Analyze a Song Together
Select a popular song that most (if not all) of the students in your class are familiar with. You can ask the class for suggestions, but make sure you go through the lyrics yourself to ensure the themes and language are appropriate to discuss in the classroom. Next, print out the lyrics (or otherwise make them available for all your students to see). As a class, discuss the theme and tone of the song. Start with the big picture. Then go verse by chorus by verse to look at the narrative/sentiment is different between them (or perhaps it’s the same, just expressed in different ways). How does the song change as it goes along? What is the overall message? Is there a resolution?
Once your class has finished with this discussion, consider how the lyrics might be expanded. What else might the song express if it had more time? How could the message be repeated in a different way, or perhaps reinforced? If the song had a narrative, what might happen next? There’s not a single correct answer for these questions, so brainstorm with your students and let their creativity guide the way.
Write a Verse Together
As a class, write a third (or fourth, depending on the original song) verse based on the ideas you developed from the previous paragraph. This could come either before or after the bridge. The style should be consistent with the original song, which means:
The rhythm, length, and number of lines should match that of the earlier verses.
Keep to the same rhyme scheme.
The use of language should be similar. Follow the songwriter’s model of whether and how to use metaphors, slang, terms of endearment, onomatopoeia, interjections, etc., as well as the prevalence of adjectives and adverbs.
The extent to which you stick to these guidelines should depend on the proficiency (and confidence) level of your class.
Analyze and Write in Pairs
Tell the students they’ll go through this whole process again, but in pairs. Each pair can choose the song they’d like to do next (pending your approval). Again, they’ll need to assess the meaning, tone, themes, and style of the song before writing its lost verse.
Give them plenty of time to work on this; they not only need to grasp and then reproduce the message of the song; they also need to figure out how to express the message of the new verse within the constraints (line limitations, rhyming schemes, etc.) of the song. Encourage them to use a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary as they go along.
When they’re done, have the pairs present their lyrics to the class by reading them aloud, posting them on the wall, or (if they’re bold and if you have the time) singing them.