Teach PA History
Explore PA History
A New ‘Twist" on Race Relations
Equipment & Supplies
  • Day One LCD or Overhead Projector Audio copy of The Twist CD player Red and blue pencils or pens Classroom Atlases Day Two Computer lab (Internet access)

Day One

Greet the class and project Chubby Checker, Conway Twitty and Dick Clark Do The Twist and Dick Clark on American Bandstand on the front board. Ask the students, "Can anyone identify the people in these photographs? Based on contextual clues, in what time period do you think these photographs were taken? What are they doing? Specifically, does anyone know the name of the dance?" After students offer responses, ask, "Has anyone ever done the ‘Twist"?" If yes, invite students to explain what they know about the dance. Who performed it? How is it done? Where have you witnessed someone ‘twisting"…a wedding reception perhaps? (Note: If students are not familiar with the ‘Twist" explain that it is easy to do...take the ball of your one foot and twist it back and forth while at the same placing an imaginary bath towel behind your lower back and pull it from side to side.)

Distribute Student Handout 1-Chubby Checker Twists in Philly. This provides lyrics to The Twist as well as background information on Chubby Checker and American Bandstand. Play the song for the class while students read the lyrics. At this time, the teacher may also allow volunteers from the class to demonstrate how to dance to the Twist. When the song finishes, solicit student reactions regarding the mood created by the song and the level of difficulty involved in the dance.

Refer students to the background information on Chubby Checker and American Bandstand. Highlight the significance of televising black performers and popularizing black songs and dances to interracial audiences, while also noting the show's popularity during the often turbulent Civil Rights Era.

Announce that students will now demonstrate how music trends and the power of television influence social change. Allow students to form pairs. Distribute Student Worksheet 1- Rock ‘N’ Race Timeline with the blank map of the United States included in the worksheet and a classroom atlas to each pair. Explain that the timeline includes thirteen key events from the 1950s (when American Bandstand made its debut) up to and including 1960 (the year Chubby Checker made his appearance on the show).

With their partner, students will label each event, marking a dot and the event number, on the blank map of the US. When marking events, students should categorize which ones indicate PROGRESS and which events were clearly SETBACKS in American race relations. Use blue to label the former and red to label the latter. Acknowledge that although a few items on the timeline could be labeled either way, students should pick the answer they think best represents each event. Once all events have been labeled, each pair should create a legend and title for the thematic map they created.

Finally, referring to the historical data on their maps, each pair should discuss and record answers to the questions on Student Worksheet 2- Rock ‘N’ Race Discussion Questions [link to SW2-Rock N Race Discussion Questions.doc]. Distribute this worksheet to each pair only after their thematic maps are complete. You might also choose to hang maps around the room so all students can compare maps and titles in time for the discussion.

Conclude class by facilitating a whole group discussion based on responses from Student Worksheet 2- Rock ‘N’ Race Discussion Questions. Use Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 1- Rock ‘N’ Race Timeline and Teacher Guide to Student Worksheet 2- Rock ‘N’ Race Discussion to assist in facilitation of the discussion.

Day Two

(Note: This lesson takes place in a school computer lab.)

Ask students to recall themes from yesterday's class. Announce that today's lesson requires the students to further explore how rock and roll promoted racial progress. Distribute Student Handout 2-Creating a Soundtrack.

Explain the assignment components and assessment criteria. Direct students to begin song research using the internet and recommended websites. Once students have compiled their song list, they should type the list and begin designing the cover of their CD.

Allow time at the end of class for questions regarding format or if students have any other related concerns. Remind the students of the soundtrack due date and emphasize the importance of using the Assessment Rubric while completing the assignment.

On the day you collect the soundtrack assignment, encourage students to share what songs they chose to include on their CDs. This provides an opportunity for comparison and contrast while also allowing students to share their unique expressions of creativity through their CD cover designs. Consider utilizing Student Worksheet 3- Soundtrack Reflection to facilitate a class discussion that allows students to make connections between historical events learned in class prior to the assignment and research discoveries made during its completion.
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