Teaching Sonnets Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan for Teaching Sonnets

Who knew teaching sonnets could be this great? Use these handy tips to develop your own sonnet lesson plans for high school students.

Teaching Sonnets Under Pressure

It was my first year teaching and Mr. Sternman sat in the back of the room writing my teacher evaluation. Things were going well until Frankie Ruinlife in the fourth row asked a question. “Mr. Deadmeat,” he said, “This is a great sonnet lesson plan and the poems are pretty good, but why are you even teaching sonnets? When will I ever use this?”

I could have said that writing poetry helps develop word skills and that writing sonnets forces us to use words in ways we never imagined. I could have explained how analyzing and writing poetry helps to develop thinking skills.

Instead, I choked on my spit, passed out, and peed my pants. Mr.Sternman fired me on the spot and my sonnet lesson plan has remained dormant ever since.

Until now.

Here’s a handy little chart to get you started: Sonnet Writing Assignment

ELA Common Core Standards Covered

8 Simple

Check out these 8 Simple Common Core Writing Assignments. They’re available as a pdf download. Each assignment includes a lesson plan with graphic organizer handout, key/example, and a rubric for easy grading. It’s only $5.95.

Teaching imagery in poems may cover the following ELA Common Core Standards.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  4. RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Notes on Sonnets

There’s a good chance your students will need some notes on sonnets before doing the assignment.

  • Sonnets have a specific rhyme scheme, the pattern of rhyme in a poem. To identify rhyme scheme, assign a letter of the alphabet to each rhymed sound at the end of a line. If that sound is repeated later on in the poem, that line receives the same letter (you’ll probably want to give some examples).
  • The basic meter in sonnets is iambic pentameter. Each line of a sonnet consists of 10 syllables following a pattern of unstressed syllable, stressed syllable.
  • There are three main sonnet types:
  1. English or Shakespearean Sonnet: The rhyme scheme of a Shakesperean Sonnet is ababcdcdefefgg. A Shakespearean Sonnet consists of three quatrains, four line stanzas, and a couplet. Each quatrain is one unit of thought in the poem, similar to a paragraph in prose. The ending couplet comments on the preceding three quatrains.
  2. Petrarchan Sonnet: The rhyme scheme in a Petrarchan Sonnet is abbaabbacdcdcd. In a Petrarchan or Italian Sonnet, the first eight lines are related. Line 9 is called “the turn,” signifying a change in rhyme pattern and a change in subject matter.
  3. Spenserian Sonnet: The rhyme scheme of a Spenserian Sonnet is ababbcbccdcdee. It resembles the Italian Sonnet’s rhyme scheme and the English Sonnet’s 12-line problem, 2-line solution format.
  4. Variations of Sonnets: As long as the sonnet is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter it can have any rhyme scheme.

Strategies for Teaching Sonnets

Teaching sonnets requires teaching strategies. These procedures incorporate the strategies.

  1. Read a sonnet–more than once if necessary.
  2. Identify the rhyme scheme.
  3. Identify the major units of thoughts.
  4. Describe the situation or problem in your own words.
  5. Identify the turning point.
  6. Describe how the situation is rectified.
  7. Summarize the message of the poem in your own words.
  8. Write your own sonnet.

This poetry analysis lesson plan is also helpful.

Teaching Literary Elements with Poems

Understanding literary elements is necessary for literary analysis.  These poems will help you teach literary elements.

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