The purpose of this activity is to activate students' prior knowledge about John Lennon and the Beatles and to build on what they already know.
1. Ask the students to share what they know about John Lennon and write their responses on the board.
2. Play parts of several Beatles songs from a CD (THE BEATLES 1 is a good choice, since it is a greatest hits compilation that spans the band's career.) After each excerpt, ask the students if they can identify the song or the song is familiar to them. Then have them make observations about its style, lyrics, musical structure, etc. and record their responses on the board.
[Note to teachers: Video excerpts for all but three of the songs from THE BEATLES 1 CD can be found at http://www.beatles.com (click on the 1 CD cover at the far right and enter the slimmed-down version of the site, which is simpler to navigate).]
3. When all the selections have been heard and the students' responses noted, ask them to draw some conclusions about the music. (Guide the students to understand that the Beatles' music was eclectic and changed dramatically over the years.)
4. Ask the students why they think the Beatles were (and, some argue, still are) the most popular band in the world.
The purpose of this activity is to increase students' understanding of Lennon's life and career and to hone their research skills.
1. Explain to the students that they will be working in groups of three to gather information about John Lennon from online sources. Each group member should be assigned one of the following periods of Lennon's life to research: the early years, the Beatles years, and the post-Beatles years. They can visit the following sites to locate relevant information:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum: Inductees: John Lennon
Rolling Stone: The Complete John Lennon
VH1.com: Artists: John Lennon
John Lennon Museum
2. Each student should then make a presentation to their group that includes information and visuals from these sites. Explain that they must paraphrase and provide citations for information from the sites they've used to avoid plagiarism and ensure understanding. Ask them to log on to http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/citex.html to learn how to properly cite online sources using MLA style.
The purpose of this activity is for the students to critically analyze and evaluate quotes regarding the creative process and to use the ensuing discussions to understand Lennon's craft.
1. Each quote on the Quotations handout connects somehow to the creative process. Divide the students into groups of three or four. Cut and paste each quote onto a separate sheet of paper and distribute one sheet to each group. Instruct them to discuss the quote; they can agree with, disagree with, or qualify it and explain their rationale. After a minute or two, have them write their response on the paper and pass it to the next group, who will read the quote and the previous group's response and react to it. Continue this process until each group has seen each sheet.
2. Have the students come up with a definition for "creativity." Give them a few minutes and then ask for volunteers to share their ideas. Accept all responses and encourage the students to discuss their ideas with one another.
3. John Lennon once said of his creative process, "In the early days, I would often write a melody, a lyric in my head to some other song because I can't write music. I would carry it around as somebody else's song and then change it when putting it down on paper, or down on tape -- consciously change it because I knew somebody's going to sue me or everybody's going to say, 'What a rip-off.'"
4. Present Lennon's quote to the class. Ask them to share their opinions about his use of other artists' work in creating his own.
The purpose of this activity is for the students to become more familiar with the individuals who helped shape Lennon's music.
1. Advise the students that as they watch the program, they should pay attention to its structure and pattern (that it is divided into sequences that include interviews, film footage of a particular time period, performances, etc.). They should also jot down the names of the various performers who influenced Lennon and record some information about them. This information will help them in completing this activity.
2. Watch JOHN LENNON'S JUKEBOX. If class time does not permit viewing of the entire program, select a portion of the tape to use.
3. Explain to the students that they will read more about the performers who had an impact on Lennon's musical style on the GREAT PERFORMANCES companion site for JOHN LENNON' S JUKEBOX. Have them log on to http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/shows/lennon/index.html and click on the multimedia presentation, "Lennon's Musical Inspiration," link at the top left. They should read each biography included in the presentation and use it to augment the information they compiled while watching the program.
Once the students have finished, ask them to turn to a partner, share their notes, and consider the following questions:
- What similarities and differences do you notice among his influences?
- What conclusions can you draw about Lennon's music based on this information?
The purpose of this activity is for the students to work collaboratively to create a multimedia project that charts the influences that helped shape a particular genre of music.
1. Ask the students to brainstorm a list of musical genres that are popular today. As they volunteer responses, write them on the board. They can make general responses (e.g., rock and roll) as well as more specific ones (e.g., progressive rock). (The list might include rap, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, country, ska, gospel, punk, classical, dance hall, reggae, etc.)
2. When several genres have been listed, explain to the students that they will be choosing the one that interests them the most and creating a project that traces its evolution. Project ideas you can suggest include: a cluster poster, a PowerPoint presentation, a Web site presentation, or a time line (if the genre seems to have a linear, chronological development).
3. Organize the students into groups of three, by musical genre based on their preferences. Explain that their project should include the history of the genre, a description of the important political and historical events happening at various points during its evolution, images that place the time period in context, and primary documents from the time (lines from an important speech, a famous quotation, a headline or newspaper article, or ephemera from the period), and that each member of the group will be responsible for one of these three elements (history of the genre, politics/world events, cultural images/primary documents). Emphasize to the students that their descriptions must be paraphrased, not copied, and cited to ensure understanding and avoid plagiarism. Refer them to http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/online/citex.html for the proper citation rules to follow. You might want to provide an example from JOHN LENNON'S JUKEBOX on the board at this point. Ask the students to recall how each segment of the program focused on a particular musical influence, described the political climate, and showed images from that time period.
4. Explain to the students that their projects will be evaluated based on a set of criteria and point values. You can elicit the criteria from the class or create your own -- for example:
5. Refer the students to the following Web sites to begin their research:
- Accurate information on history, political, and world events: 35 points
- Relevant and appropriate images and primary documents: 35 points
- Neat and attractive presentation: 15 points
- Correct grammar and writing mechanics in written pieces: 15 points
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia: Electronic Music Genres
Indiana University School of Music: Worldwide Internet Music Resources
Yahoo! Entertainment Directory: Music: Genres
6. When they have completed their projects, conduct a "share fair." Assign each group a station in the classroom where they can make an oral presentation. Have the students travel from station to station, while one member of each group stays behind to make the presentation. Place copies of the Genre Chart at each station for the students to complete as they visit. Time the presentations so that after five minutes, a new member of each group takes over and the previous presenter becomes part of the traveling group. Keep rotating until all the members of the groups have presented and all the students have seen each presentation. As the students travel to each station, they should take their Genre Charts with them.
7. When the share fair is completed, the students should reconvene in their original groups and share the information they have noted in their Genre Charts. This discussion should generate questions for the other groups.
8. Choose one group to begin the question-and-answer session; have them ask a question of another group. Invite more students to share their questions. After a few minutes, focus the questioning on a different group. Continue in this manner until all the groups have had a chance to hear and answer questions about their presentations.
Have the students choose another member of the Beatles to research and identify the songs and individuals who influenced his musical style in order to create a "virtual jukebox." The students can create a CD of his musical influences to play for the class.