17 April 2007

Teaching Poetry Spring 2007: Lesson #2 — Form and Rhyme

Perhaps, one of the most intimidating aspects of traditional poetry is rhyme scheme, followed closely behind by form. Being the type of person who eats my least favorite part of my dinner first, I chose to teach the kids about the English (Shakespearean) Sonnet, which is only fitting in this Shakespearean hamlet we call Ashland. Not to mention, working with the Sonnet kills two birds with one stone: form and rhyme.

The first step was to introduce them to the form:
14 lines total
3 sets of 4 lines (quatrain)
1 set of 2 lines (couplet)
This was easy enough for them to grasp, but the idea of lines vs. sentences and stanzas vs. paragraphs threw them for a loop. We then discussed the abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean sonnet, followed with a reading of Shakespeare's Sonnet #65 and the sonnet we wrote last year in Mrs. Hansen's class. They claimed to like Shakespeare's better, but laughed loud at Mrs. Hansen's class's poem.

Finally moving past the basics of form and rhyme, I introduced them to the collaborative lightning sonnet. I asked for a word, wrote it in a big circle on the white board, asked for another, and repeated the process until we had 7 circles with one word each. Then, we went through more rounds filling in the circles with words that rhymed.

Time ran out far quicker than I hoped, but we were left with 7 circles filled with rhyming words. The next morning, I delivered a worksheet for them to work with and to help write the sonnet.

I saved this file in large format for those readers
who wish to download it in order to write their own sonnet.

I'm excited to see how their sonnets turn out this upcoming Tuesday.

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