Have you ever asked your students to write a SESTINA?

If you haven't, you definitely should.  Asking my kids to write this incredibly old-school, complicated form is always an excellent exercise in careful diction choice and inventive ways of demonstrating their understanding of connotation.

For those of you who don't know what a SESTINA is - we're working with the number six, here.   Six stanzas, six lines, and each of those lines is ended with six prescribed words in a different order for each stanza.  

Today, at the beginning of my class, I had students write down their FAVORITE word on a piece of paper.  The only caviot?  I told them no inappropriate language or purposefully disgusting words:  "fart", as innocent as it is, can be really annoying to use in a poem six times in six different ways.  Then, I collected their words in a hat and set them aside.  I introduced the form to them, read a few examples, and then, finally, it was time to choose our six words.  I pulled them one at a time out of the hat - A) intriguing  B) toast  C) future  D) gaze  E) Patrick  F) obstinate.  Our job?  Everyone writes a sestina using these words that we chose together!

The next day in class is always hysterical - all students wrote the same poem using the same words, yet, the poems are so extraordinarily different - and usually, hilarious.  

Give it a try - grab my lesson here!  Then, tweet me about how it goes @mudandink_!

Have fun and

Happy National Poetry Month!

2 Comments