Blues curriculum helps Mississippi children learn state's culture, from cotton to civil rights

Just off U.S. Highway 61, known in Mississippi as the blues highway, fourth-graders at Tunica Elementary School are exploring the Delta's homegrown music to learn about rhythm, rhyme and chord progression.

Their teacher is also using the new Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum to help the children absorb information in unexpected ways.

Chevonne Dixon is one of the first teachers in the state to incorporate the blues into science, math, social studies and English lessons. Her students have written blues songs about the weather and their own academic challenges.

The Mississippi Arts Commission made the Blues Trail Curriculum available this school year. It's aimed at fourth-graders but can be altered for younger and older students. Its lessons focus on six main areas: music, meaning, cotton, transportation, civil rights and media.