For this routine I used song lyrics from the song Brave, by Sarah Barellis. We had all had different interpretations of the underlying meaning of the song, but the message is that if you're being bullied with mean words, be brave and speak up. I tried to chose a song that these middle schoolers could connect to but also one that they wouldn't recognize by reading the lyrics right off the bat.
On the first day we read through the lyrics independently while annotating. I asked them to circle and words they didn't know the meaning to, and questions they had, connections, etc.
Day 2, we read through the lyrics once again, but this time we had a discussion about what we thought the message of the song was. We clarified unknown words using context clues and even added more annotations. We also noticed our thinking changed once we were able to hear some of the comments from our peers.
In the days following we listened to the song and sang along using the lyrics. So many of them said "Oh! I've heard this!" Funny how much you miss when you're singing along in the car, throwing in the wrong words but singing to what you think they're saying! I get corrected all the time from Marlie because she really LISTENS!
Finally, I asked them to think of a color, a symbol, and an image that comes to mind when they think of the song Brave. You would have thought I had grown another eyeball. Clearly this was a new routine for them, so I modeled like crazy. The boys were not wanting any part of this activity and it showed big time. The girls got right to work.
Next steps.....do it again! This was such a fun activity that really kept them engaged (which is VERY hard to do after we have been torturing them with all of this testing). They are in the process of passing a song of their choice by the song-police (aka, me) for the rest of the group to analyze!