by Pacoima Charter Elementary School

To the tune of “Roar” by Katy Perry

Swimming near a coral reef, I saw a shark that had no teeth
As big as the Titanic, I tried hard not to panic

He’s 40 feet from tip to tail, that’s why they call this shark a whale
But he’s no people eater, he’s just a filter feeder

Body covered with little spots, he really eats a lot
He can kill a lot of krill

(chorus) He is the king of the ocean, lord of the water
One of the oldest of fishes and you’re gonna see him
Swimming around in the water,
He’s been the king of the ocean for 400 million years

She’s got a hammer for a head, eats octopi ’til she’s well fed
Her cephalofoil is cool, each day she goes to school

She eats a lot of fish and squid, just like her mother’s mother did
Sometimes when it gets dark, she’ll hunt another shark

Still, sometimes I wonder why it’s so far between her eyes
I hear it’s great for navigation

(chorus) She is the queen of the ocean, lady of water
One of the oldest of fishes and you’re gonna see her
Swimming around in the water,
She’s been the queen of the ocean for 400 million years


Our team has been working for two months on developing an organized approach to writing original lyrics to tunes we already know. Working together, the students researched, organized, drafted, and polished three excellent songs on their chosen theme of large predators.

Note that the structure required for writing a song (theme, verse, chorus, etc.) naturally teaches the same organizing structure we want them to use for ANY writing assignment in third grade and above: topic, paragraphs, supporting details, logical conclusions, etc. This is not just a music project, it is first and foremost a WRITING project.

Here are a few of the academic content standards we addressed:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.8: Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.5: Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2: Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.3d: Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1a: Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.

Of course, the students also dug into the life science standards through writing about zoology.

My congratulations and thanks to the kids for all their hard work!

-Tim Griffin