Lesson Plan, Grade 5

Karen Hall

New Music Technology

A&HG 4029

Spring 2004 Teachers College, Columbia University



Objective ­ Students learn about American folk song composer Stephen Foster.


Purpose ­ In their chorus or band class they are learning a piece by Stephen Foster.  This subject could also be a joint project with the history teacher.


Materials Needed ­ computer with Internet access, projector, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/foster/


Anticipatory Set ­ Have the website accessed and ³Oh! Susanna² playing as students enter the room.


While listening to the piece, have them answer the following questions in writing:


  1. Do they know the name of this song?
  2. Is it similar or different to a piece they are learning in choir or band?  How?




  1. Life of Stephen Foster.  Go to ³timeline² on the website to review the chronology of major events of the life of Stephen Foster.  This would probably need to be reduced in size and scope and made into a PowerPoint presentation.  If that isn¹t possible, use the timeline on the website but in a condensed version.


  1. Historical Performances.  Under the ³special features² section of the website click on ³Foster the Songwriter² to introduce the different types of songs Stephen Foster wrote.  In this section the performances and recordings are historical.  You can choose as many or few as your class time allows.


    1. Hymns ­ listen to example
    2. Plantation Melodies ­ listen to example
    3. American Melodies ­ listen to example
    4. Parlor Ballads ­ listen to example
    5. Serenades ­ listen to example
    6. Politics and War ­ listen to example
    7. Music Hall ­ listen to example
    8. Ethiopian Minstrel ­ listen to example




Karen Hall

Lesson Plan, Grade 5, continued



3. Modern Performances ­ In this section there are performances by performers of today.  Play some examples to contrast the recording and performing differences and to show that these songs are still appreciated and performed by musicians of today.


Check for Student Understanding ­ before they can leave class they need to identify their favorite type of Stephen Foster song and why they chose it.


Closure - http://www.pdmusic.org/foster.html At this website you can print out the text to many of Stephen Foster¹s songs.  The class could then sing the piece in class as a closing activity.  Some of the songs also have accompaniments that could be used in class.


Extensions ­ the next lesson will focus on the type of American music that followed the era of Stephen Foster ­ vaudeville.  On the Foster website the tie-in to vaudeville is referenced in the  ³Foster the Songwriter/Music Hall² section.