This reading lesson will encourage teachers to expand their texts to include songs that send a strong message about the environment to study main idea.

Teachers can make reading strategies more fun to practice by choosing their texts carefully and providing visual aids to enhance reading. This lesson will encourage teachers to expand their texts to include songs that send a strong message. The song used for this lesson urges listeners to consider how modern man has negatively impacted the Florida Everglades.

Lesson Initiating Activity: Introducing the Topic

To begin this lesson, the teacher should remind their students of their unit question. In this case, the question is, “How do I impact my environment, and how does my environment impact me?” The focus is for students to think more deeply about their connection to the environment.

To access background information, the teacher can ask, “Has anyone ever been to the Everglades?” and elicit responses. If no one has visited the Everglades, the teacher can describe wetlands and the animals which thrive in this habitat, such as alligators and sand hill cranes. Then, the teacher can display a map of Florida, showing where the Everglades is located, as well as pictures of local wildlife and perhaps even images of the Seminole Indian tribe.

Core Activity: Understand Main Idea of Song

Teach Main IdeaThe teacher should play the song, “Seminole Wind” by Donna the Buffalo while displaying the song lyrics on a PowerPoint slide. Then, students will discuss the meaning of the song with a partner. Students should think about each stanza. The teacher can ask students to carefully consider the chorus, which is the heart of the song.

So blow, blow Seminole wind

Blow like you’re never gonna blow again

I’m calling to you like a long lost friend

And I know who you are

And blow, blow from the Okeechobee

All the way up to Micanopy

Blow across the home of the Seminole

The alligators and the gar

Students should generate questions to help them better understand the song. Some questions that arise may include the following:

  • Who is the speaker of the song?
  • Who is the speaker talking to?
  • Who is the long lost friend?
  • What is a gar?

Once students have discussed the song with their partners for five to eight minutes, the teacher can refocus the whole group and ask students to share their thoughts and questions with the class. Some questions the teacher might ask to facilitate discussion include the following:

  1. What is the writer saying in the following quote about how people impact their environment?

“They dig for silver and for gold / And leave the empty holes”

  1. Who are “they”?
  2. Why is the ghost of Osceola crying?
  3. From where is the Seminole wind blowing?
  4. What literary elements are exemplified here?

After discussion, students should agree on the main idea of the song, which may convey the idea that the speaker is concerned that modern humans are destroying the Everglades, a place once respected and stewarded by the Seminole Indians.

Closing Activity: Reflection

Students should now write a reflection in their writing journals by responding to the following questions:

  1. How does this text help broaden your perspective of our unit question? That is, how does it comment on people impacting their environment?
  2. How confident are you about understanding today’s information?
  3. What do you still find confusing?
  4. What questions do you still have?

Once students have written a two paragraph response to the above questions, they will swap journals with their partners. After reading their partner’s reflection, they should make comments of their own. Students should write one connection or positive statement and at least one question to encourage their partner to think more deeply. Afterwards, students should return journals to their owners and students can add more details to their reflection as needed.

This is a lesson that students find fun and engaging because of the music, map and images. An important reading skill is for students to determine main idea in a variety of texts. By analyzing a song’s lyrics, they are really studying poetry. These activities encourage students to complete a process of analysis which may feel less threatening than approaching poetry in a textbook.