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Grade 4 Folk Song Unit: Making Alberta's History Sing (Part 2: Finding Out)

by Heather Fawcett and Jessica Kelly

 In Part 1 of “Making Alberta’s History Sing”, students were tuning in to topics for their folk song projects. Part 2 of the project challenges students to assert their research and questioning skills by compiling information on a chosen historical topic.

After a full day of exploring the various exhibits at the Glenbow, students had a variety of observations and questions about what they experienced. Through a teacher-led class brainstorm, everyone shared the topics that they found particularly interesting. The next step was to conduct some research into each of their options to see which stories had enough information available to support their song idea. Using guiding questions, students visited a variety of reliable digital resources including the Glenbow Museum archives.

With a primary song concept in mind, the focus of their research then shifted towards folk songs. Students were asked the question: What is a folk song? After listening to a variety of folk songs, students thought critically about the various elements that they heard. Students generated questions about folk songs which further guided their own research into this unique musical genre.

Connecting with experts is an important step in the inquiry process, so visits by local musicians Tanner James and John E. Buckle were arranged. Working with actual musicians went even further in helping students acquire a sound understanding of what makes folk songs unique. In addition to answering students’ questions, each artist performed a variety of songs and explained how they take a song from conception through to completion. This co-constructed criteria of a folk song will become the basis for their own work.

The first phase of the “Sorting out” process will challenge students to construct a catchy chorus using a 5-8 sentence summary of the event. Students will liaise with our musical experts during this step since it will involve some sophisticated and specialized language skills and knowledge. From there, the students will develop the verses using relevant historical information gained through their research.

1 comments:

  1. Heather and Jessica,

    It is interesting to learn more about how you worked with your students to build on the Glenbow Museum experience as they identified primary song concepts relating to events in Alberta history. Clearly, the inquiry was enriched through the active involvement of your two “outside expert” local musicians. The detailed description of your learning strategies and the video clips will be greatly appreciated by teacher colleagues.

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