by Mark Seng, Cherokee High School

A World History webquest for high school students discovering the importance of events and people in Billy Joel's hit song "We Didn't Start the Fire".

Teacher Introduction

I love music and watching movies! Anytime I can get away from the textbook and make things more real for the students, I try to do so. So many people, including students, think that history only happened a long time ago. In an attempt to overcome that idea, a number of years ago I developed a project based on the song "We Didn't Start the Fire". In my lesson, I pointed out that as a teenager, Billy Joel loved history so much that he planned to become a history teacher. Alas, his music got in the way!!! But, as he grew older, he decided to write a song about some of the major things that had happened during his lifetime (first 40 years). I then point out to the students that, just like Billy Joel, history is happening during their life too (it is happening every day)! After researching the events and people in the song, I have found that my students gain a better appreciation that we are making history every day and that some pretty ordinary folks became extraordinary and made or changed history by something they said or did. While I borrowed some of the components of this WebQuest from other teachers (thank you!!) all I basically did was transform the "We Didn't Start the Fire" project I have been doing for years into a WebQuest to help my students do some higher-order thinking. Please feel free to adapt it to your situation. No point in re-inventing the wheel. Enjoy!! :-)