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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Elvis Lives!

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/is24/vnacionales/elvis/elvis.htm

How it works:
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").

Standards addressed:  
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.

Materials used: 
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 Elvis. 

The students:
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.

Overall value:
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 superstars/movie stars/athletes.

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 performance)

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.

E-mail: MrsNash106@aol.com

Subject Areas: 
Media Arts

Grade Levels: 8-12




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