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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bridging the Blues Supports Blues in Schools - MBT Launches Blues Trail Curriculum

Mississippi Arts Commission Launches New Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum as a Free Online Resource

Jackson, MS--  The Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) launched its new Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum online today. The 18-lesson Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum along with an interactive, multi-media resource page is available for free at www.msbluestrail.org/curriculum.  Three lessons were developed for each of the six core areas: Music, Meaning, Cotton, Transportation, Civil Rights and Media.

“As our state joins the nation in the journey down a new economic path we call Cultural Heritage Tourism, it is imperative that we share our state’s rich cultural history with the world, on the local level, and in classrooms across Mississippi,” stated Sallye Killebrew, Interim Executive Director of MAC. “This curriculum guide will establish a sense of place within our communities, a civic pride in our citizenry, and provide a much needed resource for educators.”  

Curriculum designer Dr. Mark Malone and historian Scott Barretta teamed up with the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Folk and Traditional Arts Program to develop lesson plans which explore Mississippi History through the lens of the Mississippi Blues Trail. The curriculum is designed specifically for 4th grade students studying Mississippi History.  However, teachers may modify the lessons to accommodate students through the 12th grade.

The lessons employ an interdisciplinary, arts-integrated approach, which seeks to increase depth of understanding, incorporates multiple intelligences and utilizes specific learning modalities. Each lesson is aligned with established national standards which help teachers share the skills needed for high student performance on standardized tests. These standards include the Mississippi Studies Framework for social studies and music, the National Standards for Music Education, and the new Common Core Standards for writing, language, speaking and listening. 

"Providing teachers with lesson plans that integrate the art of blues music with the newly revised Mississippi Social Studies Framework culture strand will bring our state's arts and culture alive in the classroom,” stated Limeul Eubanks, Education Specialist Senior, Visual and Performing Arts, Mississippi Department of Education.

In addition to providing the Curriculum online free of charge, the MAC is also hosting four regional workshops in Fall 2013 which will offer teachers .5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and instruct educators on how to best utilize the Curriculum in the classroom. 

Established in 2006, the Mississippi Blues Trail is an important new development in Mississippi’s efforts to develop cultural tourism, but it’s also a visual, historical, geographical and cultural exploration of the people, places and traditions in the state. The blues were likely born in the Delta, but the Mississippi Blues Trail covers the tradition throughout the state. The trail has stimulated increased awareness of blues culture in both the rural and urban parts of Mississippi.  For more information about the Blues Trail, visit www.msbluestrail.org

The MAC was granted a $20 thousand Folk Arts Infrastructure Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the development of the Curriculum. The project is directed by Mary Margaret White, MAC Folk and Traditional Arts Director. 

The Mississippi Arts Commission is a state agency funded by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Riley Foundation, The Phil Hardin Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson and other private sources. MAC is the official grants-making and service agency for the arts in Mississippi. The agency serves as an active supporter and promoter of arts in community life and in arts education.


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