Beacon Lesson Plan Library

By Dawn's Early Light

Edward Blackwell, Jr.
Colleges and Universities - Florida


Students have the opportunity to explore the history of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” In the process, they explore how the lyrics of a song can be a form of poetry and the principles of cause and effect.


The student identifies and discusses the author's purpose in text.


-Cassette or CD player
-Cassette or CD of someone singing the “Star-Spangled Banner”
-Pencils, one per student
-Computer connected to the Internet, one per small group
-Lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner” handout (See Associated File), one per student
-Lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner” Worksheet (See Associated File), one per student
-Internet Permission Form (See Associated File), one per student
-Cause-Effect Worksheet (See Associated File), one per student
-My Final Reflection handout (See Associated File), one per student and some extra copies
-Evaluation Check Sheet (See Associated File), one per student
-Lesson Rubric (See Associated File), one for teacher


1. Read through materials in the associated file.
2. Make sufficient copies of all forms found in file.
3. Find CD/cassette copy of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and CD/cassette player.
4. Handout the Internet Permission Form. (See Associated File)
5. Have the Internet Permission Form returned.
6. Set up computers.
7. Preview Websites and determine most appropriate for class. (See Weblinks)
8. Set up the appropriate Web addresses in the Favorites or Benchmark on the computers to be used by the class.


1. A teacher needs to have mastered basic computer access, Internet access, and the use of Favorites to save a Web address.
2. A student needs to have mastered basic computer access, Internet access, and the use of Favorites to retrieve a Web address.

1. Ask the class to be quiet and to listen to a song. Play CD/cassette of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

2. After the song is finished, ask the class if anyone knows the title of the song and why it is important.

3. After the class has identified the song as the “Star-Spangled Banner” or the National Anthem, give them the Lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner” handout and ask them to read them quietly. (See Associated File)

4. When they have had time to read the lyrics, ask them when was the last time they sang or heard the song.

5. List the various occasions on the board.

6. Ask the class if they have ever thought about what the words mean, who wrote them, and why they were written.

7. After a few minutes of comments and observations, hand out the Lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner” Worksheet. (See Associated File)

8. Ask each student to answer the questions.

9. After an appropriate amount of time, review the answers to the questions with the students.

10. Introduce the idea that songs bring together words called lyrics and notes called melody. Oftentimes, the writer of the words is different from the composer of the notes. This situation happened when the “Star-Spangled Banner” was written. It was first written as a poem and later set to music.

11. In the next session, tell the students they will be invited to work in small groups to discover who wrote the poem and why.

12. Distribute the Cause-Effect Worksheet. (See Associated File)

13. Explain to the students that they may work in small groups at the computer terminals to answer the questions on Cause-Effect Worksheet. Each group shares with the class the results of their work. These results are used to create a cause-effect diagram.

14. Place all students in their small groups. (The number of groups and the size of each group should reflect the number of computer terminals available and the various skills needed to complete the task. Each group could have a Captain who makes sure every student in the group completes at least one answer on the worksheet, a Navigator who makes sure every student in the group has an opportunity to work at the computer terminal and a Presenter who presents the group’s results to the class.)

15. Take class to computer terminals where the appropriate Internet sites have been added to the Favorites (Internet Explorer) or Benchmark (Navigator) button.

16. Have the Captains turn on the computer and access the browser.

17. Have another student find the appropriate button at the top of the screen and click on it and scroll down the list of Favorites to the appropriate Internet site and click on the site.

18. When the site appears, have each small group read the material.

19. As the group reads the material, members should be looking for answers to the Cause-Effect Worksheet questions.

20. During this activity, walk around the room to make sure the small groups understand the task and answer questions as needed. Formatively assess students as they use the technology tools and provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty.

21. Have each small group share their answers to the various questions. In the interest of time, ask each group to share only two or three answers.

22. After all the groups have shared their answers to the questions, ask the class for the sequence of events that led to the writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

23. Create on the blackboard a cause–effect diagram of important events that led to the writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Correct errors and inconsistencies that might have surfaced during the group presentations.

24. Ask the class if knowing how the “Star-Spangled Banner” was written helps them understand its importance and meaning in American life.

25. After this discussion, hand out the My Final Reflection worksheet. (See Associated File)

26. Ask each student to think about how he/she has feels when they sing or hear someone else sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

27. Have the students spend some time organizing their thoughts and writing the reflection. Let the students know the criteria by which their reflections will be assessed: thoughtfulness, organization, and grammatical correctness. (See My Final Reflection section of Lesson Rubric in Associated File)

28. Collect the reflection writing from the students.

29. Tell them the writing will be reviewed and returned to them at a later date.


1. Monitor the small groups, checking on student involvement and the answers being placed on the Cause-Effect Worksheet. (See Associated File)
2. Assess each student's My Final Reflection based on the Lesson Rubric. (See Associated File)
3. Give final, overall evaluation using the Evaluation Check Sheet. (See Associated File)

Students who need help should receive formative feedback in order to search Internet, work with others, and complete the final reflection.

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


1. Class could be invited to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the next school assembly.
2. Have students make a replica of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and place it on the wall.

Web Links

This site, hosted by the Smithsonian Institute, provides information on the flag that inspired the poem and the song.
The Star Spangled Banner, an American Icon

This site details the history of the flag.
American Flag History

This site details the dimensions and sizes of the flag.
The United States Flag Dimensions

This site contains the story of the composition of the poem by Francis Scott Key.
The Star Spangled Banner

This site contains the lyrics to the poem/song written by Francis Scott Key.
The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

This site contains the words and music of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Words and Music of the Star-Spangled Banner

Attached Files

This is the By Dawn's Early Light Associate File.     File Extension: pdf

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