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Title: Poetic Balderdash - Grade 10


BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF IDEA: This activity is designed to introduce students to open form poetry and S.T. Coleridge’s idea that “poetry is the best words in the best order.” Students will have a chance to re-write certain lines in William Carlos Williams poem, hand them in, and then listen to all of the different versions (including the “real” version) and then guess which one is the original poem.

EXPECTATIONS: Here are the expectations for this activity in a grade 10 Applied class. Other grade level expectations also fit this activity.
1. use knowledge of elements of poetry, such as stanza forms, rhyme, rhythm, punctuation, free verse, imagery, and sound devices, to understand and interpret texts in the genre (e.g., illustrate the single image of a haiku; identify similes and metaphors in a sight poem and explain what is being compared in each example);

2. use a unifying image, mood, or voice to structure descriptive paragraphs or poems;

1. Begin by reading "This is Just to Say," by William Carlos Williams, to the class:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

2. After reading, ask the class to get into pairs and to write down what key words stood out of the poem. Reconvene, and as a group discuss why different groups chose different words. See if the class can recreate the poem from memory. Compare the class' final version to the original.

3. Next, hand out the poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams, but leave blanks in the following places.

"________________________" (add a title)

so much depends


glazed with _____

beside ________

4. Ask the students (in pairs) to fill in the blanks of this poem, which was written by the same author as "This is Just to Say." Make sure that each group keeps their new version hidden.

5. Collect all of the papers and shuffle them in with the original version of the poem.

6. Play "Poetic Balderdash" by reading all of the versions aloud and at the end having each pair guess which poem is Williams' original version.

7. Many groups will most likely not guess Williams’ original version. This provides a pathway for an excellent discussion on “what is poetry,” and if indeed Williams’ poem is made up of the “best words in the best order.”

1. Debriefing “This is Just to Say” by Williams, as a class, and highlighting the key words in the poem will help new language learners with vocabulary comprehension.
2. Create strategic pairs of students, so that new language learners will have a chance for authentic oral interaction with their peers while performing this task.
3. Model your version of the poem.
4. Provide a Cloze list of words that students can choose from to complete the activity.

Submitted by: Colleen Grandy

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