APS students create protests songs through digital learning

Digital learning is taking innovative and creative turns in the Atlanta Public School System.

Emily Backus is a music teacher at Mary Lin Elementary School  who is writing, arranging and producing a protest song with her 5th grade students.

"We had a few weeks of historical background where we talked about the history of music in social movements, tying into the social study standards. In 5th grade they talk a lot about Jim Crow Laws and the civil rights movement, so we talked about how music tied into some of those, as well as other movements in the world. They our guest artist had two sessions with them, " the spunky teacher explained. 

Seventeen students were in the digital class that meets twice a week on a Zoom platform. They had the star power of professional  singer Kyshona Armstrong of Nashville who taught the class virtually twice to consult with students and help them get their song,  "We Can", off the ground. 

In a worldwide pandemic, instruction can be challenging, but Ms. Backus is getting over the humps, creating these protest songs that allow the students to express themselves.

"Some of the issues on their minds include Black lives Matter, controlling covid, returning to school safely, protecting the environment etc.," Ms. Backus shared. 

Every 5th grade class at Mary Lin created a protest song as part of  an APS Collaboration grant. 

The songs will debut in an on-line concert later this year.