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Students analyze their favorite song lyrics here, searching for poetic devices


Language Arts  


9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Lyrical Poetry
By – Lindsey Belle
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 9-12

Concept / Topic To Teach:

    Students will listen to and analyze lyrics to their favorite songs to search for poetic devices and relate their songs to the genre of poetry.

Standards Addressed:

    10.5 – The student will read and analyze a variety of poetry.

    • Compare and contrast the use of rhyme, rhythm, and sound to convey a message.
    • Compare and contrast the ways in which poets use techniques to evoke emotion in the reader.
    • Interpret and paraphrase the meaning of selected poems.

General Goal(s): Language Arts – Poetry

    The student will be able to identify certain poetic elements within their song and learn to break down the lyrics to their songs into parts that they can further analyze and understand.

Specific Objectives:

  • The student will learn the definitions of numerous poetic devices such as:
    • Rhyming
    • Metaphors and Similes
    • Alliteration
    • Imagery
    • Personification
  • The student will be able to identify said devices within their own song.
  • The student will learn to break their song lyrics down into parts and decipher certain lines to find a deeper meaning to the lyrics.

Required Materials:

  • Song lyrics to their favorite song
  • Dictionary
  • Three-column chart for the poetic device vocabulary
  • Lyrics to their favorite song put onto a CD

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In):

  • Before beginning any discussion on poetry, begin playing a currently popular CD amongst teenagers today. For example, currently the teacher could play Just Live Your Life by T.I.
  • Be sure to play the censored radio version.
  • Students will become immediately interested when they hear a popular song from the radio being playing in English class.
  • After hearing the song, ask students to do the following:
    • Write down what that song means to them.
    • Write down the message they think T.I. was trying to depict through this song.
    • Explain how this song may relate to a piece of poetry.
  • After they have finished those few short questions, the teacher will then play her favorite song for the students to hear. For example, Norwegian Wood by the Beatles.
  • Having some personal insight on their teacher, will further spark their interest.
    • Have the students listen closely to the lyrics and then complete the same three questions as above.

Step-By-Step Procedures:

  1. Introduce the assignment and then have students brainstorm their favorite song.
  2. Have them write down what they believe the song is about and what makes it their favorite song. (Teacher check to make sure all songs are school appropriate).
  3. Introduce and define the five poetic devices stated in the objectives.
  4. Give the students a few examples of each of the terms stated.
  5. Each student will then make and fill in their three-column chart with the poetic device terms; an explanation of each, as well as one example of each.
  6. The student will take home their three-column chart, listen to their song and determine what poetic elements their song contains, then jot them down to bring to class.
  7. Have the students print the lyrics of their song as well as put their song onto a blank CD or an Ipod to bring to class (teachers help with this and provide blank CDs if needed).
  8. Put the students in groups of four or five and have them explain to the other group members what elements their song contains using the lyrics as proof and providing specific examples.
  9. Next, the students will work together in their groups to determine the deeper meaning behind their songs, using the dictionary to look up words they may not know.
  10. After the group work, the students will prepare a short presentation to give to the class in which they will first read their lyrics, then describe one poetic element in their song and choose one passage or verse and describe its meaning.
  11. The next two days will consist of the final presentations in which the students will be able to present their songs and let the class listen to a small portion of it. This pertains to both audio and visual learners.

Plan For Independent Practice:

  • On the last day of the unit, provide each students with a different poem by a well-known author such as Robert Frost.
  • At home, they will write a short one-page paper describing what they believe to be the deeper meaning, describing all the poetic elements they can find and describing how these elements contribute to the poem’s overall meaning and effectiveness.

Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set):

  • The last two days of the unit will consist of presentations.
  • Each student will read their lyrics aloud as they are shown behind them on a projector (teacher must make each student’s lyrics into an overhead).
  • They will describe their chosen poetic element and give examples using the lyrics as their guide.
  • They will choose a few lines or one verse and explain its deeper meaning and back it up with evidentiary support.
  • The student will then play a small portion of the song for the class.

Assessment Based On Objectives:

  • Students will have a short quiz in which they will match the correct poetic element to its example.
  • Student presentations will be graded based on their strength and correctness of the poetic element choice and how well they discovered the song’s meaning.
  • Student’s at-home one-page paper will be based on the student’s ability to provide concrete examples of the poetic elements and then explain how they contribute to the poem’s overall meaning and effectiveness.

Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities):

  • Instead of having the student read their whole song to the class, they should only present those two passages in which they find the element and explain the meaning.
  • When providing poems for independent practice, they will receive shorter/easier to understand poems.

Extensions (For Gifted Students):

    After explaining each poetic element, students can write a poem of their own in which they provide examples of similes, alliteration, etc.

Possible Connections To Other Subjects:

      Music/Chorus – ability to listen to and interpret/analyze songs.


    Other high level English classes such as Drama or Writing Workshop – ability to listen and read reflectively and search for deeper meanings within literature and then put those deeper meanings into writing.

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