Scott Joplin Lesson Plan

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

This lesson plan will help you teach about different music genres, as it explores Scott Joplin, one of the founding fathers of ragtime music. Students will read a lesson, participate in discussion questions, complete an activity, and take a quiz.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe Joplin's upbringing and background.
  • discuss his contribution to ragtime and classical music.
  • analyze his music style and identify his compositions.


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5

Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6

Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.



  • Begin the lesson by playing a minute of 'Weeping Willow' by Scott Joplin, and ask students to describe how they feel when listening to this music.
  • Poll the class to determine if they know this genre of music. Then explain the genre is called ragtime, which they will explore further in this lesson.
  • Distribute a copy of the Scott Joplin: Biography, Songs & Facts lesson and select a student to read 'Who Is Scott Joplin?' out loud. Present the following discussion prompts:
    • Who was credited for ragtime music?
    • Describe the composer's musical background.
    • Discuss a personal tragedy that occurred shortly after Joplin's marriage.
    • Do you believe this death influenced his music?
    • Explain how Joplin's accolades occurred posthumously.
    • Why do you believe Joplin's contributions were not recognized when he was alive?
  • Now choose another student to read 'Ragtime Music' and 'Songs', and pose these discussion points:
    • How would you describe ragtime music?
    • Explain how ragtime became popular.
    • Describe another genre of music Joplin composed.
    • Identify the time frame of Joplin's compositions.
    • Based on the question above, discuss what occurred in American history during this time period? Do you believe Joplin's music eased the impact? Explain.
  • Distribute the lesson quiz and ask students to complete independently. Review quiz answers to check for understanding.

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