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Author Imitation and Style Analysis of William Carlos Williams

Lesson Plan

Author Imitation and Style Analysis of William Carlos Williams

Grade Levels

9th Grade

Course, Subject

Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening


Content Area Specific Vocabulary:

stanza - a group of lines within a poem

line - the basic unit of poetry

speaker - the persona or voice from whose perspective the poem is told

tone - the attitude of the speaker toward the subject of the poem

imagery - writing that appeals to one or more of the five senses through the use of sensory details

style - the distinctive voice of an author and its contributing features

TAG statement - topic sentence that clearly incorporates title, author, and genre

TPCASTT reading strategy - annotate title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude, shifts, title again, and theme


Students will analyze the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams.

Students will write a poem imitating the structure and concept of the poem they have analyzed.

Students will analyze the poem "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams.

Students will write a poem imitating the structure and concept of the poem they have analyzed.

Students will write a literary analysis paragraph that identifies key features of Williams' style.

Lesson Essential Question(s)

  • What is poetry?
  • What techniques do poets use to create a still life such as William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow?"
  • What features contribute to a particular poet's distinctive style across poems?
  • How is content organized and developed in a literary analysis paragraph?




Three 60-minute class periods with additional time spent at home for writing and revising.





Suggested Instructional Strategies


W = By letting students know that they will be creating an author imitation poem, students will know what the end product is. To explain why they are writing this, explain that imitation of experienced writers is one of the ways we practice our own writing. There will be a check of responses to the original Williams poem and a draft check on the second day before the final assessment of their original poem.

H = Students' interest will be hooked by the use of art, technology, and photographs. Students' need for interaction with others will also enhance motivation and enthusiasm as they share discussion questions and drafts.

E = Experiences such as the peer response and guided revision will help ensure that students' understanding of the concept of a still life poem works effectively.

R = Students will reflect on the effectiveness of their poems through the checklist provided; also, the peer response will let them know whether they achieved the effect (emotion or idea) that they intended the image to convey.

E = Students will express their understanding of the concept and structure of the still life poem by creating their own original poems. Students will reflect on the writing process and their author's purpose.

T = Tailoring features of the lesson include the appeal to different interests found in the website choices where students will select an image as inspiration for the poem. Students will also be encouraged to use the writing tools that they prefer as they draft, revise, and edit. For example, some students will benefit from the structure of a template, while others may choose to write without it. Also, the thesaurus tool in MS Word is a preference that students can be encouraged to use in the revision stage in order to achieve stronger word choice.

O = With the lesson beginning with one professional poem, moving to teacher-created samples, and finally branching out to student writing, students will demonstrate independent application of the concept of a still life poem.

Instructional Procedures

First, introduce the concept of still life through art by showing several Georgia O'Keefe paintings of flowers on the projector (or any other paintings of choice from web resources below).  Note how different colors, scales, and treatments evoke different emotional responses.

Connect the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" to the concept of still life art, letting students know that it is the same idea achieved through a verbal medium.

Distribute copies of the poem and discussion questions.  Red Wheelbarrow Poem & Analysis Questions.docx  Read the poem aloud one time for first exposure.  On the second reading, ask students to text mark for imagery (colors, rain, etc.).  As partners, read the poem the third time; they should trace the shape of the stanzas to help them notice how the poet has created each stanza to resemble a wheelbarrow.

Ask students to volunteer adjectives that describe the image found in the poem.  If they aren't sure, offer choices such as simple, natural, peaceful, patriotic, etc. to help them start generating answers.  Continue with the questions on the handout to analyze the author's purpose and theme.  In small groups, have students brainstorm possible author imitation topics from nature, history, and everyday life.

Share samples.  Samples Author Imitation.docx

Give students time to browse the online resources below for paintings and photographs that may inspire them to write their author imitation pieces.

Links - Thinkfinity Resources.docx

Students will take time to draft.

When drafting is complete, students will share drafts with a partner to get a response to their images.  Partner responders will offer adjectives as we did with the Williams poem so that students can assess whether their images convey the kind of tone they were hoping to achieve.  Students will evaluate their drafts using the checklist provided.  Author Imitation Checklist.docx

Students will type their poems and add visual elements to enhance various word choices, images, and/or the tone of the piece.  Word Art, Fireworks, or Glogster may be used if available to allow for interesting layout of stanzas and background colors or images.

Students will read and TP-CASTT* the poem, "This is Just to Say" for homework.  On the next day, they will pair share responses and brainstorm a list of things they have done that would fit the concept of an apology poem.  Draft a poem that follows the structure and concept of "This is Just to Say."  The teacher may collect and give written feedback or circulate while students give one another feedback based on the TP CASTT elements.  Students revise, edit, and submit their author imitation poem.

*TP-CASTT is a College Board reading strategy in which students annotate a poem with regard to title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude, shifts, title again, and finally theme.

Students will note features of Williams' style on the white board.  Answers may include his tendency to avoid rhyme, ordinary subject matter, and his use of line breaks and imagery.  They will then use these features to construct a TAG (title, author, and genre) statement as their topic sentence for a style analysis paragraph.  Example:  William Carlos Williams, in his poems, "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This is Just to Say" employs effective line breaks and imagery to explore the appeal of ordinary, simple subjects.  They will then web the examples from each poem that best support their TAG statement and begin to draft. 

Peer review of drafts should focus on numbering the examples provided, varying sentence beginnings, and editing spelling.  Students should conduct a final edit and submit the style analysis paragraph.

Formative Assessment

Students' responses to "The Red Wheelbarrow" questions will provide formative assessment to determine their understanding of the still life poem concept.

Students' annotations of "This is Just to Say" based on the TP-CASTT* reading strategy will provide formative assessment to determine their understanding of the apologia poem concept.

Peer responses to drafts of the two poems will help students determine if they achieved their intended purpose with respect to tone and theme.

Students will use the checklist  to self assess their poems before completing their final drafts.

A whole class construction of a list of Williams' features of style and construction of appropriate TAG statements will allow the teacher to assess the ability to begin drafting the style analysis paragraph.

Students will mark up their paragraph drafts to self assess writing domains.  They will circle the first word of each sentence to assess sentence variety and paragraph length.  They will highlight transitional expressions to assess organization.  Furthermore, they will enumerate their examples to assess whether their content is strong.  Finally, they will revise for word choice, starring at least 3 excellent, high school level word choices they have used in their writing. 

Related Materials & Resources

Teachers may want to extend the lesson by using poetry tools found on  during the revision stage of the writing process.  In particular, the Shape Poem Maker and Line Break Maker would help students to experiment with the structure of the poem.

Alternately, teachers may want to extend the lesson by providing web resources to view other poems by William Carlos Williams and view critical responses to his work.

Depending on the available technology, students may be directed to use a program such as Glogster, Publisher, Word Art, or Fireworks to combine the text with visual elements.


Date Published

March 01, 2010
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