TeachRock Shares Grateful Dead Inspired K-12 Lesson Plans


TeachRock, the free online educational resource powered by Steven Van Zandt‘s Rock & Roll Forever Foundation (RRFF), teamed with Amazon Films to provide seven lesson plans inspired by the Grateful Dead and the community surrounding the band. The plans give K-12 teachers from various disciplines curriculums to guide students in learning about key people, times, places and issues in U.S. history through the last half of the 20th century using clips from the GD film Long Strange Trip: The Untold History Of The Grateful Dead, historical documents and other source materials.

An example is “Loudspeakers, PA Systems & The ‘Wall Of Sound,” which asks the essential question “What is a PA system, how does it work, and how were the Grateful Dead pioneers in live sound technology?” Using the materials in the lesson, students will learn how to identify basic components in sound systems and are given instructions for building their own working loudspeaker.

Other lessons include “Feeling The Vibrations” (Using the Dead’s history of catering to the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fans, students explore the science of sound as vibration and learn basic sign language), “The Original ‘Going Viral'” (Using the history of Grateful Dead tape trading, students explore the concept of virality beyond its current internet-related connotations) and “Deadheads & Reagan’s America In The 1980s” (Students consider the idea of the family as it applied to the Deadhead community and the conservative values promoted by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s).

The Grateful Dead lesson plans are among 160 devised by the RRFF at levels ranging from elementary school to AP high school that are based on music from artists which run the gamut from the Beatles to Beyonce. “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World,” “The Music That Shaped America” and “CNN Soundtracks: Songs That Defined History” are a few of the other lesson plan collections. TeachRock has been endorsed by such organizations as the New Jersey School Boards Association, the National Council For The Social Studies and the National Association For Music Education. Van Zandt is joined on the founder’s board by Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese, Bono and Bruce Springsteen. While the RRFF provides lesson plans free-of-charge, donations help the organization continue to develop educational materials and expand its outreach efforts.