Going North: African American Journeys (Social Studies/ELA/Music)
Students explore the relationship between art, music, and poetry as they investigate one of the most pivotal periods in American history—the Great Migration. An immersion experience featuring Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series invites students to step inside the narrative of the Great Migration and understand why millions of African Americans made the journey from the South to the North, changing the demographic landscape of our nation. After looking at this era through an artist’s eyes and a poet’s eyes, students become historians as they examine firsthand and secondhand historical accounts. The expedition then takes students on a journey through the history and sound of the blues, featuring fieldwork at the House of Blues. The classroom explodes with creativity as students create collage self-portraits and compose original blues songs based on issues in their lives. As they follow the artistic processes that preserved and defined an era, students connect more deeply with communities they have been learning about. At the end of the expedition, students return to the House of Blues—this time to perform their own blues songs!
Here We Come (Social Studies): Fourth graders explore the rich cultural diversity of our nation through a study of immigration. They begin by exploring their own cultural backgrounds, culminating in poetic and artistic expressions of their diverse heritages. A look at United States immigration history through Ellis and Angel Islands brings multiple voices into the classroom and helps prepare students to conduct interviews and write oral histories of immigrants in their community. Throughout the expedition, students listen to music and perform dances from diverse immigrant communities and explore how music migrates and evolves when people leave their homelands to make new lives in the United States.
What’s Up There? (Science): Fourth graders engage with the questions of the universe! Beginning with an in-depth look at the Earth and its moon, the expedition takes students on a tour of the solar system. Each night for a month, students observe the shape, size, and color of the moon and record their observations in a Moon Journal. The music of John Williams (“Star Wars”) and Gustav Holst provide the soundtrack for the expedition. Each lesson includes a listening experience in which students respond to music from science fiction films, as well as Holst’s’ “The Planets,” an orchestral suite with seven movements, each named after a planet. Students synthesize their research about the planets in a dramatic, educational performance featuring Holst’s suite.