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Raising Her Voice

Elementary, Middle

Description

This inventive resource brings music into the classroom and encourages learners to use creativity in exploring the connections between gender inequality, poverty and sustainable communities.  The power of music as a vehicle for social change is a central theme of this series of interdisciplinary lessons in which students will:

  • Investigate the geography and culture of West Africa.
  • Identify and perform simple cyclic rhythms.
  • Develop knowledge of human rights issues such as access to education.
  • Analyze how music has raised awareness and contributed to social change.
  • Create messages of empowerment using descriptive language.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Critical Thinking.
  • Debate.
  • Conflict resolution.
  • Listening and responding.
  • Creative Writing.
  • Creating/repeating simple musical rhythms.

Strengths

  • Each lesson includes comprehensive background information for teachers.
  • The lessons are supported by excellent audio-visual resources.
  • Includes an outline for a classroom action project.
  • Specific curriculum links are UK based but are easily adaptable to other jurisdictions.

Weaknesses

  • There are no formal evaluation tools.
  • There are limited differentiation strategies particularly for students unable to participate in musical activities.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used to address social studies outcomes that explore cultural diversity and the connections between gender inequality and poverty.  Citizenship skills are also strengthened through meaningful real-world experiences that promote advocacy. 

The lessons can be used in the music classroom to identify connections between society and the arts.  Rhythmic concepts are also practiced and students are able to listen and respond to a variety of music forms. 

The materials include a teacher’s guide to organizing an “Oxjam Concert” as a student-led action project to raise awareness of human rights issues in West Africa.  The concert could become the basis of a school wide fundraising campaign to support efforts to aid a community in another country.  Students could collect funds for infrastructure such as a well or to buy livestock and seed.  Handwritten letters could be exchanged so that the Canadian students learn how their efforts have helped the sustainability of the community.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Applications of SS

Themes Addressed

  • Human Rights (4)

    • Education
    • Gender Equality
    • Poverty
    • Social Justice

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This learning unit focuses on an important human rights issue that is currently receiving International attention.  Lack of education limits choice which sustains poverty and in many countries the most severe impacts have been on young girls.  However, it is important that students understand that access to education is often not gender specific, particularly in regions where practices like using child labour still occur.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

Learners gain a deeper understanding of the difficult economic choices facing families in the poorest communities of West Africa where the immediate benefits of sending daughters to work outweigh the long term advantages of education.  Students will also recognize the important role of empowerment in breaking the chains of abject poverty and oppression.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Students learn that lack of education is only one facet of a cultural approach in which girls are consistently devalued through practices such as forced marriage or being kept home to care for younger siblings. 

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

Information is provided about organizing a school  “Oxjam Concert” as an action project that builds teamwork and citizenship skills. The concert goal is to help support Oxfam’s community capacity building efforts in areas like West Africa.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Students are able to identify their thoughts and feelings about the challenges faced by young girls in West African communities and express opinions through music and creative writing.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Using music to explore the cultural mosaic of West Africa fosters an authentic connection to the children portrayed in the lessons.  Students will gain a much deeper understanding of the importance of personal expression in creating change within regions where human rights violations still occur.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

These lessons have been developed from a social context and primarily focus on the culture of West Africa.  However, students may be curious about some of the natural features shown in the PowerPoint slides which could lead to discussions about the region’s ecology.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

Many of the West African rhythms and sounds will be familiar to students since they often occur in popular music.  The drumming activity could also be enhanced by inviting a First Nations musician to the classroom to demonstrate local indigenous sounds and provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the two music forms.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The resource presents an important message about empowering youth to elicit change in areas of the World still deeply affected by oppression and poverty.  Encouraging students to become active global citizens provides a positive vision for the future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The instructional approach uses self-expression as the basis for learning, thus encouraging peer dialogue and a critical examination of the content.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

This resource effectively links Social Studies and Arts outcomes to ensure students understand how music can be a powerful and universal communication tool.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The strategy that involves students in investigating human rights issues and proposing solutions while integrating subjects across the curriculum supports active learning.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Some individual lessons offer options for differentiation but no formal strategies are identified.  The music content enlivens the activities through dynamic participation which should appeal to many learners.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The authentic West African music provides a sound experience that makes the content more meaningful and relevant.  A teacher could also enhance experiential learning by inviting a local multicultural association into the classroom to teach other aspects of African culture such as dance.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered

Lessons are generally done as a whole class or small group activity.  However, if a teacher chooses to complete the action project then students will learn many teamwork and cooperation skills.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

There are no defined assessment strategies but worksheets and guided questioning do support formative assessment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

In the final lesson students present their creative writing piece which expresses their opinions about the right to freedoms such as education.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Using young children in the lessons makes the content more  relevant to Canadian students of similar ages.  Each of the girls portrayed has an important personal message that will resonate with a class.  A teacher could also ask students to discuss their own feelings about education after learning about youth who would welcome this daily routine which so many take for granted.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Students are able to express themselves creatively and respond critically to music and lyrics from West African artists. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.