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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

September 5, 2019 ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Close Reading, ELA Resources - Activities, Core Literacy

Disney Songs Close Reading Lesson for Grades 1–8

Asking students to read a text a second or third time can be a daunting task. Selecting the right texts to use for close reading with elementary students can be a challenge! In this post, I will share how I used Disney songs to engage students in close reading of complex texts while enjoying popular songs. Plus, I've turned my lesson plan into a free download.

disney-songs-close-reading-lesson-plan

Teaching Students the Right Way to Closely Read Complex Texts

Close reading is when a reader analyzes the details of a text to make interpretations and develop a deep understanding of the text. It is looking closely at how an author's ideas unfold through a text by examining the plot, vocabulary, syntax, story patterns and/or point of view through multiple re-readings of a piece of literature.

I've written multiple posts about close reading. If you're new, I would encourage you to check out previous articles to learn more about the close reading strategies I use based on the approach outlined by Diane Lapp, Barbara Moss, Maria Grant and Kelly Johnson, who “literally” wrote the book on close reading, Turning the Page on Complex Texts: Differentiated Scaffolds for Close Reading Instruction.

These literacy and close reading experts are also the authors of the NEW Close Reading of Complex Texts program for Grades 3–8. This easy-to-use program takes the complexity out of teaching students to closely read complex text.

Available in print or an Interactive Edition, you'll find the text sets and text-dependent questions you need to support instruction in close reading and critical analysis of complex texts so you can focus on building successful critical readers.

 Close Reading of Complex Texts For Grades 3–8

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Using Disney Songs to Get Elementary Students to Read Closely

In order to get students to want to reread a text you need a high interest text. I've always known this as a literacy specialist, but last year I was again reminded of how important it is to spend time seeking out texts that will appeal to our students!

Every year I teach a reading class before school. Last year we focused on close reading because I knew the close reading process would help these struggling students in becoming critical readers. Going into the new school year I was very aware that I needed to be strategic about the materials I selected and how I worked with this before school reading class. Not only was I asking students to come work with me before school, but I was asking them to do the most dreaded reading task in a child's mind, to read a text multiple times. It was important to me that the kids wanted to come to work with me before school, and it was also important to me that they were interested in what we were doing. After pouring through lots of short texts it hit me...use songs from Disney movies. They loved it!

Close reading of song lyrics is a purposeful and meaningful way to build background knowledge and strengthen your students’ ability to analyze a text. With this lesson plan, elementary students will practice close reading of complex texts while enjoying popular Disney songs!

Disney_Songs_Close_Reading_Kit_thumb_750px

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Starting the lesson...

Begin with modeling close reading of The Lion King's "Circle of Life" by Elton John and Tim Rice. This is important!

First, project on the white board the lyrics to "Circle of Life" by Elton John and Tim Rice. Give students a copy of the lyrics so they can read the text multiple times.

Next, play the song. Now that students are engaged, go over the purpose for each read and the text-dependent questions for each read.

Together, read the lyrics to "Circle of Life", each time for a different purpose. Then as a class, answer the text-dependent questions to gain a deeper meaning.

 

PURPOSE OF FIRST READ
Determine what the text is about.

Text-dependent questions for First Read

    1. What is the song about?

    2. What are the key ideas or major points in the song?

In the circle of life (a circle is infinite; as something dies it gives to another)
It's the wheel of fortune (you do not know what fate holds)
It's the leap of faith (you move forward without knowing what your future holds)
It's the band of hope (optimism for what is to come)
Till we find our place (where you belong)
On the path unwinding (life is unfolding & always changing)
In the circle, the circle of life (a circle is infinite; as something dies it gives to another)
 
INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE: Model breaking a stanza down line-by-line to determine what the text is about.
 
 
PURPOSE OF SECOND READ
Focus on the language used by the author and the structure of the text.

Text-dependent questions for the Second Read

    1. What is the mood of the song?

    2. What is the author describing?

    3. What words/phrases are repeated? How does the repetition add to the text’s meaning?

INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE: Some words to describe the mood of the song would be: reflective, hopeful, serious.

 

PURPOSE OF THIRD READ
Looking for meaning by making inferences. Think about whether or not the text answers these questions.

Text-dependent questions for the Third Read

    1. What larger point or message does the lyrics add up to?

    2. What is the intended theme of the Disney song?

INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE: One theme in the Circle of Life is the concept of “belonging.” Throughout the song, the line, “Till we find our place” is repeated again and again. 

Continuing the lesson...

Now that students knew what was expected of them, I had them analyze the lyrics of other Disney songs. This ended up being such a success with my elementary students I decided to make this close reading lesson into a free download. The Disney Songs Close Reading Kit includes a lesson outline, instructions, worksheets for each song, and a bonus compare and contrast activity. Kit includes activities for the following texts:

  • Circle of Life by Elton John and Tim Rice
  • Let It Go by Kristen Andersen-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • How Far I'll Go by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Reflection by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel
  • Colors of the Wind by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken
  • Try Everything by Sia

Minimize your work and download my comprehensive lesson plan now!

 

disney-songs-close-reading-lesson