Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane
Resources to help you teach the book in middle schools and high schools

Chapters 4–8

Classroom Video:
Exploring Lisa’s Music

Music plays a central role in Lisa’s life and in The Children of Willesden Lane. Musical selections from the book can be downloaded from this Web site. These selections can also be found on the companion CD included with the print version of the curriculum guide. Throughout the curriculum guide there are interdisciplinary lessons that draw on the musical selections.

In the video, high school history teacher Martina Grant brings in music teacher Jeff Arzberger to help students appreciate the classical piano music that runs throughout the book. As homework, Martina has assigned the Writing Idea from page 27 of the curriculum guide: “What would you take if you had to leave home and could take just a few items of importance?”

  • Building on the homework assignment, Martina asks students to think of a piece of music they would take with them if they had to leave home.
  • She reads the passage from the book where Lisa takes Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” with her when she leaves home. Then Martina has students listen to that piece, and asks them why it was so meaningful to Lisa. (This activity is found on page 25 of the curriculum guide, under Interdisciplinary Ideas.)
  • Music teacher Jeff Arzberger has students listen to part of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, and asks them to compare musical properties of the two pieces.
  • Using a keyboard, Jeff introduces basic musical concepts like rhythm and harmony, and demonstrates the difference between major and minor keys.
  • Martina finishes the lesson by returning to the book. She and the students discuss whether it is important to understand Lisa’s music in order to understand her story.

Questions for Reflection

  • For students, how is listening to music similar to the careful reading of a text? How is it different?
  • How comfortable do you feel teaching about music? Who in your school might you call on to help you familiarize your students with music and music history?
Jeff Arzberger plays a small electronic keyboard for students


Teachers: Martina Grant and
Jeff Arzberger
Grade: 10
Subject: Facing History and Ourselves elective
Location: Queens, New York City

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