Intermediate Level Lessons | Every Song Tells a Story

Paintbrushes45.pngNotebookandPen45.png One class period

Program Segment
Winter 1814 New Orleans (7 minutes)

NCSS Themes

III: People, Places, and Environments
V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
VI: Power, Authority, and Governance
IX: Global Connections
X: Civic Ideals and Practices

Canadian (Ontario) Concepts

Systems and Structures
Interactions and Interdependence
Power and Governance

Canadian (Ontario) Specific Expectations – Seventh Grade

Explain key characteristics of life in English Canada from a variety of perspectives


Students will be able to:

  • identify key ideas and beliefs about the War of 1812 through examining music
  • uncover problems the songs might have emphasized among people or between groups
  • compare and contrast two songs

Focus Question(s):

1. What is the message a listener/reader can get from song lyrics?
2. What impact can the songs have on society?
3. What might the intended purpose of the song be?
4. Who was the intended audience for the songs?
5. Was there a common theme in the songs?

Key Concepts
Musket, Symbolism, Culture, Perspective, Pride

Instructional Resources

The War of 1812 DVD
Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” song (optional)
Arrogant Worms "War of 1812" song (optional)
Icon Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans” song lyrics (1.6 MB)  
Icon Arogant Worms "War of 1812" song lyrics (34.2 KB)
Icon Comparing Lyrics worksheet (23.0 KB)
Icon Rubric for songs and poems (22.2 KB)

Program Segment for Lesson Plan. 7 minutes.


1. The teacher will ask the students if a song can change their mood or motivate them. Can it make them happy, angry, or sad?
2. The teacher will distribute both song sheets for the students to read. As they are reading, they will use highlighters to indicate what stands out to them.
3. The teacher will distribute the Comparing Lyrics worksheet.
4. The teacher will lead a class discussion based on the students’ highlighted ideas.
5. The teacher will then play the songs and have students read as the song plays (they may also sing along).
6. Students will complete their Comparing Lyrics worksheet and turn them in.
7. Teacher will then assign students the task of writing their own song or poem based on any contemporary conflict.

Assessment Tasks
The students will complete the Comparing Lyrics worksheet based on the differences between the two songs provided. The students will also complete a song or poem on any contemporary conflict.

Related PBS Resources

Civil War Music
Describe the ways historic events influence popular music. Compare lyrics of Civil War songs from both sides, including "Battle Cry of Freedom" and "Dixie," and make conclusions about the lyrics.

The Pen vs. the Sword: Lyrical Responses to a Nation at War
Research lyrics and/or poems associated with a specific American war, and create a poster with information on the history and significance of the works. Write a song or poem about the war in Iraq or war in general.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars: Music as Social Protest
Learn about a musical band born in a West African refugee camp that chooses to fight back against their circumstances with music. Write new lyrics to an existing song to address a current social issue.


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 Icon Every Song Tells a Story Lesson Plan (458.4 KB)

Providing support for

Learn More

Image - shop_warof1812.jpg


Battle of New Orleans


The burning of Washington


Battle of New Orleans – death of General Packenham