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I have visited a lot of classrooms in the course of my teacher training and I think the things I enjoy seeing around the room the most are plants and challenges.

Plants are easy on the eyes. They relax people, look cool, and improve indoor humidity and air quality. If you would like to see some cool research on that Dr. Wolverton has been at this for 30ish years.
I particularly like non typical houseplants, by that I mean plants that are common outside but not usually kept inside. Luckily, I live in the western Washington. Our outdoor flora is mostly low light tolerant, if not low light dependent.

But I figure you clicked on this in order to hear about the angry banjo music. I like classroom challenges like poster projects or contests for students who are finished with their daily work. These posters or stations exist around the room for students tryout and earn points or other classroom rewards.I think these are great. So I decided to work up my own poster challenge. The following song was written by Curtis Eller who might be the angriest banjo player in New York City.  He writes about tragic events in American History and is in general amazing. So I thought I would construct my first station challenge around his song Sweatshop Fire.  The intended audience is high school.

Image

Needed: 
Table space.
Copies of the song lyrics (20)
Poster with picture of  Curtis and an explanation of the directions and the rewards
Entry Box red and black, possibly with fire on the sides.

Directions:
Curtis Eller uses many historical allusions in his songs to express emotion and tone. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to pick out all of the historical references in the lyrics. 
I counted seven. There may be more. You may use any classroom text, other text, and the Internet.

Take an entry sheet. Put your NAME on it. When you find one write

Lyric: “burn like a sweat shop fire”Image
Reference: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York.
Source: Wikipedia

Continue until you have found as many as you can. All entries must be turned in by (Date two weeks from posting)

Prizes!
Number of References Found :
2 found- Song Ticket

4 found- Candy and Song Ticket

6 or more found!
 Predator Pass, Candy, Song Ticket

And the leading entrant from all (classes) shall be crowned Master of the contest. And their name will be placed on the wall of scholars.

A “correct reference” by the way is any that seems plausible and is justified well. With a two to three-week rotation I should generate a Wall of Scholars with about 15 people on it by the end of the year. The lyrics to “Sweatshop Fire” follow. Please try to pick out the references you find. If you get to more than seven comment and let me know, or if you have any critique on the lesson. It’s my first time generating one of these and I could use the feedback. Thanks!

-Arynn Mckenzie

Sweatshop Fire 

I’m gonna burn….like a sweatshop fire
I’m climbing up into the rafters, I’m gonna clip that angels wire
I’m gonna lock the factory doors an let ‘em sweep the ashes away
If you was holding out for the union to save you
I guess you just turned up on a bad day
‘Cause this time I ‘m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

I’m caving in…like a Pittsburgh mine
Just as black as a Tuesday in 1929
Don’t you know I’m gonna shake it like I’m from Memphis, TN
And when the timbres start to rattle and the walls come down
There ain’t no Tupelo midnight got nothing on me
‘Cause this time I ‘m caving in like a Pittsburgh mine

Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

I’m blowing in…the last blizzard of the year
I’m giving up on the church, like I was never even here
This storm’s gonna hi in the springtime, burn out the roots like a frost
I’m gonna leave the county at the mercy of the salt trucks
This heart is as black as any union boss
I’m gonna sink down like a frost I’m gonna burn out the roots

Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

This time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire
This time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire
Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

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