Reflection: Complex Tasks Rhetorical Analysis of Pop Music Day 1: Tools for Analysis - Section 4: Joint Song Analysis of folk singer David Wilcox


This lesson, as I anticipated from past experience, is rather complex and takes some time for students to understand; they listen to music all the time, and have strong reactions to it, but don't really know why.  When I went through my analysis of the Alanis Morrisette song I pointed out some of the patterns of words I saw as evidence, and also asked students some questions after pointing these out.  As I went along, students started to draw some conclusions, or at least point out some interesting patterns and word choices (such as the allusion to "mother"), and also heard some of the emotions in the singing.  As I shared my observations, they began bringing up some smaller things, too, so the modeling and pausing seemed to help bring some of the ideas together for them.  However, it was at the end of that section, before moving to this David Wilcox one, when light bulbs started going on more vigorously--when I asked how old they thought the primary audience for this song would be and why.

They universally identified a 16-24 year old female because it doesn't seem like they have a lot of experience with relationships or these emotions.  We spent a few more minutes with this question, talking about the turmoil of the music, the word choices, etc., again in the context of this question, so I could connect the more complex rhetorical tools of analysis to their immediate understanding of audience.  

Given this experience, as we moved to the David Wilcox analysis, I asked them to consider this question from the beginning.  Through this question of age and type of person, students were able to use the tools of analysis more concretely.  I also loved that they are starting to go right to the highlighters on their own, finding the verbs and noun groups--this skill of breaking down text one clause at a time will be invaluable to them going forward.

Overall the concepts came together better by the end, and we will continue to enforce how to use the tools for micro-analysis tomorrow as they break down a song in their own groups.

  Age of Audience Question a Key
  Complex Tasks: Age of Audience Question a Key
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Rhetorical Analysis of Pop Music Day 1: Tools for Analysis

Unit 8: Thematic Unit: Popular Culture
Lesson 5 of 16

Objective: SWBAT analyze a song writer's use of language devices and music devices for developing their central ideas, purpose, and tone for a specific audience.

Big Idea: Pop music writers use a variety of rhetorical tools in creating catchy songs.

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