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Metaphors in Music Lyrics Lesson Plan

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

This lesson plan utilizes a text lesson as well as group activities and a lyric writing activity to analyze the use of metaphors in songs. The lesson concludes with a quiz as an exit ticket.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the use of metaphors in song lyrics.
  • Explain the purpose of using metaphors in music.
  • Create their own lyrics using metaphors.

Length

30-50 minutes.

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10

By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Key Vocabulary

  • Poetry
  • Lyric
  • Metaphor
  • Figurative Language

Materials

  • Handouts of lyrics for the songs described in the lesson as you deem necessary.
  • Copy of the text lesson for each student
  • Notebook paper and writing utensils
  • Digital copies of these songs: Wind beneath my Wings, Hound Dog, Life is a Highway, Firework, Stereo Hearts, or any other song that uses a metaphor. Also, some way to play the songs, likely through a computer with speakers. These can easily be found on online music sites to play for free.

Instructions

  • Before using this lesson, be sure students already have a basic understanding of figurative language, specifically metaphors.
  • To begin, post this lyric on the board: 'I can fly higher than an eagle, but you are the wind beneath my wings'
  • Ask students to write out an explanation of the lyric. What does it mean? Allow 2-3 minutes to write a short journal entry on the topic. Then call on a few volunteers to share with the class.
    • Discussion Question: What type of figurative language is this lyric? What is the point of using a metaphor instead of just saying: 'You have been very supportive'?
  • Distribute copies of the lyrics for Wind Beneath my Wings. Read through it as a class or allow for your class to follow along while listening to the song.
    • Discussion Question: How does the main metaphor help express the overall message of the song?
  • Now refer to the lesson Metaphors in Music Lyrics
  • Read through the first two sections of the lesson (The Wind Beneath my Wings).
    • Group Activity: Split the class into 3 groups. Assign each group one of the example metaphors given in this section (Love is a battlefield, You ain't nothin' but a hound dog, I've got that sunshine in my pocket) Have each group come up with an explanation/meaning for their assigned metaphor. After 5 minutes of discussing within the group, they can present their ideas to the class.
  • Keep your students in groups, but return to the text lesson. Refer to the next section, Metaphors in Song Lyrics.
    • Group Activity: Back in their groups (or split into 4 groups, as there are 4 songs in this section), assign each group one of the songs in this section. Their task is to design a visual poster displaying the metaphors in the song. They will have to present the poster and explain the message in the song. Lastly, they will have to explain how the metaphors help express the message. Give 10-15 minutes for groups to prepare. If available, you can have each group listen to the song while they work. When time is up, have each group present. Each group can also play their song, or a section of it, during the presentation for the class.

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