedback, lesson plan ideas, and best practices in their classrooms. A highlight of the day was a group discussion led by RRFF Founder Steven Van Zandt. Van Zandt shared that one of the reasons he launched teachrock.org was to engage the "hard to reach" students in the back of the class. "Everyone listens to music, and we have to start with that connection. What are students listening to today when they walk into class? How can we use the music they know to begin an examination of our past?" As teachers shared their experiences teaching the Rock and Roll: An American Story (RRAS) curriculum, many highlighted how the lessons have engaged their most at-risk students as well as their highest-performing students, often times bringing the two groups together in conversation through their shared interest in popular music culture.
The educators who attended the session were all selected this past summer to take part in the 2015-16 pilot project. All have been actively using the Rock and Roll: An American Story (RRAS) curriculum in their classrooms either as a featured unit or as a semester or year-long academic course. Look for new lesson plans, resources, and site improvements based on teacher feedback in the coming months.