Grade: Senior

#3967. Musical Poetry

Reading/Writing, level: Senior
Posted Thu Apr 5 13:56:25 PDT 2007 by Thomas La Rochelle (
Temple City High School, Temple City, USA
Materials Required: paper, art supplies, music/lyrics
Activity Time: day in class, few days at home
Concepts Taught: Poetry explication, literary terms

Musical Poetry Assignment

Music has always been a way to tell a story, express a feeling, or explain one's emotions to a certain audience. Students have been reading and discussing various forms of poetry and understanding how the poets were able to convey certain messages within the poems. One type that the students studied was Negro Spirituals, where African American slaves were able to communicate many hidden messages through the use of song/poetry.

Directions: Students are to choose a song that conveys a particular message or expresses a certain feeling. Students may choose any song, but students should choose songs that allow for deep and meaningful interpretation or analysis. Students should not choose songs that are simple and do not have a deep meaning under the surface.

After choosing a song, students will analyze the poem in the same way that poems were analyzed in class. Students must give a historical background on the writer, singer, and/or band that performed the song. Students must make sure that they highlight any thing that would add meaning to their songs. Students may even want to explain historical or cultural events that are occurring around the time the song was written, since many songs are a commentary on current social trends. Students should pay close attention to the speaker, audience, meter, organization, literary techniques/elements, etc. Students need to make sure that they fully analyze the song and not just do the minimum. Further, students will include a portion, explaining how the poem relates to their life. (More of how to write the analysis will be discussed in class.)

Following the written portion, students will have to present their projects to the class. The oral presentation must explain the important elements of the song to the class. The presentations need to be complete and follow the basic elements of good presentations (eye contact, voice, body language, etc.). Students may want to play their songs to the class during their presentations. They may do so, with one exception: students may not play songs that contain excessive foul language (if unsure, let Mr. La Rochelle here the song a couple of days before your presentation), or if the song is blatantly racist, sexist, or defames a religion throughout the song. Students may still do those songs for a project, but the song will not be played in class. (Note: If you don't know if it is appropriate, it probably isn't.)

The third part that is coupled with their oral and written presentations is an artistic element. The students must have some sort of artistic description of their song. The artistic representation can be in many forms. If the students decide to do a 2-D version then the paper cannot be any smaller then a normal piece of notebook paper and no larger then regular poster board size. However, students may do representations in any form that they feel will be beneficial to their overall presentation.

The written portion will be worth 150 points
The oral portion will be 50 points.
The artistic portion will be 50 points.


History of Artists/Song: 25 points
Song in written form: 10 points
Explanation of overall meaning of poem: 10 points
Speaker/Audience: 10 points
Literary techniques/elements (must have at least 3 different techniques and at least 2 examples per technique -- extra points can be earned if more techniques or examples are discussed): 50 points
Personal Relation: 25 points
Organization: 10 points
Grammar/Punctuation: 10 points


Time/Effort: 10 points
Relation to Song/Artist: 15 points
Able to be seen / understood: 10 points
Overall Quality: 10 points

Oral Presentation:

Voice: 5 points
Preparedness: 10 points
Eye Contact: 5 points
Body language: 5 points
Use of Visual/Auditory Aides: 10 points
Full Explanation 10 points
Overall Quality: 5 points

Rough Draft for Written is due on Friday April 28th
Everything is due on Friday, May 4th. (If you are not going to be there, then you must have it sent to the school. You will hand in the written and artistic component. Oral projects will begin on that Friday and continue into the next week.)

Oral Presentations will be on a volunteer basis. If there aren't any volunteers students will be called at random. Late projects will follow late work policy contained within the class rules' sheet given out on the first day of school.

Musical Poetry Assignment Lesson Plan
La Rochelle -- Junior English

Students will be able to analyze explain the literary and poetic terms that are discussed in class. Students will show mastery by completing the assignment and on a written exam in the future.


2.2 -- analyze the way in which clarity of meaning is affected by the patterns of organization, hierarchical structures, repetition of main ideas, syntax, and word choice in the text.
2.5 -- analyze an author's implicit and explicit philosophical assumptions and beliefs about a subject.
3.2 -- analyze the way in which the theme or meaning of a selection represents a view or comment o life, using textual evidence to support the claim.
3.3 -- analyze the ways in which irony, tone, mood, the author's style, and the sound of language achieve specific rhetorical, or aesthetic purposes or both.
3.4 -- analyze ways in which poets use imagery, personification, figures of speech, and sounds to evoke readers' emotions.
3.5c -- evaluate the philosophical, political religious, ethical, and social influences of the historical period that shaped the characters, plots and settings
1.1 -- demonstrate an understanding of the elements of discourse
1.3 -- structure ideas and arguments in a sustained, persuasive, and sophisticated way and support them with precise and relevant examples
2.2 -- Write responses to literature -- A, B, C, D, and E
2.6 -- Deliver multimedia presentations A, B, and C
Written and Oral English Language Conventions
1.0 -- students write and speak with a command of standard English conventions
1.1--1.3 -- all are used -- control of grammar, legible work, appropriate manuscript requirements in writing
Listening and Speaking
1.6 -- Use logical, ethical, and emotional appeals that enhance a specific tone and purpose
1.7 -- Use appropriate rehearsal strategies to pay attention to performance details, achieve command of the text, and create skillful artistic staging
1.8 -- use effective and interesting language
1.10 -- evaluate when to use different kinds of effects to create effective
2.2 -- Deliver oral reports on historical investigations
2.3 -- deliver oral responses to literature A,B,C,D, and E


Students are asked what types of poetry d they know? Student answers will be compiled on the board. Some possible answers are sonnets, limericks, lyric, etc. If students do not come up with the answer, ask about songs? Explain that songs are actually poems. Hand out a copy of the Star Spangled Banner. Direct students in analyzing the Star Spangled Banner.

Note: This is assuming that students have already had the basic knowledge of poetry. Students should have already been directed on how to analyze a poem and the types of elements that are contained within the poem. Students should also have an understanding about how the elements are used by different poets.

Further, depending on the class, the Star Spangled banner can be analyzed in groups first, and then by the entire class as a whole.

If the students are still having a problem, then more examples will be used.


Following the lesson, explain to that they will be analyzing their own song. They are to choose a song that has many of the elements that have been discussed in class. Students are to answer all the questions that are contained in the prompt.