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Figurative Language Through Song for Language Arts and Music Teachers (pt. 2)

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

This blog post is the second in a series of posts on a song writing unit I delivered for Grade 9 English Language Arts. It is also very appropriate for a music class of any type. Please check out Part 1.

4. Quizizz

As mentioned, Quizizz is an online platform with educational trivia games designed specifically for the classroom and works great in an online or in-person environment. It is similar in many ways to Kahoot! but learners seem more engaged with it. What Quizizz does well is that it gives real time feedback to the teacher and the learners, and creates a healthy competitive environment. It reminds me a lot of the pre-movie games at movie theatres. Pretty early on in the unit (included in the suggested pacing guide) I had learners complete 3 separate Quizizzes on two different days. Each of these introduced or reinforced different ways figurative language is used in song. It was a fun way to see what they already knew and where I needed to take the learning journey.

Quizizz 1 – Figurative Language in Songs

Quizizz 2 – Figurative Language in Songs 2

Quizizz 3 – Irony

Figurative Language Through Song part 2 by Steve's Music Room dot com. A Unit for Language Arts and Music Teachers. This is a title image for the post.

Figurative Language Through Song Part 2. For LA and Music Teachers

5. Looking at Songs

There are two songs specifically that learners will look into other than the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morrisette with a more global approach to figurative language:

“Cash it In” by Andrew Waite

This song is a story about a war veteran (the songwriter’s relative) who is writing home from the front. The song is based on an actual letter written by Private John Thomas Love. The link above is a resources page put together by Andrew Waite, who is also a music educator. You can feel free to use any song you like, this one was most relevant because Andrew Waite is a local artist and we ended up having him in to speak to our class. Feel free to find music from your own locale instead of using this one. If you choose to use this one, here is how I introduced this song:

  1. Ask students to read the letter that inspired the song. I always introduce this song as a story, or a narrative. They had already been familiar with narrative writing, so this was something that made sense to them.

  2. Invite learners to listen to the song together and listen specifically for figurative language. This was delivered online, so I asked students to put into the chat window anything they noticed that was figurative language. They may share the figurative language or a phrase where they heard figurative language.

  3. Debrief: ask learners what type of figurative language they heard or noticed and what the lyric was.

“Sandbox” Activity Sheet

This particular activity sheet was completed after learners did the Parts of a Song Google Slide Activity (discussed later), so the first part is to label each section of the song, which they would have done in that activity. The link to the song “Sandbox” is included in the Doc. Learners will have to listen to it to be able to answer the questions. Your version does not have to include Question 8. This is my own band, it was to get a laugh. You do not have to use this song either. If you are in a band or you would prefer to use another song, please feel free to do so!

6. Song Poster Assignment

This assignment is a fun way to explore figurative language in song. I did this early in the unit, but it can work really well in the later part of the unit as sort of a culminating activity. Here is the link to it with requirements and a rubric. Basically, it has learners designing their own poster exploring a song of their choice looking for the figurative language it has. They can use Canva for Education (more on this later) for this if they wish.

7. Finding a Local Artist

Find a songwriter or poet that might be interested in coming to your class. If you are a musician or a poet yourself, you might have access to songwriters or poets already. I ended up getting Andrew Waite, a local multi-award-