Grade 7:
African Studies

AFRICAN STUDIES

Grade 7: African Studies

Unit Description

In this arts integrated unit, students will experience and understand the meaning of an African Welcome Dance specific to a tribe or region in Africa. They will compare and contrast traditional “Welcome” dances to modern “Step” dances. Students will incorporate modern dance into their personalized and original versions of a Tribal Welcome Dance. Within the visual arts component, students will create an African Mask. They will compare and contrast traditional masks and their role within African Masquerades to the work of contemporary artist Nick Cave. The culmination of this African Studies module could be a Gallery Walk of students’ African mask creations along with a presentation of the students’ recorded, original African Welcome Dances.

Unit Essential Question

What is the importance of learning and understanding African Welcome Dances, as well as the masks that African tribes create?

Real World Context

The continent of Africa is rich in dance and artistic principles. Many tribes continue to share welcome dances from the past from generation to generation and continue to create new versions in today’s society. Being able to understand these welcome dances, as well as the history of African masks, allows us to better understand who we are as individuals.

Cross-Cutting Interdisciplinary Concepts

Relationships
Diversity
Culture

Projects

Project 1: Dance Component - African Welcome Dance
In this arts integrated component, students will understand the meanings of African “Welcome” dances specific to a tribe or region in Africa. They will compare and contrast traditional “Welcome” dances to modern “Step” dances. The students will incorporate modern dance into their unique versions of a Tribal Welcome dance.

Project 2: Visual Arts Component - African Tribal Masks
In this visual arts component, students will participate in a one-of-a kind African mask adventure as they compare and contrast traditional African masks and their role within African Masquerades to the work of contemporary artist Nick Cave. Students will create a 3D African mask using a variety of materials inspired by cultural attributes from an assigned region in Africa.

Standards

Curriculum Standards

SS7G4. Students will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Africa.

  1. Explain the differences between an ethnic group and a religious group.
  2. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arab, Ashanti, Bantu, and Swahili ethnic groups.
  3. Evaluate how the literacy rate affects the standard of living.

SS7H1 The student will analyze continuity and change in Africa leading to the 21st century.

  1. Explain how nationalism led to independence in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.
  2. Explain the impact of the Pan-African movement.

National Standards

NSS-G.K-12.2

  1. Understand the physical and human characteristics of places.
  2. Understand that people create regions to interpret Earth’s complexity.
  3. Understand how culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.

Arts Standards

DMSPFD.4. Understands and applies music concepts to dance.

  1. Recognizes how different rhythm structures are utilized by a variety of music idioms and cultures and how those rhythms influence dance styles (e.g., ballet, jazz, African).

DMSPCR.1. Demonstrates an understanding of creative and choreographic principles, processes, and structures.

  1. Explores and refines partnering skills.
  2. Demonstrates a variety of structures, forms, and designs (e.g., AB, ABA, canon, call-response, narrative, complimentary/contrasting shapes, symmetry).
  3. Applies dance technique principles to the choreographic context.
  4. Develops versatility through experimentation with various movement approaches.
  5. Implements the use of props within the choreography.

DMSPCO.1. Demonstrates and understands dance in various cultures and historical periods.

  1. Performs folk and/or classical dances from various cultures; describes similarities and differences in steps and movement styles.
  2. Performs folk, social, and/or theatrical dancers from a broad spectrum of twentieth-century America.
  3. Describe the role of dance in at least two different cultures or time periods.
  4. Accesses and uses community resources (such as people, books, videos) to learn about a folk dance of a different culture or a social dance of a different time period and the cultural/historical context of that dance.

VA7MC.1 Identifies and works to solve problems through creative thinking, planning, and/or experimenting with art methods and materials.

VA7CU.1 Discovers how the creative process relates to art history.

VA7MC.3 Interprets how artists create and communicate meaning in and through their work.

VA7CU.2 Investigates and discovers personal relationship to community, culture, and world through creating and studying art.

VA7PR.3 Uses the elements and principles of design along with a variety of media, techniques and skills to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.

National Standards

DA:Cr1.1.7.a. Compare a variety of stimuli (for example, music, observed dance, literary forms, notation, natural phenomena, personal experience/recall, current news or social events) and make selections to expand movement vocabulary and artistic expression.

VA:Cr1.2.7a. Develop criteria to guide making a work of art or design to meet an identified goal.

VA:Cr2.1.7a. Demonstrate persistence in developing skills with various materials, methods, and approaches in creating works of art or design.

Character Education

Components

Exhibiting the character trait of tolerance is one of the most important character educational components we teach to children. Tolerance is something that should be shown from children to adults alike. If we are able to appreciate others, then this naturally leads to exhibiting a tolerant attitude. In order for children to become successful adults, students need to be able to accept individual differences, negotiate and compromise. They should strive to discover and learn about people different from themselves and cultures different from their own. Most importantly, students who are able to understand that all people have value as human beings, naturally become productive members of society.
Attributes

  • Exhibiting Tolerance
  • Showing Respect for Other Cultures

Appendix (See Addition Resources)

  • Pre/Post-Assessment
  • African Studies Rubric

Credits

ArtsNow, Inc. and Bear Creek Middle School, Barrow County School System
Ideas contributed and edited by: YSheena Lyles, Melissa Dittmar-Joy, Shannon Green, Michele McClelland

Welcome to Africa Dance!

Social Studies and Dance

Description

In this arts integrated component, students will understand the meanings of African “Welcome” dances specific to a tribe or region in Africa. They will compare and contrast traditional “Welcome” dances to modern “Step” dances. The students will incorporate modern dance into their unique versions of a Tribal Welcome dance.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Understand African dance, the movements, as well as its meaning
  • Create my own dance with an African influence
  • Share knowledge about Chuck Davis and his African dance influences

Essential Questions

  • How did African cultures use welcome dances to greet other tribes?
  • How does African culture and dance impact popular dance today?

Curriculum Standards

SS7G4. Students will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Africa.

  1. Explain the differences between an ethnic group and a religious group.
  2. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arab, Ashanti, Bantu, and Swahili ethnic groups.
  3. Evaluate how the literacy rate affects the standard of living.

National Standards

NSS-G.K-12.2

  1. Understand the physical and human characteristics of places.
  2. Understand that people create regions to interpret Earth’s complexity.
  3. Understand how culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.

Arts Standards

DMSPFD.4. Understands and applies music concepts to dance.

  1. Recognizes how different rhythm structures are utilized by a variety of music idioms and cultures and how those rhythms influence dance styles (e.g., ballet, jazz, African).

DMSPCR.1. Demonstrates an understanding of creative and choreographic principles, processes, and structures.

  1. Explores and refines partnering skills.
  2. Demonstrates a variety of structures, forms, and designs (e.g., AB, ABA, canon, call-response, narrative, complimentary/contrasting shapes, symmetry).
  3. Applies dance technique principles to the choreographic context.
  4. Develops versatility through experimentation with various movement approaches.
  5. Implements the use of props within the choreography.

DMSPCO.1. Demonstrates and understands dance in various cultures and historical periods.

  1. Performs folk and/or classical dances from various cultures; describes similarities and differences in steps and movement styles.
  2. Performs folk, social, and/or theatrical dances from a broad spectrum of twentieth-century America.
  3. Describe the role of dance in at least two different cultures or time periods.
  4. Accesses and uses community resources (such as people, books, videos) to learn about a folk dance of a different culture or a social dance of a different time period and the cultural/historical context of that dance.

National Standards

DA:Cr1.1.7.a. Compare a variety of stimuli (for example, music, observed dance, literary forms, notation, natural phenomena, personal experience/recall, current news or social events) and make selections to expand movement vocabulary and artistic expression.

Content Vocabulary

  • Culture
  • Ethnic groups
  • Religious groups
  • Unitary government
  • Confederation government
  • Democracy
  • Traditional economy
  • Market economy
  • Command economy

Arts Vocabulary

  • Energy quality: different degrees of energy expended in a dance that help define the movement quality. There are two main categories of movement quality: percussive and sustaining. Percussive movements start and stop abruptly, giving a sharp definition between positions. In sustaining movements, dancers execute fluid, organic motions as they move from one pose to another. Percussive and sustaining movement qualities show that changing energy is important to the effect of a dance.
  • Levels: one of the aspects of the movement element space. In dance, there are three basic levels: high, middle and low.
  • Beginning, Middle, and End: the progression of a dance composition/performance
  • Chuck Davis: Dr. Charles "Chuck" Davis, artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica, was one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He traveled extensively to Africa to study with leading artists. Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC, in 1983.
  • African American ensemble (FUNGA): African welcome dance, West African Dance
  • Call and response: a structure in which one soloist or group performs, while a second soloist or group’s performance responds to or answers the first

Technology Integration

  • Green screen
  • iPads
  • iMovie
  • YouTube
  • Google Docs

Formative Assessment

  • Observe proper student engagement by monitoring students through anecdotal notes to check for understanding
  • Monitor students’ understanding and performance movement qualities of dance
  • Teacher-led questioning throughout Activating Strategy and Main Activity

Summative Assessment

  • Final Welcome Dance
  • Final Presentation Video
  • African Studies Unit Rubric (see Downloads)
  • Reflection Questions (see Downloads)

Materials

  • Video clips & slides
  • Projector
  • Computer/laptop
  • Recording technology

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

Note to Teacher: Viewing the video clips as well as reading over the attachments/downloads is highly recommended prior to teaching this component.

  • Students will watch a Youtube video clip of the wedding scene from the movie “Coming to America.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfKgb2L7nnM
  • Students discuss what they think the movements from the scene symbolize.

Main Activity

Part 1:

Part 2:

  • It is highly recommended that the teacher review the following video before teaching this section of the component. See Video Clip 1 African Dance with Teacher and Students (20 min)
  • Teacher shares the information from the West African Dance Explanation document aloud with the class. This document includes valuable background information. (see Downloads)
  • Introduce the African dance and masquerade. Students will view Video Clip 2 Chuck Davis Lamban Dance (see Downloads). In this video Chuck Davis discusses background information about the Welcome Dance and then viewers will enjoy watching the African American Dance Ensemble as they perform the Lamban, a dance indigenous to Mali. See Video Clip 3 Teacher Introduction to Chuck Davis (56 seconds)
  • Discuss as a whole group the following reflection questions:
    • How do dance and music intersect?
    • How is dance a form of cultural preservation?
    • What types of movements did you notice?
    • What is the theme and purpose of this dance?
    • What role does singing play?
    • See Video Clip 4 Student Observations and Discussion after Chuck Davis (42 seconds)
  • Introduce the Funga Welcome dance. Teacher reads aloud the Funga Alafia Greeting Explanation (see Downloads).
  • Using a projector students will view the Funga Alafia Lyrics (see Downloads). See Video Clip 5 Review of Lyrics (2 minutes)
  • Place the students into position, everyone facing forward as the teacher performs the opening movements of the dance. See Video Clip 6 Explanation of Specific Dance Movements (1 minute 10 seconds)
  • Then the students will follow the teacher's lead.
  • Encourage students to listen for the musical cues as the Funga Alafia Music is being played aloud. (see Downloads) Inform the students to listen for the vocal cues: to the earth, to the heavens... (These movements help to integrate the improvisational aspect.) See Video Clip 7 Class Practicing Dance with Lyrics Part 1 (1 minute 42 seconds) and Video Clip 8 Class Practicing Dance with Lyrics Part 2 (2 minutes 26 seconds).
  • The dance progresses. In this next variation of the dance, students change their formation and are introduced to a new movement. Boys line up in one side facing the girls, as the girls face the boys. As one boy and one girl move down the line, they are to be encouraged to improvise and create their own moves which signify their place in their tribe’s social ladder as well as their personality. Inform the students that the African dance signifies communication and celebration. See Video Clip 9 Dance Continues with Boys vs Girls (5 minutes & 11 seconds).
  • Then compare/contrast contemporary US dance to African traditions in order to see the correlation between the two.
  • Students will break into groups to create four movements that represent their ideas for a welcome dance of their own. They have to be able to articulate what each move means. Instruct students to create transitions between the movements for better flow.
  • At this point, the groups are to select a piece of instrumental music online (students choose) that will be incorporated into their welcome dance. The groups will practice integrating the transitions/movements with their musical choice. See Video Clip 10 Traditions behind the Dance (3 minutes 4 seconds), Video Clip 11 Directions for Small Group Dance Part 1 (2 minutes) and Video Clip 12 Directions for Small Group Dance Part 2 (1 minute 6 seconds).

Part 3:

  • Place the students into 7 small groups.
  • Assign a specific country to each group. As a group, they will work on a final presentation regarding their country. Countries include: Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zanzibar, Angola, Ghana, & Republic of Congo (see Downloads for files by country).
  • Students/groups will research their country, providing information about the government system, economy, religion, flag, the colors and symbols of their flag, and what those colors and symbols represent. Students can write this information on the African Dance Presentation Research Sheet (see Downloads).
  • Students will work on the following in their assigned groups:
    1. Write a script providing all of the necessary information on their country.
    2. Research and select green screen images that symbolize their country and an image of their country’s flag.
    3. Create and practice their sequence of movements (their own version of a Welcome Dance) while providing an instructional guide over movement sequences and what each movement symbolizes.
    4. Record a voiceover for their video and selected instrumental music that would emphasize the message they are trying to convey during their uniquely created Welcome Dance.

Part 4:

  • Students will record their final product/research in front of a green screen as well as edit their completed video.
  • Teacher records the entire class performing their dances. The video recording could be made in front of a green screen to include the correct geography in the background. Students could also include their African masks as part of their dance costumes.
  • See Video Clip 13 African Dance Presentation Examples (13 minutes 44 seconds)

Reflection Questions

  • How did you select movements in order to communicate their meaning?
  • How does the geographical location of a country affect its economy?
  • How has African culture influenced American culture?

Differentiation

Accelerated:

  • Accelerated students should not receive any scaffolding for the writing assignment.
  • Accelerated students can take on leadership roles in groups such as choreographers, directors, and editors.
  • Have accelerated students research other welcome dances from different areas in Africa. Then compare and contrast their originally assigned dance to those of different parts of Africa.
  • Accelerated students can create costuming according their tribe/region.

Remedial/EL Students:

  • Remedial students could be given stem paragraphs to help with the script and informational writing.
  • Remedial students could be provided a checklist to help organize and assure that all information is incorporated into the final product.
  • Remedial students may derive a better understanding by doing this activity in a whole group setting.

Additional Resources

Books

  • A True Book: Africa by Mel Friedman
  • Deserts by Seymour Simon

Virtual Field Trip

YouTube

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • West African Dance Explanation
  • Funga Alafia Greeting Explanation
  • Funga Alafia Lyrics
  • Funga Alafia Music
  • African Dance Presentation Research Sheet
  • Written Reflection
  • Files by Country: Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zanzibar, Angola, Ghana & Republic of Congo
  • Video Clips 1-13
  • African Studies Unit Rubric (See Unit Downloads)

Credits

3D African Masks

Social Studies and Visual Arts

Description

In this visual arts component, students will participate in a one-of-a kind African mask adventure as they compare and contrast traditional African masks and their role within African Masquerades to the work of contemporary artist Nick Cave. Students will create a 3D African mask using a variety of materials inspired by cultural attributes from an assigned region in Africa.

Learning Targets

“I Can…”

  • Design and create an African mask inspired by contemporary artist Nick Cave and the culture of Africa based on the Ashanti, Bantu, and Swahili ethnic groups
  • Understand the diversity of religions within the Arab, Ashanti, Bantu, and Swahili ethnic groups
  • Explain the difference between religious groups and ethnic groups
  • Compare and contrast how African culture and traditions impact culture and traditions in the United States

Essential Questions

  • How can we combine elements from contemporary artist Nick Cave’s work, our own culture, and the cultural traditions from Africa to form a personal perspective that influences our mask design?
  • What is the difference between ethnic and religious groups?
  • What do African masks symbolize for different ethnic and religious groups?
  • What is nationalism?
  • What is the Pan-African movement?
  • How do masks represent the culture and religion of African ethnic groups?

Curriculum Standards

SS7G4 The student will describe the diverse cultures of the people who live in Africa.

  1. Explain the differences between an ethnic group and a religious group.
  2. Explain the diversity of religions within the Arab, Ashanti, Bantu, and Swahili ethnic groups.

SS7H1 The student will analyze continuity and change in Africa leading to the 21st century.

  1. Explain how nationalism led to independence in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.
  2. Explain the impact of the Pan-African movement.

Arts Standards

VA7MC.1 Identifies and works to solve problems through creative thinking, planning, and/or experimenting with art methods and materials.

VA7CU.1 Discovers how the creative process relates to art history.

VA7MC.3 Interprets how artists create and communicate meaning in and through their work.

VA7CU.2 Investigates and discovers personal relationship to community, culture, and world through creating and studying art.

VA7PR.3 Uses the elements and principles of design along with a variety of media, techniques and skills to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.

National Standards:

VA:Cr1.2.7a Develop criteria to guide making a work of art or design to meet an identified goal.

VA:Cr2.1.7a Demonstrate persistence in developing skills with various materials, methods, and approaches in creating works of art or design.

Content Vocabulary

  • Independence
  • Nationalism
  • Ethnic groups
  • Religious groups
  • Deity
  • Ashanti tribe
  • Bantu tribe
  • Swahili tribe
  • Zulu people
  • Masquerade

Arts Vocabulary

  • Texture: refers to the surface quality in a work of art
  • Actual: when a surface feels as it appears
  • Implied: when a surface looks like a texture but is smooth
  • Form: a term used to describe three-dimensional artwork. Forms can be geometric or organic. Three-dimensional art has volume, which is the amount of space occupied by the form. The form also has mass, which means that the volume is solid and occupies space.

Technology Integration

Formative Assessment

  • Are students referring to their list of words and design plan when creating their mask?
  • Does their design reflect the region they are studying?

Summative Assessment

  • Students will write an artist statement explaining the design choices they made, why they made them, and how they reflect a personal perspective.
  • Students display their finished masks that convey the function of the masks.

Materials

  • Scrap cardboard, colored cardstock, wire, yarn, pipe cleaners, raffia, fun foam in a variety of colors, buttons, recycled materials, paint, sharpies, glue gun, Xacto knives, cutting mats, scissors, masking tape

Activating Strategy (5-10 min)

  • Students will read the poem, “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (see Downloads).
  • In small groups, students will discuss the theme of the poem and what it means to wear masks figuratively.
  • Then students will share their group’s thoughts and opinions in a whole group setting led by the teacher.

Main Activity

Part 1:

  • Working in small groups, students will read an annotated worksheet titled “Africa’s Religious & Ethnic Groups.” (see Downloads)
  • While continuing to work in groups, students will discuss and complete the handout “Africa’s Ethnic & Religious Groups Map.” (see Downloads)
  • Students will then create and write a paragraph explaining the difference between ethnic and religious groups.

Part 2:

  • Share with the students the examples of masks from different regions in Africa as well as video footage of masquerades. (Links found in Technology Integration)
  • Introduce students to the contemporary artist Nick Cave and his soundsuits.
  • Compare and contrast the works presented.
  • Students will create a sketch of a mask inspired by a region in Africa and the work of Nick Cave.

Part 3:

Part 4:

  • Students will choose one of the four options from the African Mask Templates based on an ethnic group. (see Downloads)
  • Students will decorate their mask to incorporate key elements from their ethnic group; such as religion, fertility, economy, and language.

Part 5:

  • Share The Creative Process with students. (see Downloads)
  • Discuss the process of translating their drawing into a 3-D wearable mask reviewing the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. (see Downloads)
  • Introduce students to the available materials encouraging them to think outside of the box.
  • Demonstrate how to create a form out of cardboard.
  • Allow students time to brainstorm and develop an action plan.
  • Encourage students to experiment with materials before making final design choices.
  • Encourage students to rethink choices if they are not satisfied.
  • Give students time to carefully complete their design.

Reflection Questions

  • How can you create a 3D form from a drawing?
  • Does your design reflect your African region?
  • What modern elements did you incorporate?
  • Can you wear your mask? Is it functional?
  • Does your mask reflect the purpose of your ethnic group?
  • Why are masks important to African ethnic and religious groups?

Differentiation

Accelerated:

  • Encourage students to increase the scale of their project by elaborating on their design.

Remedial/EL Students:

  • Ask students to create a collage of their mask incorporating texture.
  • Provide students with an example of a completed African mask.
  • Provide students with a paper African mask to complete a design before they begin creating their masks.

Additional Resources

Websites

Appendix (See Downloads)

  • “We Wear The Mask” Poem by Paul Dunbar
  • Africa’s Religious & Ethnic Groups
  • Africa’s Ethnic and Religious Groups Map
  • African Mask Templates
  • Elements of Art and Principles of Design
  • The Creative Process
  • Written Reflection
  • Mask Research Sheet

Credits

Grade 7: African Studies

Additional Resources

Books

  • A True Book-Africa by Mel Friedman
  • Deserts by Seymour Simon

Websites

Virtual Field Trip

Countries

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Pre/Post Assessment
Unit Rubric
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