ALEX Learning Activity


Annotate That! (Song Starter for

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Julie Powell
System:Elmore County
School:Elmore County High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1916
Annotate That! (Song Starter for
Digital Tool/Resource:
No Doubt - Just A Girl YouTube Video
Web Address – URL:

Before reading Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour, students practice annotating song lyrics that echo the short story's theme regarding gender inequality. Annotation is an effective way of having student engage with a text for close reading. By having students annotate song lyrics first, the task seems less daunting or overwhelming to students. Also, the pop culture aspect peaks student interest and makes the literature more relevant as students discover that contemporary songs and classic literature share common, universal themes.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
1 ) Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain. [RL.11-12.1]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.11.1- Answer who, what, when, where, and why questions to analyze stories, using textual evidence and inferences as support.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
2 ) Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text. [RL.11-12.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.11.2- Identify how two themes develop throughout a text; create an objective summary of a story.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
4 ) Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.) [RL.11-12.4]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 11
6 ) Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement). [RL.11-12.6]

Learning Objectives:

Students will annotate and analyze song lyrics for diction, details, imagery, irony, and figurative language to determine explicit and implicit meanings in the text.

Students will infer the song's tone and theme(s) based on their annotations and analysis of devices utilized by the author/songwriter.

Students will discover universal themes that transcend time and connect contemporary texts with classic literature.


  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. The students will discuss briefly the definition of annotation (a note of explanation or comment added to a text or diagram), if not already familiar with the strategy. Essentially, annotation is a conversation with the text. Make sure students know that annotation is more than just highlighting or underlining; explanations and analysis are required.

2. The students will watch the video for "Just a Girl" by No Doubt on YouTube. After the video is over, students will discuss messages about gender that the song revealed. Also, have students discuss elements in the video (setting, signs, behavior) that portrayed gender stereotypes, issues, or inequalities.

3. The teacher will give students printed lyrics (see Advanced Preparation) of "Just a Girl" and explain to students that just like the video portrayed a message using devices such as setting and actions, the song lyrics do the same. Instead of visual devices, authors/songwriters rely on devices of language such as diction, imagery, irony, and figurative language.

4. Then, students will annotate the song lyrics for diction (word choice/connotation), details, imagery, irony, and figurative language. Students should identify the device and explain why the author/songwriter used the device. 

***Sample Song Annotation for TEACHER USE ONLY (not for student handout).

5. Based on the annotations and analysis, students will infer the tone and theme (regarding gender inequality/stereotypes) of the song. The students will discuss their annotations and themes in groups or as a whole class. 

6. The students will preview Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour and predict what gender themes may exist in the story given the year of publication as they prepare to read and annotate the short story.

Assessment Strategies:

Assess student understanding of annotations using Song Annotation Rubric.


Advanced Preparation:

  • Print lyrics for students. 
  • Check YouTube link on school network to ensure that site is not blocked.
Variation Tips (optional):

  • Other songs that may be utilized to introduce gender inequality issues: "If I Were a Boy" by Beyoncé, "I'm Still a Guy" by Brad Paisley, "Superwoman" by Karyn White, "Superwoman" by Alicia Keys, "Stronger" by Britney Spears, "One of the Boys" by Katy Perry, "God Made Girls" by Raelyn, or "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Review each song/video for appropriateness of classroom use. 
  • Other short stories that may be utilized with gender inequality songs: "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman or "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner.
  • Optional Extension Activity: In groups or individually, have students find other songs with gender themes or assign them a song from the list in the first bullet. Students will annotate their chosen song and infer the tone and theme.
  • Technology Option: If student devices are available, have students annotate using Kami or another online annotator.
  • You may want to show students this short video and article from People magazine of Gwen Stefani explaining why she wrote the song "Just a Girl".
Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
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