Spoiler Alert: Shakespeare is not as scary as your students might think.
Actually, we don't find him very scary at all. (Well, maybe some of his tragedies qualify as scary...)
Teaching Shakespeare shouldn't have to be intimidating either; one great method of introducing his work to your students is to start with one of his 154 sonnets. Read one of our favorites here:
By William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Our CCSS-aligned Sonnets Lesson Plan includes activities, a poster, and instructions, and it uses "Sonnet 18" as a starting point. From there, students learn about the structure, form, and meaning of this sonnet. They stomp and shout the syllables of iambic pentameter, and then they practice using extended metaphors, rhythm, and argumentation. Step-by-step plans take five or six days, and students will emerge unscathed, having analyzed a sonnet and written one of their own!
We agree that Old English may sometimes prove challenging, but the words quatrain, couplet, and volta should be part of any young poet's vocabulary. Check out our store for more details.