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Mr. Schneider’s Classroom Edit display name

  • New Haven Academy
  • New Haven, CT
  • Nearly all students from low‑income households

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What does it mean to be American? It is impossible to answer this deceptively complex question without peering deep into the roots of modern America through the music that has sustained, inspired, created, and fractured communities over the course of generations: the blues. This spring, I will guide my 11th and 12th grade students on a humanities-based journey through American history since Reconstruction. We will use five habits of critical thinking (significance, evidence, perspective, causation, and supposition) to understand American identity through cultural movements and counter-movements such as the evolution of American music. We will trace the heritage of my students' favorite artists--Lil' Wayne, Rihanna, Jay Z--back to the slave spirituals and work songs that, as they evolved over generations, shaped--and were shaped by--greater cultural and social forces that reveal the complexity of American identity.

About my class

What does it mean to be American? It is impossible to answer this deceptively complex question without peering deep into the roots of modern America through the music that has sustained, inspired, created, and fractured communities over the course of generations: the blues. This spring, I will guide my 11th and 12th grade students on a humanities-based journey through American history since Reconstruction. We will use five habits of critical thinking (significance, evidence, perspective, causation, and supposition) to understand American identity through cultural movements and counter-movements such as the evolution of American music. We will trace the heritage of my students' favorite artists--Lil' Wayne, Rihanna, Jay Z--back to the slave spirituals and work songs that, as they evolved over generations, shaped--and were shaped by--greater cultural and social forces that reveal the complexity of American identity.

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