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  • I am just really blown away by the idea of the feds covertly changing the direction of social interaction by infusing a new dance style with no touching...I have to think about that awhile.  I guess J Edgar Hoover was still in the cabinet and we have found out he lived a rather secretive life.   I am remembering the ideas of Eugenics that may or may not have been part of this thinking...making sure the elite stayed elite and no interracial relationships. 

  • I really love this era's music the BEST, this is the music I grew up with and i wouldn't replace it with anything else except gospel songs. Twist, twist, twist, but don't do it right after a meal otherwise it is a side killer

    I think students of all ages will love it.

  • I'm surprised at how mixed up I get when trying to recall the dates of events--they all run together in my mind.  This is an era where I still see lots of contrasting ideals clashing together and I think students would be interested in studying this era--although with some caution.  I was shocked to learn about the animal dances and the government's role in trying to manipulate popular social scenes. I think most American's might be surprised to learn about that--especially students!

    I enjoyed the swing dance and the ease of the steps.  It is structured, but leaves lots of room for individualization. The Twist was even easier and would include more students due to the individual nature.  I would use both in a classroom lesson or Family Night activity. 

    When LKSD revisits their PE curriculum, I can see including a dance unit that can connect and itegrate with US History. Wouldn't it be fun to teach them simultaneously?  It would be a great cardiovascular work-out, good socialization, skill-building and coordination development and can bridge gaps in understanding for students.

  • Can I say: I don't know? I don't know how to use/when to use this. My brain is full? ; )

    I have a few questions...I'm teaching "Thank You, M'am," which is written by Langston Hughes, who came out of the Harlem Renaissance. So I was considering using the Charleston, or something like that, for an intro. But actually, the story was written in the 50s, I think, and set in the 50s, so it seems more appropriate to pull from something in the 50s. But I'd want something in the 50s that isn't white, but rather reflects that hard reality (or joys) that Hughes explores in the life of a young boy in the inner city. Hmmm...

    And I was just looking into what we'll read for American Lit from 20th century literature - and I'm shocked! I think I may make a departure (or an addition!)...so, I can't yet figure out what exactly I'll touch on and how to incorporate music and dance into what we do.

  • I like to think of the 50s and 60s as the "not my parents'..." age. Each successive generation, thanks to advances in technology, could pass around and discover a form of music that was different from their parents, and that their parents might think was "scandalous." The parents of swing dancers found that scandalous, even if they may have grown up with the Charleston. The swing dancing parents though that the rock and roll that was being played was immoral (rock and roll was a reference to sexual motions prior to Alan Freed). This trend may go back as far as there were teenagers on this earth, but I think the music of this era nicely encapsulates the generation gaps that technology began to form for us.

    As music became more explicitly political, its also easy to link the historical events with the music. I would go on and on with details about why I like this use for US history (especially JH), but I actually use it in a lesson I teach to my US History class. I have attached the 'full word' keynote presentation that I give to low ESL students. I recommend that you abbreviate and adapt it as needed for your own classroom.


  • I just could not believe that it was intentional to choreograph dances specifically to break up partner dancing.  Although it was to force boys and girls apart, I do see a positive.  That is, when doing these dances such as the Twist, and the Mashed Potato, you don't have to worry about finding a partner.  And you can dance anywhere.  Youth were leading the trends, and still are.

    I think the bell bottoms were goofy, and the super short shorts are immodest and extreme. 

  • This was a great era that is so full of pop culture and so many changes, like clothing, technology, etc.  I think I would like to show my kids some American Bandstand and really get their input of what they think about.  It would also be pretty fun to have an animal dance-off.  I also think this era really focuses on underrepresented people groups, such as women, Latinos and African-Americans, so it would be fun to do some comparisons of these groups, alongside the Beatles, Elvis, etc.  I think maybe having the kids create a pop culture powerpoint, where they each focused on a famous singer or actor/actress would be fun.  That way they could be exposed to a lot of groups from that time period.

  • A long time ago in a district far, far away, I worked with a teacher, who when his class studies the 50's, had his class throw a "sock-hop".  The students had to research the fashions, music, and history of the decade.  They had to do their own invitations, plan the events music, decorate the room in 50s decor, and dress in clothes of their choice.  Fun, fun era to learn about.

  • There is SO much with this era it boggles the mind!  One of the biggest "OMG" moments I had when I first went out into the village was that none of my students had heard of the Beatles.  I was in such shock that I did a full two week - month journal project introducing them.  'Hey Jude' is now a staple in my classroom :D  This era was again so much about going against what was 'proper' and finding your own identity by clothes, music and dance.

    One great way to help introduce this era is by movies.  'Hairspray' the original movie (not the one where John Travolta dresses up as the mother) really shows how parents hated swing dancing.  They have a whole scene where they talk about the 'sins' of the dancing, etc.  A great way to introduce that aspect as well as the civil rights issues happening.  Only having a 'Negro' night and the white singers singing songs written or originally sung by black singers.  It's all powerful and this could be another medium to really help explain and show them what was happening.

    I do know that my students will love the twist, monkey and pony because they won't have to have a partner.  They will like grooving on their own.  Swing dancing is a lot of fun to introduce to them.  I've done it randomly in my classroom and in the hallways but I'm definitely going to try to do more with it because the students really do enjoy watching swing and trying in.

    Rena and I were talking about another movie 'Take the Lead' that focuses on when New York introduced ballroom dancing in the schools to help manage students and teach them lessons on respect, etc.  My students love that movie and had no idea it was based on real life. The movie "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a documentary about what was happening in New York with the ballroom and it's a pretty powerful movie.  Something else to look into.

  • In this era, with the different wars that occurred, I noticed that strong messages and propaganda are being infused into the songs.  

    I enjoyed learning about the history of the "animal dances."  I had no idea they were created to keep people from touching when they dance.  Such a contrast from swing dancing when you did all sorts of off the ground moves with swing dancing!

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