What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
William Carlos Williams was born in 1883.
|Grades||5 – 8|
|Calendar Activity Type||Author & Text|
American writer William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883. As a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, Williams met and became friends with Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle (who used the pseudonym H.D.), and these friendships affected his work as a writer. Over the course of his life, Williams wrote poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and plays.
Williams' poems are often used in the classroom as models for poetry writing. In addition to the resources in the lesson plans below, explore the student poems at Plum Good Poetry, from Barry Lane's Discover Writing website.
Celebrate Williams' birthday by asking your students to write imitation poems of their own. Choose a poem and make copies for students or write the poem on the board. With students, take the opportunity to review grammatical structures as you work through the way that the poem is written. Pay attention to sentences, phrases, and parts of speech. With the structure of the poem identified, ask students to write original imitations, using the same sort of sentences, phrases, and parts of speech that Williams did. Publish your finished work with the ReadWriteThink Printing Press or Stapleless Book.
For more on imitation poems, you may wish to use the ReadWriteThink lesson Literary Parodies: Exploring a Writer's Style through Imitation.
- William Carlos Williams
The Academy of American Poets page for Williams includes biographical information and the text of many of Williams' poems. The site includes an audio recording of the poet reading his poem "To Elsie."
- William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
This collection of resources from the Modern American Poetry website includes biographical information, photos, critical information, and poems.
- Guy Noir: Saturday, November 30, 2002
In this Prairie Home Companion episode, private eye Guy Noir investigates a poetic catastrophe with the help of the Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins, who shares parodies of Williams' "This Is Just to Say." Both transcript and audio versions of the show are available.
- Penn Sound: William Carlos Williams
The University of Pennsylvania offers this collection of sound recordings of Williams reading his poetry at several events between 1942 and 1962.
Grades 3 – 5 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students explore letter poems and experiment with writing letters as poems, using the placement of line breaks to enhance rhythm, sound, meaning, and appearance.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Unit
Students take poetic license when they interpret William Carlos William's poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" to help create a poem of their own.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Minilesson
Students use their own poetry to analyze syntax, imagery, and meaning in a one-sentence poem by a canonical author to decide what makes it a poem.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
This lesson asks students to analyze the features of a poet’s work then create their own poems based on the original model.