ALEX Learning Activity


Protest Songs of the Vietnam Era

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Asia Hester
System:Huntsville City
School:Academy For Academics & Arts
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2108
Protest Songs of the Vietnam Era
Digital Tool/Resource:
Creedence Song - Fortunate Son
Web Address – URL:

In this activity, students will study the music of the 1960s to identify social, economic, and political conditions that affected the citizens of the United States during the Vietnam War. Students will ;explain how a piece of music can affect the social, cultural, or historical background of an era.&

This activity was created as a result of the Arts COS Resource Development Summit

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
9 ) Critique major social and cultural changes in the United States since World War II.

•  Identifying key persons and events of the modern Civil Rights Movement
Examples: persons—Martin Luther King Jr.; Rosa Parks; Fred Shuttlesworth; John Lewis (Alabama)

events—Brown versus Board of Education, Montgomery Bus Boycott, student protests, Freedom Rides, Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, political assassinations (Alabama)

•  Describing the changing role of women in United States' society and how it affected the family unit
Examples: women in the workplace, latchkey children

•  Recognizing the impact of music genres and artists on United States' culture since World War II
Examples: genres—protest songs; Motown, rock and roll, rap, folk, and country music

artists—Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Hank Williams (Alabama)

•  Identifying the impact of media, including newspapers, AM and FM radio, television, twenty-four hour sports and news programming, talk radio, and Internet social networking, on United States' culture since World War II
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, History, Civics and Government
Course Title: United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Explain how the use of boycotts and demonstrations led by various ethnic groups has resulted in social change in the United States.
  • Describe the changing role of women in the workplace and the impact on the family unit.
  • Describe the cultural effect of music genres, artists and media on influencing social practices and policies following World War II.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • Freedom Rides
  • Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March
  • Motown
  • AM/FM radio
  • protest songs
  • demonstrations
  • genre
  • political assassinations
  • latchkey children
  • Civil Rights Movement
Students know:
  • The key figures involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The major social and cultural changes that occurred in the United States post WWII.
Students are able to:
  • Critique multiple points of view to explain the ideas and actions of individuals and ethnic groups to gain equality.
  • Cite evidence to support changes in social and cultural traditions using primary and secondary sources.
  • Evaluate the contribution of technology and mass methods of communication to influence people, places, ideas, and events.
Students understand that:
  • There were important the social and cultural changes that occurred in the U.S. after WWII.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.9- Define civil rights movement; identify key figures and events of the Civil Rights movement, including Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing; identify culturally influential music from the post-World War II world including, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

Arts Education
ARTS (2017)
Grade: 6
Music: General
10) Identify how cultural and historical contexts inform performances.

Unpacked Content
Artistic Process: Performing
Anchor Standards:
Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Process Components: Analyze
Essential Questions:
EU: Analyzing creators' context and how they manipulate elements of music provides insight into their intent and informs performance.
EQ: How does understanding the structure and context of musical works inform performance?
Concepts & Vocabulary:
  • Pitch set: La- centered diatonic (minor)
  • Clef reading (diatonic)
  • Octave
  • Unison/ harmony
  • Polyphonic
  • 2-part songs
  • 3-part songs
  • Descant
  • Bass clef
  • Accompaniment
  • AB form
  • ABA form
  • Form
  • Canon
  • Composer
  • Composite forms
  • Tone Quality
  • Articulation
  • Age-appropriate audience and performer etiquette
  • Age-appropriate pitch matching (G3-G5)
  • Historical periods
Skill Examples:
  • Play melodies on the recorder within an octave range, using a pleasing tone quality, both independently and collaboratively.
  • Demonstrate proper posture, hand position and embouchure for playing the recorder.
  • Demonstrate proper pitch control of notes in the lower register of the soprano recorder.
  • Play two-part and three-part recorder arrangements.
  • Perform a varied repertoire of music representing diverse cultures with appropriate dynamics and tempo.
  • Play a variety of classroom instruments, independently or collaboratively, with increasingly complex rhythms and melodic phrases.
  • Demonstrate a characteristic sound while singing unison or two-part songs.
  • Sing descants to produce harmony.
  • Demonstrate rhythmic augmentation and diminution in a familiar tune.
  • Improvise, compose and arrange music.
Reading/ Writing
  • Read, write, perform, and compose rhythm patterns and simple melodies in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8.
Responding/ Evaluating
  • Identify members of the recorder family, including soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.
  • Identify the difference between duple and simple meter.
  • Identify irregular meters such as, 7/8 and 5/4.
  • Respond appropriately to the cues of a conductor.
  • Attend live performances and demonstrate appropriate audience etiquette.
  • Describe the characteristics used by the composer in a selected musical example to create a mood or effect.
  • Recognize I, IV, and V chords in the context of a piece of music.
  • Identify composite forms, such as, opera, oratorio, and musical theatre.
  • Identify polyphonic texture.
Learning Objectives:

  • The students will identify the impact of protest songs during the Vietnam Era.

  • The students will explain how the social, cultural, or historical background of the piece of music informs the performance of the piece. 
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Show students the clip Anthem of the Counter-Culture from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War to introduce how music from the time period affected the culture of the 1960s.

2. Play Creedence Clearwater Revival's song Fortunate Son for the class. After listening to the song, lead the class in a discussion about what type of person the song is about and what group of people would have most likely identified with this song in the late 60s. Explain to the class that the song was originally written about how the sons of some politicians seemed to receive an exemption in a military draft and have the class discuss their opinions. 

3. Have the students use the digital resource to analyze the lyrics more closely and answer the following questions: 

  • When reading the lyrics of the song, do you see comparisons between the socioeconomic divisions of the 1960s and the socioeconomic divisions of today?
  • What would a "fortunate son" look like today?
  • Who do you imagine might write a song with connotations like these today?
  • Why is music such a powerful form of protest?
Assessment Strategies:

Students will be assessed based on their answers to the following questions: 

  • When reading the lyrics of the song, do you see comparisons between the socioeconomic divisions of the 1960s and the socioeconomic divisions of today?
  • What would a "fortunate son" look like today?
  • Who do you imagine might write a song with connotations like these today?
  • Why is music such a powerful form of protest?

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher should be familiar with the Vietnam Era.

The teacher should make sure students have access to a computer and test the internet connection before the lesson to make sure students will be able to access the digital resource. 

Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: