Contributed by Nora Murray, Harding Middle School, Lakewood, OH
In this lesson, a subject of high interest to students is the vehicle for teaching skills that may be perceived as boring to students. Nominating a performer for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame allows students to recognize and verbalize what qualities they value in music as well as in a performer. The business letter format forces students to communicate their opinion in a clear and organized manner. By reading their letter of nomination to the class, students also have the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills.
The students will:
- write a business letter
- use details to support an opinion
- demonstrate public speaking skills
- clarify their own values regarding music and performers
induction criteria for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;
list of current inductees (optional);
Approximately three 40-50 minute class periods.
adapted to grades 5-12, English or music classes.
- Review the criteria for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Allow students five minutes to write a paragraph stating who they would like to see inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Students may choose artists from any era but if they choose a contemporary performer, that artist may not be eligible for some time yet. In that case, students could imagine that they are writing sometime in the future.
- Review the format for writing a business letter.
- Explain to students that they will be writing a letter in support of their candidate for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nominees will be voted on in class with awards going to the top performers selected. The letter must be a minimum of four paragraphs and should include the following:
- description of performer and music
- reasons why they should be inducted
Remind students that a letter that is too long may lose the interest of the judges!
- Students may begin their letters in class and complete for homework.
- Students participate in peer editing to proofread letters.
- Students begin to rewrite letters.
- Remind students that they will be reading their letters to the class the next day and they should bring in a tape or CD of a song by their nominee. Review public speaking skills with students. If this is their first public speaking opportunity, an entire period will be needed to familiarize them with skills such as the following:
- eye contact
- clear speaking voice and good pace
- varying tones
- clear knowledge of topic
- Students orally share letters and play a sample of their nominees’ music. The audience should record nominees, their qualifications, and personal reactions to the nominee.
- Class votes for inductees.
- Whenever votes are tallied, the top 3 winners or a number of teacher’s choice should be posted with the accompanying letter (or letters if several students choose the same artist). A prize such as a gift certificate to a music store may be awarded.
- Share the list of actual inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Students will be evaluated by their peers during the writing process. Students are given the opportunity to rewrite their letters before submission to the teacher for a final evaluation. Feedback through comments and/or a grade should also be given to the student for the oral presentation.
- Students compare their nominee(s) with actual inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Research to find out the qualifications of actual inductees (this could be done via the library or as part of a field trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum). Students write a follow-up evaluation of their choice. Why or why not does an actual inductee (of the student’s choice) belong in the Hall of Fame and do students still think their nominee belongs?
- Have students develop their own criteria for inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Have students consider the following when deciding upon qualifications:
- Should there be a time or longevity requirement?
- If not, how can judgments be made about an artist’s lasting impact on music?
- What role should commercial success play in the induction process?
- Should the music be the sole qualification or should other factors be considered?
- For instance, should performers be required to be positive role models? Should community service or other humanitarian efforts be considered?
- Do artists have a responsibility to their industry--for example assisting young and upcoming artists?
Students might want to research other Halls of Fame (such as baseball, football, inventors’, etc.) in order to learn about their induction processes.
- Have students research their personal nominee and expand the business letter into an essay.