Poetry Song Lyrics Assignment Sheet

  • Poetic Devices printable
  • Selected songs to play in the classroom
  • Writing journals
  1. Copy the Poetic Devices printable for each student.
  2. Divide students into six groups and assign each group one of the poetic devices to study.
  3. Select a variety of songs that appropriately exemplify the six poetic devices being taught. Gather the lyrics to each song. If you wish to play the song for the students, have the song available. You may want to choose songs that you like, songs that your students’ prefer, or both. Print and copy each song’s lyrics for each group. If possible, provide multiple examples of each poetic device. A suggested list might be:
    • Alliteration – Nursery Rhymes, ex. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
    • Metaphor – Billy Joel’s You’re My Home
    • Onomatopoeia – Any song that uses a word that sounds like the word it represents, ex. “Boom!” “Bang!”
    • Personification – Paul Simon’s At the Zoo
    • Rhyme – Joe Jackson’s Summer in the City
    • Simile – Garth Brooks’ The River
  4. Write the following quote to be used as a journal prompt on the board:

    "Poetry withers and dies out when it leaves music, or at least imagined music, too far behind it. Poets who are not interested in music are, or become, bad poets."— Ezra Pound, American Poet and Critic

Part I

Step 1: As students enter the classroom, play any one of the songs that you will be teaching in this lesson to create interest.

Step 2: Once seated, instruct students to respond to the quote in their journals. Allow ample to free write.

Step 3: Generate a brief discussion about the quote, asking students to verbally respond. Make sure students understand the connection being made to poetry and music. Ask why they think Ezra Pound is making that connection.

Step 4: Inform students that they will be learning how similar music and poetry are by learning six poetic tools that both musicians and poets use to emphasize meaning and sound.

Step 5: Distribute the Poetic Devices printable. Review the terms and their definitions with the students. Discuss how the poet, musician, or author would use each device to play with sound or meaning within poems, songs, or other material.

Step 6: Divide the students into their groups. Inform them that they will become experts about their particular poetic device and how the musician uses it within the music. Then, they will each be responsible for finding their own examples of the poetic device in a song, poem, rhyme, or other written material of their choice.

Step 7: Distribute their poetic device to study and the example lyrics. Instruct them to chorally read the lyrics in their group and write examples on the poetic device printable in its appropriate section. They can highlight the examples on the lyric sheet as well.

Step 8: Circulate the room as groups are working, assisting with finding the examples and further explanation if needed. Encourage groups to review their favorite songs, poems, or other written material at home and find a good example of their assigned poetic device. Inform them that they will be given class time to discuss creative presentations as they will be the “teachers” of this tool.

Part II

Step 1: Allow groups appropriate time to creatively plan their presentation. If desired, encourage them to use pictures, dramatization, play the music, etc. Each student will be responsible for contributing his or her own example, but the group must decide how to collectively present or “teach” the class the concept of the assigned poetic device.

Step 2: During the presentations, instruct the “audience” to write down specific examples of the poetic tool on the Poetic Devices printable in the remaining sections.

Piquing students’ interest with the study of their own music is a great way to build background and hook all learners.

  • Continue the study of poetry by teaching this lesson once again, but using your favorite poems as examples instead of music lyrics.
  • List the following words on the board: fear, courage, beauty, pain, and strength. Instruct students to write their own symbols, similes, metaphors, and other poetic devices based on these universal themes.
  • Allow students to study the use of personification in the sonnets of William Shakespeare. Emphasize that Time, Love, and Death are the abstractions most frequently humanized. Have them compare Shakespeare's sonnets to the lyrics of their favorite pop artist. Then, have them journal a response to the following: "Do you find that similar abstractions are used today, or are there other elements more often given human qualities?"

The homework assignment for this lesson will have each student review their favorite songs, poems, or other forms of writing that will exemplify the assigned poetic device.

  • Complete a journal prompt
  • Complete Poetic Devices printable during presentation
  • Teach a lesson about a specific poetic device with group

Evaluate the group’s performance as well as each student’s contribution.


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.

E-Mail Lindsey Belle !


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