- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Hattiesburg teachers will learn how the blues contributed to the state’s history and cultural heritage during a Hattiesburg Arts Council development day event on Jan. 5.

The Hattiesburg American reports (https://hatne.ws/1wuEBlB ) teachers will be introduced to the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum, which is already available free online. The curriculum explores Mississippi history through the Mississippi Blues Trail using an arts-integrated approach.

“It talks about music, transportation, slavery, civil rights. It hits on all sorts of topics,” said Rebekah Stark Johnson, executive director of the local arts council.

The 18-lesson curriculum is aimed at fourth-grade history students but can be modified for any student.

The Mississippi Legislature established the Mississippi Blues Commission in 2004 and launched the Mississippi Blues Trail in 2006. Since that time, more than 170 markers have been dedicated along the trail.

Mark Malone, William Carey University music professor and coordinator of music education, co-authored the curriculum.

“Many of our current children in the Magnolia State don’t know anything about the blues,” he said. “The Mississippi Blues Trail is a wonderful gift of heritage and tradition in terms of music, history, geography and humanity.”

Malone said the challenge was how to organize the material in a way that could be assimilated and understood by children.

“My task was to take the information and make it usable for young students,” he said. “(For example), what’s a scale and what’s a blues scale? Those are accessible by youngsters.”

The lessons were developed for each of six core areas: music, meaning, cotton, transportation, civil rights and media.

To enhance the experience, blues artist Tommie “T-Bone” Pruitt will perform during lunch.

A teacher can use the curriculum throughout the semester for a period of four months, teaching one lesson per week. The lessons can also be taught on their own.

The curriculum is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and other national and state frameworks. The Mississippi Blues Trail website can be used with the curriculum and offers images of the front and back of each marker. There is also a resources section in the curriculum that includes interviews, field recordings, songs and videos for each lesson.


Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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