Lesson Plan

Music and Entertainment of the Harlem Renaissance

Introduction to Music and Entertainment of the Harlem Renaissance
Jonathan S.
Classroom teacher
The Science and Medicine Middle School
Brooklyn, NY
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Social Studies

Students will be able to..

  • Make written responses to written and visual prompts
  • Determine themes of the Harlem Renaissance (Politics, Arts and Music, Everyday Life, Arts and literature, Music and Entertainment) by touring a teacher created classroom gallery on Harlem Renaissance
  • Identify push and pull factors of the Great Migration
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 7 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Music and Entertainment of the Harlem Renaissance

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Lesson Launch: Presentation of Short Term Learning Target(s), connection with prior learning and an example. Danielson 1a, 1b, & 1e

  • Essential Question: Why is music and entertainment significant to society?
  • Focus Question: What contributions to popular culture occurred in the 1920s?

Warm Up Activity (10 minutes): Teacher's script - History Through Art: Artists of the Harlem Renaissance celebrated the cultural traditons and the life experiences of African Americans. This painting by Lois Mailou Jones is entitled the Ascent of Ethiopia, 1932.

Response Question: How does the artist make connections between African and American culture?

How does the artist show the link between African and American cultures?

Follow Up Question: is Ascent of Ethiopia a primary or secondary source? Explain

Guided Practice (25 minutes): 

Comparing Music Then and Now (Google drive, Humanities 2013-14→Unit 5→Lesson 3)

Teachers will play recordings of jazz artist Duke Ellington or Ella Fitzgerald, and then follow them up with recordings of rap artists Erick B and Rakim’s twice.

It don’t mean a thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing


Don’t Sweet the Technique (Note, video not age appropriate, on play audio…don’t show video)


Compare Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington’s It don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got that Swing with Erick B and Rakim’s Don’t Sweat the Technique using following graphic organizer.

Song Title    What is the meaning of the songs title?    What instruments do you recognize in this song?    What message or main idea is the vocalist trying to send to the listener?    Describe mood (e.g. happy, sad, dark, etc.) of the song, the tempo or speed, and how it makes you feel?

Ellington’s It don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got that Swing            

Don’t Sweat the Technique          

List Similarities between Songs:    List Differences Between Songs:

Independent Practice (15 minutes): BrianPop: Jazz 


Play video once

Conduct Review Quiz as a whole class using smart board.

Have students’ complete brian pop activity sheets indepedently or in  small groups.

Warp-up (5 minutes): StopLight Method: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/daily-lesson-assessment

Distribute a single sticky note to each student and explain stop light method

Use exit slips to assess learning 

  • What I Learned
  • What questions did I considered
  • What stopped my learning during class

Questions to Consider
What kinds of obstacles might students write on the red light?
How could the data gathered from the exit slips be used to inform future lessons?
How could you adapt the three categories of feedback for your classroom?