NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts on easing your students into Elizabethan English without terrifying them.
The day you teach this lesson would be a good day to ask your boss to observe your class for your semiannual evaluation, because it’s one of those whizbang lessons that checks all the boxes on whatever rubric she’s using.
Use markers, crayons, and one of those precut jigsaw puzzles they sell at teacher-supply stores to make a colorful puzzle that lists the characteristics of a sonnet. (If you’re not artistic, bribe a talented kid to make it for you.)
Next, copy and paste Sonnet 18 into a Word document and print it out as large as you can without word-wrapping. (Protip: Set the page orientation to landscape, choose a strongly vertical font such as Birch or Onyx, and print on legal paper if possible.) Cut the lines apart and laminate them.
When the kids come in, hand them jigsaw-puzzle pieces and instruct them to work together to assemble the puzzle. This gives your kinesthetic learners an excuse to move around while also engaging your tactile, visual, and auditory learners.
Once the puzzle is assembled, have them read its contents aloud.
Shuffle the laminated lines of the sonnet and hand them out. Tell the kids to use context and what they know of a sonnet to put the lines in the correct order.
Once they start working, get out of their way. They’ll argue. They’ll grumble. They’ll get frustrated. LET THEM. If they get really frustrated, offer them a hint, but don’t make it too easy. If they can’t find the last line, suggest they look at the punctuation. If they’re misinterpreting the poem, translate one line into modern English. Make them think.
When they think they have it in the right order, check their work. If it’s wrong, tell them to keep trying. If it’s right, have them Google “Sonnet 18” so they can check it for themselves.
Once it’s in the correct order, ask someone to read it aloud, or get on YouTube to hear David Tennant read it. Finally, help them interpret the poem and encourage a discussion about whether Shakespeare accomplished his stated purpose in writing it.