7th Grade ELA : Unit #8 - Analyzing Ballads, Sonnets, and Popular Music : Lesson #10

Analyzing Song Lyrics for Craft and Structure

Objective: Students will be able to analyze the craft and structure of a poem of a poem by annotating figurative language, repetitions of sound, rhythm, and rhyme scheme.
Standards: RL.7.4 RL.7.5
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Daily Grammar - 10 minutes

Today was the block Wednesday/Thursday, so we did today's bellwork as a competition.

I, not the students, struggled with the third line,which reads "The fabric like tissue paper."  Every time I read that, I wanted to put a hyphen between fabric and like (the fabric-like, meaning that something was like fabric).  That's not what's going on, though. "Like the tissue paper" is an appositive, and needs to be surrounded by commas.  I told every class this, because it is a clear example that conventions actually matter for comprehension, not just because their English teacher nags them about it every day.

The biggest problem students had with today's paragraph was in the sixth line.  "Stored nearby cans of highly flammable oil used to make the sewing machines run smoothly."  The verb, in this case, a helping verb, is missing completely.  It could be put in after "nearby" or after "oil."

2 Going over Reading Log Homework - 10 minutes

My students have had reading log homework since the beginning of the year.  The basic ideas was that my co-taught classes needed to read for fifteen minutes a day (one hour and fifteen minutes a week) and my honors classes needed to read for thirty minutes a day (two hours and thirty minutes a week).  They could read whatever they wanted. To document their reading, they wrote a T3C paragraph about what they read.

It's not getting as good of results as I'd like, especially for my co-taught classes, so I've made some changes for the third quarter. The time has remained constant, it just that I'm giving the students a passage to read. 

For my honors classes, I'm using passages from Walter Pauk's Six Way Paragraph series.  They'll get one passage a week.  I've included a bubble sheet from Mastery Connect so it's super quick for me to grade the multiple choice components and focus on the T3C paragraph writing.  I collected the reading logs on Monday, graded them on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and today I handed them back so students could compare answers.    This week, that's all that we did. 

Next week, to hold them accountable for actually checking their answers, I'll have them write a reflection on which questions they got right and wrong, and how the discussion with a partner helped them understand their errors.  

Implementing new routines takes careful thought and sometimes you don't think of every single thing that you needed to do the first time around.  That's okay.  You adapt, the students adapt, and everyone learns.

3 Lyric Project Lyrics Search and Anticipatory Set - 15 minutes

For an anticipatory set, I played part of the video below to help inspire students for this project.  (There are a couple songs that is not wholly school appropriate, so you may want to skip through that song.) There was a video that I'd used for years, but when my computer died its horrible death a month ago, the bookmark died with it.  I couldn't find the original video on YouTube, so this one is the one that I used.  The video is a long ten minutes, and so you might want to skip songs based on you and your students needs. 


Again, I showed this video to show students that the music they listen to is full of poetic devices and figurative language.  They may not realize it, but that's what this project is all about--learning to see poetry in the form that it exists, permeating everything.

Their song lyrics were due today. For my honors students, I was able to assign this for homework. Only two students didn't come with their own lyrics.  I was prepared for those students with copies of my own song, The Apples in Stereo's "The Bird that You Can't See Lyrics."  For my co-taught classes, I'll need to modify this.  I'll ask them to think of three or four songs that they enjoy and write down the titles and artists.  I'll take them to the computer lab and have them search for the song, show it to me and get my approval or rejection, copy and paste it into a word document, and print it.  They'll write a paragraph explaining why they chose this song.  Here's a handy dandy handout. 

Before delving into the craft and structure station rotation, I asked students to write a quickwrite on the following questions. Their responses were enlighting and sometimes hilarious.  Check out this video to see some highlights.


4 Craft and Structure Station Rotation - 40 minutes

I set up eleven stations for the craft and structure merry-go-round. 

  • personification
  • hyperbole
  • onomatopoeia
  • assonance
  • rhythm
  • repetition
  • rhyme scheme
  • similes and metaphors
  • idioms
  • imagery
  • alliteration

I put the assonance and rhythm groups right next to each other because I knew that those two stations would give students the most trouble.  Rather than walking back and forth across the room five million times to get to those two groups, I could take three steps.  Many students, when they got to the assonance station, stated that they didn't think they'd find anything.  I said, "You'd be surprised.  Go look! Read it aloud!"  And they found some!

I gave each student a copy of the Lyric Project Stations handout and we read the directions.  I made it very clear to them that they would be visiting every station, even if they didn't think they'd find that device in their song.  Every station, non-negotiable.  I also told them to take their purple poetry packets with them, because those poetry packets were their BFFs forever and would be the biggest help they could have for this project. 

For our purposes today, they were just focused on the first two columns--color annotating the language and possibly writing down the lines.    The goal for today with the stations is to find examples of the devices.  We can go back later and copy quotes, justify, and explain meaning.  You might want to do it all at once. 

My students were able to complete five stations today.  Tomorrow I'll set up the same stations and hopefully we'll finish.

Adapting the Lesson for All Students
Station Rotation

I'll make some drastic changes when I complete this activity with my co-taught students.  The nice thing about teaching both honors and co-taught is that I teach the lesson with my honors students first, then make changes for my co-taught classes.  I almost always have to make some changes, but if an honors class struggles with concept?  I know I have to make major changes.

This is one of the lessons I'll have to change drastically.  Instead of setting up eleven different stations over three days, I'll divide the stations into different types of devices, taking into consideration which devices students would be able to complete by themselves.

The ones that students would probably have independent success on are rhyme scheme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and repetition.  I can think of a few of my students who actually would struggle with alliteration and onomatopoeia, but I'm confident in the ability of all of my students to recognize rhyme scheme and repetition.  The ones that students will definitely need help on is rhythm and assonance.

If you look at Lyric Project Stations handout, you can see how I've divided them up.  Since I have a co-teacher, she'll take one of the groups, I'll take another, and the third group will work independently. You can find the original and the modified handout in the lesson resource section for today's lesson.

You could also take the tact of teaching having students find a song before starting on a big poetry unit.  Then, as you're working through the unit, have the students examine their song for a particularly element on a single day.  I've never been able to make that happen, but maybe some year it'll work.

5 Lesson Resources - 0 minutes

Today's lesson picture is of two of my students working on this project.