Using a Song of the Week to Practice

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Feb. 27, 2015, 3:21 p.m.

Using a song-of-the-week is a fun way you can provide on-going practice.


1. Give each student a composition notebook labeled "My Song Book."

2. Choose song that is related to a topic of study from science or social studies or thematically linked to texts you’ve been reading aloud (picture books or novels).

3. Find the karaoke version of the song on YouTube.

4. Find and copy the lyrics on Word, Pages, or Google Docs. Provide a copy for each student.

5. You may also want to provide a link to the song and the lyrics on your class website or Edmodo page.

Day 1: Focus strategy: Retelling or Summarizing and Visualizing

1. Play the karaoke version of the song and encourage students to sing along.

3. Working in pairs or trios, have the students recall and retell what they heard in the song.

4. Give the students a copy of the lyrics to glue into their songbooks.

5. Have students draw a picture (visualize) to show what the song is about. (This can be in a center or for homework.)

Day 2: Focus strategy: Drawing Conclusions

A conclusion is a decision using two or more pieces of evidence from the text. Ask students to make decisions about the meaning of the text.

1. Replay the song, stopping at select points to discuss several lines or verses of the text. Ask students “What do these lines mean? How do you know?

2. Have students go back to their songbook and add pictures that show the conclusions they have made about meaning of the song. (This can be in a center or for homework.)

Day 3: Focus strategy: Using context clues and word parts to determine meanings of unfamiliar words

Choose 2-4 important, specific words or phrases from the song. Students will use context clues, parts of the words, and dictionaries to determine meanings of new words or words used in unusual ways.

1. Replay the song, stopping at select points to discuss specific words or phrases found in the text. Ask students: What do these words mean? How do you know?

2. Have students go back to their songbook and add pictures that show the meanings of the selected words from the song. (This can be in a center or for homework.)

Day 4: Focus strategy: Making Connections

Connections can be text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world, or within a text.

1. Replay the song.

2. Ask students to make one of the following connections:

  • Text-to-self: What does the song (or line in the song) remind you of? What experiences have you had that are similar to the ones in this song?
  • Text-to-text: Does this song remind you of another song or text? How are they similar (Same topic or theme?)
  • Text-to-world: What does this songwriter want us to know or learn? What world event or global experience is this songwriter helping us to understand? Make sure students cite specific evidence from the text to support their connection.

3. How does your picture for this song show your connections to the author's message? What can you add to your picture?

Day 5: Focus strategy: Innovating the text

This activity will take about 20-30 minutes. Create an innovation on the text. An innovation is a change, so think about how you can change the song to add or substitute your own ideas.

1. Replay the song.

2. After singing, guide your students to use the text structure, rhythm, and rhyme scheme to create a song about another topic or theme. The first few weeks, you will want to create a song as a shared writing experience. Once students are familiar with creating an innovation, you can have students work in small groups to write their own songs about subjects they know a lot about.

3. After writing a verse, have students create a visual to represent the meaning of the text.

4. Take a picture of the visual and record the students singing their new composition. You can use the following apps to create the recording.

Your students will love creating songbooks and their own music videos. They will hardly even notice that they are practicing close reading strategies.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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