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Lesson Plan

Stairway to Heaven: Examining Metaphor in Popular Music

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Stairway to Heaven: Examining Metaphor in Popular Music

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sue Carmichael

Rochester, New York


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Students review the definition of metaphor, then examine the lyrics to Robert Plant's "Stairway to Heaven," or another song, to find examples of metaphor. After discussing the metaphors they found, students search through their own music collections for additional examples. Finally, students use an online graffiti tool to explore the significance of metaphor in song lyrics they have chosen by creating a multimodal analysis of a selected part of the lyrics.

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Literary Graffiti Tool: Students can use this online tool  to analyze a text and create graphic symbols to represent it.

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Does nonprint media-television shows, films, and songs-belong in the classroom? Absolutely! Nonprint media reach students and make connections in different ways from print media. Further, nonprint media often focus on contemporary topics that are not yet included in classroom textbooks. Jerome Evans states, "Artifacts of pop culture serve as advanced organizers for students, who can then connect new material (prominent and persistent themes in American literature) to their own experiences with literature (song lyrics). Once they see that songwriters and performers develop themes in the music they enjoy, discovering those themes (and, of course, others) in literature new to them is simply not so difficult." As Evans discusses, the use of nonprint media aids students when they do need to read and respond to print media.

Further Reading

Evans, Jerome. "From Sheryl Crow to Homer Simpson: Literature and Composition through Pop Culture." English Journal 93.3 (January 2004): 34-38.

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