The Impact of Word Choice in our National Anthem

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SWBAT determine meanings of the words connotative, denotative and figurative language and analyze how word choice affects the tone of a poem.

Big Idea

Oh, Say Can You See Different Meanings of the American Flag!

Warm-Up: Revisiting the National Anthem

10 minutes

Students are very familiar with The Star Spangled Banner. When introducing this lesson to students it is okay to sing the song since it is an easy tune that is nice to sing. I start the lesson by stating that our national anthem is sung at many sporting events and places of entertainment. From here, I ask students to recall the words of the song and tally in their notebooks the different ways the American Flag is mentioned in the song.

Students should answer this statement with the terms: whose broad stripes and bright stars, flag, and star spangled banner. This may be a hard task for students to do. What I want students to recognize from this hook activity is that Francis Scott Key uses different connotations or associations to refer to the American Flag.  Students who correctly identify these examples are well on their way to mastering the skill of connotation.

Building Knowledge: Notes on Connotation and Denotation

7 minutes

Since this is not the first encounter students have had with connotation, I will state to the class:

This lesson will require you to understand the implied and literal meaning of words, figurative language examples and tone of the poet in the poem, "The Star Spangled Banner."

In order to identify examples within the text, you must know the definitions of each word. I will have students copy the Literary Terms Definitions in their notebooks:

Connotative meanings (implied Meaning); Denotative word (literal, exact meaning); Figurative language (metaphor, simile, symbolism, imagery) ;  Tone (emotion of author)

Independent Practice: Breaking Song Apart

25 minutes

Students will work in groups to read one stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner Poem. I want students to focus on all of the figurative and connotative meanings contained in the poem. I will ask each group to focus on a different stanza. With this instructional choice, students become masters of comprehending the word choice, tone, and associations of their particular stanza.

Once collaboration time has ended, a person from each row will volunteer to teach the class about their section of the poem. See the Student Group 1Student Group 2Student Group 3, and Student Group 4 samples to hear the exchange of ideas shared among groups. From here, students learn how their stanzas share similarities and differences.