Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Proud New Owners of teachnet.org... We're Very Flattered... But Please Stop Copying this Site. Thank You.
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

VIDEOS FOR TEACHERS
RESOURCES
Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers
HOW-TO ARTICLES
TEACHER RESEARCH
LINKS

GRANT WINNERS
TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
2010
TeachNet Grant Winners
2009
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
2008
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
2007
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Power-to-Learn
Math and Science Learning
Ready-Set-Tech
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
ABOUT
Our Mission
Funders
   Pacesetters
   Benefactors
   Donors
   Sponsors
   Contributors
   Friends
Press
   Articles
   Press Releases
Awards
   Cine
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award

Sitemap

We Didn't Start the Fire

About this Daily Classroom Special
We Didn't Start the Fire was written by
Nancy Dorton Thoma, middle school language arts teacher and reading specialist at Morton Middle School, Lexington, KY.  E-mail Nancy.


We Didn't Start the Fire


Subjects:  language arts,  social studies, music,  technology

Grade:  8th grade

AMOUNT OF TIME: 

  • Begin ONE month prior to start date (I prefer the Spring of the year.) 
  • Allow approximately 12 to 14 days.
  • Students will produce a research project and put together a timeline of the events referenced in Billy Joel's tune, "We Didn't Start the Fire." Topics span from Postwar America 1946 to the mid 1980's or '90s.

MATERIALS NEEDED:
  • Computer Lab/ Library Computer Lab and/or wireless lab reserved to accommodate entire class to include enough days for students to complete researching 
  • Music CD or  tape of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"
  • Printed lyrics of the same with topics numbered (one copy per student)
  • 5x7 Index Cards for timeline information
  • Long Hallway with free wall space to place timeline
  • Title for Display made by Teacher or students
  • Timeline marking off every 5th year starting with 1940 through 1990

ONE MONTH PRIOR: to provide curiosity of the subject matter, and a purpose in writing and research, and "prior knowledge", the teacher will tell her students: "And the answer is...I didn't start the fire!" and then have the students repeat this. Ask the question, "Did you start
the fire?" over the next month in class about every other day. Students will begin to become curious after you ask this question time and again. 

Day 1: Ask the question: Did you start the fire? When they say No, we didn't start the fire, introduce the musician and music. Allow students to listen to the tape several times until they are hearing the different historical events and names within.  

Ask students to list on a sheet of paper as many of the people, places and events that are named within the song.  Discuss these, and see just how much students really know about these
events.

DAY 2: Present the printed lyrics with the audio of the music, thus
students are seeing a relationship between language, poetry, music,
social studies. 
  • Explain that the events are actual happenings from Post WWII to approx 1990. (a 50 year span of history)
  • In a basket, have all topics printed on separate slips of paper.
    Students will then select at random their topic. Let student write
    his/her name by topic number, to keep track.
  • Directions for research - information should cover the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the topic. The 5x7 card will have a condensed version of the information, colorful, and with pictures, drawings, etc to entice others to look at it. The name, event and date will be larger in print than the other materials.

DAY 3-10: Allow students to research, and work and help with any
problems they have.

DAY 11-12: Presentation Day - students will be called upon in chronological order of events. Research will be given, and cards explained. Students will then hang their event cards (after being laminated, if possible) on the teacher-made timeline.  After several days, the timeline will be completed, and if displayed in the hallway or cafeteria, others can benefit from the information by reading this historical timeline of the latter part of the 20th Century.

WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE, by Billy Joel
Copyrighted Maritime Music (1989)

The teacher can go to the web site:

http://billyjoel.com 

to locate and print out a copy of the lyrics


PLEASE NOTE: EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A DIRECT SITE
(http://holt.org/thefire/fire1.html) which links all of the events to this song, I do not give the students the basic link. The students use their own searching/researching skills to come up with the needed information.

This project is very different from what would ordinarily be found in the Language Arts classroom setting, for it integrates a variety of curriculum areas that work well together, The combination of these causes a real excitement for learning, and an authentic reason for researching. It also provides a stimulus for real motivation for the middle-schooler, by linking music and technology to subject areas that seem boring, tedious, and unimportant to most 8th graders. In return, it links to subject areas in which 8th graders need a much broader and extensive knowledge.

 

Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.

 

Journey Back to the Great Before