The Sonnet, Shakesperean Style
Lesson 5 of 14
Objective: Students will be able to analyze the affect of a poem's form by reading a nonfiction article about sonnets and analyzing rhyme scheme, rhythm, and word choice.
In the last few weeks, the bellwork on Wednesday and Thursday (our long block days) has been done as a competition. Students work with their groups to find all of the corrections, and the first group with all of the corrections gets a punch on their punch cards.
Today many groups missed the apostrophe in 'let's' to show that it's a contraction. They also struggled with the two run-on sentences in the second paragraph.
They also wanted to add the little circle (does that have a name? I feel like I should know this, but I don't.) to show that the numbers are showing degrees. However, since the word is spelled out, those circles are not needed.
What's in a Sonnet?
What's in a sonnet?
That by any other name would be called a poem.
So a sonnet would be, if it were not called a sonnet.
And yet, a sonnet is a sonnet and a sonnet does as sonnets do.
I distributed copies of the Shakespearean Reference Sheet. I also include a copy of the article from the website Shakespeare Online. This gives students a brief explanation of what a sonnet is in two different ways--paragraphs and a reference sheet.
I asked them to read it three times. It's only a page, so it's suitable for re-reading. The first time, they read it to themselves silently and I asked them to annotate details (main and supporting) that told them what a sonnet is. I gave students a couple of minutes to share their annotations with their group. Could they add annotations to their own papers after listening to their peers? Absolutely.
I asked two students from each group to move to a different group for the second read. This allows students to physically move and get different ideas from different people.
The second time, I read the article aloud, modeling prosody. I asked them to underline new things they noticed. In other words, what new information did they notice that helped them understand what a sonnet is. Again, they shared their annotations with their group members, new and old, and added annotations.
The third time, I read aloud while I did a think aloud. I pointed out the following:
- Shakespearean sonnets are always fourteen lines. There are three quatrains and a couplet. A couplet is a group of two lines.
- There is a strict rhyme scheme. In the quatrains, the first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth lines rhyme (ABAB). The couplet rhymes (GG).
- They are written in iambic pentameter. Iambic means that there are feet with two syllables, and the first syllable is unstressed and the second syllable is stressed. It's like a heartbeat.
- There's an organization to the sonnet. The first quatrain sets up the subject of the sonnet. Quatrain 2 develops the theme and quatrain 3 finishes it. The couplet's job is to summarize the theme
The last thing I did, as closure, was to ask students to write a third quickwrite.
For this quickwrite, students needed to explain the four key parts to a sonnet.
I also warned them that we would be looking at a real live sonnet the next day and it would might just make their brains explode.
If I'd had time, I'd ask students to complete the following additional activity--to create a diagram, chart, or picture to show the important components of a sonnet.