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Help with Reading Poetry


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  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
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  • Preparation for Viewing

  • Post-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • Debriefing Discussion
  • Help with Reading Poetry
  • Which Text Should We Read?
  • Parodies of Shakespeare
  • Further Activities with Language

  • Internet Resources

    Student Assignment Sheets
  • Shakespeare's Language (with answers)
  • Viewing Worksheet
  • How to Read a Poem
  • Some Sonnets by Shakespeare
  • To Be or Not To Be -- Three Versions
  • Much Ado About Something cites Shakespeare's sonnet #50 (included with other sonnets on this handout) as evidence that the author of Shakespeare's works was an exile: someone who felt estranged from the culture in which he was living. Sometimes, even the best students see reading and understanding sonnets as daunting. Teachers can help students gain access to the sonnets of Shakespeare using the handout How to Read a Poem.

    Lesson Objectives

    • To familiarize students with an approach to Shakespeare's poetry
    • To introduce students to the terms of poetry

    Materials Needed

    Procedure

    Time needed: 25 minutes for group discussions, 25 minutes to report back to the class.

    Read Sonnet #50, sonnet #71, sonnet #104, or the daring, playful sonnet #20, all available under Some Sonnets by Shakespeare or at http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com. (Note to teachers: This site is a great source for accessing the sonnets. Be aware, however, that commentary by unidentified commentators follows each sonnet. Caution students about the dangers of plagiarism and the dangers of using unknown commentators as unquestioned experts.)

    Using the handout, How to Read a Poem, ask students to break into groups of four to six to discuss the sonnet they have chosen. Depending on time, teachers might want to help students look at the terminology on the handout or students can find definitions of these terms in their anthologies.

    Ask students:

    • What do you notice about language patterns? Meter? Rhythm? The speaker's attitude toward what he is describing?
    • How does the speaker of these sonnets view the power of writing?

    Method of Evaluation

    • Assign students to write, either in class or outside of class, about the sonnet they have just discussed in their small groups.
    • Students who feel ready can apply what they have learned in the small group discussions to an essay about a sonnet they have not discussed.

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