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Victory on Lake Champlain – Interpreting a Song

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 4-12

Common Core Standards
RI 1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
RI 1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
RI 6. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
RI 7. Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

Content Areas: History, Language Arts, Music

Recommended Length/Duration: 30-60 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will examine a song written to commemorate a historical event. They will analyze the lyrics, determine its tone and purpose, and explore how art is used to convey information as well as emotions.

Description/Sequence:

  1. This lesson would be best used after students have basic familiarity with the events and characters associated with the Battle of Lake Champlain, September 11, 1814.
  2. Explain that songs are often used to celebrate important events (e.g. Stars Spangled Banner, Battle New Orleans, American Pie, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald). Sometimes they are new lyrics set to familiar music.
  3. Sing the song with students. You may want to stop at the end of each stanza to explain any unfamiliar terminology.
  4. Ask students what they thought of the song. Guiding questions might include:
    • What did you think of the song?
    • Was it easy or hard to sing?
    • How did you feel while you were singing it?
    • What information about the battle do the lyrics include?
  5. Distribute worksheets and have students work independently or in groups of 2 or 3 to answer the questions.
  6. After student have had a chance to respond to the worksheet questions, review responses with the class. Clarify any questions or disagreements.
  7. If there is enough interest, extend the discussion about the song. Guiding questions might include:
    • How might the song be different if it were written by an English poet to commemorate the British defeat?
    • What events today have songs that describe them?
    • How are events today shared? Does the song do anything modern media can’t?

Assessments: Informal assessment based on students’ participation. The final two questions could be scored as short essays.

Materials/Resources:
Copy of Song Sheet Brillant naval victory on Lake Champlain and Worksheet (pdf)

Special Considerations: Older students and adults are often uncomfortable performing in public. If singing is unfamiliar in your classroom, you may want to “warm up” with a familiar song or discussion about taking risks.

Extensions: Students may want to find additional songs about historical events. Students may want to write original songs about a historic or current event set to a familiar tune.