Despite all the test preparation that our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students have been doing lately (the CRCT started today), our 4th grade classes still managed to squeeze in some poetry fun in the library!

We started by reading the book A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams:

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This lovely picture book biography includes gorgeous mixed-media collages that illustrator Melissa Sweet created using pages from old books, and it also features several of William Carlos Williams’ poems in the front and back of the book.

As we read the book together, each class shared thoughts and observations about different elements of the text, which we recorded on a Padlet that I had set up with different questions related to the 4th grade reading and language arts standards:

wcw padlet
Our thoughts about the book recorded via Padlet – click to visit!

Not only was this a great way to sneak in some literary review, but it also gave students a jumping-off point for the following week’s activity: writing our own poems inspired by the work of William Carlos Williams.

During the writing session, students began by sharing their ideas for how to write the two different types of poems they would be crafting, and we recorded these ideas on our Padlet wall for the kids to refer to as they were writing.

For our first poem, we took inspiration from Williams’ imagist work, including “The Great Figure” and “The Red Wheelbarrow.” These poems, we decided, should be brief, but vivid, with enough sensory detail to really paint a picture in our readers’ minds.

Some students already had scenes in their heads to write about, but I included an envelope of interesting photographs on each table in case they needed a spark.

Here are a few student pieces written from our picture poem prompt:

For our second poem, we took a look at “This is Just to Say,” one of William Carlos Williams’ most famous works, in which the speaker begs forgiveness for eating the plums in the icebox–but they sure were delicious!

The kids LOVED the idea of writing insincere apologies for things they weren’t really sorry for (as you’ll probably be able to tell from their work), and one of our 4th grade teachers, Ms. Carrithers, even joined in on the fun!

A few students, like Dominique, even decided to take a unique approach by tying their two poems together:

Squished Flowers by Dominique L.

Stay tuned for more poetry later this week!