The J&D Curriculum Think Tank

The Jazz & Democracy Project® Curriculum Think Tank is J&D’s professional development course as well as a burgeoning network of educators utilizing J&D materials and pedagogy in learning spaces from elementary school to higher education.

Enrollment is now open to both 5th-12th Grade teachers and collegiate instructors for the Summer 2022 Curriculum Think Tank. Below please find what details are currently available. Please contact us with any questions and do check back for updates.

5th – 12th Grade teachers + collegiate lecturers/professors
  • Subject areas including, but not limited to, History, Government, Civics, Social Studies, Humanities, Language Arts, Music, Social Justice, Socio-Emotional Learning and Interdisciplinary Approaches
  • Tech savvy educators with command of their learning spaces and subject matter who possess a strong desire to deepen their pedagogy with arts integration
  • Educators looking for novel approaches to address social justice topics with their students, socio-emotional learning (SEL), or ways to create a supportive, well-functioning classroom culture
  • Individuals as well as school teams (e.g., grade level or departmental teams) are welcome
  • No musical background is required
Up to 30hrs of training facilitated by J&D Founder, “Dr. Wes”
  • 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) available
  • Access to the full catalog of J&D Exclusive Artist Interviews in manageable, edited audio snippets, along with written transcriptions ready for use with your students
  • New interviews added every year
  • Modelling of complete lessons
  • Modelling of key J&D activities, e.g. Whackin’ The Blues®* and Democracy Jam®*
  • A full set of Boomwhackers® for your classroom* + coupon code for a future purchase
  • Best practices for utilizing live musicians in your classroom*
  • Direct coaching to help you design lessons specifically for your students
  • Access to lessons created by other educators in the network
  • A new professional learning community to support your ongoing jazz integration
  • A resource list, including local musicians to hire for live, classroom performances

* Assuming in-person gatherings are deemed safe

5-Day sessions from 9am – 4pm each day during the following weeks (choose one):
  • Session 1: June 13th – 17th
  • Session 2: June 20th – 24th
  • NOTE: If necessary for COVID safety, 75min Zooms will be scheduled as needed
  • 100% Attendance
  • Set up a network email address
  • Set up a uStudio account and download the app to access J&D proprietary A/V materials
  • Design and present one lesson to your cohort during the training
  • Implement at least one J&D lesson per semester during the school year immediately following training (minimum 2 lessons/school year)
  • Submit a minimum of 2 lesson plans and supporting documents to J&D by the end of the school year
  • Continue to submit lesson plans and supporting documents to J&D as you create them so long as you remain in the Curriculum Think Tank network.
$1850 per individual participant for the first year, then $185* annual renewal fee
  • 20% DISCOUNT: $1480 if payment is received by May 23rd (Session 1) or
    May 30th (Session 2).
  • Payments plans available. Contact Us in advance of each session to make arrangements.
  • School/Departmental team pricing also available. Contact Us for pricing.

* $185 annual renewal fee is subject to change after the first renewal year.

The Curriculum Think Tank Approach

If we want our students to be creative, critical thinkers who are unafraid to take risks that broaden their minds, then professional development should provide the very same experience for teachers. That is why there is no pre-packaged curriculum here. You will be given raw J&D materials, just enough structure and guidance, and the chance to practice lessons you create with your cohort.

Why this approach? It’s simple: you and your students are unique individuals in a particular context. Both your individuality and context are key to teaching and learning. The way Dr. Wes teaches students in Oakland, California, may not be the best way for someone else with a different background (teaching, musical, racial, gender, age, etc.) to teach their students. So, instead of providing you with a pre-packaged curriculum, Dr. Wes will take you through key J&D activities and guiding principles, you will experience a lesson or two, but the bulk of your time will be spent diving into the J&D materials and creating lessons that will work for your students. This is apropos to the jazz aesthetic itself. It is also necessary for good teaching.

After just 4 hours of front-loading instruction by Dr. Wes coupled with homework assignments, the first teacher cohort felt ready to role-play lessons of their own creation. Is sharing the first draft of a lesson with a group of teachers difficult? Yes. Is role playing difficult? Yes. However, the community was greatly supportive of one another, and when everyone put themselves in the vulnerable position of using new materials along with new, distance-learning interfaces, it seeded a strong connection amongst the cohort. A network that relies on one another to vet and improve lessons is precisely what the J&D Curriculum Think Tank aims to be.

If you’re thinking, “I’m not a musician,” or, “But I don’t know anything about jazz,” don’t worry! Though Dr. Wes studied jazz theory and jazz history in college, he is not a jazz musician. The very focus of the Curriculum Think Tank is to find ways that you—yes, even you—can integrate jazz into your teaching.