This is a lesson plan which analyzes the various types of sonnets, including Petrarchan, Shakespearean and caudate, and encourages students to try their hand at writing any or all of the aforementioned sonnet types.
There are a number of sonnets written by African American authors and they offer a great alternative to teaching sonnets by way of Shakespeare. The subject matter is oft-times more relatable than that of the man who made the sonnet famous, which, in turn, can spark some interesting class discussions and increase levels of engagement.
I have used the Sonnet #18 parody idea in my own twelfth grade ELA classroom, and my students had a lot of fun with it. Working with iambic pentameter can be challenging, as can coming up with the wittiest subject matter, however, watching my students get into a creative groove writing their sonnets was an awesome sight.
Face it, uttering Shakespeare's name in a classroom could easily elicit groans. I've watched students eyes glaze and listened to them complain the language is too difficult to understand. This would have been a great resource to have, as it offers fun and easy ways to access the Shakespearean sonnet.
This lesson plan, centered around "Sonnet 130," or "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun," moves beyond simply analyzing the poem for conventions such as metaphor and alliteration. The lesson also encourages students to delve into the meaning of the poem by relating the subject matter to their own lives.