Misconceptions about Hamilton: An American Musical
- You have to see it (Nope! You can listen to the audio like the rest of us poor Floridians)
- It’s not useful in a middle classroom (Nope! I think it can honestly teach benchmarks with higher-order thinking)
But seriously -- I don’t think I’ve geeked out this bad since New Kids on The Block.
I know, I know -- you haven’t seen it. NEITHER HAVE I (sigh). The only people who have seen it have lived in or visited NYC in the past year AND happened to have tons of cash to spend OR won a $10 ticket in a lottery.
So instead of seeing the biggest musical of this century so far -- I listen to it. Free on Amazon Prime Music. Free on Youtube. Or pay for the album, digitally or in the store. Whatevs.
I listen to it. And I watch clips on PBS.
But, if you teach 6th, 7th, or 8th grade in Pinellas -- NOW is the time to use Hamilton in your class! It hits benchmarks in ALL middle school classes this month (or next month).
And it can give you a great jumping-off point for higher order thinking.I like to abbrieviate Higher-Order Thinking as “HOT”. It’s more fun that way.
I think everyone should get HOT4HAM!
Here are my FOUR favorite ideas of HOT4HAM (HOT= “Higher Order Thinking” for “Ham”, Hamilton)
- If you’re teaching causes of the revolution... Use “Farmer Refuted” but make sure you have the lyrics, either on paper or on the screen.
- Teaching Idea: Have the kids listen, the first time, to “Samuel Seabury’s” side and then write a one-sentence summary of his (the Loyalists’ side). Then, have them listen again, this time paying more attention to Hamilton’s (the Patriots’ side) and write a one-sentence summary of the Patriots’ side.
- HOT Higher-Order Thinking: Have the kids connect other historical figures from class to the side in the song they would identify with (Seabury’s Loyalist and Hamilton’s Patriot)
Addresses benchmarks (US Hist) SS.8.A.3.2; SS.8.A.3.3; (Civics) SS.7.C.1.3)
- Teaching idea: Then, ask students to turn and talk about how the individuals in the songs (Washington, Hamilton, Lafayette) contributed to the American War effort.
- HOT Higher Order Thinking: Specifically, ask them to tell us how those men helped America win the war. Have them rap their answer for bonus points.
Addresses benchmarks (US Hist) SS.8.A.3.3; SS.8.A.3.4, SS.8.A.3.6
3. If you’re teaching the Early Republic ... Use “One Last Time” (which is available as an actual video -- with actors singing!! At a Washington Prize Award ceremony). This number teaches Washington’s Farewell Address -- both the reasons behind establishing the two-term presidency and the actual words of the document itself.
- HOT Higher Order Thinking: I would ask students to use historical cause and effect skills and to write a few sentences about what would be different in our country if Washington hadn’t self-limited the presidency to two terms.
Addresses benchmarks (US Hist) SS.8.A.3.12 (Civics - it’s a stretch, but maybe SS.7.C.3.8)
4. If you’re teaching the Constitutional Convention & Federalist Papers ... Use “Non-Stop” and choose the excerpts that best help (there’s some extraneous verses here). Then,
- Teaching idea: Focus on the verse about the Constitutional Convention. Have students examine Hamilton’s contributions to the Constitutional Convention. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/duel/sfeature/hamiltonusconstituion.html
- HOT Higher Order Thinking: Have students pull out two or three ways (from the song or the PBS Article that PROVE that Hamilton was a Federalist.
- HOT Higher Order Thinking: Have students explain how the quote below connects to the Federalists :
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.
-Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
Addresses Benchmarks: US Hist SS.8.A.3.10, SS.8.A.3.11. Civics SS.7.A.1.8
You don’t have to use Hamilton: An American Musical in your class. But you do have to use HOT (Higher-Order Thinking) -- and use them frequently.
I encourage you to catch a listen to Hamilton (links to audio above). Can you use Hamilton to teach middle school Civics or US History -- or something else? How can you use it to have kids practice higher order thinking skills(HOTs)? As always, I love to hear from you (especially if you have an extra plane ticket AND an extra Broadway ticket) :D Email me (about the HOT, not actually about your ticket) email@example.com-Tracy