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