Chevonna Dixon is a fourth grade teacher in Mississippi. She teaches her students about blues music. She teaches about the rhythm, the rhymes, and the chords. She also teaches about how the music can help her students learn about other things such as science, math, and life in general.
The students in Dixon’s classroom have been writing blues songs to help them learn about different subjects. They have written songs about the weather. They have written songs about what it’s like to be a kid. Not only does this make learning a lot more fun for the kids, but they retain information much better when they can recall music that has gone along with it.
This method is called the Blues Trail Curriculum. It was developed by music professor Mark Malone from William Carey University alongside University of Mississippi blues scholar Scott Barretta. This is the first year that the curriculum was released to the schools for use. It is mainly aimed at fourth graders who are learning about the state’s history, but the curriculum can be altered to fit different age groups and subject. It draws from research of the state’s history and the Mississippi Blues Trail. The main themes of the curriculum are transportation, meaning, cotton, music, civil rights, and the media.
An example of the curriculum in use comes from Miss Dixon’s class. They listen to a blues song sung by Mark Malone called “Homework Blues”. In the song he talks about why the homework that he has is giving him the blues. After they have listened to the song, she has them work in groups of four to write their own song about why they have the blues from homework.
The Mississippi Arts Commission says that this curriculum is very important for the children living in the state because it gives them a sense of place and pride in where they live. The extra knowledge is also a great bonus.