Project URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/is24/vnacionales/elvis/elvis.htm
Who is the "King of Rock & Roll" and why was he adored
by millions of fans and still loved by so many some twenty five years
after his death? This program is an introduction to a person many
agree is the most widely known, loved, and recognized entertainer of
all time--Elvis Presley. It was developed to enlighten the current generation
of young people to the origins of rock and roll's first superstar.
Students research Elvis' life from birth (where he was a surviving
twin) to his tragic end. This unit segues into another unit
currently under development: "Rock and Roll is Here to
Stay." For both, students spend time researching Elvis and the
1950s as groundwork for their own "Oldies But Goodies"
videos and our First Annual Barnes Media Award Show ("The BMAs").
Students make use of the materials and
resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.
They respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting
the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human
endeavor and thought. They also develop an understanding of the
personal and cultural forces that shape artistic communication and how
the arts in turn shape the diverse cultures of society.
Necessary materials include a computer with Internet access, markers,
chart paper, Elvis CDs/cassettes and videocassettes, a cassette or CD
player, a VCR, television, and library books on
The students are approximately 14 years old and of Italian, Irish, or
Eastern European descent. They are listeners of pop, rock and rap music. Most have heard of
Elvis and are familiar with his voice and some of his music. Though Elvis
Lives was developed for 8th grade students, it can easily be
used with upper grades.
Elvis Presley was and is an awesome presence in American culture.
He was a true "rags to riches" phenomenon. The students
learn how this poor boy from Memphis attained success because of his
talent, hard work, personality, and generosity to family, friends, and
strangers. And while his music was labeled "rock &
roll," it borrowed from many forms of music: folk ("Love Me
Tender: is based on "Aura Lee"), bluegrass (his first hit,
"Blue Moon of Kentucky, " was written by Bill Monroe), early
rhythm & blues ("Hound Dog"), gospel (he often recorded
with a gospel-style vocal quartet), soul music ("In The Ghetto'"),
and even opera ("It's Now or Never"). They also learn how
prescription drug use eventually led to an early end of his stellar
career. This leads to another path -- a very interesting
discussion/comparison of Elvis's life with the lives of current music
Have plenty of Elvis music handy. If possible, show excerpts from
several of his movies. (Love Me Tender features some of Elvis's best
acting; Jailhouse Rock has a cleverly choreographed title song;
and Viva Las Vegas showcases "kitschy" Elvis.) Bye
Bye Birdie is also a great movie to show the students (it's an
Elvis/teen idol spoof). In keeping with the Elvis Lives theme, you may even want to introduce a
bit of levity into the proceedings by showing a National Enquirer-style
"Elvis Is Still Alive" article. Offer access to the Internet
to students who are unable to go online at home. During group
work, walk from group to group constantly. This will keep students on
their toes and on task. Also compliment their work and help them along
if they need assistance.
(Vivian and her husband before a
About the teacher:
Vivian M. Nacionales has been a New York City teacher for over 10
years, and has taught Spanish for seven years. For the past three
years, she has been developing and implementing a three-year
media program at her school.