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Using Songs and Their Videos to Teach Perspective and Poetry in Middle School

Songs and Videos Pin

I’m a genius sometimes. No, really! I have lesson ideas come to me at the most random moments during the day. And they always surprise me because it happens when I’m not thinking about lessons. You know what I mean?

So anyway, back to my genius. This is a little trip into the inner-workings of my brain, so hang on tight. Here is the train of thought:

  1. Hear a song on the radio.
  2. Makes you think of another song, “What Hurts the Most”.
  3. Makes you think of the video that goes with that song and how you never saw that video coming because it is not at all what you expected.
  4. Think, “Hmm..videos are media, right?”
  5. Then try and think of some other ideas for videos that are not what you’d expect.
  6. Realize that you are almost 45, and you don’t watch videos.
  7. Turn to the experts on the 2ndary ELA board of Facebook for suggestions.
  8. Pull the lyrics and watch the videos.
  9. Gather the ideas and turn it into a full-blown lesson to incorporate with your poetry unit.

Yep! That’s how this happened!

Now, to be fair, I have used song lyrics in my poetry unit since forever because the kids respond to them better than regular old poetry, and songs are a great way to get the kids to see that they listen to poetry all the time.

But this? This is GENIUS! Give kids the lyrics, have them answer questions based on those texts, then show them the corresponding video and ask about comparisons and differences, context changes, their opinion on the story the video tells…the possibilities are endless! So what started out as a random thought about a Rascal Flatts song has turned into a lesson that I can’t WAIT to share with my students.

I chose 7 song/video pairings, and they are going to choose 4 of those that they want to talk about on the assignment. I have country, hip/hop, pop, old, new…a little bit of everything so they can find stuff they like. I didn’t want them to all be current songs because I know they watch videos WAY more than I do, so only one or two would be considered contemporary.

And that’s how my Songs and Videos Pairing Assignment came to be. This assignment includes the lesson plan with the list of 7 songs (plus a few more in case you don’t like the ones I did) and a worksheet you can copy for the students to record their answers.

I hope you’re as excited about this lesson as I am. If you use it, I’d LOVE to hear how it went!