Time is a real factor in teaching and planning for middle school students. I really believe that if you want to do meaningful, complex tasks, you have to provide time in class. Crafting a 55 line parody is no joke. It takes three full class periods for all of the kids to have finished products -- and that's three, focused, writing days.
This was the second day of the project -- the day that really decides how the poem is going to turn out. It can be risky to give 13 year olds 45 uninterrupted minutes to work on a poem, but this class handled it really well. Since yesterday I modeled how to write the parody, and the groups had completed their first two stanzas, I tell the students that their goal for today is to complete 40 of the 55 stanzas. A few groups were able to complete the entire poem. Others had a little work to do at home.
If you look at the pictures, you will see lots of teenagers counting on their fingers. Matching the number of syllables in the parody to that in the original proved to be very challenging. Lots of debates erupted "How many syllables in 'child?' 'Told you!'" Meter, of course, is even trickier. I treat adherence to meter as an opportunity for differentiation; I spend time with the kids who "get it" in an effort to support their editing. Some kids are really stumped by meter, so I ask them to try and I focus on their syllables.