A Poetry-Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix
Focus Trait: WORD CHOICE Support Trait: CONVENTIONS

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A Teacher's Guide:

HATE to LOVE Sonnets

an easy and fun way to understand and write Shakespearean Sonnets

This lesson was created for WritingFix after being proposed by Northern Nevada teacher
Crystal M. Johnson.

This on-line writing prompt is based on the sonnets of master poet, William Shakespeare. Before writing to this assignment, students should hear and discuss the poetry of this great poet.

To our loyal WritingFix users: Please use this link if purchasing Shakespeare's sonnets from Amazon.com, and help keep WritingFix free and on-line. We thank you!

A note for teachers: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:

Pre-step…before sharing the published model:   Review and/or introduce to students the concept of a sonnet, particularly a Shakespearean/English sonnet: fourteen lines divided into three quatrains (4-lines each) with a concluding couplet. You can find basic information on the different sonnet types on-line by clicking here or by typing sonnet into a search engine.

A great tool to practice iambic pentameter for inclusion in the sonnet form is the NNWP's three-page iambic summary sentence activity that comes from the NNWP's awesome print publication, The Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide. This practice assignment will prepare students for writing lines in the correct meter and rhythm.

Step one…sharing the published model:    William Shakespeare was a master with the written word including rhyme, rhythm, meter, and fluency. In this lesson, students will learn, understand, and imitate Shakespeare’s wonderful style. After reviewing and practicing with writing in iambic pentameter, display and read as a class Shakespeare’s love sonnet Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day.

Initially discuss the meaning and purpose of the sonnet. Possibly even consider to whom and/or why he wrote the sonnet. Then prompt students to recognize and discuss the meter (iambic pentameter), rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD etc), and form of the sonnet (14 lines, 3 quatrains, and a couplet). Finally have students begin to analyze and discuss the use of internal and external punctuation and how that plays a specific role in the sonnet.


Step two (introducing student models of writing): In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson.  The groups will certainly talk about the word choice , since it’s the focus of this lesson.  You might prompt your students to examine each model's conventions as well.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.

  • We're looking for student samples for most grade levels for this prompt!  Help us get some, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Click here for more details.

Step three (thinking and pre-writing): Once all the models and examples have been shared, have students begin to generate their own ideas for people/objects the love and/or hate and comparison settings/events that could work well together. This can be done in small groups or as a class. If students are struggling for ideas or just want more, have them use the interactive buttons on the student instructions page to help launch some topics.

Using the graphic organizer to outline ideas for positive and negative ideas related to their two choices (object/person and event/setting), the next step is to have students begin drafting their Shakespearean sonnets in the correct meter, rhyme scheme, and form. Remind students that they must chose words carefully, focusing on the writing trait word choice, to help them perfectly match words and syllables. Another great tool for students to access would be a rhyming dictionary and/or the website www.rhymezone.com. Rhyming the correct lines with the correct amount of syllable is the key to a traditional Shakespearean sonnet.

Finally, as a last step, focusing on the support trait, have students review their sonnet and integrate the correct internal and external punctuation. Students should refer back to Shakespeare’s sonnet to see how and when particular punctuation in effective.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   To promote response and revision to rough draft writing, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5."   Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings.  For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-it® Note-sized templates, click here.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step five (editing for conventions):  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor.   If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers.  With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it.  The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.

Step six (publishing for the portfolio):  The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.


Learn more about poet William Shakespeare by clicking here.

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