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Close Reading of Culturally Relevant Music

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Franklin 3/4

Explore and create: Deep-dive Creation lab
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Education Coach
Samsung Education | Equity In Action, CA
Leticia Citizen, a 23-year educator, is a Samsung Education Coach interested in technology-enhanced teaching and global connections. As a result, she implements many applications available to teachers to help augment their students’ learning, modernizing traditional classroom methods. Leticia dedicates her life to social justice, teaching through an equity lens, and providing intentional and engaging PD. She is a co-founder of Equity In Action CA and Tech.Teach.Grow, LLC. Leticia is an ambassador and trainer for various digital tools including Nearpod, Wakelet, Newsela, and Flipgrid. She’s Google Certified and an MIE Expert.
Instructional Coach
Dr. Toutoule Ntoya is an educator dedicated to helping students achieve by 1) working with teachers in professional development and coaching to implement curricula and 2) working with students directly using learning and motivation strategies.
Special Education Teacher
Murrieta Valley Unified School District
Tory Wadlington is a K-12 special education teacher, currently teaching 9th grade. His focus on implementing SEL and CS in the Sped classroom has helped him create many opportunities for his unique population of students. In addition, his passion in equity work has helped foster safe spaces on school campuses, as well as conferences. He can be followed on Twitter at @ThatDopeTeacher.

Session description

Students’ prior knowledge and experiences often exude diversity and inclusion. When you combine these experiences with close reading strategies and music, you'll cultivate spaces where students' voices are shared to nurture relationships. Learn how to inspire students to read music lyrics through an equity lens so they can engage on issues surrounding culture, social justice, inclusion and racial discourse.

Purpose & objective

Participants will experience varying activities to engage students with music, its lyrics, and its historical context to the present day.

Participants will participate in a live Nearpod lesson that allows for annotation of lyrics, drawing to show understanding, and opportunities to reflect on their own practice with culturally responsive resources.

A Nearpod Live Lesson, facilitated by the presenters, will
* encourage participants to share their thoughts, annotate lyrics, and share their reflections on a platform (Jamboard and Padlet)for all to read, process, and comment.
* sketchnote their feelings as they listen to a song.
* reflect on all the activities, ideas, and lingering questions by completing a WOW-HOW-NOW.

Students interacted in a learning space that valued their voices. Students learned from each other about what thoughts, connections, and questions they pondered as they closely read music lyrics. Prior knowledge was changed, confirmed, and/or challenged for students by each other and further interactions with primary sources, including musical lyrics. Topics that included social justice, historical consequences, and equity were often connected and sparked following students’ annotating lyrics using close reading tactics.

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1. Reflect on the use of music as an instructional tool (8 mins)
2. Discuss why should students interact and closely read musical lyrics (8 mins)
3. Review the importance of using Primary Sources (8 mins)
4. Experience two different ways to listen and engage with a song and it’s lyrics (30 mins)
5. Review additional tips for more listens and close reads (8 mins)
6. Briefly chat and learn about another cultural responsive song and lyrics (10 mins)
7. Brainstorm and share additional activities (18 mins)

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Supporting research

* Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst - “The essential element in rigor is engagement. If students are to read rigorously they must be committed to understanding some intriguing character, to solving some problem, to figuring out what a writer believes and how those thoughts compare with their own.” Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

* Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop videos -

* Cultivating Genius - Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

* I have used this strategy in my classroom for more than 10 years. Students are connected, feel valued because their voices, opinions, and thoughts are shared and honored, and students can debate with evidence to get their point across to their peers.

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Session specifications

Instructional design & delivery
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices required
Attendee device specification:
Laptop: PC, Chromebook, Mac
Subject area:
Language arts, Social studies
ISTE Standards:
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
For Educators:
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.