My Country 'Tis of Thee Music Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn how to analyze a song as a primary source. They will learn about the history of ''My Country 'Tis of Thee'' and connect the themes of the song to cultural movements of 19th century America.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the main themes of the Second Great Awakening and Romanticist movement in American society
  • Analyze a song as a primary source and connect it to themes of the era
  • Critically evaluate ''My Country 'Tis of Thee'' as a primary source

Length

30-45 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Materials

Instructions

  • Hand out printed lyrics of song ''My Country 'Tis of Thee.''
  • Ask students if they know this song.
    • What is this song about? What is the message/meaning of this song?
    • Why do people write songs?
    • Can a song be a primary source? Why?
    • What can we learn about people by the songs that they create and listen to?
  • Hand out printed copies of My Country 'Tis of Thee: Song Meaning & History.
  • Break the class into groups. Ask students to read the lesson aloud as a group, with one person reading at a time. The reader should change with every paragraph. Ask students to start by reading the sections ''My Country 'Tis of Thee'' and ''History.'' When they have finished, discuss these points as a class:
    • What were the musical influences that inspired ''My Country 'Tis of Thee?''
    • When was this song written? What was happening in the United States at that time? Look through your notes and brainstorm as many facts about American society in that time as you can.
  • Ask students to finish reading the lesson in their groups. Discuss these sections as a class:
    • What was happening in American society in this time that we haven't already discussed as a class?
    • What was the Second Great Awakening? What were the main ideas and beliefs associated with this movement?
    • What was Romanticism? What were the main ideas associated with this movement?
    • In what ways was Romanticism similar or different to the Second Great Awakening?
  • You may test student understanding with the lesson quiz.

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