Andrea Mills LIGON MIDDLE, RALEIGH, NC
8th Grade ELA : Unit #3 - Coming of Age : Lesson #4

Analyzing the Impact of Lyrics in Yankee Doodle Dandy

Objective: SWBAT determine the meaning of words or phrases as it is used in lyrics, including figurative and connotative meanings, to analyze its impact on meaning and tone.
Standards: RL.8.4
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Lesson Introduction - 0 minutes

Music is powerful in depicting one's opinion about something in life. In this lesson, students listen to Yankee Doodle and determine meanings behind Richard Shuckurg's opinion of American ragtag militia. The mocking jab of "Yankee Doodle" stems from negative connotations that Americans had in 1754. Despite the prestige of Americans during this time, the song eventually was embraced by people and instilled a sense of pride in our nation. To continue our discussion on how song lyrics show the maturing of America, students will analyze the lyrics in Yankee Doodle to see how examples of figurative languages represent various meanings in this song.

2 Warm-Up: Quick Write - 10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I ask students to think about what makes people proud to be American. As I read God Bless The USA lyrics aloud, students are asked to cite evidences of how individuals feel about America. As highlighted in yellow, individuals feel a sense of pride in the freedoms represented by our flag and men who fought for our rights. As we continue to understand the maturing of America through music, students continue to build conceptual knowledge around the reasons our nation has pride in a flag that has been waving in the sky for centuries.

3 Listening to Music - Yankee Doodle Style - 7 minutes

To recall our recognition of Yankee Doodle, I play a version of the song for students to hear. As students listen to the song, they think about what the vocals and instrumentation sound like. At this point in the lesson, students are not focusing on "why" this song has been modified over time. Nonetheless, students from thinking about the vocals and instrumentation will begin to understand how this song (despite its mocking tone) still instills a sense of pride in Americans.

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4 Independent Practice: Underlining Figurative Language in Lyrics - 30 minutes

This part of the lesson require students to undergo an analysis of lyrics. Students start by getting into pairs to share the responsibilities of this analysis process. Then students work cooperatively to underline examples of figurative language in the Yankee Doodle Dandy lyrics and annotate its meaning for determining the tone and mood of the song.

Outside of each figurative example should be names such as simile, metaphor, personification, etc. See the front and back side of a Yankee handout to uncover other things done by students with the lyrics. One thing that students will notice is that the lyrics may look different than the version they learned as a child. Despite the difference, students will see through this activity how much figurative language and symbolism is used in this song. Listen to a student reflection video on working through the analysis of the song to hear the impact the instructional methods had on student learning. While this is not a story or poem, it serves the same purpose in effectively identifying and understanding the function of figurative language in literature.

Identifying Figurative Language Reflection
Developing a Conceptual Understanding

This is the last lesson that falls under part of this unit where students analyze literature that shows how America has matured over past centuries. I truly enjoyed using songs to teach the big ideas of how maturity looks from past to present. Normally I would rely on literature to teach skills and ideas, but these songs were PERFECT for the impact I wanted students to see on how American has changed over time. I would definitely teach this lesson in the same fashion! 

The writing extension for this lesson asked students to use lyrics of patriotism to determine how America has matured over the past centuries. Students will work on the compare & contrast essay where they use lyrics such as Yankee Doodle to describe how the Star Spangled Banner is our nation's perfect anthem. Check out the Revising and Editing Arguments lesson to see what was used to grade these papers!