I love it when I find something that kids connect with. I also love being able to introduce my students not only to great literature, but to great music! Case in point, The Highwayman, by The Highwaymen–namely Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Walyon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.
We spent an entire class period reading the lyrics of this song as a poem. All but one of my 150 students had never heard this song, and the one that knew it managed to keep it to himself. When we were done reading, we practiced annotating with our newly minted text codes (it was a great way to introduce annotation and interacting with text…so many things to teach at the beginning of the year!). We took the four stanzas and looked for figurative language, rhyming pattern, and poetic devices. Repetition, of course, is a huge one.
At the end of class, I played the video for my students. They still had their annotated lyrics in front of them. As I watched them listening to the song and watching the [very old] video, they kept looking back to their lyrics. They were 100% engaged and it was awesome.
The next day, we read The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes. Completely different. Yet so similar. The inciting incident of reading The Highwayman (the song) led to a deeper discussion and understanding of Noyes’s poem.
I have found that I love pairing music with literature. It is so effective. Try it!