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Lesson Plan

Let's Polka! The Polka, its function and place in different cultures

Designed by: Heidi D. Fedinetz-Adomshick
Penn State University

Summary

The following is designed for elementary and middle general/classroom music students and can be easily adapted for other types of music classes. The following includes experiences in the areas of performance, dance, and socio-cultural heritage of polka music. These experiences are designed as part of a two week unit; each week includes one lesson plan.

Suggested Grade Levels: K-2, 3-5, 6-8
Country: Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland Denmark, Russia, Ukraine
Region: Europe
Culture Group: Polish, Czech, Austrian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Russian, Ukrainian
Genre: Polka
Instruments: Accordion, Guitar, Bass, Clarinet, Trombone, and Tuba
Language: Polish, Czech, Austrian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Russian, Ukrainian
Co-Curricular Areas: Social Studies, Dance
National Standards: 1, 6, 8, 9
Prerequisites: None

Objectives:

  • Clap on the beat of a polka
  • Sing “Roll Out the Barrel,” a popular polka melody
  • Identify countries where the polka music style is/was prominent
  • Identify the instruments typically played/used in polka music
  • Perform a basic polka dance, the “Cuckoo Polka”
  • Review/identify countries where the polka is/was a prominent part of culture
  • Compare folk dances of Europe with modern group dances today

Materials:

Lesson Segments:

  1. Musical and Cultural Significance of the Polka (National Standards 1, 6, 8, 9)
  2. Polka Dance (National Standards 1, 6, 8, 9)

Lesson Segment #1: Musical and Cultural Significance of the Polka

Click to view recording details

“Bip Bip Polka”
from Polish Dance Time (1995) | MON71598

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“Studentenpolka (Students' Polka)”
from Folk Dances of Austria, Vol. 2 (1959) | FW08838

Procedure:

  1. Teacher plays “Bip Bip Polka” from Polish Dance Time (MON71598) as the class enters the room and students are asked to clap along with the teacher.
    1. “How do you think these dances were created/invented?” Student answer/discussion
  2. Teacher explains the story of the polka dance.
    1. Teacher asks students to identify and locate countries on a map where they think polka is/was a prominent part of the culture: Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine
  3. “Studentenpolka (Students' Polka)” from Folk Dances of Austria, Vol. 2 (FW08838)
    1. Identify instruments used in polka music
  4. Discussion about polka music and the day's lesson.

Assessment:

  • Are students able to clap on the beat with the “Bip Bip Polka”? Are students participating appropriately in discussion segments?

Lesson Segment #2. Polka Dance

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“Muziky Muziky Polka”
from Deeper Polka: More Dance Music from the Midwest (2002) | SFW40140

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“Kuckucks-Polka (Cuckoo Polka)”
from Folk Dances of Austria, Vol. 1 (1959) | FW08837

  1. Teacher plays “Muziky Muziky Polka” from Deeper Polka: More Dance Music from the Midwest (SFW40140) as the class enters the room and teacher leads class in whole body movement.
  2. Students and teacher review countries where the polka is/was a predominant part of culture: Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Russia, and Ukraine.
  3. On the Internet, find and watch appropriate videos of middle school students doing a polka dance.
    1. Students learn a basic polka dance
    2. Teacher asks students about other dances that they might know or what type of event a polka might be performed at (weddings)

Assessment:

  • Are students able to perform a basic polka dance? Are students participating appropriately in discussion segments?

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