english, language arts, music, parodies, reading, teacher

4 Popular Songs/Language Arts Parodies to Use in Your Middle School Classroom (And Get Your Students Moving!)


Like many teachers, I haven’t always taught the grade level and content area I do now. Back when I started teaching, I was a music teacher. Overall, I’m very happy with my switch to 8th grade language arts, but pretty frequently, the music teacher in me will randomly sing, pull out my guitar named “Esteban,” . . . or come up with random ELA parodies of popular songs.

The parodies started when one day, I was listening to Lady Gaga’s song “Applause” on the radio, and my students and I had just discussed that day about how a comma is “a pause.” Later that night, I rewrote the lyrics into a grammar parody of the song, and from then on, I have been on the lookout for popular music that I can turn into classroom songs with language arts purposes.

With the help and expertise of my friend and former principal, Jim Ford, I was able to record four of the songs that have been my students’ favorites over the past few years. The following are the songs’ recordings and PDF files of the lyrics. Hope you enjoy listening!

“A Pause” — The song that turned ELA parodies into my shtick. This incorporates many of the rules for using commas in writing.

Comma Song (1)

“Independent Clause” — Based off Destiny’s Child “Independent Woman, Part 1” from the movie Charlie’s Angels. This song is about how you can join two independent clauses using a comma and one of the FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or a semi-colon.

Independent Clauses Song

“Cite, Cite Baby” — A partial rewrite of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”. . . The word “cite” naturally substitutes for “ice” in the first chorus, but I originally got the idea from the ICE strategy for using quotes in writing, and say “ICE ICE Baby” for the second chorus.

I – Introduce

C – Cite

E – Explain


“Dystopia” — This song is a parody of Rihanna’s “Disturbia,” which already has a lot of elements of a dystopian society, anyway. I incorporated a few more and made it school appropriate:)