Lesson Plan

Songs with Social Influence (Grades 9-12) Carl Sandburg Home NHS

Graphic image of guitar and the words Songs for Social Change
Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
60 Minutes
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Essential Question

How do cultural and social events influence artists, entertainers, and writers?  How do they in turn influence society?


• Students will write arguments to support claims using valid reasoning and evidence.
• Students will craft a song or poem to reveal my thoughts on a social issue.
• Students will use digital media to create a presentation that demonstrates my understanding of the analysis of two songwriters/poets artistic social protest works.


Carl Sandburg had a deep appreciation for music. He often ended his lectures by playing his guitar and singing some of his favorite American folk songs. In 1927, poet Carl Sandburg published "The American Songbag" which featured words and music to 280 songs and ballads that have been sung throughout American history.

Many of these songs have themes like Sandburg’s poems and tell a story. Carl Sandburg was admired by many song writers and poets such as Bob Dylan. Like Sandburg, many of Dylan’s songs are wonderful examples of poems influenced by society and historic events. In the 1960s, Bob Dylan even stopped by Connemara to meet Carl Sandburg. Sandburg and Dylan visited for about twenty minutes on the front porch and talked about poetry and folk music. Despite their age difference, Sandburg and Dylan had much in common. They were both first generation Americans, born in the Midwest. They both admired Whitman and Guthrie and were collectors of folk songs and they both used their own voice to call out the plight of “The People”.

The purpose of this lesson is to look at how the events of the time influence the writers and musicians of the time. The students will look at how the creations of these artists then influence society.


Upload the "Songs with Social Influence" lesson on Google Slides to push out to students virtually or use in the classroom. 


Lesson plan for Grades 9-12

Download Songs with Social Influence


Procedure (Remote Learning)

Share the Powerpoint, "Songs with Social Influence" with your students so that each student has their own copy (upload as a Google slide and push out through Google Classroom). Students will follow the tasks to complete the assignment and then submit it to the teacher. Students follow the task list provided.

Extension: Students will craft a poem or song that reflects their thoughts / feelings on a social issue.

Procedure (In Person Learning)

Activating Strategy
Using the Frayer Model, have students complete a Frayer Model that focuses on Social Protest. 

Go to http://www.worksheetworks.com/miscellanea/graphic-organizers/frayer.html to create a Frayer Model for “Social Protest” prior to the lesson. Allow students time to share their completed Frayer Model. Do not have students make any corrections or changes to their Frayer Model until after the lesson.

Teaching Strategy
  1. Share the PowerPoint: Songs with Social Influence with your students so that each student has their own copy (upload as a Google slide and push out through Google Classroom) Students will follow the tasks to complete the assignment and then submit it to the teacher.
  2. Students research and find a song of their choice which is written by the singer and highlights a social issue or pick one from the list on slide two.
  3. Have the students upload the printed words or performance video of their chosen song to analyze and / or share with the class. (Should also include song title and artist) Please make sure to reinforce that the song must be free of derogatory words.
  4. Students answer the questions on the slide presentation through analyzing their chosen song and submit to teacher

Summarizing Strategy   
Referencing the Frayer Model used for the activating strategy, students make changes, corrections or additions to their initial work. Student volunteers then share the changes made and the reasons why with the whole class. Teacher will collect completed and revised Frayer Model.

Extension: Students will create a presentation that utilizes digital media that identifies both the writer’s opinion and evidence that supports the opinion.

Students will be graded by their peers using the provided rubric.

Contact Information

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Last updated: August 10, 2020