Samba is a lively music from Brazil. Many people enjoy it and are captured by its sound, but when they listen to it, what do they really hear? Do they hear only one sound, or are they attuned to its varied components from around the globe? Since samba has a rich, multicultural, historical base and wide appeal, I have selected it and its sounds to be the focus of my curriculum teaching unit in that it is an excellent vehicle for students to learn about World Geography and Cultures.
This unit is designed to teach heterogeneously grouped high school students. The classes contain not only regular education students who have a variety of learning styles and levels, but also special education students who possess various challenges, both physical and academic. Although this unit is designed to teach high school students, it’s easily adaptable for use with students on other grade levels.
The goal of this curriculum unit on “The Sounds of Samba “ is to provide teachers and high school students with instruments to enhance their academic endeavors. We will be delving into some content background of the music, experiencing the sights and sounds of samba performed, as well as working through a conceptual framework that allows for the investigation of many other topics that might be pursued in the discipline of Geography.
This author intends to empower her students with the necessary skills needed to think critically and demonstrate improvement in such areas as literacy, map reading, making cross-cultural and interdisciplinary connections, and comparing and/or contrasting sounds that are components of samba. Through active class participation and successful completion of the activities set forth in this unit, students should be able to explore a topic from the top down, as well as from the bottom up.
A framework, associated with the discipline of Geography, facilitates just such study. It contains two branches: Physical Geography and Human Geography, as well as five themes: Location, Place, Interaction, Movement, and Region. Students may then use this framework to focus on only one aspect of their study or to investigate its relationship with other aspects.
Preteaching a lesson is an excellent introduction where the teacher presents an overview of the topic, the objectives that the students should strive to attain, and a review or reinforcement of all the important highlights of the topic. The introduction might start with a short question and answer session. This gives the teacher the opportunity to discover how much pre-knowledge the students bring to the class. It might continue with viewing excerpts of a video which offers students the opportunity to experience samba vicariously. The conclusion to this lesson might contain a session in which the various aspects of samba are placed into a graphic organizer with the intent of reinforcing acquired knowledge.
Since samba is music that has roots around the world, it’s important that students are familiar with some key words, phrases, and terms used to discuss and write about it. Vocabulary development is an outstanding pre-reading tool. Many times students are able to understand what they read and increase vocabulary through the context clues of their readings. However, other times the context clues aren’t sufficient, and it becomes necessary to devote either an entire lesson or part of it to vocabulary development and comprehension. Therefore, a teacher’s monitoring of students’ understanding and progress is essential for success.
Sometimes one or more channels of learning are blocked in certain individuals. This challenge makes the use of multimedia materials essential in motivating and assisting all students to optimize their abilities. It allows them to circumvent a weak area by permitting them to replace it with a stronger one on which they can build easily.
Learning configuration(s) in the classroom is another important consideration. For example, not all lessons are suited for large groups or pairs. Careful attention, therefore, must be paid to the type of lesson being taught before the final seating arrangements are made. If the class is divided into groups, it’s important for students to reassemble to share the knowledge acquired throughout the period.
How can students, who are prepared, go beyond and extend their learning? How can they take the facts and the concepts that they have learned and generalize them? Perhaps they could study independently and report back to the class with an original presentation. It might remain within the discipline of Geography or go beyond, providing they make clear connections to the sounds of samba.
“The Sounds of Samba” will attempt to excite and motivate students through the connection of the abstract world of maps, charts, and theory to the “real” world of music, film, television, and newspapers. It’s anticipated that materials will be plentiful in light of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese arrival in Brazil during 2000. Many cultural celebrations are being planned throughout the year, and music is expected to be a large part of them.