Basically the lesson was a close reading of "Maud Muller." I began by reading the entire poem aloud (they were to read it at home before class) and initiated a discussion of the story arc and themes of the poem, compared it to the story and themes of Jane Eyre in literary and historical context, and finished with a discussion of literary techniques and poetical form. The rhymed couplets and even rhythm in Maud are perfect for quick classroom study, and a fine form to study before Hamlet, our next read.
When we completed all that, I asked, "Is it easy or difficult to write in rhymed couplets?"
"Easy," said He-Who-Always-Answers-First.
How easily the young fall into that old trap! This was the perfect set-up for a poetry-writing lesson. He quickly recanted, but it was too late. Ha!
Each student was asked to write 3 pairs of rhyming couplets on Jane Eyre. This "easy" lesson was, in fact, easy for some, but quite difficult for others. I found that the students who struggle with clear prose write beautiful poetry, and the student with the best prose barely eked out the 6 lines. The Well-Coiffed-One stunned me with rhymed, unexpected, polysyllabic words which worked wonderfully. The students' work, read aloud, lead to a refresher lesson on assonance. There were quite a few assy-thingummys* in the work of the Usual Suspect, which made us wonder about the ease of rhyme...or not.
As in any class, talents vary. Discovering those talents is the first step in providing students with an opportunity to use and enhance them, and provides me with another means to enhance my skills in the gentle art of assessment.
* cf. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund seems unfamiliar with assonance, calling it an "assy-thingummy."