Poetry in Song
Use song lyrics as examples of poetry!
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Students will recognize the poetry in song lyrics and understand some of the tools or poetry elements a lyricist uses.
- Demonstrate an understanding of standard-specific poetry elements and vocabulary
- Be aware of a difference in the delivery of a theme using poem versus song
- Find song lyrics that contain the poetry elements you are covering. Pick your song lyrics based on the maturity level of your students. I like to use the song "Ode" by Creed. India Arie and Tracy Chapman have some really cool song lyrics as well. Bottom line, pick something that you think your students will respond to!
- CD player or laptop or mp3 player with speakers
- Student notebooks from previous lesson
- Pencils or pens
- Overhead projector and markers or interactive whiteboard or Smartboard and projector
Set Up and Prepare
- Make a class set of handouts of the song lyrics.
- Make a transparency of the song lyrics or prepare the page for the interactive whiteboard or Smartboard.
- Burn the song to a CD or add it to your mp3 player if necessary.
Step 1: Distribute the song lyrics and have students read it silently. Have students read the poem aloud in pairs or small groups. Pick at least two volunteers to read the song to the entire class.
Step 2: Students will now review the poetic terms and definitions in their notebooks. This may be done individually or in groups.
Step 3: Students will create a replica of "Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes" Reproducible (PDF) (from the What Are the Elements of Poetry? lesson of this unit) in their notebooks. They should list what they learned about the song's narrator/character in the left-hand column and the evidence from the song lyrics that supports those statements in the right-hand column.
Step 4: Conduct a class discussion regarding the song and its relationship to poetry. Discuss the use of poetic elements within the song.
Step 5: Have students change the figurative language in the lyrics. For example, instead of being "happy as a lark," make him "mad as a wasp." Use the transparency or interactive whiteboard/Smartboard copy of the lyrics to help with your discussion.
Step 6: Play the song for the class and discuss the delivery of the "poem" and some of the other elements that are present when listening to it versus reading it.
- Assign students to write an "Ode" about something that they are grateful for. They will need to demonstrate an understanding of form, mood and figurative language by incorporating these various elements into their own poem. Give points based on state standards for oral-language and speaking skills, as well as use of poetic elements.
- Participation in the annual Poetry Slam (use as a culminating project.) Students orally present their "ode" poetry on a stage or in front of class. Students should be assessed on their oral language and speaking skills, as well as use of poetic elements, on a standards aligned rubric. Remember to give students options:
- Live-reading (in-class presentation)
- Radio-reading (on cassette or CD)
- Video-reading (on video)
- Powerpoetry-reading (PowerPoint presentation)
By discussion and walking around, determine if students can find and create the poetry element of figurative language.
- Were there enough examples so that students had lots of models for similes and metaphors?
- How do I know students are ready to write on their own?
- Should we start the writing in class and finish it at home or do it all at home?
- How do I incorporate someone who would like to write a song-type ode?