Without any explanation, I immediately put on the Weird Al video, "Party in the CIA."
I then ask them for the characteristics of a parody. We list them on the board.
At this point, the students have already read the poem several times. So, I just take a couple of minutes to review the poem, question the students about any dominant aspects (repetition, structure, etc.) and then move into today's lesson.
Before the students undertake such a big project, I like to do some modeling with them. Depending on how the class is going, I might start from scratch and prompt them with something like, "I am writing a poem about trick or treaters, Half a __________, half a ___________. Anyone have any good ideas?
If that mode of operation is fruitful, then I write a collaborative stanza with the kids. If, for any reason, I hit a dead end, I have a pre-written stanza to fall back on.
At this point, the teams need to decide on the topic of their parodies and they need to plan a narrative arc. Using the plot map template, students should map out a general sequence of events for their parody.
In my example, the kids are heading out for trick or treating. The logical trajectory of the story would be that the kids encounter some exciting events while out for the night and some of the kids would get lost/go home (unhappy ending) or come back with big bags of loot.
While looking at the plot map, students should also keep the structure of the poem in mind. There is a lot of repetition, so the students should craft a story that can be improved with repetition, rather than one wherein repetition seems unnecessary.
At this point, I transition from my role as the "sage on the stage" to the "guide on the side." Students write their parodies in partners, using available resources -- rhyming dictionaries, laptops, smartphones, etc. I am circulating and visiting, being the "syllables" consultant, whatever they need.