Lesson Plan

Shakespearean Sonnets and Emojis

Using emojis to "translate" Shakespearean sonnets engages students
Robin U.
Educator/Curriculum Developer
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My Grades 6, 7, 8, 9
My Subjects English Language Arts, Social Studies
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Objectives

Students will be able to...

identify the meaning of specific lines in Shakespearean sonnets as well as the general meaning of the sonnet itself

understand the similarities in Shakespeare using words as symbols as they use emojis to symbolize words

remember the sonnets and their meanings long after the class is over

have fun while learning about Shakespeare

Subjects
English Language Arts
Grades 7 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Choosing the Sonnets

Choose one of the sonnets from No Sweat Shakespeare. The site creators already narrowed Shakespeare's 154 sonnets down to the 8 most famous or most popular ones.

Choose one sonnet to work through as a class. If you feel more comfortable, you can just choose part of the sonnet, depending on the group, and let the students finish it, if you don't have time for them to choose their own.

Project the sonnet OR write it out on chart paper, depending on tech availability. In addition, hand each student a paper with the sonnet on it as well.

 

 

 

2 Connect with the Sonnet

Activity: Conversing

Using Sonnet #18 as an example (feel free to choose another one). 

  1. Read the poem aloud at least twice. 
  2. Ask students to do the same. They can read it silently or aloud several times to try to get the general meaning.
  3. Give students about five minutes to read it twice and then talk to their tables or partners about what it might mean. 
  4. You can write questions on the board, or the paper, such as, "Who is the audience?" "What is the narrator trying to say?" 

Here is the sonnet:

  1. 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.

Student Instructions

1. Listen to your teacher read the sonnet aloud twice. While s/he reads, follow along with the words on the paper or board. Try to let pictures come to your mind as you listen to the words.

2. Now read the sonnet silently or with your table at least twice. Think about how you say the words. Think about the feelings behind the words while you read and/or listen.

3. Take a few minutes to talk to your table/partner about the sonnet.  Who is the audience? What is the narrator trying to say? What is the general feeling or theme of the poem? 

3 Analyze the Sonnet Line by Line

Activity: Conversing

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.

Go through the poem, as far as you like, line by line, as a class. You can make this a whole class discussion or give students time to think and talk about each line or two before you come back to the group.

As they study the poem, they should look for:

  • literary devices such as personification, metaphor, symbol and similes. Hopefully you have already taught these terms so students can find examples, although they made need reminders.
  • focus on imagery - what images come to mind. What effect do they have? What feelings are coming through?
  • the structure of the poem? What is the subject of the poem being compared to? How does the comparison work?
  • audience - how would students feel if someone wrote something like this for them?
Student Instructions

As you study the poem look for:

  • Examples of literary devices such as personification, metaphor, symbol and similes. 
  • Examples of imagery. What images come to mind when you are reading each line? What effect do these images have on the reader, on the audience? What feelings are coming through?
  • Think about the structure of the poem? What is the subject of the poem being compared to? How does the comparison work?
  • Think about audience. How would you feel if someone wrote something like this for you?

4 Emoji Time

As the students, as individuals or partners, depending on the level of thinking of the students and the complexity of the poem, to replace each line with a series of emojis.

They need to look at the emojis on their phones, iPads or on the provided website very carefully before selecting the ones they want to use. They should be prepared to explain their choices to a group. 

It would be good to have them do at least one line from the group poem for practice.  When you discuss the one line, you should see a variety of answers and interpretations, which should make for a rich discussion of language, meaning and interpretation.

At this point, give students the specific instructions that you want them to follow.

After that, they can do another sonnet, or finish the one you chose. If you don't have time, you can assign one for homework and discuss the next class.

5 Presentation, Discussion and Reflection

Activity: Presenting

You can have students post their emoji sonnets on their blogs, in Slide presentations, print them out, or screen shots from phones and/or iPads.  

If they chose different sonnets, students can look at the originals and try to guess which ones are represented.

If they chose the same ones, they can talk about differences in interpretations.

Reflect: Was this a challenging activity? Why or why not?

Extension: Talk about language and imagery and the ways in which making pictures helps us understand, whether those pictures are made through words or emojis.

Student Instructions

When you choose or recieve your assigned sonnet lines:

  1. Look at the emojis on your phone, iPads or on the provided website very carefully
  2. Choose the emojis you want to use to translate each link.

NOTE: Think very carefully before selecting the emojis you want to use. You must be prepared to explain your choices to the group in the next class.