Lesson plan; World on Fire by Dolly Parton

Dolly, known for her neutral political stance, is using her powerful voice to inspire her fans, regardless of who they voted for, to “rise above,” “break the spell,” and “turn it all around.”


  • To analyze the song’s message, tone, and language, and to relate it to the current social and political issues in the United States.

Lesson plan


Ask the students what they know about Dolly Parton and her music. Have them share their opinions and impressions of her as an artist and a person. Write down some keywords 


    • Tell the students that they are going to listen to a song by Dolly Parton called “World on Fire”. Ask them to predict what the song might be about based on the title. Have them write down their guesses on a piece of paper. Then, show them the first verse and chorus of the song and ask them to compare their predictions with the actual lyrics. Discuss what they notice and what they think the song is trying to say.


    • Play the song for the students and have them follow along with the lyrics. Ask them to pay attention to the mood, tone, and emotion of the song. After listening, have them answer some comprehension questions on the worksheet, such as:
      • What are some of the problems that the song mentions?
      • What are some of the solutions that the song suggests?
      • How does the singer feel about the situation?
      • How does the singer want the listeners to feel or react?


    • Divide the students into small groups and have them discuss their answers to the questions.

Literary devices

    • Find and explain some of the figurative language in the song, such as metaphors, similes, hyperbole, etc.
    • Identify and analyze some of the rhetorical devices in the song, such as repetition, contrast, parallelism, etc.
    • Write a short paragraph summarizing the main message and purpose of the song.
    • Write a short review or critique of the song, expressing their personal opinion and evaluation of it.
  • The lyrics.  
    • Wrap-up: Have each group share their work with the class. Give feedback and comments. Ask the students how they feel about the song and its relevance to their own lives and society. Have them reflect on what they learned from the lesson and how they can apply it to their own situations.

Essay questions

  • How does the song “World on Fire” reflect the current social and political climate in the United States?
  • What are the different ways that people can respond to the problems that the song mentions?
  • What is the role of art and music in addressing social and political issues?
  • How can we create a more peaceful and just world?

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